Working and Childcare – is it a mission impossible?

Major issues

One of the major issues affecting working families during this time of the year is without a doubt the issue of childcare during the school shut down periods.  Where to go with them, how to find suitable child care, the cost associated with these days and more all come into play – When you have more than one child, these costs can quickly escalate.

At Howells, have been looking into this as many of us have children currently in primary and secondary education and find the coming months a nightmare filled with childcare dilemmas.  This is a problem for most working parents, especially those without the benefit of a ‘grandparent care’ facility.  Childcare costs vary from the age of the child and the type of environment that they attend; A full time nursery for preschool children is around 34.00 per day.

Primary School Children

When children turn 8 years old, they then fall into a different category and have to rely on childminders, often in their own homes.  This can be a worry for parents – how do you know what is going on when you are not there?  When the children get to this age, they often want to do summer activity clubs, but these do not run for the entire working day and you have to drop them off mid-morning and pick up mid-afternoon.  What are you meant to do with work either side of this?  The working parent seems to have to make tough choices all the time.  ‘Does my child have to miss these activities, or do I need to miss work and all the implications that this involves’?

2 or more children

There is also the added issue of the ‘2 or more children’ problem, where there are such sufficient age differences that the parent cannot get them into the same system of day care.  What do you do when one wants to do the activity club, and the other is too young and needs full time care?  Sometimes it can feel like work fits in around childcare and not the other way round.

Tracey Jackson, Marketing Manager here at Howells Patent Glazing said, “ I do not think that the councils have thought hard enough about this problem. When children are under the legal age to be left at home all day, parents or carers should be offered REASONABLY priced, day long child care at their schools.  After all, the children live within a reasonable distance from these places of education and therefore it should not be difficult to utilise this type of care.  These facilities are few and far between, and costs are in line with preschool childcare… way out of the pocket of the average working parent, especially those with more than one child”.

Bumblebee vouchers

The government are trying to help parents with schemes such as the tax relief Bumblebee tax vouchers, where you save around 25% of the child care costs by purchasing the vouchers directly through salary sacrifice. For under 13’s the choice is wide, but not always practical if you work long hours.  The most flexible arrangement seems to be a mix of all options, a childminder/a grandparent/or friend who will not object to taking children to clubs and then looking after siblings, or a single option of child care facility where the children stay in paid care until they are old enough to be left at home; usually at around 14 years old, but this depends on the child.

Work Experience

Another option available to parents and children is to gain valuable work experience, similar to those carried out during term time in year 10, whilst sampling different trades.  This would be helpful in deciding future career paths, picking options and earning a little bit of pocket money.  It does take a lot of planning as the authority needs to approve the work place to ensure that it is a fit and safe environment, and that the working time does not exceed a maximum of 5 hours per day.  This could mean anything from a paper round, working in an office, in a shop or in a manufacturing environment, just like Howells Patent Glazing.

As a company, we know that the future of manufacturing lies in the new generation, and get a true buzz out of showing young people what it is to work in manufacturing and the construction industry.  As a country, the UK has a major skills shortage and unless it is addressed, it will leave a hole in the industry that cannot be filled internally.  This is something that we can all do, if we can spare the time to train, involve and educate young people.  This year alone, Howells Patent Glazing have given meaningful employment to eight children aged between 13 and 15 during both the school work experience week and several days over the summer holidays.

Mentoring a young person

Key points from Howells Patent Glazing to consider if you wish to mentor a young person:

  • Find out what their interests are and then place them either in the office or the factory accordingly.  There will be no benefit to anyone if you put someone who wants to work in marketing on the shop floor learning about roof bars.
  • Draw up a flexible training plan. For this, we tend to overload the requirements as everyone works at their own pace and they have different learning journeys.  There is no benefit to us or the child to make it a race and ruin their personal learning curve.  You will also need to factor in a member of staff to sit with them to coach and mentor them through their journey.
  • Make it sound exciting! It saddens us when people say, “I only work in manufacturing”. Manufacturing and construction is how this country was built.  Let’s get the excitement back into making a difference, building a greater Britain.  The youth are our future, give them a trade and they will use it.

It is important to note that any training plan has to follow the guidelines of the local councils employers guide, which stipulates what can be done and for how long.  The role of the department is then looked at and all available work that fits into the criteria is put into a list and against that the training that will be required to fulfil that job.  This is then broken down into a diary type form, but is still flexible to allow for a nurtured approach.  Once they are trained, they can carry out functions which can monitored and checked for accuracy, feedback given and then the learner can move onto another section.

Tracey Jackson concluded, “It is so important to give back with this type of training, and giving a positive spin on manufacturing to young people is definitely the way forward”.

Upskilling the workforce

We have a strategy to upskill all of our workforce. This involves all of our fixing teams, our admin/sales staff and our factory floor staff. In total, out of 37 staff, 28 are either about to or are undertaking a work placed NVQ.  This is an impressive statistic, and we have been shortlisted twice for an award to mark our positive training efforts via Midland Insider and now with National Apprenticeship Awards 2016.

 

For more information on Howells Patent Glazing, visit our homepage at www.howellsglazing.co.uk

 

 

 

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Can SME’s still win business; Howells Patent Glazing question procurement procedures

The government has set itself a target of spending £1 in every £3 with small businesses by 2020 but our Midlands manufacturing firm, Howells Patent Glazing, are questioning how feasible the ambitious procurement goal is.

With The Education Funding Agency (EFFA) commencing the first phase of its hunt for contractors for its £6billion construction framework in May 2016, small businesses, even the ones who previously held relationships with local councils and contractors, are missing out on their slice of the pie it seems. An article in the latest edition of Construction News announced that Kier secured nearly 40% of all contracts on the EFFA’s main contractor framework, followed by huge names in the industry such as Bowmer & Kirkland, Galliford Try, Bam, Wates, Carillion and Sir Robert McAlpine.

These statistics have left firms like ours at Howells Patent Glazing thinking about our regional framework. According to the gov.uk website, the list of contractors appointed on the regional procurement framework was all too familiar. Contrary to the government’s vision of opening their doors to a more competitive market place, the new approach to council procurement seems to create an increasingly difficult barrier to trading direct with once previously accessible council clients.

Tracey Jackson, marketing manager here at Howells Patent Glazing said, “We know we have great products and we know our clients; having worked closely with local councils in the past, and having built those relationships over our 40+ years of manufacture and development.  Years of developing relationships based on our reputation is now a thing of the past as we are left to cosy up to the main contractors, which can be hit and miss to say the least.  But I guess it swings both ways. There are contractors with whom we have worked in the past, who know us, trust us and use our products and always send us enquiries that come their way – we are lucky in that sense. There are smaller businesses than ours who have lost everything.”

This new approach to government and council procurement seems entirely biased towards main contractors, so the advice to fellow SME’s from Howells Patent Glazing is to keep chipping away at those who get the contracts, and try and get the business’s name out there.  Keep an eye out for contract award notices if and when they are published, and keep knocking on those doors.

Tracey Jackson concluded, “Apparently there are increasing targets for government spending with SME’s, so maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve had success with local authorities in the past, then Howells Patent Glazing would love to hear your story.”

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How to avoid having to be a psychic credit controller

How do credit controllers keep things running?  How do they control the risk to the company?

 

quarter one insolovency for uk

 

Companies ceasing trading

With new government statics in for the first quarter of 2016 the trend for companies ceasing trading does not seem to abating.  Government figures show 3,694 companies entered insolvency in the first three months of the year, 3.6pc lower than in the same period during 2015.

 

 

new companies

Companies starting up

Couple that with new company start ups, there are well known statistics that show that at least half of all start up businesses fail within their first 5 years, this coupled with the fact that some of these now also restart new companies, sometimes pre-empting the fail of the currently trading company and this compounds the job of the credit controller.

 

 

Controlling the risk

Trying to control the exposure and risk of a company these days falls onto the already stressed accounts department of the company.  It seems that the credit controller now also needs to be a psychic and have abilities of fortune telling!

 

Cash flow forecasts demand that the credit controller be ahead of the game where finance is concerned and at the tip of their fingers know what cash is due in at any point.  If they only had to deal with expected payment dates as agreed on contract starts, that would be easy, however they are constantly now playing catch up with customers finding more and more convoluted ways of avoiding payments.

Mitigating the challenge

There are several ways of mitigating the challenge of non and defaulting payments, firstly, the most important of all, for cash sale customers/non account customers ask for a deposit with order as this will cover the basic expenses outlay and then insist on full payment before or on delivery of cleared funds.  Cleared funds are very important, as some payment options require 3 to 5 days to get through the banking system.  If a customer wants to pay on the day, cash or fast payment into the bank or credit card are  the only options that should be considered.  If there is time, the BACS/CHAPS or cheques can be considered.

Credit card payments need thought as if a deposit is taken by card and then another payment type is received for the balance, should the customer complain or reject the goods upto 6 months after delivery, they can have a FULL refund from the credit card company.  This is given to them first on complaint and then you have to fight to overturn the decision.

Customers and credit accounts

For customer having or wanting credit accounts, there are a few rules that must be followed.  Never overextend the company by offering credit to any one customer that is more than 20% of your overall yearly sales.  If this customer should default in payment for any reason, the impact on your business would be catastrophic.  Next, you must credit check every customer to determine the credit worthiness of their company.  Never extend more credit than it says on the report and never more than you can afford to lose, should the worst happen, but these will need to be monitored regularly as things can change on a day to day basis.  If you have enough in your budget to allow, having debt insurance is definitely the way to go.  This works on a company to company basis (not private indivuals) and the insurance company not only monitor the risk of the company for you, but they also step in to chase doubtful debts and best of all – pay out when the company defaults!

Check our our website here

 

 

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Funding help for construction projects

Funding asssistance

Construction right on your doorstep

So, you may be thinking, “Why does this matter to me?” Well, because the funding has been increased by £62B, including a £15b increase for the education sector. This matters to us because here at Howells glazing, especially this year we have dealt with a lot of School projects.

 

old-mining-building-520x252

Our most recent projects include manufacturing 2 canopies for the client Neville Special Projects for Biggleswade Academy, a lantern roof light for the client Sewell Construction for Leeds University of Fine Art and a glazed canopy for the client HOC UK Ltd for St Marys Magdalene Academy.

 

There’s also great news if you’re a SME just like us. Small Medium Enterprises can access local funding to invest in their company. After researching into this there are two main ones for Dudley Council. The first one is called the Mezzanine Loan Fund which has £56m to invest. SME’s can have up to £2m invested into their company. The great thing is, this is only available to SME’s in the West Midlands. To gather more information, contact Finance Birmingham on 01212334903.

 

The second source is the Black Country Reinvestment Society Loan which will invest between £10k – £100k to business’ of up to 250 employees and a turnover not exceeding £5m per year. Brilliant for SME’s. To gather more information, contact BCRS on 08453138410.

 

(Picture: http://www.fine-art.leeds.ac.uk/contact-us/)

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Sheffield Cathedral Regeneration

Sheffield Cathedral Regeneration Blog

As visitors to Sheffield will know there is an  impressive Cathedral.  It is a Grade 1 Listed Building located in the centre of Sheffield and it is without doubt the most impressive building in the whole city.

 

Like many churches it has stories to tell.  William de Lovelet built the first church on this site and established the township of Sheffield through to the newly refurbished and welcoming building it is today. Howells Glazing were lucky enough to install one of our Hexagonal rooflights pictured below.

 

 Pictures: Sheffield Cathedral Regeneration 

 20140129_094912 20140128_111144

 

Many events are held in the cathedral one of which was a – Royal Party

On 11th June Saturday the cathedral marked the Queen’s 90th birthday with a special celebration.

A ‘Kings and Queens’ banquet was held for 90 people over 70 years of age who had been nominated by members of the community to honour the contribution they have made in the community over many years.

The banquet  included music from a Piano Trio and a Gospel choir and each

The banquet will include music from a Piano Trio and a Gospel choir and each person  received a rose as a sign of God’s love for them. Guests will also received a complementary booklet entitled The Servant Queen And The King She Serves.

queen

Sheffield Redevelopment

 

Within the city centre is an area of important buildings including Sheffield Town Hall, City Hall, Crucible Theatre and the Winter Garden, high quality public spaces including the Peace Gardens, Barkers Pool and Tudor Square, and commercial and shopping activity.

It also includes other new developments such as the 4-star St Paul’s hotel, new offices and the Millennium Square. This is known as the Heart of the City.

The Gold Route

This is a complex group of projects, providing a high quality environment for public places and spaces in the city centre. The Gold Route runs from the railway station to the University of Sheffield.

The journey from Sheffield Station to Devonshire Green via the Heart of the City (updated January 2011)

 

The Steel Route

This is a major proposal of the City Centre Master Plan which seeks to create a high quality, pedestrian friendly route from Moorfoot in the south to Castlegate and Victoria Quays in the north. It will complement the Gold Route and will be built to a similar high standard.

Upper Don Valley

This is the area from Rutland Road to Hillsborough to the north-west of the City Centre and includes Penistone Road, north Neepsend and the Claywheels Lane area.

Lower Don Valley

This is the area from Lady’s Bridge to Tinsley, including Darnall, Attercliffe and areas along the Sheffield and Rotherham boundary. We are working closely with colleagues in Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, recognising the similarity in landscape and the common opportunities and issues that exist in the neighbourin

Sheffield Regeneration

We are working to support the regeneration of our great city, by developing its public spaces, supporting our local neighbourhoods and making them great places to live, support the generation of investment through business and help protect and enhance our green environments in Sheffield.

 

  • thePorter Brook, theRivelin and the Sheaf. 61% of Sheffield’s entire area is green space Sheffield is well known for its steel production.  Due to steel production the population increased tenfold but sadly due to international completion in iron and steel there was a decline in these industries in the 1970s and 1980s, coinciding with the collapse of mining in the area.
  • The 21st century has seen extensive redevelopment in Sheffield along with other British cities. Sheffield’s gross value added (GVA) has increased by 60% since 1997, standing at £9.2 billion in 2007. The economy has experienced steady growth averaging around 5% annually, greater than that of the broader region of Yorkshire and the Humber.[5]

 

 

The city is in the valleys of the River Don and its four tributaries, the Loxley,, and a third of the city lies within the Peak District national park.[6] There are more than 250 parks, woodlands and gardens in the city,[6] and an estimated 2 million trees, giving Sheffield the highest ratio of trees to people of any city in Europe.[6] The city has a long sporting heritage, and is home to the world’s oldest football club.[7]

 

 

 

http://www.sheffieldcathedral.org/news/2016/6/8/a-royal-birthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brexit and the Construction Industry

How does Brexit affect the construction industry?

Before the EU Referendum, the business of construction was a good industry to get into because of the excitement and they pay! Now that Britain have left the EU what does this mean for the people who are currently in the construction industry because they have relied on the EU for their businesses.

A survey carried out by Smith and Williamson has “found that only 15% of construction executives favoured a UK exit from the EU”. This survey has showed that most of the construction industry need the EU to make their business successful and the EU is their main way of making good money.

Skilled Foreign Workers

It’s not just the companies that are in trouble, it is also the people who actually work there. They are now unemployed and have no way of using their skills in a job that they loved, but this also means that jobs will not happen as quickly because of the shortage of skilled workers. However, this is in some way good for employers because if they already have the skilled workers can increase overall annual profits.

Import and Export of Construction Materials
You do not need to be in the Construction industry to realise that the Britain as a company rely heavily on the EU for their Materials and their trade. Now we have left the EU, we can all believe that our trade to the EU will decrease, so we have to find a new way of making materials or find a new country that will be willing to trade with the UK, so that we can continue building new things.

Positives?

It may not be all bad though because now not as many people from the EU will come to England to seek work due to Brexit. This will increase the population of the EU and would therefore need to start trading with the UK to supply for all their population which will give the UK more money. Also if company owners will not need to pay as much into wages for their staff because there will be less people looking for jobs so this overall will increase annual profits. A survey carried out by www.building.co.uk shows wages for bricklayers working in London have hit £25 an hour due to the current skills shortage, and before the referendum analysts predicted wages would rise further if Britain voted to leave, so we can see that if we leave the EU, it would not be that bad for us and would affect the EU more.

Bibliography

Survey by Smith and Williamson – http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/What_does_Brexit_mean_for_construction%3F

Survey for builder’s wages – http://www.building.co.uk/what-a-brexit-means-for-construction/5082323.article

 

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Howells Patent Glazing collaborates with Pilkington United Kingdom Limited

Our West Midlands manufacturing firm, Howells Patent Glazing, are pleased to announce our collaboration with Pilkington United Kingdom Limited to offer their new solar control product, Pilkington Suncool One 60/40 to our customers!

Howells Patent Glazing collaborate with Pilkington UK Ltd to offer new product to clients

Howells Patent Glazing collaborate with Pilkington UK Ltd to offer new Suncool product to customers.

As the latest addition to the Pilkington Suncool Range, Pilkington Suncool One 60/40 is an off-line coated mid-range solar control product with a thermal insulation U-value of 1.0 W/m2K. It has been designed for use in commercial and high-end residential settings, to reflect heat back into the property and improve thermal efficiency. With the benefit of medium solar control helping to keep the building cooler in the summer, a comfortable indoor temperature is maintained all year round.

Gary Howells, sales director here at Howells Patent Glazing said, “We have been using products from the Pilkington product portfolio for over 30 years now for many reasons; they have a quality product, they always meet our time sensitive delivery dates, and have a fantastic back up customer service. We were really excited when they brought out the new Pilkington Suncool glass, as this was something we knew a lot of our customers have been calling out for – solar controlled glass, that lets in the maximum amount of light possible. With a lot of other solar controlled glass, the tint needed on the glass interrupts the amount of natural light entering through the glazing into the building. The new Pilkington Suncool glass resolves this problem, and we are excited to be able to offer it to our customers”.

As the entry level product to the full range, Pilkington Suncool One combines excellent low-e properties with medium solar control performance. This makes it the ideal solution for smaller commercial projects, or those with flexible specification requirements, as well as in premium residential properties.

Here at Howells Patent Glazing, we are known for being a forward thinking manufacturing firm and are regarded by many as one of the UK’s best glazing companies in the industry.  We are extremely proud of our reputation and are constantly striving to develop the business further, pushing for another record year, for the 3rd year in a row.

The full Pilkington Suncool™ range is designed to help to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions of a building the whole year round.

To find out more about Howells Patent Glazing, and how we can help you, visit our homepage at www.howellsglazing.co.uk

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Glazing UK; Howells Patent Glazing’s focus is on employees

Undertaking workplace NVQ’s are an important part of addressing the UK skills shortage, and it’s something that our Midlands based manufacturing firm, Howells Patent Glazing, have introduced to the entire workforce this year. Glazing UK; It’s more than just windows…

According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, whilst employment levels have increased, there is mounting evidence of stalling productivity growth that could hinder the current economic recovery as employers are unable to optimise their performance. The need to address structural skills and employment challenges, particularly in youth employment, is also something that the UKCES flagged up.

Here at Howells Patent Glazing, a family run business, we are dedicating 2016 to improving the skills of our whole team, including management level employees, to help address the UK skills shortage. Ensuring that the team is fully qualified means a lot to us, and at Howells we believe that our continued success is down to our commitment to the welfare and constant improvement of our dedicated staff.

 
Image L-R: Debbie Willetts, Company Secretary Howells Patent Glazing, Kurt Jacobs (Midlands Business Insider) and Tracey Jackson, Marketing Manager Howells Patent Glazing

Debbie Willetts, company secretary at Howells Patent Glazing said, “As a member of the team who is undertaking our new training programme, as well as organising it, I can honestly say that I am extremely proud of everyone’s progress here. Our staff have welcomed the new training courses and I have had the pleasure of seeing them all flourish and their confidence grow as a result.  I understand, first hand, that it is a very big step to start a new learning journey, especially having left education many years ago. I have recently started a coaching and mentoring course in addition to my Leadership and management NVQ to help support our team”.

Currently focusing on staff on the production line, from operatives through to management level, here at Howells Patent Glazing we have taken our staff from Functional Skills Level 2 all the way through to Level 2 NVQ Diploma’s in Business Improvement Techniques. We believe that there is still a desire for people to gain valuable skills and join manufacturing firms like ours. Whether it be steel manufacturing, gates, or glazing UK, there’s an industry out there that needs to continue to train it’s employees. Glazing UK homes, businesses and providing outstanding solutions to architects and developers is our passion, and our team are a huge part of it.

For more information on us, visit our homepage here for glazing UK >  www.howellsglazing.co.uk

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Extending your living space, without compromising your existing home or garden?

You want to extend your living space, but do not want compromise the available space in your existing home or garden?

 

Sound familiar?  Add in the budget scenario and you have a potential recipe for disaster…

 

What if there was a solution that offered you the potential to do all these things but also offer a flexible approach to internal or external living space?

marketing photo 3 Greenways (5) Greenways (4) NATURAL STRUCTURES-PIC5

We have been making canopies for years and they have proved to be very successful not only in private homes, but also in commercial applications.  The exciting change comes from the ability to offer a stand alone self supported canopy that stretches out from the rear wall of your home, but then with an addition of bi folding doors to one or two of the sides weather proof them.

 

This makes the best of both worlds!  You can have alfresco dining OR an enclosed weather proof space in one installation.    2 for the price of 1.

 

Who doesn’t like a great deal

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Window Cleaning Tips

When I’m cleanin’ Windows….

 

So, what’s your favourite hobby? I’m a fan of extreme window cleaning myself…..

 

0000 window cleaning

 

 

Image from Metro.co.uk

Some people go to extreme lengths to make sure their windows are clean. If extreme window cleaning isn’t your thing, how about some old fashioned window cleaning tips? Am I the only one whose mum would clean the inside of the windows with vinegar and newspaper? They might have had a Mr Muscle sparkle but the house smelled like a chip shop. A more practical glass cleaning tip is to clean one side top-to-bottom and the other side side-to-side; that way if you have any smudges you’ll know which side it’s on.

Luckily with our roof glazing you can opt for self-cleaning glass. Sound like witchcraft? It’s not, and here’s the science bit…..

 

00000 glass picture for blog

 

The Pilkington Activ™ Range: A Two Step Cleaning Process

After years of development, Pilkington Activ™ is the world’s first self-cleaning glass to use a microscopic coating with a unique dual-action.

The first stage of the cleaning process is “photocatalytic“. In this stage the coating reacts with daylight to break down organic dirt.

The second stage is “hydrophilic“. Here, instead of forming droplets, rainwater hits the glass and spreads evenly, running off in a “sheet” and taking the loosened dirt with it, also drying quickly without leaving streaks.

If the thought of spending endless hours cleaning windows puts you off building a new conservatory or installing skylights then self-cleaning glass is precisely what you need. View this demonstration video to gain a better understanding of how self-cleaning glass works with the forces of nature to keep your glass cleaner.

Reference; Pilkington; https://www.pilkington.com/en-gb/uk/householders/types-of-glass/self-cleaning-glass

 

So don’t be put off having a rooflight, orangery or conservatory roof fitted. Speak to our estimators about the benefits of self-cleaning glass. And don’t balance on the side of a building to clean your windows. It probably won’t end well.

 

Contact us on:  01384 820060

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