FIRMS WARNED: “DON’T FALL FOR RATES SCAM” / GROUNDBREAKING’ COMPANY TO IMPROVE CROYDON SCHOOLS LAUNCHED / NATIONAL AND LOCAL EMPLOYERS AT BROMLEY YOUTH EMPLOYMENT EVENT
FIRMS WARNED: “DON’T FALL FOR RATES SCAM” – direct appeals are free of charge, say Croydon – and there’s a book about it!
Scammers are targeting Croydon companies with the promise of healthy business-rate rebates and then disappearing with the initial fee handed over by their victims.
The warning comes from Croydon Council’s trading standards team which is investigating the matter.
And in addition to warning local businesses to be wary of such offers they are telling them that a direct appeal to the council can be made free of charge!
“The scam came to light when an Addiscombe-based firm was approached by a company claiming that it could claw back business rates paid over the past five years” said a council spokesman.
“The scammers asked for an upfront fee, for preparing and submitting the valuation reports for the appeals process, followed by five per cent of any rates savings they could achieve.
“The scam usually sees the conmen taking the fee, failing to carry out any of the promised work and becoming uncontactable. “But on this occasion the business was aware of the ploy and refused to pay up.”
Croydon’s cabinet member for safety and justice Cllr Mark Watson said: “Fortunately, the owner of this business had his wits about him and didn’t hand over any money – he rightly suspected the chances were good that he’d never see it, nor any work, again.
“Businesses should be aware that it costs nothing for them to directly appeal with the council against their rateable value.
“Before employing a rating adviser, you should check that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. “Take great care and, if necessary, seek further advice before entering into any contract.”
Businesses can get further information on how to lodge an appeal by calling the council’s business rates team on 020 8726 7000.
For further information and advice on how to avoid being scammed, please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.
Alternatively, download the Metropolitan Police’s The Little Book of Big Scams Business Edition fromwww.met.police.uk/docs/little_book_big_scams_business_edition.pdf (Source: Croydon council press release.)
‘GROUNDBREAKING’ COMPANY TO IMPROVE CROYDON SCHOOLS LAUNCHED
A ‘groundbreaking’ trading company set up to “make Croydon pupils among the best in London” has been launched.
The Octavo Partnership, owned and run by Croydon council, its staff and local schools, has been created to help improve everything from teaching standards to day-to-day administration.
“The business is believed to be England’s first trading company to be jointly run by a council, its staff and headteachers” explained a Croydon council spokesperson..
“The mutual partnership covers services including literacy and employment training, educational psychology and human resources.
“Any school in the borough that signs up for Octavo’s support, including independent academies, pays a fee for their services. “This money gets ploughed back into the partnership’s budget for meeting schools’ growing needs.
“Staff at the schools that sign up will have a stake in the business, which has a long-term goal of also funding a charitable trust dedicated to pioneering education research.
“The mutual will also deliver school improvement and educational psychology services on behalf of the council. “As well as training and supporting schools in the borough, the partnership could expand in future to help schools outside Croydon” the council spokesperson added.
Croydon’s cabinet member for children, families and learning Cllr Alisa Flemming said: “We want every Croydon school to become outstanding so all our children get the best possible future prospects.
“Being a commercial venture jointly owned and run by teachers and the council working together means that Octavo has the flexibility and finances to make our schools among London’s best.”
Octavo Partnership’s chief executive Sylvia McNamara said: “Through Octavo and the cross-Croydon partnerships, we aim to be at the top of London’s performance tables in a few years’ time. “That is the goal: long-term improvement that inspires.”
The partnership was approved by the council’s cabinet last year, and it will start operations from April. To find out more, visitwww.octavopartnership.org
Octavo is also holding its first open day on 25 April for experienced teachers who are looking to work in Croydon. For more information please email: [email protected] (Source: Croydon council press release.)
NATIONAL AND LOCAL EMPLOYERS AT BROMLEY YOUTH EMPLOYMENT EVENT
A ‘Next Steps’ conference at Bromley central library has been attended by 50 sixth formers.
The event is a key part of the Bromley Youth Employment Scheme, and the aim is to provide young people with an insight into the sort of job opportunities available to them when they finish their studies and how to access them, said a Bromley council spokeswoman.
“The key to the success of the day was the range of local and national employers who were there to support the young people. “The event included presentations and a series of ‘speed networking’ sessions enabling students to ask employers specific questions about working in their industry.
“Feedback has been very positive and showed that the students gained a great deal from the day. “One sixth former said that it was really useful for those who did not know what they wanted to do when they left school.”
Bromley’s executive member for resources Cllr Graham Arthur who was at the event said: “We’re investing in our future and it looks bright. “It was great to see so much energy in the room with employers connecting with young people.”
Bromley Education Business Partnership (BEBP) is working in partnership with employers including Adecco, AECOM, Capita Asset Services, Eclipse Presentations, European Springs, Job Centre Plus, Metro Bank, Skanska, and Thackray Williams, who were there to support the event. Refreshments were sponsored by FLR Spectron.
If you want to find out more about how BEBP can help young people and employers – please get in touch with:
Bromley Education Business Partnership
Telephone: 020 8462 5046
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.bromleyebp.org.uk (Source: Bromley council press release.)