The man in charge of Jefferson Sheard Architects (UK) Limited when it plunged into administration earlier this month has said he was forced to take the action because its bank refused to lend it any more money
Tom Jones admitted he had been stung by the criticism levelled at him and his two fellow directors by former employees after they set up a new company, Jefferson Sheard Limited, just over two weeks after axing 45 jobs on July 12.
The company appointed insolvency expert P&A Partnership on August 11 after its bank, the Co-op, froze its account and cut its overdraft limit by £100,000. “The balance we owed was still above the new amount,” Jones said.
Ex-employees are incensed that missing wages and redundancy pay have still not been paid six weeks after they lost their jobs, claiming the company only put them in the picture when BD revealed details of their plight.
Jones said the firm had been caught out by last year’s Learning & Skills Council debacle – which saw a host of planned college projects dumped when it ran out of money – and the government’s decision to scrap the BSF programme. But he admitted: “I understand why people are angry. We could have given a proper explanation from the beginning. The situation overwhelmed us but there have been a lot of lessons learnt.” He said the scale of the conditions being imposed on the directors in return for the bank to extend its credit facilities – including putting their homes up as collateral – were too draconian. “We approached the bank in spring but we were asked to provide a huge security that was beyond the limit of what the directors were able to provide.
“The BSF decision took away our confidence in the future and as a consequence the directors weren’t able to agree to the onerous conditions for refinancing. The bank froze our account and we literally could not pay our staff.”
The new company employs close to 20 people from offices in Sheffield and Peterborough but around 30 have not been rehired – with many set to miss out on full redundancy payments. Administrator Christopher White said employees made redundant would only be able to “claim some of their entitlements up to certain statutory limits” via the government’s Redundancy Payments Service.
One ex-staffer, who is owed £2,000, said: “I’m only going to get a proportion of what I’m owed and they’re setting up a new company.” Another – owed £3,500 – said: “It’s not an ideal situation to be borrowing money off people because the company has let me down.”
Service helps employees made redundant
The Redundancy Payments Service, administered by the Insolvency Service, was set up in 1996 to make sure employees whose employer refused or could not pay redundancy received some compensation.
Payments for ex-employees are worked out on a case-by-case basis using a sliding scale formula which is, according to the Insolvency Service, “based on their age, length of service and contractual earnings up to a maximum limit which is currently £330 per week”.
Money paid to employees left out of pocket is paid from the National Insurance Fund and when payments have been made the RPS becomes a creditor and seeks the return of the money as part of the administration process.
India's economy grew at its fastest rate for more than two years in the last quarter, according to official data.
In the three months to June, GDP was up 8.8% compared with the same period last year.
Although only the 11th biggest economy in the world, India is the second fastest-growing, behind China.
Strong industrial and mining output helped boost the growth rate, India's statistics agency said.
Industrial output rose more than 12%, while mining and quarrying jumped nearly 9%.
Services including hotels and banking also did well, with output up nearly 10%.
Services account for 55% of India's economy, while industry makes up around 25% of output.
In July, the Reserve Bank of India said it expected annual growth for the current financial year to come in at about 8.5%.
But the bank has also said bringing down inflation remains a priority.
The inflation rate topped 11% last month and the strong performance in the economy is expected to encourage policymakers to continue raising interest rates.
Growth to slow
So far this year, the central bank has raised interest rates four times in a bid to curb inflation.
Economists expect further rises and many expect them to slow India's economic growth in the coming months.
"We don't expect this growth rate to be as strong over the next two quarters," admitted Deepak Gopinath, a director at Trusted Sources Research.
"Having said that, among the Bric economies [Brazil, Russia, India and China], India is well placed to sustain strong growth. It is less dependent on developed countries than the others."
Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, agreed that domestic demand was important for India's economy.
"With renewed pessimism on the extent of the recovery of developed economies, the Indian economy needs to depend on domestic drivers for growth," he said.
The Central Bank of India has will introduce mobile telephone-based technology for financial inclusion, a first in the country. The service will be launched in six villages of Anand from August 2010. The bank wants to include around 10,000 new customers under the financial inclusion scheme using the mobile telephony technology.
With the project, the bank plans to reach people who cannot afford banking services and to help mobilise their deposits for productive purpose. The bank further plans to extend these services to 15 more villages in Anand district. It is committed to touch 165 villages as part of the net financial inclusion by end of this financial year.
Source: Daily News & Analysis
Improved economic outlook and industrial capex revival resulted in strong order inflows for the domestic construction industry in the first quarter this fiscal. Order flowed in from the road and urban infrastructure verticals. The road segment alone saw an order inflow of 1,200 km, aggregating Rs170 billion (US$3.6 billion) just in Q1FY11 from the NHAI.
However, uncertainty regarding irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh continues; most companies are either slowing or stopping execution. Analysts expect the sector to report a top line growth of 20-22% (y-o-y) with EBITDA margins to be more or less flat as commodity prices have remained stable. Strong operational efficiency is expected to support the average adjusted profit-after-tax (PAT), anticipated to rise 15% y-o-y.
Source: Financial Express
Guerrilla Tactics, the RIBA's flagship annual CPD day and conference dedicated to small architecture practices, takes place on 17 and 18 November at the RIBA in central London. This year's event, under the banner 'What Clients Want', celebrates the relationship between architect and client, and includes a keynote speech from none other than 'Grand Designs' presenter Kevin McCloud, making a welcome return to Portland Place following his RIBA Trust Annual Lecture in May this year. This year’s event is run in association with NBS.
The CPD day
Wednesday 17 November is a full day of continuing professional development with training sessions covering a wide range of relevant subjects and a market place showcasing cutting edge products. Some of the day's sessions are:
Knowledge for practice: RIBA Agreements 2010; launch of the new Handbook of Practice Management; 'Keeping Out of Trouble'
Running your practice: Getting paid; risk management; HR for small practices; VAT update; managing across generations; the rights of designers and how to protect them
Tools and technology: using social tools to engage your audience; website clinic; new RIBA Resource Toolkit; best practice specification for domestic projects using online technologies
Your RIBA: RIBA Awards; benchmarking survey – what, how and why?; maximise your practice profile through RIBA Client Services; RIBA Climate Change Toolkit; secrets to success in RIBA Competitions; policy forum
Stand out from the crowd: Conservation Register; Client Design Advisors; targeting potential clients effectively and winning more work; why marketing is not monkey business; pick your clients before they pick you
Need to know: ensure compliance, achieve BREEAM targets and specify sustainable buildings in an ever changing regulatory environment; guide to JCT Minor Works; access design; fire engineering; Building Regulations Part B
The day will conclude with an evening networking event in the first floor Florence Hall, 'Little and Large', specially designed for small practice delegates to meet and pitch ideas to representatives of some of the UK's largest architecture practices.
The conference day
On Thursday 18 November Guerrilla Tactics continues with a full day conference hosted by RIBA President Ruth Reed and moderated by Jane Duncan, Vice President Practice. The conference will provide architects with a lively programme of presentations, keynotes, panel discussions, an afternoon 'live pitch' event and opportunities for networking with leading names from the architecture and commercial world. As well as Kevin McCloud, confirmed speakers include:
- Irena Bauman, Bauman Lyons Architects
- Paul Fletcher, chair of the RIBA Client Design Advisor steering group
- Patrick Theis and Soraya Khan, Theis + Khan Architects
- Richard Upton, Cathedral Group plc
- Tom Wilcox, Counterculture Partners
Greater powers for London mayor Boris Johnson will not prove to be an obstacle to the 'localism' agenda when it comes to responsibility for public sector housing finance. Under plans published jointly by the mayor and the London boroughs, the Homes and Communities Agency would lose its grant distribution role in the capital from next April when the government's new investment period begins.
The devolution strategy sees local boroughs becoming responsible for allocating their own share of London's social housing budget and entering into direct negotiations with developers and housing associations.
London could end up with a dual system if some boroughs choose not take on their housing responsibilities next year. The new system will require boroughs to sign up to a Devolved Delivery Agreement, which would require them to have housing policies in place to meet local needs and to deliver the mayor's wider London Housing Strategy. In return, participating boroughs will be given an indicative housing budget for the three years of the next spending round.
However, the strategy currently on the table allows these agreements to be entirely voluntary. Should boroughs choose not to participate, they would continue to receive housing allocations under the existing system managed by the HCA.
Johnson is inviting the boroughs to join the devolution debate over the coming months. Devolution of the HCA's responsibilities in London will require legislation in any case, which is expected to be introduced in the autumn.
Last week the mayor published the long-awaited London Housing Design Guide, which set mandatory standards for all new homes receiving public funding from April 2011. The requirements, welcomed by the RIBA, consist of 73 criteria for new homes including minimum space standards.
INDIA expects to become a bigger business partner of China and welcomes Chinese investment into its infrastructure and manufacturing sectors. It also hopes to export value-added technologies to China.
A delegation of 70 companies in sectors ranging from IT and machinery to pharmaceuticals and agriculture are in Shanghai this week, seeking business opportunities and celebrating India's national day at the World Expo on Wednesday.
"China and India are becoming more interdependent," said V K Topa, managing director of Invest India, at a conference today in Shanghai. "As the world's two most populous countries, China and India are together because many issues in today's business world are relevant to both of us." China is India's second-largest trading partner while the number of Chinese investors in India is also on the rise. Bilateral trade has been expanding at a rate of more than 40 percent in recent years. China's imports from India surged 75.3 percent to US$13.3 billion in the first seven months of this year from the same period last year, while exports to India jumped 40.1 percent to US$22.1 billion, according to China's Customs. Topa said India is a big and lucrative market for Chinese investors when everything is just taking off, and India has the "skills" China needs to upgrade its manufacturing structure.
Sha Hailin, chairman of the Shanghai Commission of Commerce, said China, especially Shanghai, can learn a lot from India, particularly in the service outsourcing sector. "We should further promote collaboration between China and India and have more exchanges in investment, technology, projects and research," Sha said. Chinese companies such as ZTE Corp and China Wireless Technologies Ltd have already entered India for market potentials there.
Source: Shanghai Daily
Plans to create an urban cable car across the Thames have moved a step further ahead with the news that an architect has been selected to draw up plans for the scheme, which could provide new construction jobs if it goes ahead.
According to the Architects Journal, London-based practice Wilkinson Eyre has been chosen for the project to link the Royal Docks in east London with the Greenwich Peninsula.
A public consultation has been carried out by Transport for London on the proposed scheme, which would see the UK's first urban facility of this kind constructed and has won the support of London mayor Boris Johnson.
The news source reports that plans are due to be submitted by Wilkinson Eyre to the London Borough of Newham for permission in September.
Further construction work may result from a proposed sustainable building in the Royal Victoria Docks which has been designed by Wilkinson Eyre and partners and is scheduled to open in early 2012.