Month: January 2014

Yellow Plant Finance

Yellow Plant Finance

It is a common term heard in the Construction and Farming Industries. It refers to large construction equipment items such as diggers, excavators, tractors and cranes etc. These business sectors, along with others, require such equipment as a vital part of their companies operations. However, they do tend to be costly items, new as well as used equipment for businesses. Richmond Asset Finance Ltd want to provide businesses in these sectors with the cheapest option for obtaining finance for these types of equipment.

Some businesses will avoid tying up their working capital by not going for direct purchase and opting instead for a leasing arrangement for construction equipment. This removes the ownership right but does reduce the cost, and gives the business owner the option to provide a final balloon payment to own the asset outright if desired.

Some businesses will simply prefer to enter into a new lease deal for the latest model, removing maintenance and repair costs from their budget and depreciation costs for accounting purposes.

However, other businesses will prefer to own the asset outright, especially if they have invested in a high-quality model that is likely to have a useful working life of many years. In such instances, it can be far more cost-effective to buy rather than lease. Businesses will often make the purchase via a finance agreement rather than taking money from their reserves and introducing a cash-flow risk into the business.

The right finance product provided by Richmond Asset Finance Ltd, can save money and time for the business. The wrong product can leave the business with a liability they wish they didn’t have for several years in the future. For this reason, many businesses are now seeking to work with specialist business finance providers such as ourselves rather than approach high-street banks. This is why Asset Finance has fast become the third most popular finance option since the start of the credit crunch.

We’re specialists in our field and our sole aim is to help businesses find the right finance for their circumstances from loans with fixed repayment schedules to part-funded loans with variable or staged repayment arrangements, all of which offer tax advantages.

So if you need any help or want to ask us some questions then contact us today!

Report forecasts 30,000 extra construction jobs by 2018

Demand for new homes could fuel the creation of nearly 30,000 extra construction jobs in Scotland over the next five years, a report has claimed.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) said the private housing sector was expected to see average annual growth of 4.7%.

It cited the Scottish government’s Help to Buy scheme as an aid to growth.

The scheme helps eligible buyers with an equity loan of up to 20% of the purchase price of a new-build home.

CITB also forecast that major housing projects would provide a boost to the sector.

They include a £100m eco village in Aberdeen and a £1.5bn sustainable housing development in the Douglas Valley.

The report by CITB’s Construction Skills Network (CSN) suggested private housing, infrastructure and industrial projects would provide the biggest boosts for the industry in 2014.

However, the report added that average annual growth in output for the construction industry over the next five years was expected to be 2%, slightly below the rest of the UK.

‘Encouraging and challenging’

CITB Scotland director Graeme Ogilvy said the CSN figures were “both encouraging and challenging”.

He said: “The positive news for industry is that unemployment fell faster in Scotland in 2013 than anywhere else in the UK.

“However as an industry with the highest level of hard-to-fill vacancies, the onus is on ensuring there is a trained and highly-qualified workforce in the pipeline ready to fill almost 30,000 vacancies over the next five years.

“Projected growth across Scotland’s private housing sector growth will be pivotal to the industry’s growth over the next five years and we note the early success of the Scottish government’s Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme since its introduction in September 2013.”

He added: “As the second largest driver of growth, infrastructure will be every bit as significant for Scotland’s construction industry, with major projects such as the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and the new Forth Replacement Crossing, to name just two, driving employment and output opportunities.”

[BBC News]

There’s no quick fix for the UK’s personal debt crisis

Welfare changes mean many councils and housing associations now view debt as a welfare issue rather than a money management problem

It’s Debt Awareness Week. The irony is, once you’re in debt, you’re actually very aware. Continual reminders and calls normally mean you can’t forget or escape your situation.

Evidence of the impact of welfare changes suggests that actions are being taken early on council tax and rent arrears. We recently dealt with a client whose medical certificate had been lost by the jobcentre and so had her benefits cut for four weeks until they found it. During that time the council sent bailiffs to her house for rent arrears. She was lucky that after appeal the additional charges weren’t added to her bill.

Many councils and housing associations now view debt as a welfare problem rather than a debt and money management problem. Resources that could be spent on specialist debt advisers are being shifted to welfare rights.

The root causes of debt have always been the same: changes in circumstances/income and irresponsible borrowing or lending. These are not caused by high-cost credit, welfare changes or low wages but they are made worse by it. Few policy responses have tried to address each of these issues so I can suggest a few here.

Changes in income generally occur when you move home, apply for changing benefits, or start – or lose – a job. Mainstream debt awareness would provide mandatory access to support at these key moments. Being made redundant should include free access to debt advice. Timely intervention can make you “debt aware” before you need to be.

There is no full-proof way to stop someone lying or borrowing irresponsibly, but what’s clear is that having faced legal action there is often no way back. It is unsurprising that people using high-cost credit do so because no one else will lend to them owing to adverse credit histories. That’s not a route back, it’s a route for a life of debt.

Much has been discussed about high rates of interest but the reality is that most problems are caused by people being lent to irresponsibly – by mainstream lenders as well as sub-primes that fail to check potential borrowers’ income or financial commitments. This is a recipe for disaster, as many borrowers are finding. Sadly the burden of the impact falls on them much more than the creditor. The role for an affordable lending principle and sharing the impact more equally is more important than ever before.

Tackling the personal debt crisis in the UK has no short quick fix. It requires a commitment of epic proportions by all parties – creditors, borrowers and regulators – to change their behaviour and give people a way out.

[The Guardian]

Manufacturing companies are expected to be major player

Manufacturing firms are expected to feature prominently in an influential list which celebrates the pace-setters in Yorkshire’s businesscommunity.

The Yorkshire Fastest 50, organised by the Yorkshire Post in association with law firm Ward Hadaway, has been highlighting and celebrating the fastest growing companies across the region since 2011.

In the build-up to the 2014 Yorkshire Fastest 50 awards, analysis of previous years has revealed the growing influence of manufacturers and engineers.

The inaugural awards in 2011 saw seven companies from the manufacturing and engineering sector make the list, which ranks profit-making businesses according to their rate of annual turnover growth. Those businesses accounted for a total of just over £140m in turnover in the 2011 rankings.

In 2012, there were eight manufacturing and engineering companies accounting for £176.7m of total turnover and last year, there were 10 companies from that sector in the final 50, producing a total turnover of £191.6m.

The sector also provided one of the three award winners in 2013 with Magma Ceramics and Catalysts named as the Fastest Growing Medium Sized Company.

The Dewsbury-based company makes ceramics and catalysts for a range of industrial applications and has customers across the world, as well as manufacturing operations in Brazil and Vietnam.

The full A to Z list of the 2014 Yorkshire Fastest 50, along with information on their activities, will be revealed in the Yorkshire Post next month.

Awards will then be handed out to the fastest growing small, medium and largebusinesses at an awards ceremony in March, with one of those three winners also being crowned Yorkshire’s overall fastest growing business.

[Yorkshire Post]

Last chance for £250k towards farming training

The AgriFood ATP is able to help fund your studies if you meet their eligibility criteria.

If you are a UK resident and are employed by a company that has an R&D or manufacturing presence in the UK agrifood sector*, you are likely to be eligible for a bursary to cover 100% of your course fee.

100% bursaries are available until the end of 2014 when the subsidy rate will fall to 75% until the end of 2015.

* The ‘agrifood sector’ is defined as ‘an enterprise engaged in and/or providing services to businesses in agriculture, the manufacture of farm machinery and equipment, the processing of food and drink and the wholesale and retail activities associated with food and drink.’

To be eligible for a bursary, you must work for more than 7 hours per week in an organisation that has a site in the United Kingdom and that meets the above criteria.

Time is running out for farmers, advisers and other allied professionals to make use of a £250,000 funding pot for training schemes.

The funding is via the AgriFood Advanced Training Partnership. But it is the last year that this type of 100% bursary is available, according to partnership manager Deborah Kendale.

“We have at least £250,000 to allocate, which would allow 200 to 300 people to benefit, depending on the length of course taken,” Ms Kendale said.

A one-week course costs £1,400, while day courses cost £350. Anyone in paid work for more than seven hours a week in an agrifood-related business can apply.

Since January 2012, the partnership has awarded nearly £600,000 in part-time training. It has provided more than 400 people from across the UK with a range of training, from one-day soil and water workshops to in-depth crop protection courses.

But in 2015, funding will drop to 75% for UK-based agrifood professionals looking for a short course or a part-time postgraduate qualification.

Interest on many courses has been high, particularly on our Potato Production and Management course based at Harper Adams, Ms Kendale said.

The partners delivering the courses are the University of Nottingham, Cranfield University, Harper Adams University and Rothamsted Research and training is at an advanced level. However it is not necessary to have studied a degree to attend a short course or one or more workshops.

Course bursaries are provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and have enabled delegates from all backgrounds and industries from family run farms right up to multinational companies such as Agrii and Frontier to take part.

[AgriFood & Farmers Weekly]

Co-op pulls sale of general insurance arm

Co-operative Group decides against sale of insurance business following revised recapitalisation process at banking arm

The Co-operative Group has opted to hold on to its general insurance business, ten months after putting it up for sale.

The decision was made as the mutual no longer needs the money the sale could have brought in, following a revision of the plans to fill the Co-op Bank’s £1.5bn black hole.

It comes despite what are understood to be a series of strong second round bids, from suitors including Legal & General and private equity house AnaCap.

Co-op management, led by chief executive Euan Sutherland, felt that the bids undervalued the business given its growth potential and value to the group overall.

Analyst estimates as to its worth varied between £250m and £600m.

The mutual originally decided to part with the business in March 2013 as part of plans to bolster the Co-op Bank’s capital position.

Proceeds from the sale of the general insurance arm – and the life insurance arm, which was sold to Royal London for £219m last July – were intended to be used to safeguard the future of the bank.

Following the discovery of a £1.5bn capital shortfall at the bank last summer, the requirement for the proceeds intensified yet further.

Under the Co-op Group’s original recapitalisation plans for the bank, the group was due to fund £1bn, with £500m coming from bondholders.

However, following a redrafting of those plans in November, distressed debt funds which held a significant portion of the Co-op Bank’s debt opted to inject a greater amount, meaning the Co-op Group’s funding requirement reduced from £1bn to £462m.

In a statement, the Group said that the decision to hold on to general insurance was part of Mr Sutherland’s wider strategic wider review, the details of which are expected as early as its annual results in March.

In addition to the sale of its life insurance arm, the Co-op Group said it would look to the “strategic management” of property assets across the group – which is understood to relate to plans for a series of sale-and-leaseback.

Mr Sutherland commented: “Having considered the sale process, and in light of the changed requirements on us under the Bank recapitalisation process, we believe it is in the best interests of our members, customers and colleagues, that we retain this strong business and develop it further.”

The news follows The Telegraph’s weekend report that the Co-op Group is to cut its £850,000 annual donation to the Labour Party as a result of the problems at its banking arm.

Lord Myners, who is carrying out a review of the mutual’s corporate governance and relationship with third parties, confirmed that his study will lead to a reduction in the funding the Co-op gives to the party.

“The scale of giving to others cannot go unaffected by the change in the Co-op’s economics,” said Lord Myners. “It’s got less money to spend on everything.”

“As a member-owned organisation, do you spend what money you have on pricing, on the dividend, on the retail estate, or on charitable giving? The new reality requires a question of priorities,” he continued.

[Telegraph News]

Cement companies ‘overcharging by £50m a year’

Watchdog orders creation of a fifth player after two-year investigation finds lack of ‘well-functioning market’

Two of the UK’s biggest cement companies will be forced to sell facilities after the UK’s competition watchdog found that the four biggest companies’ grip on the market is costing consumers £50m a year.

The Competition Commission (CC) ordered the creation of a fifth entrant into the cement market on Tuesday, ordering Lafarge Tarmac and Hanson to sell off plants.

The CC’s two year investigation found that “both structure and conduct in the cement sector restrict competition by aiding coordination between the three largest producers (Lafarge Tarmac, Cemex and Hanson), which results in higher prices for all cement users”.

It said that despite a slowdown in construction levels during the economic downturn, the cement companies’ profitabilty and market shares had remained stable.

“These three producers have refrained from competing vigorously with each other by focusing on maintaining market stability and their respective shares,” the watchdog said.

The fourth member of the market, HCM, was established a year ago under the CC’s orders after the UK business of France’s Lafarge and Anglo American-owned Tarmac merged.

A spokesman for the watchdog said the market issues existed before the merger, so the market was uncompetitive even with a new player in HCM.

There were fears that the economic recovery could be curtailed by the high cost of cement, with demand picking up.

The CC has ordered Lafarge Tarmac to sell one of its cement plants in either Cauldon, Staffordshire or Tunstead, Derbyshire. Hanson will also have to sell one of its facilities that produces ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS), a substitute for cement.

New restrictions on publishing data and on price announcements to suppliers will also come into force.

It said that the lack of cement competition was costing customers at least £30m a year and more in future as demand picks up, and £15m-£20m a year for GGBS.

It is believed the process could take around 18 months, although an appeal from the cement manufacturers is likely.

“We believe that the entry of a new, independent cement producer is the only way to disturb the established structure and behaviour in this market which has persisted for a number of years and led to higher prices for customers,” said Martin Cave, who chaired the inquiry.

“Despite falling demand and increasing costs during the last few years, profitability among GB producers has been sustained and their respective markets shares have changed little. This is not what you would expect to see in a well-functioning market, under these circumstances.”

Lafarge shares were down 1.3pc in France in early trading.


Landowners facing hefty bills after flooding nightmare

Landowners facing major disruption caused by flooding may also have to fork out for repair work on neighbouring properties, the CLA has warned.

The Association said Government budget cuts could mean the repair bill could be passed on via the Private Nuisance law.

Private Nuisance is where a defendant causes a ‘substantial and unreasonable interference with a [claimant]’s land or his use or enjoyment of that land’.

Dozens of flood alerts remain in place today (Monday) as forecasters predict a return to stormy weather on Wednesday.

The south of England is expected to bear the brunt of the unsettled conditions.

CLA member Stephen Watkins currently has 100 ha (250 acres) of arable farmland under water and believes the idea of landowners being liable for flood defences is appalling.

Mr Watkins, of Seven Stoke, Worcester said: “It is absolutely horrifying that landowners may be liable for private nuisance claims if neighbours are hit by flooding.

“We accept the risk of being on a flood plain but the lack of maintenance of waterways is the big issue. If this were carried out efficiently, less money would need to be spent on flood defences.

“If we try to carry out maintenance ourselves to help prevent flooding, we are chastised for it. If neighbouring land floods due to the defences failing on our land, we may be liable. It feels like we are getting stick from all directions.”

The CLA said that despite predictions of more extreme weather to come, government cuts to flood defence jobs will leave farmland and communities unprotected.

Landowners could be left to stump up the costs for flood defences themselves.

CLA deputy president Ross Murray added: “Landowners must be able to carry out flood defence work where needed but not so as to create an unintended liability which would be both unfair and a disincentive for action.

“The recent flooding has shown the importance of our flood defences, and it is crucial that, despite the planned cuts, the Environment Agency prioritises them.

“Defence of land is in the national interest and, in the face of these cuts, red tape must be reduced to allow farmers to protect it.”

The North sees fastest growth in any region

Companies in the North of England growing at the fastest pace seen in any UK region, says leading business figure, in a sign that the economic recovery is broadening.

Companies in the North of England are now growing at the fastest pace seen in any UK region, one of the country’s leading business figures has said, in a sign that the economic recovery is broadening.

Ian Powell, the chairman of top-four accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) told The Telegraph that the firm’s regional offices in the North have experienced double-digit growth over the last year with a marked upswing in deals and a rise jobs.

“We see significant potential right across the UK with businesses of all sizes showing signs of increased confidence,” said Mr Powell. “UK regions are growing, with the North performing particularly strongly, and from our experience, the retail and manufacturing sectors being most active.”

Mr Powell attributed the growth on the commercial reinvention of major regional centres and the development of advanced manufacturing to replace traditional industries.

“Manufacturing and speciality engineering are undoubtedly enjoying a resurgence in Yorkshire and the North East. Onshoring processes which had previously been taken offshore, investing in capital and skills training – including apprenticeships – and a focus on exports are all features we are seeing,” said Mr Powell, who singled out Manchester, Leeds and Newcastles as cities where companies are experiencing rapid growth.

Yorkshire is now the fastest growing region for private equity deals, which trebled in the area in 2013, said Mr Powell.

“Mergers, regulation, digital and data analytic advice has all picked up as businesses across the regions look to expand and make bold moves to break into new markets,” he said.

Large accountancy firms such as PwC act as barometers for the economy and corporate activity. Chancellor George Osborne and the Government have placed encouraging private sector growth and a business-led recovery at the centre of their economic strategy as they seek to enforce austerity cuts elsewhere.

The remarks from PwC’s top executive in the UK on the burgeoning strength of manufacturing in the North and Midlands were echoed yesterday by Prime Minister David Cameron who said Jaguar Land Rover’s record breaking global sales were “great news for Britain”.

Nigel Wilcock, managing director of Cheshire-based regional development consultancy, Mickledore, said: “Many businesses are realising that lower salary and property costs outside of the City mean that business can achieve the same outputs but with a higher margin, whilst in addition the skills for many of the new infrastructure projects such as offshore marine, nuclear power, a resurgence in oil and gas and large transport projects are all found in the UK regions.”

But even though the big northern cities of Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle are doing relatively well, secondary locations such as Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Burnley are struggling.

“A wider distribution of economic growth has got to be achieved to increase the attractiveness of the regions to employees, if the pressure on public services, housing and infrastructure in the South East is to be relieved,” said Mr Wilcock.

The latest Lloyd Bank Commercial Banking Regional Purchasing Managers’ Index has also revealed record private sector activity in the West Midlands and a 49-month high in the North East.

The research showed that all regions were playing their part in driving the UK’s economic recovery with higher activity levels during the final quarter of 2013.

The index, which measures activity such as job creation, recorded an average reading of 61.0 from October to December, well in excess of the 50.0 value that separates growth from contraction.

[Telegraph News]

UK new car sales highest since 2007

UK car sales in 2013 recorded their best year since 2007, industry figures have shown, helped by cheap credit deals and stronger consumer confidence.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said that 2.26 million vehicles were registered in 2013. That was a 10.8% rise on 2012, although the figure is 6% lower than 2007’s 2.4 million figure. It means that the UK overtook France to become Europe’s second-biggest car market, after Germany.

Industry analysts say that attractive financing deals have tempted buyers, with three-quarters of sales to private buyers now involving some kind of financing package.

Economic data in recent months has indicated that consumers are more confident. Analysts have also pointed to refunds from mis-sold payment protection insurance policies as helping to drive sales. Average payouts have been about £3,000. The 2013 total was boosted by a 23.76% rise in sales in December, marking the 22nd successive month of increases. The 2013 total was boosted by a 23.76% rise in sales in December, marking the 22nd successive month of increases.


The UK figures contrast sharply with the rest of Europe, where sales have tumbled in recent years. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, figures for the 11 months to November show that sales across the region fell 2.8% to 11.4 million cars, putting it on track for a sixth straight annual decline. Full-year sales in 2012 fell 7.8% from the year before to 12.5 million vehicles.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With its best year since a pre-recession 2007, the UK new car market has helped stimulate the country’s economic recovery. “While the European market is only now showing signs of improvement, the UK has consistently outperformed the rest of Europe, with 22 consecutive months of growth. “The 10.8% increase in 2013 reflects the attractive financial offers available, as well as increased demand for more technologically advanced new cars. We expect new car registrations to remain stable in 2014 as customers return to a more regular replacement cycle,” he said.

British Built

The SMMT figures confirmed that Ford was the UK’s top-selling brand last year, enjoying success with its Fiesta supermini and mid-sized Focus models, followed by General Motors’ Vauxhall Corsa and Astra models.

The SMMT also said that one-in-seven, or 300,000, of the cars bought last year were built in the UK. Most cars built in the UK are exported. Last month, the SMMT said that car production in 2013 was likely to be at a six-year high with more than more than 1.5 million vehicles built. Growth was driven by the rollout of new models, including the third-generation Mini, the SMMT said. Thousands of new jobs were created in the industry as both Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley expanded their operations in the UK

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “The strong increase in private car sales in December indicates that demand for cars is holding up well despite consumers’ purchasing power being squeezed by inflation persistently running well above earnings growth.

“The auto industry will clearly be hoping that UK economic activity holds up well through 2014 and beyond, and that this underpins consumer and business confidence and their willingness to splash out on new cars”.

[BBC News]

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone from all us here, hope you had a good holiday and are ready for the year ahead!

We were working over Xmas & always readily available to contact but we went back into the office yesterday. Apparently yesterday was suppose to be one of the most depressing days of the year, but we were happy enough!

We’re looking forward to the year ahead with December being a great month for us and lots to come back to in January. We really want to make 2014 the year for Richmond Asset Finance! With lots of exciting things planned and coming up, we’re the ones to watch.

Are you in need of asset finance for your new 2014 business? Or have you had some difficulties over the festive season and need some refinancing options for your business?

If so, we can help! If you want to ask us any questions we are more than happy to help out!