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Speirs Gumley’s Innovative Schools Partnership Gives Rosshall Academy Pupils a Taste of a Career in Property Trades

Speirs Gumley’s Innovative Schools Partnership Gives Rosshall Academy Pupils a Taste of a Career in Property Trades

Glasgow property management, residential letting and surveying company Speirs Gumley delivered an innovative career event yesterday (22 March) which gave hundreds of 4th and 5th year pupils from Rosshall Academy in Crookston a taste of a trades careers in the property industry. This event aimed to help more young people find a job by sharing insights on employment opportunities in the property sector.

The company organised the Speirs Gumley Trades Day, which took place on Tuesday 22 March 2016, after signing up to the Glasgow Schools & Business Partnership programme, which was established by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Glasgow City Council.

The initiative encourages employers to partner up with a secondary school, actively participate in developing young people at the school, and help teachers to better understand the needs of different occupations and industry sectors. The aim is to increase employability by improving school leavers’ readiness for the world of work.

On Trades Day, Speirs Gumley brought together around 20 tradespeople from across the industry, including electricians, plumbers, builders, gas and lift engineers. They visited the school and met with pupils, offering valuable insight into their particular trade and answered a range of questions about how to get into the industry.

Lorraine MacDonald, Senior Partner of Speirs Gumley said: “Speirs Gumley is passionate about making a difference to the local community and giving something back. As a property management and lettings company, we work with various trades on a daily basis and we encouraged these businesses to take part in this important event. The participation of Speirs Gumley and our business associates helps to showcase these important and rewarding career options to pupils. The pupils attending gained crucial information what the next steps would be if they are interested in a trades career. We’re excited about the potential of this important partnership programme.”

Stephen Murphy, Assistant Head Teacher at Rosshall Academy said: “The Speirs Gumley Trades Day was a great success and around 300 interested pupils came along. Some of our pupils aren’t looking to go on to further education, but weren’t fully aware of the alternatives available to them, so to be able to meet people who have learned such a wide range of trades and have a chat with them about their jobs was an excellent opportunity. I am very grateful to Speirs Gumley for their partnership with Rosshall Academy and continuing support in what is an extremely worthwhile initiative.”

Kier Group plc, the parent company of Kier Construction in Scotland, announces good results for the six-month period to 31 December 2015

Kier Group plc, the parent company of Kier Construction in Scotland, announces good results for the six-month period to 31 December 2015

Kier Group plc today (17 March) announces a good set of financial results which are supported by the growth and ongoing successful framework model for Kier Construction in Scotland and the north-east of England.

With offices in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness which employs around 200 people, the Scottish construction leader has continued to grow its business operations, expand its order book, increase contract wins and maintain and facilitate local employment and training opportunities throughout the country.

Brian McQuade, managing director of the Scotland and north-east England arm of Kier’s Construction division, said:

“I’m pleased to announce a good set of financial results today, which our Scottish and north-east England construction business has made a strong contribution to.  We’ve performed well this year, increasing both our headcount and framework and tender wins and taking a proactive yet disciplined approach to growth, which has strengthened our market position and provided a strong pipeline of work.

“In the past 12 months we have cemented our position as a healthcare construction leader, particularly with the recent announcement of our £17m contract with NHS Grampian on a backlog maintenance project for Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Our ongoing success as part of the £1.5 bn Scape National Minor Works Framework will see us work with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde on a number of projects during 2016.

“We have also increased our activity in the education sector over the past year. We are currently on site delivering several education projects across Scotland, including the £43m William McIlvanney Campus at Kilmarnock on behalf of East Ayrshire Council, the £25m Ayr Academy and the £35m redevelopment of Marr College for South Ayrshire Council, the £36m Garnock Campus for North Ayrshire Council and the £13m Caol Campus for The Highland Council.

“Our commitment to the Scottish construction sector also goes beyond our business operations.  We continue to provide local jobs to people within 20 to 40 miles of the contract postcode, supporting local supply chains, contractors and SMEs and offering training opportunities for the wider community.”

Commenting on the results, Haydn Mursell, chief executive, said:

“I am pleased to announce a good set of interim results which show the continued strength and breadth of the Group’s capabilities and our presence in growing market sectors. The Group remains on course to deliver expectations for the full-year.

“In the UK, our core markets are improving which provides a platform for growth, particularly for our property, residential and regional building businesses, and over the medium-term for our infrastructure businesses. Mouchel has been substantially integrated and is performing well. Our presence in infrastructure services, regional building and housing aligns to growth markets with high visibility of forward pipelines and now accounts for 75% of the Group’s turnover. 

“We are encouraged by the robust pipelines in Property and Residential and the order books totalling £9bn in Construction and Services. We remain focused on ensuring that the Group is fit for growth by continuing to focus on our operational efficiency and continuing to manage risk closely. This discipline, combined with the resilience and flexibility provided by the portfolio of businesses in the Group, will continue to underpin our performance. We look forward to the future with confidence.”

Results

Kier Group plc, a leading property, residential, construction and services group, announces its results for the six-month period ended 31 December 2015

Good interim results reflecting continued progress in delivery of Kier’s five-year strategy

 Six months ended             31 December 2015Six months ended             31 December 20143Change

%

Revenue1£2.1bn£1.6bn+32
Group revenue£2.0bn£1.6bn+30
Operating profit     Underlying2£57.1m£44.8m+27
                                Reported£32.1m£37.4m-14
Profit before tax    Underlying2£44.2m£37.0m+19
                                Reported£18.0m£27.8m-35
Basic earnings per share

                                Underlying2

                                Reported

 

37.1p

15.4p

 

42.4p4

31.9p4

 

-12

-52

Interim dividend per share21.5p19.2p4+12

Financial information in this table relates to continuing operations.

1Group and share of joint ventures.

2Stated before non-underlying items.

3Comparatives restated to reflect the reclassification of the UK mining activities to discontinued operations.
4Restated for the bonus element of the rights issue associated with the Mouchel acquisition.

 Highlights – good results in line with expectations, on course for full-year with second-half weighting

 Financials

  • Revenueof  £2.1bn up 32%; like-for-like revenue up 9%;
  • Underlying operating profit of £57.1m, up 27%;
  • Reported profit before tax of £18.0m (December 2014: £27.8m), which includes non-underlying costs of £15.5m relating to the integration of Mouchel, as forecast;
  • Net debt position better than expected at £174m (30 June 2015: net debt £141m), after £26m investment in the future growth of the Group and reflecting a good working capital performance with strong operating cash conversion;
  • Underlying earnings per share of 37.1p (December 2014: 42.4p), down 12% following the issue of new shares for the acquisition of Mouchel; and
  • Interim dividend increased by 12% to 21.5p (December 2014: 19.2p), reflecting the Board’s confidence.

Operations

  • 75% of the Group’s turnover from infrastructure services, regional building and housing; aligned to growth markets with high visibility of forward pipelines;
  • Integration of Mouchel substantially complete; aiming to exceed the 2017 cost synergy target;
  • Construction and Services order book of £9bn with potential extensions of a further £3.1bn; Property division with pipeline of >£1bn;
  • Property

o   Good performance, second-half weighted, on course for >15% ROCE for the full-year;

  • Residential

o   Revenue of £162m up 80%, completions increased by 35% to 959 units, with strong forward sales position;

  • Construction

o   Record revenue of c.£1bn up 15%, operating profit of £19.5m, resilient operating margin of 2.0% (December 2014: 2.2%);

o   Strong order book (secured and probable) of £3.5bn (30 June 2015: £3.5bn), fully secured for 2016.

  • Services

o   Revenue of £842m up 48%, operating profit of £39.9m up 68%, improved operating margin of 4.7% (December 2014: 4.2%), reflecting six months of Mouchel trading in addition to stable underlying performance;

o   Robust order book (secured and probable) of £5.5bn (30 June 2015: £5.8bn), fully secured for 2016.

– ENDS –

There will be a presentation of the interim results to analysts at 0900 hours on 17 March 2016 at the London Stock Exchange. The presentation will be recorded and the video will be available later in the day on Kier’s website.

ENDS

Notes for editors:

Kier Construction is part of the Kier Group – a FTSE 250-quoted company and a leading integrated property, residential, construction and services group.

Kier Construction has provided a high quality service to clients throughout Scotland for over 40 years, exceeding expectations by helping clients get the most from their budgets with the highest possible build quality. With offices in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, Kier Construction has a strong presence across Scotland and continues to develop in the region, with an increase in the breadth and depth of core skills being provided to its ever-growing client base.

Recent Highlights:

Health – One of five principal supply chain partners on the NHS’ £600m Health Facilities Scotland framework and has recently been appointed to deliver a £17m backlog maintenance programme with NHS Grampian through the Health Facilities Scotland Frameworks 2 for Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Education – Currently delivering several education projects across Scotland including the £43m William McIlvanney Campus for East Ayrshire Council, the £25m Ayr Academy and the £35m redevelopment of Marr College for South Ayrshire Council, the £36m Garnock Campus for North Ayrshire Council, a £13m primary school joint campus and community facility for The Highland Council in Fort William

National Frameworks – In addition to being one of five principal supply chain partners on the NHS’ £600m Health Facilities Scotland framework, Kier Construction is an equity stakeholder in hub South West Scotland, which will deliver £600m of infrastructure investment in south-west Scotland over the next decade. The company is also delivering over £15m of minor works projects as part of the £1.5bn Scape National Minor Works Framework.

For more information please contact:

Lesley Ferguson – lesley.ferguson@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

07762 769 659

Keppie Design Appoints New Managing Director  

Keppie Design Appoints New Managing Director  

Leading UK architecture practice Keppie Design has appointed Peter Moran as its new Managing Director.

Peter Moran, who will replace Martin English in the role, is a well-known and highly successful Scottish architect with a 25 year track record of UK and international projects. An executive board director of Keppie, Peter currently manages all public sector activities for the six studio practices across the UK.

David Hardie, Keppie Design’s Chairman comments:

“We’re delighted that Peter has accepted the Managing Director’s role. He brings a wealth of talent and experience to the fore of the business, not just from a Scottish perspective, but from projects he has successfully delivered across the UK and overseas.
“We’d also like to acknowledge and thank Martin English for his eight years’ service in the MD role. Martin, who is based in Perth, will now be concentrating on developing Keppie’s Perth and Inverness studios and will also have a particular focus on the growth and successful establishment of our recently opened studio in Aberdeen.”

Peter Moran, who has spent over 25 years at Keppie said:

“I’m honoured and humbled to have been offered this exciting and challenging role by the Keppie Board. I’m proud to be part of a continuing heritage that goes way back to 1854 and includes such luminaries as John Keppie, John Honeyman and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. With 6 studios, 160 people in our team and several award winning projects, I look forward to the challenge of developing and driving the business forward.”

Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown MSP visits Kier Construction to discuss industry skills gap

Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown MSP visits Kier Construction to discuss industry skills gap

Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, visited Kier Construction’s Scottish headquarters in Stepps this week to discuss how construction operators can work with the Scottish Government to address the skills gap.

. It’s no secret that our industry is experiencing a skills shortage, with 60% of respondents to a survey by RICS confirming issues with labour shortages. Mr Brown and members of the Kier team discussed a number of ways that we can both attract and retain new talent to the industry, including retraining those leaving other industries and working together across the industry to illustrate why construction is an excellent sector with a breadth of career opportunities. They also talked about how increase outreach work with primary and secondary pupils will help to engage them at an early stage.

Kier and Mr Brown considered the good work Kier is already doing, including supporting and facilitating graduate training schemes as well as raising awareness of the construction industry to school pupils. In primary schools, Kier supports the Primary Engineering initiative as part of its work with hub South West Scotland, which aims to engage children with engineering through curriculum mapped projects. In secondary schools, Kier Construction has started rolling out the Adopt a School campaign for design…engineer,,,construct (DEC!), which aims to address the lack of young British talent in the built environment, and will be delivered to third and fourth year pupils. As part of the programme, Kier will share expertise and provide access to teaching, training, workshops and give students experience of live projects, to give an insight into industry and help equip them with the foundations they need to consider a career in the construction industry.

Brian McQuade, managing director of the Scotland and north-east England arm of Kier’s Construction division, said:

“We were delighted to welcome Mr Brown to Kier’s Scottish headquarters, introducing him to some of the 200 employees who support our activity across Scotland and sharing our vision of how we can support the continued growth of the Scottish construction sector. We have a clear action plan to help reduce skills shortages and we must grow these activity levels over the coming year to help recruit and retain the talent needed to take advantage of the growing number of opportunities in the market.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Kier Construction

Kier Construction is part of the Kier Group – a FTSE 250-quoted company and a leading integrated property, residential, construction and services group.

Kier Construction has provided a high quality service to clients throughout Scotland for over 40 years, exceeding expectations by helping clients get the most from their budgets with the highest possible build quality. With offices in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, Kier Construction has a strong presence across Scotland and continues to develop in the region, with an increase in the breadth and depth of core skills being provided to its ever-growing client base.

Contact:

Lesley Ferguson – Lesley.ferguson@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk
Tel: 07762 769 659

Clyde Gateway and BRE launch the search for new contractor

Clyde Gateway and BRE launch the search for new contractor

Clyde Gateway and BRE are launching a design competition, through a competitive PQQ and ITT process, to procure a contractor led design team to build the new flagship office for BRE Scotland. BRE Scotland is an independent, research-based, testing and training consultancy which offers expertise on the built environment and related industries across the UK and internationally.
The successful contractor will deliver a new office pavilion, which will become the Scottish headquarters for BRE at the heart of Clyde Gateway’s Shawfield National Business District.

The site at Clyde Gateway is set to become Scotland’s largest business site, delivering quality business and office space. BRE Scotland’s new accommodation will be the gateway building for the Shawfield National Business District, setting exemplar standards for design and construction.

Once completed, the sustainable office will be an innovative demonstrator office building providing 6,000sqft of accommodation with a target of BREEAM Outstanding.

The tender has been published through the Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) portal. The deadline for returns to the PCS portal together with all supporting information is required by the deadline of 8th April 2016 at 12noon.

Ian Manson, Chief Executive, Clyde Gateway: “Once developed, BRE Scotland’s new headquarters will act as flagship for the Shawfield Business District and the calibre of both the client and scale of work required is the perfect illustration of the site’s potential.

“Our developments are built with business in mind. Our sites comprise the very best in transport links, fantastic business facilities and an interlinking network of community groups, infrastructure, superfast broadband and cross-sector business support, making it the place to do business.”

Shawfield is the largest commercial and industrial planning consent in Scotland and the 11th largest in the UK. With a total site area of 65 hectares, Clyde Gateway has made substantial investment in Phase 1 comprising 11 hectares.

£20m has been invested in the award winning site infrastructure and site preparation with the Smart Bridge providing direct access to Dalmarnock Station, which itself has benefitted from £11m in investment.

The Phase 1 site has the potential to accommodate around 17 new buildings varying in size from 2000 sqm to 20,000 sqm, primarily Class 4 business space but with supplementary mixed use to support the needs of occupiers, staff and the local community.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

• Established in 2008 following the announcement that Glasgow was to hold the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Clyde Gateway has seen over £1.5 billion invested in the area in the last 8 years from both the public and private sector.

• Clyde Gateway covers an expansive area, meaning opportunities exist for all types of businesses, from large energy sector international organisations looking for the ideal location to trade, to SMEs which require a modern but cost-effective location for their offices.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Lesley Ferguson – Lesley.ferguson@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk or telephone 07762 769 659

Blair Grant – blair.grant@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk or telephone 07885 910 028

Three of The UK’s Top Architectural Practices to Join Forces in 431 Architecture

Three of The UK’s Top Architectural Practices to Join Forces in 431 Architecture

Stride Treglown, Keppie Design and Todd Architects have announced they are to form a unique Alliance that they believe will help them win significant new business.

The new venture, named 431 Architecture, will offer Clients access to 18 studios and a team of over 500 staff covering the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland.

431 Architecture is not a merger. Each practice will continue to operate independently, but will combine forces when there is an opportunity to offer an enhanced service to new or existing Clients. This could include large scale UK-wide projects or frameworks which the practices would not have undertaken on their own.

The Alliance will cover:
4 countries (England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales), combining
3 established practices, with
1 ethos – to deliver an excellent, responsive, approachable and people-focused architectural design service.

The Alliance has 18 studios, from Inverness to Truro, London to Dublin, and Belfast to Cardiff, employing over 500 people. This would place 431 Architecture as an entity in the top five of the Architects’ Journal’s top 120. With a broad portfolio of award winning projects covering all the key markets, including healthcare, education, residential and commercial property, the Alliance will now be able to offer skills and services to Clients across a much wider geographical area.

David Hunter, Chairman of Stride Treglown, said: “We are really excited about the prospects for this venture. Each of us has a strong and established reputation in our own right, but our approach and values are very similar, so together this Alliance has the potential to become a really significant presence in UK architecture.”

Martin English, Director at Keppie Design said: “We believe that 431 Architecture will open up a new range of business opportunities for us, allowing us to share knowledge and expertise and pool our resources. The Alliance will give Clients, consultants and contractors a new and exciting option to consider when looking at UK-wide projects or frameworks – particularly in the healthcare and education sectors where each of the three practices has a fantastic track record.”

Paul Crowe, Director at Todd Architects added: “The potential for 431 Architecture is to build on the collective expertise and knowledge of our respective practices. Anyone working with 431 can expect design excellence and a responsive local service from a team of very experienced, approachable and talented people who share the same vision and cultural approach. I am really looking forward to developing this Alliance, which I strongly believe will help all three practices to grow and diversify.”

Representatives from all three companies involved in 431 Architecture will be attending MIPIM 2016 – the international real estate show – in Cannes, France this week from 15th -18th March.

Housing and construction news

Housing and construction news

No sooner had MSPs been piped out of the Chamber at the end of Holyrood’s fourth term on Wednesday, they were hitting the campaign trail. The starting gun has been fired for the all-out Holyrood elections on 5 May. The previous days saw the Scottish Government outlining the Scottish Rate of Income Tax, as well as the Scottish Labour Party outlining what its (alternative) council tax plans would look like if elected. Elsewhere, the Inverness City Deal, Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation and a Conservative commissioned report which warned of dire consequences had Scotland voted ‘Yes’ to independence all hit the headlines. Today – 24 March 2016 – is the very day that Scotland would have become independent had 5% more voters said Yes. More on these stories and others, including the ongoing EU referendum debate, are included in this report.

Housing and construction news

Scottish Government outlines the Scottish Rate of Income Tax

The Scottish Government issued a news release this week highlighting the new Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) that will come into force from 6 April. The Scottish Parliament has already agreed with Finance Minister John Swinney’s proposal that Scottish taxpayers will not pay an increased amount of income tax next year. SRIT has been set at 10p, which meant (pre Budget) that the tax paid by Scottish residents in 2016/17 would be the same as those taxpayers in the rest of the UK. SRIT is the last of three tax powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament under the Scotland Act 2012 following the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and the Scottish Landfill Tax.

This week later saw the news that the SNP would not adopt UK government plans to raise the starting point at which workers in Scotland pay the 40p tax rate. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “the wrong choice”. The First Minister added, “That increase will prevent higher rate taxpayers from receiving a real terms cut in their tax bills, but nor will they see their bills increase.”

Scottish Labour outlines its council tax proposals

On Tuesday, the Scottish Labour Party announced its council tax plans, following the SNP proposals published last month. Under the premise that the current system was unfair, Labour has outlined plans for a new form of local government tax based on property value which it claimed would make 80% of Scottish households better off. Its proposals would see homes with a value of £180,000 or less taxed £450, plus 0.35% of the property value.

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • Ex Labour leader Ed Miliband warns against the UK leaving the EU
  • CBI warns the UK leaving the EU would cause a ‘serious shock’ – whilst UK Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, warns of £500m ‘electric shock’ if the UK leaves the EU
  • US presidential candidate Donald Trump says he thinks the UK could vote to leave the EU
  • Portsmouth becomes the first UK city (council) to vote in favour of leaving the EU

 

General political news

Purdah begins

The Scottish Parliament is now in dissolution ahead of the elections on 5 May. The Scottish Government has entered a period of purdah where business will continue but at a very basic ‘ticking over’ level, similar to the Westminster convention. All parliamentary motions and amendments have now fallen.

Inverness becomes the latest Scottish city to be awarded a City Deal

It was announced this week that Inverness is set to benefit from a £135 million Scottish Government investment into the city’s infrastructure following the award of a City Deal. The City Deal is an agreement between the Scottish Government, UK Government and The Highland Council.

Scotland Act to pass into law

Legislation handing new powers to the Scottish parliament at Holyrood has cleared its final stage in the House of Commons.  The Scotland Act includes powers over income tax, air passenger duty, abortion law and benefits.  Scottish Secretary David Mundell MP said the passage of the act marked a “truly significant day …  It provides even greater opportunities for the Scottish Government to tailor and deliver Scottish solutions to Scottish issues.  The Scottish Parliament that returns in May will be a powerhouse parliament that has come of age.”

Report warned of ‘Independence black hole’

A report commissioned by the Conservatives and published on the day in which Scotland would have become a sovereign state had the country voted ‘Yes’ to independence in 2014, gave a grim prediction of how the country would look. It warned of a £10 billion financial black hole, closely aligned with a fall in oil prices.

Iain Duncan Smith resigns from cabinet over disability cuts

Iain Duncan Smith resigned from his position as work and pension secretary, citing cuts to disability benefits as the reason why. The announcement illustrates current strained relations in the party, particularly on issues like welfare reforms and Europe. Many questioned the timing of the announcement, with some commentators arguing it was done at a time to achieve maximum damage to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Parliamentary Motion

Sandra White (SNP, Glasgow Kelvin): Funding Success for Positive Action in Housing Ltd—That the Parliament congratulates Positive Action in Housing Ltd on its recent award of £48,269 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Young Start programme; understands that this will be used to establish a programme in the Glasgow Kelvin constituency that will be dedicated each year to increasing the soft and hard employment skills of 20 deprived and marginalised 18 to 24-year-olds from the city’s Roma community, and notes that this will include one-to-one job coaching, employment workshops, training in job seeking skills and familiarisation with the jobs’ market.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Housing and construction News

Housing and construction News

Housebuilding figures released on Tuesday saw a flurry of political activity, resulting in one of the biggest housing stories of the last few weeks. Scottish Government figures illustrated the SNP Government had exceeded its target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes over the course of this parliament by the end of last year and that Scotland has the highest housebuilding rate of any UK nation. But not every party agreed.

Elsewhere, the UK Budget dominated the political debate as well as the ongoing EU referendum debate. These stories are others are included within this week’s report.

Housing and construction news

SNP claims Scotland is ‘leading the UK’ on housebuilding

A news release issued by the SNP this week claimed that the Scottish Government had exceeded its target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes over the course of this parliament by the end of last year and that Scotland has the highest housebuilding rate of any UK nation. The figures found that in the year to September 2015 there has been a four per cent rise in the number of homes completed, across all sectors, compared to the previous year. This resulted in Scotland having the highest completion rate of any UK nation over this period: 30 homes per 10,000 people, compared to 25 in England, 21 in Wales and 28 in Northern Ireland. However, opposition parties were quick to respond to figures.

Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Jim Hume MSP criticised the SNP and claimed the new statistics showed it has missed its target for socially-rented homes by 10,000. Scottish Labour also issued a statement commenting on the figures. Commenting on the housebuilding statistics Scottish Labour Communities spokesperson Ken Macintosh MSP said: “everybody in Scotland deserves a safe, warm and affordable home but the SNP government turned a housing shortage into a housing crisis and they are only attempting to reverse that damage now, after nearly a decade in office.”

Figures breakdown

  • Private sector breakdown: Between July and September 2015, 3,126 private sector led homes were completed; 20% up on the same quarter in 2014. This brings the total for the year to end September 2015 to 12,125 – 2% (217 homes) higher than the 11,908 completions in the previous year.
  • Social housing: there were 895 social housing completions between July and September 2015; 23% more than the same quarter in 2014.

SNP party members back national rent controls

Delegates attending last weekend’s SNP Spring Conference voted to support a resolution committing the party to supporting the introduction of national rent controls for all tenants. The proposal called for leaders within the party to go beyond the local rent controls already outlined in the Private (Housing) Tenancies Bill. Later in the week, The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill was passed by parliament. It aims to bring simpler tenancies, offer stability and security to the 700,000 tenants who call the private rented sector home, and ensure predictability over rent increases.

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • Scots LD leader Willie Rennie MSP claims Britain leaving the UK would put the future of the country at risk
  • Sources leak the apparent news that the Queen backs the UK leaving the EU
  • Out vote ‘could weaken Nato’, claims Lt-Gen Ben Hodges, head of the US Army in Europe,
  • CBI survey suggests most members favour staying in Europe

 

General political news

UK Budget

Chancellor George Osborne announced during his Budget statement that he would cut taxes for North Sea oil operators in a bid to boost the beleaguered industry. In another move of particular importance to Scotland, he announced that discussions were already taking place on Edinburgh’s £1 billion City Deal – with another for Dundee likely to happen as well.

Property crimes

Almost three quarters of the 688,000 crimes committed in Scotland last year were related to property. The findings appeared in the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) for 2014-15.

Scottish employment rises

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for November 2015 to January 2016 illustrated that Scotland’s overall employment rate increased to 74.5 per cent with around 2,631,000 Scots now in employment.

Parliamentary Activity

John Finnie (Independent, Highlands and Islands): £10 Million Expansion of the Wick District Heating Scheme—That the Parliament welcomes the announcement by the UK Green Investment Bank and Equitix that they will commit £10 million toward the expansion of Wick district heating scheme; understands that the scheme provides heat and power to the Old Pulteney distillery and heating to other customers, including Caithness General Hospital, the Wick Assembly Rooms, residences owned by the Cairn Housing Association and approximately 200 other domestic properties; believes that the announcement will help secure the future of the scheme in its provision of efficient, green and cost-effective heating, and looks forward to its forthcoming expansion plans.

Margaret Burgess (SNP, Housing Minister): Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill—That the Parliament agrees that the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill be passed.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Work is a thing you do, not a place you go

Work is a thing you do, not a place you go

Work is a thing you do, not a place you go. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Actually it’s an easy phrase to say but can be tricky to really make it work. Tricky, but not impossible…

According to a report from The Work Foundation the UK is on the verge of a mobile working “tipping point” when working away from the office becomes more common that working solely from a desk. This report also identified remote working as being top of many employees’ wish list when choosing their next career move.

When I set up Perceptive Communicators 10 years ago, most employees were still chained to their desks. We were exploring and discussing locations for a city centre office when my thought process was completely disrupted by one of our first clients, Gordon Thomson of Cisco who looked as me as though I was mad and said: “You need to think differently. Work is a thing you do, not a place you go.”

From the start I wanted to break the mould with Perceptive and that got me thinking. Having seen the benefits of flexible working at Cisco, I thought there was an opportunity to rethink that the traditional communications agency approach. My hunch was by offering flexible working, we could attract better quality employees, which ultimately would lead to better service for clients and a better business.

From the very beginning, we’ve offered our employees both remote and flexible working, an arrangement which works exceptionally well both for staff and clients, and has supported substantial business growth. Many bosses are reluctant to embrace the idea, but I can tell you first-hand that it’s not just employees who win with a remote working arrangement, employers do too, with fewer overheads, a happier and healthier team and – contrary to the fears of many – increased productivity.

Big companies like IBM and Amazon are topping the charts for offering remote working as an option, and in fact a recent study by Dell showed that 35-50% of people now work away from their offices on a regular basis. New research by Lancaster University and software firm Citrix predicts that more than half of businesses will have adopted flexible working by 2017. So far from being a nice but crazy idea that would never really work in practice, it’s fast becoming very normal to work from remotely.

Perceptive currently has a team of nine, all of whom work remotely most of the time. We have learnt a lot along the way, including the importance of using a combination of technology such as WebEx and Skype to have brainstorms and catch-ups supplemented with regular face to face meetings.

Team spirit has never been an issue and the benefits are fantastic. We don’t have so much ‘dead time’ commuting to the office during rush hour – instead, we’re using the extra time to achieve results for our clients. Our employees save a small fortune on fuel or train tickets. They are ill less often. The parents on the team can drop their children off at school in the morning and attend that nativity play. Any long hours that need to be done to meet deadlines don’t seem so bad when done from the comfort of your home office, rather than facing the prospect of a long, late commute home in the dark. Another additional and important benefit is that our company’s carbon footprint is significantly smaller than most.

Clearly there are some jobs where remote and flexible working are more difficult or indeed impossible and it isn’t for everyone. However if someone like me who was used to a very traditional working environment of big corporates can make it work, maybe it’s worth giving some thought to how this could work for your organisation? If work is a thing you do, not a place you go, what could that mean for you?

Julie McLauchlan is managing director of Glasgow PR agency Perceptive Communicators and shortlisted in the Family Friendly and Flexible Working Director of the Year category at the Institute of Directors Awards 2016.

Julie McLauchlan: In a digital age, our desire for news endures

Julie McLauchlan: In a digital age, our desire for news endures

One of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandmother’s knee as she read her favourite tabloid newspaper, showing her disapproval for the image on page 3.

“Damp disgrace”, she tutted. This episode was followed years later with a paper round at the age of ten and more recently a 25-year career in PR, so newspapers are in my blood

Even though I am well versed in the decline of hard copy newspaper circulations, the news of the Independent closing its printing presses to go entirely digital still comes as a bit of a shock.

While the decision to halt the printing presses forever is bold, the move to digital tells us more about how we are consuming news than anything else. Does a solely digital platform illustrate the dwindling power of the media? Far from it.

We live in a digital age, where reading a newspaper over the breakfast table or on our commute is most likely to be replaced by scrolling for news on our smartphone. A recent survey shows that 86 per cent of Twitter users say they use this for news and 74 per cent do so daily.

After a slow start, traditional print and broadcast titles are responding to this. A renewed focus on online and digital content is catering for news-hungry consumers who want their news and want to access it how they choose, whether on their tablet, smartphone or laptop.

It’s possible that the change from print could see the Independent thrive, with digital allowing the title to vary its content, comment and impact. For example, there will now be European, Middle Eastern and Asian editorial hubs, helping to support the demand for worldwide content.

It’s easy to dismiss the media thanks to many hard copy circulations falling off a cliff. But news is news, whether consumed as you wake, sleepily scrolling a website, or skimming that dog-eared edition of the paper you found on the seat of the bus on your commute home.

Thanks to the online world, journalist investigations can be done thoroughly in hours or even minutes. And with social media, what you could once dismiss as the next day’s fish and chip paper can be shared with a global audience of millions before you’ve finished your journey home.

While there is no denying the decline in circulations, our desire for news and the impact of good journalism is as strong as ever. Their ability to expose, ask questions, stimulate debate and inspire will long continue whether on paper or online.

The Independent’s bold move may change the structure of the industry but it is unlikely to stem our appetite for news or our affinity with our favourite news source, damp disgrace or not.

Housing and construction news

Housing and construction news

As Holyrood gets closer to dissolution on 23 March, a mixed bag of political news filled the column inches this week. Housing and construction news centred on the Law Society of Scotland’s response to the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill as well as the news that there was to be increased funding to support Scottish homelessness. Elsewhere, the Institute for Public Policy Research Scotland (IPPR Scotland) warned the next Scottish Government faced a funding gap of more than £2 billion each year by 2020. Meanwhile, the SNP challenged opposition parties in Scotland to outline their own proposals for local taxation after criticism last week of Nicola Sturgeon’s reforms to council tax. More on these stories as well as an overview of the key themes of this week’s EU referendum debate are included in this report.

Housing and construction news

Law Society of Scotland comments on Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

The Law Society of Scotland released a paper this week outlining its position on the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill. These included the transactions to which the tax applies, the additional amount of tax, the application of the tax in relation to certain types of buyer, repayment of the tax in certain cases and rules about the meaning of ownership of dwellings for the purposes of the tax. The full paper can be read here.

More funding outlined to prevent Scottish homelessness

A project that focuses on preventing homelessness was awarded an additional £150,000 this week. Housing Minister Margaret Burgess MSP announced the investment will go to the five nationwide Housing Options Hubs which are run by local authorities.

Keith Brown visits the Shieldhall Tunnel

The Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown visited the site where Scotland’s biggest storm water storage facility is being built: the Shieldhall Tunnel. The project represents the biggest investment in waste water infrastructure in Glasgow for more than a century.

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • Former UK Liberal Democrat leader Lord (Menzies) Campbell is to lead the Scottish arm of a pro-EU campaign
  • The Bank of England’s Mark Carney warns Brexit is biggest risk to Britain’s financial stability
  • EU referendum campaign ‘quite male dominated’, claims Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom
  • To date, only so far only 11 of 20 Conservative MEPs back staying in the EU (but only a single Tory MSP has backed pulling out)
  • Electoral Reform Society poll finds only one in six Brits feel informed about the EU referendum

 

General political news

 

Think tank warns of funding gap

A report issued this week by the Institute for Public Policy Research Scotland (IPPR Scotland) warned the next Scottish Government faced a funding gap of more than £2 billion each year by 2020. The report noted that welfare cuts planned at a UK level would see benefit spending in Scotland fall by £600 million a year by 2020/21.

High-tech firms set to benefit from new spending

In an interview with The (Dundee) Courier this week, Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon MP pledged to increase funding for some of Scotland’s high-tech companies. He told the publication: “If we are to keep up with our adversaries, it is Scottish brainpower and high value technology that we need.”

BBC Scotland to host televised party leader debates

BBC Scotland will host two televised party leader debates as part of its Holyrood election coverage, it was announced this week. The first will take place on 24 March and the second will be broadcast on 1 May, just days before the 5 May election.

SNP challenge opposition parties to outline council tax spending

The SNP challenged opposition parties to set out their own proposals for local taxation after criticism last week of Nicola Sturgeon’s reforms to council tax. Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “It’s rich of the SNP to make demands like these, when its own council tax plans were a straight lift from Scottish Conservative-commissioned recommendations barely a month ago.”

Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland 2014-15 figures released

The publication of Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) 2014-15, which estimates expenditure and revenue balances relating to the Public Sector in Scotland, was announced on Wednesday. Total expenditure for the benefit of Scotland by the Scottish Government, UK Government, and all other parts of the public sector was £68.4 billion.

First Meeting of the Fifth Session of the Parliament

The Presiding Officer has announced that, following consultation with party leaders, she intends the first meeting of the new Parliamentary session to be on Thursday 12 May 2016. The Parliament will meet from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm for the purpose of Members’ oath-taking, and again at 2.30 pm for the purpose of electing the Presiding Officer and two Deputy Presiding Officers. Newly elected Members will be notified after the election. That means that the new Ministerial line-up may not be finalised until a week or so after the 5 May elections.  The committees will be the following week at the earliest.

Parliamentary Activity

Murdo Fraser (Conservative, Mid-Scotland and Fife): To ask the Scottish Government what action it takes to ensure that wind turbine construction near (a) public and (b) private water sources does not damage drinking water quality.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please do get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Perceptive Celebrates Prestigious UK Public Relations Award

Perceptive Celebrates Prestigious UK Public Relations Award

Specialist communications consultancy Perceptive Communicators has brought home another high profile public relations award after it won the Best Healthcare and Pharma Campaign at last night’s PR Moment Awards in Manchester (9 March).

The Glasgow based company – which operates across the UK – scooped the award for its ‘BioCity Scotland – Enterprise Area’ public affairs and public relations campaign, which resulted in life sciences incubator BioCity Scotland being awarded lucrative Enterprise Area status by the Scottish Government. This is expected this to create around 180 jobs at BioCity Scotland over the next five years.

The PR Moment Awards celebrate excellence and reward outstanding campaigns in the UK public relations and communications sector. Over 830 entries were received from over 200 companies.

Julie McLauchlan, managing director and founder of Perceptive Communicators, said:

“This was a campaign with one clear and measurable objective. What made this campaign particularly special and rewarding is that achieving that objective will not only benefit our client, but also the 24 young and growing businesses currently based at BioCity Scotland and future tenant companies, not to mention the expected creation of around 180 jobs over the next five years which will be a welcome boost for the area’s economy.

“I’m delighted with this recognition for our work, our clients and our talented and dedicated team – especially as we were up against some strong competition from across the UK.”

Dr Diane Harbison, Managing Director of BioCity Scotland said:

“Perceptive’s expertise in both public relations and public affairs played a crucial role in helping BioCity to gain Enterprise Area status after only a few months of working together – and to say I was delighted with this achievement would be an understatement.

“The difference that Enterprise Area status will make to BioCity Scotland is massive. We hope it will help us attract even more potentially world-class life science businesses and it’s great news for our existing tenants, who will be able to invest the money they save in rates into developing new technologies, hiring more staff or expanding into new markets.”

This win comes hot on the heels of another prestigious award win for the Perceptive team as it recently won a national Construction Marketing Award for ‘Best Use of Press and Public Relations’ for the Athletes’ Village campaign.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Perceptive Communicators works with organisations and individuals to drive better business results through better communications. Its expert team of experienced specialists provide marketing, social media, communications, public affairs and PR advice, with the aim to always to improve results at the heart of all activity undertaken.

Perceptive’s focus is on four specialist areas; technology, construction, life sciences and professional services.

www.perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

@perceptivecomms

Housing and construction news

Housing and construction news

Scotland’s housing news this week centred on a number of Scottish Government announcements. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined a change to the way Scottish council tax would be paid, while the Social Justice secretary, Alex Neil, outlined new measures which the Scottish Government hopes will accelerate the construction of new public and private homes across the country. Elsewhere, Energy minister Fergus Ewing laid out plans to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings.

The tit-for-tat arguments surrounding the EU referendum continued with this week’s key focus of the ongoing debate outlined below. In a general political context, the Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, claimed that the upcoming Parliamentary elections in May would be Scotland’s first ‘tax and spend’ election. More on this and other key stories from the week are below.

Housing and construction news

SNP outlines council tax reform

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined plans this week which will see households in more expensive band properties paying more council tax. From April 2017, the rates paid by those in the four highest council tax bands (E, F, G and H) will be adjusted in a move that will generate £100 million a year, the Scottish Government claimed. The additional revenue will be invested in schools through future local government settlements.

New measures unveiled to accelerate house building in Scotland

Tuesday saw Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil announce a new £50 million infrastructure fund to speed up construction of thousands of new affordable and private homes. It was claimed that the flexible grant and loan fund will help ‘unlock strategic housing sites of importance’ to local authorities to increase the scale of housing delivery. Building on the success of the National Housing Trust, new financing mechanisms are also being explored to expand mid-market rent developments. An information sheet: ‘More Homes Scotland’ details the steps being taken by the Scottish Government to boost the supply of homes across all tenures. It is available to read here.

Energy Minister announces plans to improve energy efficiency of public sector buildings

A major programme to make public sector buildings more energy efficient got underway on Tuesday.  12 suppliers have been appointed to a procurement framework to deliver energy efficiency retrofit works and services that will improve the energy performance of the public sector. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “This scheme could transform our public sector buildings and has the potential to save taxpayers millions of pounds.”

EU Referendum – Weekly Update

  • First Minister warns Prime Minister Cameron against undertaking a ‘negative’ EU referendum campaign
  • UK Ministers produce the first official analysis of what would happen if the UK voted to leave the European Union. It can be read here
  • UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn claims the Prime Minister’s desire for a free market Europe is at odds with his own stance
  • Boris Johnson’s economic adviser warns that leaving the EU would cause an ‘economic shock
  • Tony Blair warns leaving the EU could push Scotland towards independence

General political news

The Scottish Labour Party outlines its ‘tax and spend’ election plans

Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, claimed that the upcoming Parliamentary elections in May would be Scotland’s first ‘tax and spend’ election. Her comments focused on the Scotland Bill and the new welfare powers it would bring to Scotland. She outlined her proposals which included ensuring that children leaving care and going into higher education receive a full grant and raising the Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance. Ms Dugdale also used her speech as an opportunity to attack the Scottish National Party, accusing the party of a “dereliction of duty” over their “total silence about the scale of cuts to come”.

Local councils had a £70m surplus last year

Scottish councils recorded a revenue surplus of almost £70 million last year according to figures released this week. Statistics show local authorities reported an overall revenue surplus of £69.4 million for 2014-15, compared with a £54.8m deficit in 2013-14.

New social welfare agency announced for Scotland

The Scottish government is set to create a new agency to deliver social security payments. Speaking in the first Scottish Parliament debate on social security since the fiscal framework to transfer welfare powers was agreed, Tuesday afternoon saw Alex Neil confirming that there would be a phased transition over the next few years of the administration of powers.

Parliamentary Activity

Joe FitzPatrick (SNP, Dundee City West) on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Approval of SSI—That the Parliament agrees that the Assessment of Energy Performance of Non-domestic Buildings (Scotland) Regulations 2016 [draft] be approved.

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee

9th Meeting, 2016

The Committee will meet at 1.30 pm in the David Livingstone Room (CR6)

  1. Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill: The Committee will consider the delegated powers provisions in this Bill after Stage 2.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please do get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Professionals and pupils experience life at Kier as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week

Professionals and pupils experience life at Kier as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week

Individuals from a cross section of businesses swapped their usual surroundings for a day on a building site as they took part in a special ‘Apprentice for the Day’ initiative with hub South West and Kier Construction.

Charlotte McDonnell and Craig Young (both from hub South West), Gary Gray (Skills Development Scotland) and Mark McGuigan (Martec Engineering) worked with Kier Construction on Wednesday 2 March at its Marr College site. The quartet then moved to the Garnock Campus later in the afternoon.

They were joined on site by three pupils from Marr College, who came to learn about the many varied careers available in construction. Flynn Murray, Douglas Rankine and Mac McInnes, all aged 16, joined up with mentors from Kier, PJ Careys and FES to learn about site engineering, quantity surveying, mechanical, plumbing and planning.

The initiative, which was facilitated by Kier, was undertaken as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016. The campaign takes place from 29 February to 4 March and celebrates the benefits modern apprenticeships bring to businesses, individuals and the economy.

Kier was supported on the day by some of its contractors working at Marr College, including FES, D&D Decorators, SPIE Ltd, Martec Engineering, PJ Careys and JB Brickwork. Kier’s work at Marr College with hub South West Scotland on behalf of South Ayrshire Council will see the iconic listed school building being redeveloped and modernised.

Managing director of Kier Construction’s Scotland and north-east England business, Brian McQuade, said: “We hope that those taking part enjoyed their first taste of the construction sector and can take something back to their day jobs following a day with Kier.

“This event illustrates the importance of providing apprenticeship opportunities and demonstrates the positive role they can play in addressing the skills gap. Those taking part in today’s event are in the unique position of experiencing what it is like to develop one of Scotland’s state-of-the-art teaching and sporting facilities, which is to be provided for the local community.

“As well as taking part in apprenticeship schemes like this, we are committed to using locally-based suppliers and subcontractors across all our work with hub South West Scotland, helping to support economic growth in the area and provide employment and training opportunities for the people of South Ayrshire.”

Gary Gray, relationship accounts executive at Skills Development Scotland (SDS), said: “There is a huge amount of work being done to encourage more young people to consider a career in construction, and that involves employers, industry bodies and partners such as SDS.

“Events such as Scottish Apprenticeship Week are a great opportunity to show how a modern apprenticeship can open the door to a construction career, and it’s encouraging to see partners such as hub South West playing such a positive role in this respect.”

Charlotte McDonnell, Skills Academy development manager for hub South West, said: “Apprentice for a Day was a fantastic event on which to collaborate with Skills Development Scotland and Kier Construction. Not only did the students get involved and help us support Scottish Apprenticeship Week, they also gained a diverse and genuine insight into the variation of trades available in the industry, both technical and practical.

“Addressing the skills gap is a real priority for hub South West and by working with local enterprises, schools and our many participants, we look to encourage more opportunities like this to coincide with some of the exciting state-of-the-art educational facilities we are developing. This was an invaluable learning experience for both the participating pupils and the facilitators.”
Greater opportunity for engagement between education and business sits at the heart of the Scottish Apprenticeship Week’s yearly campaign.

ENDS
Notes to editors:
Image: those who part in the initiative

Kier Construction

Kier Construction is part of the Kier Group – a FTSE 250-quoted company and a leading integrated property, residential, construction and services group.

Kier Construction has provided a high quality service to clients throughout Scotland for over 40 years, exceeding expectations by helping clients get the most from their budgets with the highest possible build quality. With offices in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, Kier Construction has a strong presence across Scotland and continues to develop in the region, with an increase in the breadth and depth of core skills being provided to its ever-growing client base.

Recent Highlights:

Health – One of five principal supply chain partners on the NHS’ £600m Health Facilities Scotland framework and has recently been appointed to prepare a programme of works to improve the infrastructure at Inverclyde Royal Hospital and the Royal Alexandria Hospital

Education – Currently delivering several education projects across Scotland including the £40m Kilmarnock Learning Campus for East Ayrshire Council, the £24m Ayr Academy and the £35m redevelopment of Marr College for South Ayrshire Council, the £36m Garnock Campus for North Ayrshire Council, a £13m primary school joint campus and community facility for The Highland Council in Fort William and an £8m extension to the Robert Gordon University Campus in Aberdeen

National Frameworks – In addition to being one of five principal supply chain partners on the NHS’ £600m Health Facilities Scotland framework, Kier Construction is an equity stakeholder in hub South West Scotland, which will deliver £600m of infrastructure investment in south-west Scotland over the next decade. The company is also delivering over £15m of minor works projects as part of the £1.5bn Scape National Minor Works Framework, which it has just been reappointed to.

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