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Apprenticeships Levy and support for BMF members  

The aim of the Apprenticeship Levy is to transfer the focus of training onto employers needs so as to improve the quantity of apprenticeships in England and enable employees across the workforce, from entry level 2 to post graduate level, to access tailored training to benefit the employer’s business. If not used within 24 months of payment your contributions to the levy will be lost. The Levy came into effect in April 2017. Please contact the BMF for more details on the levy and how it may affect your business on 02476 854980.  

BMF Apprenticeships Plus Service  


The BMF Apprenticeships Plus Service is recognised as a most effective and cost efficient way to train members of your workforce, management team and even directors. This initiative is a tried and tested way to recruit new staff, re-train or upskill existing staff and retain valued members of your team through tailored work-based training programmes.  

BMF Apprenticeships lead to nationally recognised qualifications. Merchants can utilise the BMF Apprenticeship Scheme to access funding for at least 90% of the cost of the training in England, with further availability of funding in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland. The minimum duration of an entry level BMF Apprenticeship is 12 months, depending on the job role and the qualification.  

Some of the favoured qualifications for merchants include: • Trade Supplier (written and tailored by BMF Members and others to mirror precisely the merchant role) • Customer Service • Team Leading • Warehousing and Storage • Business Administration • Management  

Whilst the BMF Apprenticeship initiative provides funded and co-funded qualifications from entry level 2 through higher levels, foundation degrees, full degrees and even post graduate and masters levels the majority uptake is through the two entry level apprenticeship grades:  

Intermediate Level  

Apprenticeships
Apprentices work towards an entry level 2 qualification (equivalent to 5 GCSE’s at A-C) which involves tailored learning with BMF appointed experienced and industry competent training providers across every area of the UK. 

Achievement in England is measured through final exam style assessments, again delivered by specialist BMF approved assessors. Achievement in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland follows more of a continuous assessment format. New entrants or existing employees will often commence or progress to higher level apprenticeships.  

Advanced Level Apprenticeships

Apprentices may work towards a Level 3 qualification. The more commonly chosen advanced level funded and co-funded qualifications include wholesaling, management, IT, logistics, finance, sales and procurement, but here are many more to choose from by simply asking your BMF advisor.  

Progression from an advanced level apprenticeship could include a funded qualification at Level 4 or the BMF Diploma in Merchanting.  

As BMF Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes, most of the training is ‘on the job’. You must give your apprentices an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. You are also responsible for paying your apprentices’ wages; for a minimum of 30 hours per week for the duration of the Apprenticeship; and providing training support.  

The BMF Apprenticeships Plus programme is managed by the BMF through a consortium of the best providers in the UK and with particular expertise in the merchanting sector. All BMF provision is delivered by providers graded by OFSTED as good or outstanding. BMF Apprenticeships Plus will work with you, the employer, to:  

• Help you decide which Apprenticeship is right for your business and your apprentice. • Explain the way that Apprenticeships work and source funding for a minimum of 90% of the cost. (please note that engagement of an apprentice at 16-18 years old (up to 24 years old in certain circumstances) will enable you to claim an employment grant of £1,000, which will greatly exceed the maximum 10% employer contribution. • Agree a training plan with you and your apprentice. • Help you recruit an apprentice or support your existing staff into Apprenticeships • Manage the training, evaluation and end point assessments. • Ensure that national quality standards are met and deliver integrated, coherent training.

BMF Apprenticeships Plus will ensure that builders’ merchants will benefit to the fullest extent from government funding targeted at apprentice training. The size of the contribution is a maximum of 10% of the course cost spread over the length of the course (typically £25 to £40 a month over a 12 to 15 month term).  

Training is free to employers with less than 50 employees for apprentices aged 16-18 years old. Employment grants of £1,000 are claimed for all apprentices aged under 19 and for others with care or learning needs up to 24 years old.  

At February 2017 the apprentice minimum wage for 16 to 18 year olds is £3.50 per hour and applies to working time and time spent training, albeit this rate increases annually. The rate increases incrementally with age. Employers are free to pay above the new wage and many do so due to regional employment pressures or simply in order to encourage the best possible candidate.  

If an existing employee is on a higher wage when commencing their apprenticeship, the employer must continue to pay that for the remainder of the training or until the apprentice becomes eligible for the full national minimum wage.  

Apprenticeships are subject to eligibility and funding rules, which are different for each country in the UK. In all cases, please contact by phone or email or email BMF Apprenticeships Plus for information.  


27 February 2017
Apprenticeships
Training is free to employers with less than 50 employees for apprentices aged 16-18 years old. Employment grants of £1,000 are claimed for all apprentices aged under 19 and for others with care or learning needs up to 24 years old.

Cyber Insurance - Bluefin


Cyber insuranceFollowing recently publicised high profile breaches of IT security and with threats of abuse of data increasing, there has never been a more pertinent time to consider cyber insurance.  

Businesses are increasingly having to manage the emerging threat of cyber crime and breaches and loss of intellectual property are now a board-level concern rather than an issue for IT managers to resolve in isolation. Criminals are increasingly using ‘non-targeted’ organisations to reach more desirable targets (a small supplier used to access a larger organisation) and fines for companies suffering data breaches are expected to increase when EU Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect in the UK– potentially reaching up to 5% of turnover for a privacy breach.  

Even seemingly robust networks are vulnerable, due to the difficulty in monitoring and negating all internal and external breaches:  

90% of large organisations (81% in 2014) and 74% (60% in 2014) of small businesses experienced security breaches in the past year*
31% of victims discovered the breach internally; 69% were notified by an external entity*
229 days was the median number of days taken to discover threats on a victim’s network before detection**  

* Source: HM Government 2015 Security Breaches survey
** Source: Mandiant M-Trends 2015 – A view from the frontline  

Purchasing trends
Historically, many organisations have chosen not to buy cyber insurance for a variety of reasons including premium levels, the misconception that standard business policies exclude cyber risks and the feeling that their cyber exposure is minimal or non-existent.  

Anticipated changes to UK Data Protection legislation, however, are expected to increase the take-up of UK cyber insurance products. A number of additional insurers are now entering the market, with some particularly focussing on providing more affordable policies for SMEs.  

Cyber insurance is increasingly recognised as a risk mitigation tool, ensuring that financing and support are available to IT teams in the event of a serious breach.  

Summary of the cover available
Insurer offerings differ; however the following table broadly outlines the covers available.  

Own losses
Cyber insurance: own losses


Third party losses  
Cyber insurance: third party losses


In summary, every company has a cyber risk– regardless of size or industry. Bluefin would be delighted to carry out an analysis of your own cyber risk and recommend appropriate, cost effective insurance options.  

For more information on cyber insurance products or Insurance Plus, please contact Juliette Honnor at Bluefin: juliette.honnor@bluefingroup.co.uk or call 020 8781 9289
Cyber insurance - Bluefin. Following recently publicised high profile breaches of IT security and with threats of abuse of data increasing, there has never been a more pertinent time to consider cyber insurance. Businesses are increasingly havi

A strong finish for Merchants in 2016  


BMBI“2016 was a successful year for generalist builders’ merchants, with revenues of over £5.44bn and sales value growth of 5.2% on the previous year. A strong final quarter’s performance (up 5.5% on the previous year) contributed to the overall success of 2016,” says Ricky Coombes, Channel Manager at GfK, which provides the top line data for the Builders Merchant Building Index.  

“Heavy Building Materials, the most valuable category, performed in line with the total channel. It grew 5.8% on 2015, driven by several key sub-categories, such as Roofing Products, Lintels and Plaster/Plasterboards”. Timber & Joinery Products, the second-largest category, was up 3.8%.  

Kitchens & Bathrooms (+7.9% on December 2015), Heavy Building Materials (the largest category, +6.5%) and Landscaping (+5.7%) outperformed merchants generally in December 2016 compared with 2015.  

Landscaping also performed well in Q4, up 10.3% on Q4, 2015. Heavy Building Materials (+7.1%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (+5.9%) and Ironmongery (+5.6%) were stronger than merchants generally. Most categories sold more this year.  

December’s Builders Merchant Building Index (77.1) was affected by fewer trading days in the month, although less so when adjusted to reflect average sales per day (94.1). The fourth quarter (100.9) was in line with the Index but ahead when adjusted for trading days (104.7).  

John Newcomb, Managing Director Builders Merchants Federation said: “Despite fears around the Brexit vote mid-year, another strong set of results for the final quarter of the year is encouraging. The BMF’s own Sales Indicators, which confirm that the final quarter of 2016 wrapped up three years of growth in the sector, provide a valuable insight into regional sales. Some of the highest percentage increases are currently occurring outside London and the South East, which are normally considered the busiest areas.”    

The Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI)
The BMBI is a brand of the BMF. The BMBI report, which is produced and managed by MRA Marketing, uses GfK’s Builders Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data which analyses sales out data from over 80% of generalist builders’ merchants’ sales across Great Britain. The full report is on www.bmbi.co.uk.
2016 was a successful year for generalist builders’ merchants, with revenues of over £5.44bn and sales value growth of 5.2% on the previous year.

John Fairey FCILT of Prompt Training Ltd asks Drivers – Are they your ambassadors or a potential weak link?

Truck driverWhilst technology exists for driverless trucks, a completely autonomous truck that can travel from A to B with no human intervention beyond setting the route remains at least 20 to 30 years away by almost all estimates. Meanwhile, drivers with the human element will remain an extremely important part of our day to day operations.  


The ideal driver may not exist, so how do we create one? The simple answer is by training & management!  

Many merchants may already be “micro-managing” their drivers and have robust systems in place including professional development training to ensure their business is conducted in a compliant, cost effective manner and not exposed to risk. Through this article, I would like to stimulate some thought & provide a few simple ideas as to how standards can be continually improved together with both risk & cost reduction.

The job description of Driver clearly infers that the main requirement is to drive the vehicle. If the average day was analysed, actual driving may account for 50% or less of working hours. Drivers have to possess a wide range of skills and qualifications to meet the basic requirements of the business. These include driving, loading, unloading, interpersonal skills, general fitness and capability – each of which open up to a wide range of detail. Failure in any of this detail will lead to the business being vulnerable to complaints, incidents, collisions, prosecution, brand damage and the resultant additional costs.  

The first step may be to understand that simply to hold the relevant driving licence, DCPC & truck crane qualification, whilst critical- it is very much “only the first step”.  

Additional driver development training can help in ensuring your drivers are safe, your business is compliant, minimising the risk of collisions & complaints and improving both business performance & driver motivation.  

Consider identifying and targeting the areas for improvement and training. This could include the major areas of risk within the business for example WRRR (work related road risk) or high cost areas such as fuel and damage. Establish a training plan, which may include a monthly / quarterly tool box talk on a topical subject.  

Has the business set clear objectives in the form of comprehensive policies and procedures included in a driver handbook, employee handbook, code of conduct or employee contract? If so have the drivers been made aware of the detail and signed a declaration confirming their receipt, understanding and acceptance? Is the information included in a signed Induction checklist and regular refresher tool box talks or briefings? It is important to fully record any training, it is a vital part of your evidence to protect the business in the event of a claim.  

Ongoing commitment to development training will result in an improved overall performance and culture whereby drivers will become true loyal ambassadors of the business.  

The BMF Transport Plus Service assists members in every aspect of compliance with Goods Vehicle Operators Licence Undertakings and Legislation. Prompt Training Ltd are pleased to provide this service on behalf of the BMF.
Through this article, I would like to stimulate some thought & provide a few simple ideas as to how standards can be continually improved together with both risk & cost reduction.

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