UK’s Economic Growth for 2014 Revised Upwards

UK’s Economic Growth for 2014 Revised Upwards
The UK’s economy grew at a faster pace than initially estimated last year, revised official figures show. The economy grew by 0.6% in the final three months of 2014, up from the previous estimate of 0.5%, the Office for National Statistics said.

The unexpected increase meant growth for the year was 2.8%, higher than the earlier estimate of 2.6%. The revised rate marks the highest pace of annual growth since 2006, when the economy grew by 3%.

An expansion in both production and services as well as a number of industries such as agriculture and fishing in the fourth quarter helped to drive the increase, the official data suggested. But the biggest contribution to the revised figure was a strong performance of exports, the ONS said.

The revised figure was revealed alongside data showing that the UK’s current account deficit – the gap between the income paid to, and received from, the rest of the world – narrowed in the final quarter of last year.

The deficit in the three months to December was £25.3bn, down from the record-high of £27.7bn recorded in the previous quarter. But for the year as a whole, the deficit widened to 5.5% of GDP, marking the largest annual deficit since records began in 1948.

Separately, UK consumer confidence rose to its highest level in more than 12 years in March, a survey from researchers GfK showed.

Andy Scott, from foreign currency specialists HiFX, said he expected household spending to help continue boosting growth in 2015. “Concerns over slowing house price increases and the General Election don’t seem to be fazing consumers who are seeing real term wage growth for the first time recently in the past few years, thanks to significantly lower energy costs. “This bodes well for the overall picture of the UK economy since individual spending affects so many industries – from coffee houses to DIY chains,” he added.

ONS – UK Economic Well Being Improving

ONS – UK Economic Well Being Improving
The financial well-being of UK households improved last year, but overall it is not much better than it was five years ago according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS. In a series of new measures, the ONS is seeking to quantify economic well-being, as well as economic growth.

Real Household Disposable Income (RHDI) per head increased by 1.9% in the year to December 2014. However, the measure is only up 0.2% from the second quarter of 2010.

This particular measure, RHDI, is the one favoured by the chancellor, George Osborne.

The ONS also reported a rise in the way households perceive their financial situation. In December 2014, the ONS survey showed a balance of -5.2, meaning that the number of people who thought their financial situation was getting worse outweighed the number seeing an improvement. However, that figure was an improvement on a year before, when the balance was -7.6. The series of data was first published by the ONS in December 2014.

Traditionally, economists measure the UK economy by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – which measures production, and the income it generates. But since December 2014, the ONS has started to release a range of alternative measures, first suggested by the Nobel-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz.

In 2009, he suggested that as well as looking at the performance of the overall economy, it was important to look at the economics of individual households.

Acoustic & Noise Testing Services

Noise Assessments for the Work Environment
The decibel (usually shown as dB) is the unit used to measure the intensity of a sound. The decibel scale is a little odd because the human ear is very sensitive. Your ears can hear everything a moving insect to a loud firework.  In terms of scale and power, the sound of the jet engine is about 1,000,000,000,000 times more powerful than the smallest audible sound. That’s a colossal difference! The smallest audible sound, (near total silence) on the decibel scale is 0 dB.

A sound 10 times more powerful is 10 dB. A sound 100 times more powerful than near total silence is 20 dB. A sound 1,000 times more powerful than near total silence is 30 dB. Here are some common sounds and their decibel ratings: • Near total silence – 0 dB • A small insect walking – 5db • A whisper – 15 dB • A standard conversation – 60 dB • A lawnmower – 90 dB • A jackhammer  – 110 dB • A rock concert or a jet engine – 120 dB • A firework  – 140 dB One important consideration id the difference distance makes to sound – if further away you are greater the power is diminished. All of the ratings above are taken while standing near the sound at a similar position.

Another important fact is that any sounds above 85 dB can cause hearing loss, and the loss is related both to the power and length of exposure to the sound You know that you are listening to an 85-dB sound if you have to raise your voice to be heard by somebody else. Eight hours of 90-dB sound can cause damage to your ears, i.e. a normal working day.  On the extreme end of the scale exposure to 140-dB sound causes immediate damage and pain.

To overcome these dangerous noise levels, new technology is being embraced. For instance due the constraints of acoustic testing / exposure on building sites, robotic demolition equipment are being used to undertake heavy jackhammer works, thus alleviating the need to put peoples hearing at risk.

Here is a quick breakdown of the sound levels and exposure times:

  • 110 Decibels Regular exposure of more than 1 minute risks permanent hearing loss.
  • 100 Decibels No more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure recommended.
  • 85 Decibels Prolonged exposure to any noise at or above 85 decibels can cause gradual hearing loss.

APT often under take exposure at work noise reports often for construction noise monitoring. We undertake measurements using class 1 equipment that allow you to ensure that your workforce is protected from the effects of excessive construction noise exposure.

Once the levels are recorded you can quickly reference the hearing protection manufacturer for specific muffs, inserts etc to pick the correct hearing protection.

This is crucial on a busy site as that other warnings are put in place to allow workers to communicate effectively if they have full hearing protection, i.e. being njured by moving plant or objects because you can’t hear what is happening

The doseBadge system is also very useful in almost all Noise at Work applications, especially as it is so small that it does not interfere with work patterns. If you are unsure of the noise assessment services you require, please call us on 07775 623464 or visit the Air Pressure testing website today.

Business:             Air Pressure Testing


Supply Chain Warehouse Power Tools Sales

Supply Chain Warehouse Power Tools Sales
Direct Submit Internet Marketing are pleased to announce they are working with Supply chain Warehouse, who are looking to promote their new website, very soon to go live, which will offer power tools & welding equipment, industrial grade adhesives and workwear from their UK located factory and warehouse.

If you would like to know how Direct Submit could help your website work harder for your business then why not call us today on 0845 2722350 and let us help talk through the many cost effective and proven SEO & Internet Marketing techniques we are able to offer.

The Beautiful Shutter Company & Plantation Shutters

The Beautiful Shutter Company & Plantation Shutters
Brightly-painted walls and brightly-coloured furniture are the obvious combinations to look for in the ultra-modern home décor, but one should not forget the role that windows play in the overall scheme of things. Surprisingly, the answer for many homeowners is plantation shutters, which add texture, depth and a classic, elegant look to any home décor, traditional or modern. 

Plantation Shutters Create a Real Look of Quality
Are you looking for a window covering that will provide your home with a real look of quality? Then why not invest in plantation shutters? Plantation shutters are wooden shutters that provide a classy alternative covering for windows and doors. Originally used to increase the privacy of a home or to improve security, plantation shutters are now in high demand amongst those who are looking to add a real sense of style to their home. They’re very much a design statement that more and more homeowners are choosing to make.

Plantation Shutters, Ever in Vogue
With the wide range of shutters on the market, you might be concerned that plantation shutters are going out of style and that they aren’t as popular as they once were. In actual fact, they are more sought after than they’ve ever been and interior design experts throughout the UK tend to favour them over other many window coverings and treatments. Unlike draperies, wooden shutters never go out of style or fade and you can rest-assured that they’re remain looking as stylish and chic years after they day you first installed them.

When you’re looking to create a look of quality for your home that’ll leave your neighbours green with envy, look no further than plantation shutters. You can rest-assured that they’ll give your home plenty of curb appeal due to the fact that they look just as beautiful from outside as they do from the inside.

A Desired Window Dressing
Plantation shutters are now a highly desired window dressing. This makes them a sound investment for your home in terms of adding value and making it more appealing to prospective buyers. Unlike draperies, which won’t increase the value of your home, window shutters are considered to be a permanent fixture in your home and this means that they’re usually included in its valuation. As a result, if you’re planning to sell your property in the future and are hoping to get a good price for it, it makes sense to wooden shutters in order to improve its value whilst setting it apart from other properties in your area.

If you’re looking for tier on tier shutters, full height shutters or café style shutters, you’ll need to find an established shutter company with an excellent reputation for its quality products and service. There are many shutter companies out there, however, it’s essential that you take your time to find a competent and trustworthy supplier and installer.

The Beautiful Shutter Company brings a wealth of experience to the window dressing industry and is committed to providing homeowners with the perfect set of high-quality plantation shutters for any home. To learn more about our wide selection of shutters or to book an appointment, call us today on 01642 688049 or visit the Beautiful Shutter Company website.

Business:             The Beautiful Shutter Company


Mature Ladies’ Summer Clothing from the Country Collection

Mature Ladies’ Summer Clothing from the Country Collection
With each passing decade, shopping for decent, tasteful, mature ladies’ clothing becomes an ever-greater challenge. All too often, one goes into a shop which professes to sell the type of clothing we’re looking for and indeed it is…until one takes notice of the extra stitched-on butterfly, pointless zipper feature or sewn-in sequins or fake jewellery that make an otherwise sensible garment absolutely ridiculous.

Doubtless there are those among us who would simply go on wearing the clothes we inherited from our deceased mothers or even grandmothers for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, though, every article of clothing that comes into our possession, no matter how new its condition when we receive it, has a limit on how long it can be worn before it is no longer fit to be seen in outdoors. And when that day arrives by which most of us will have gone through Mum’s or Auntie’s wardrobe and all those sensible, versatile, once-sturdy pieces are now only good for being cut into squares and used as rags for household cleaning, we will have to make the dreaded trip to the ladies’ clothing department and hope for the best.

Or will we? Indeed, a select few clothing stores for mature ladies and men still sell the type of clothing that one hopes to find when one has a genuine need: simple floral print blouses dresses, patterned and solid-colour slacks and trousers, comfortable shoes for walking and all manner of mix-and-match separates for a variety of occasions.

One such shop that stands apart from the crowd is Country Collection, and the reason for this is already apparent in the name: Country Collection specialises in classic clothing for the country lifestyle that continues to be embraced by those of a certain age. If you’ve found it difficult in the past to find mature ladies’ summer clothing that suited your needs and taste, then give Country Collection a try. Ordering their summer catalogue is as easy as calling one of their Brampton or Salisbury shops or visiting their website.

For more information on how Country Collection can help you update your wardrobe with our selection of mature ladies’ clothing in a variety of summer styles and colours, call us today on 0844 573 5310 or visit the Country Collection website today.

Business:             The Country Collection


Great Western Rail Deal Extended to 2019

FirstGroup’s Great Western Rail Deal Extended to 2019
Transport company FirstGroup has extended its deal with the government to run services on the Great Western rail network until 2019.

An artist's impression of the new high-speed trains

The new franchise covers a period in which a series of upgrades will take place along the Great Western network. Those improvements include electric train services for the first time on the network, starting with services in the Thames Valley. Upgrades will also include additional train capacity at peak times.

First Great Western will pay the government about £68m to operate the franchise – which operates services between London, the Cotswolds, South Wales and the South West – from September 2015 until April 2019.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said passengers would benefit from the addition of three million extra seats across the network by 2018. It also said more services to Devon and Cornwall would be added to the timetable, and 369 new train carriages introduced to the network.

The DfT added that capacity during the morning rush hour commute to London would increase by 4,000 seats by December 2018.

FirstGroup will also be responsible for introducing the new Hitachi Intercity Express Trains between London, Bristol and South Wales and the Cotswolds from summer 2017.

FirstGroup chief executive Tim O’Toole said the rail operator was already working with the DfT and Network Rail to deliver the initial phases of the £7.5bn Great Western mainline modernisation programme.

The franchise award was long expected. FirstGroup is the longest serving of the train operating companies. In 1996, it joined a bid for one of the first railway franchises of the privatisation programme, which began under John Major’s Conservative government. It has operated the Great Western network on its own since 1998 when it took 100% ownership of the franchise.

UK Homes to Have £10,000 Debts by 2016

UK Homes to Have £10,000 Debts by 2016, says Price Waterhouse Coopers
The average UK household will have unsecured debts of £10,000 by the end of next year, according to accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The figure includes spending on credit cards, bank borrowing and student loans, but excludes mortgages. It would be the largest amount in cash terms that consumers have been in debt.

However, a survey conducted alongside the report suggested that most consumers are confident about paying off those debts. One reason for such confidence may be the continuing low level of interest rates, which means that borrowing is cheap. According to PwC, unsecured borrowing increased by £19.7bn last year, or 9%. It said the average household owed “close to £9,000” in 2014.

The most recent report from the Bank of England put the figure at £8,000.

One reason for the increase is the amount of money being borrowed by students. Nearly half of the increase was accounted for by student loans.

Borrowing on credit cards was responsible for 22% of the rise, with the rest from other sources, such as loans and overdrafts.

The PwC report said that even though most people were in control of their debts, that could be tested when interest rates eventually rose. It warned that the size of debts in relation to household income could exceed its peak, which occurred in 2008, just before the financial crisis. “Consumers could begin to feel squeezed once again,” said Simon Westcott, a director in PwC’s financial services business.

As far as secured lending is concerned, the Bank of England has previously said that a sudden rise in interest rates could leave more than 600,000 families vulnerable to a rise in mortgage rates. However, it said in December that overall household debt levels were below the long-term average.

Integrity Testing Server Rooms

Integrity Testing Server Rooms
Initially the enclosure integrity testing was introduced as an environmentally friendly alternative to discharge testing following the phase out of halon extinguishant under the Montreal Protocol on ozone depletion. It is applicable to all sizes of enclosure and all extinguishing gases, including Argonite, Inergen, Proinert, IG55, FM200, FE25, HFC 227ea, FE25, Novec 1230 and CO2. Air Pressure Testing provides the necessary Room Integrity Testing to the required NFPA 2001 or ISO 15004 methodologies.

We have undertaken enclosure testing on all types and sizes of enclosure, from server rooms in offices to hospital intensive care units. In each case we carry out the necessary volumetric calculations prior to the test and use calibrated test fan systems along with laptops running complaint integrity testing software to determine results immediately upon completion of the server room enclosure test.

We ensure that our enclosure integrity testing is clean and non-disruptive, using a door mounted fan(s) to measure leakage flow. Work may continue as normal in the room during the test. An immediate result is obtained for the total room leakage and consequent extinguishant retention time. If this is below that required by the Standard, a detailed inspection is carried out to identify all major leakages for remedial sealing. A formal report is issued detailing the results and any recommendations. The failure report should be retained for regulatory authority/ insurer’s reference. If you fail the test – Air Pressure Testing can undertake the remedial works for you; and due to the importance of these areas; specialise in out of hour’s remedial works as we understand the impact/cost of closing down areas such as turbine rooms etc. to minimise disruption.

In the event of a failed enclosure integrity test we can quickly locate and record the air leakage paths. We can quickly provide enclosure air leakage reports highlighting the worst air leakage paths so remedial works can be quickly targeted.

The server room integrity tests passes we can issue the test reports incorporating all necessary data test information and certification within a few days of the enclosure integrity test.

What Rooms Usually Require Enclosure Integrity Testing

All rooms protected by fire extinguishment require Enclosure Integrity Testing – rooms such as Computer Server Rooms, Plant Rooms, and Laboratory’s. Given the potential consequences of fire damage and down time for such critical areas/equipment, it is essential that an integrity test is undertake before handover of the enclosure and annually thereafter, or if the protected rooms enclosure has received new works resulting in new penetrations through the rooms envelope.

For a fire suppression system to work, the room must have sufficient integrity to retain an extinguishing concentration for a specified period after discharge. Failure to do so may cause the fire to reignite causing further damage. As this is the predominant cause of failure, the British and International Standard (BS: ISO14520) requires an enclosure integrity test be conducted on system installation and thereafter at annual intervals.

Air Pressure Testing have undertaken hundreds of enclosure integrity tests on varying room types from comm’s room/s to massive power station turbines enclosures; and have the experience to help you achieve a test pass at the first attempt. We are one of a very few companies that fully understand the theory behind extended discharge tests and are able to undertake testing to enclosures where extended discharge tests are required.

Annual integrity testing is required by the BFPSA and its now carried out by all major commercial institutions such as banks and data companies. It is also worth noting that your buildings insurance may be negated if you don’t undertake the annual data room integrity test.
Server Room Testing – Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do I need a fire enclosure test on my server room?

A – The test is a requirement of the British Standard for gaseous fire extinguishing systems – BS EN:ISO 14520. Most fire insurers will require evidence that the test has been conducted and the result is satisfactory.

  1. How quickly can an server room integrity test be arranged?

A – Usually within a few days.

  1. How long does the enclosure test take?

A – Usually between 1 and 2 hours.

  1. Will the server room integrity test set off alarms?

A – No. The enclosure test is completely independent of the detection system.

  1. Is the server room integrity test disruptive?

A – No. It is only necessary to stop access to the room for 10-15 minutes. Personnel can continue to work in the room. The enclosure test can be paused if immediate access becomes required.

  1. Does equipment such as servers need to be switched off during the enclosure integrity test?

A – No the equipment can keep running.

  1. Does air conditioning need to be switched off during the enclosure integrity test?

A – Recirculation (chiller) units may continue to run. Air supply/extract ducts passing into the enclosure will need to be either dampered closed or will be temporarily sealed.

  1. Will I get a certificate if I pass the server room integrity test?

A – It will be issued within a few days. This should be retained for possible inspection by the authorities/insurers. A summary certificate can be issued at the time of enclosure test if required.

  1. What happens if the room fails the server room enclosure test?

A – We can carry out an inspection to identify leakage paths for remedial sealing. These will be pointed out at the time of the enclosure test and a plan included in the report. It is recommended that a retest be conducted after remedial action to confirm the adequacy of the retention time.

  1. Can remedial sealing be done at the time of the server room enclosure test? – Yes, provided the leakage can be swiftly remedially, or temporarily, sealed.
  2. Can APT undertake remedial sealing?

A- Yes we can do this if requested or the client can arrange remedial sealing themselves.

  1. Do you supply any literature to help us prepare for the enclosure test?

A – Yes, we supply all our clients with an easy to follow checklist to help you prepare for the test.

  1. How often should the enclosure integrity test be done?

A – The relevant British Standard (BS EN:ISO 14520) specifies that the test should be conducted annually as part of routine maintenance.
If you have a protected enclosure that requires an integrity test or you think you have a problem in terms of your enclosure construction then contact Air Pressure Testing as we can send across our air sealing checklist to help you prepare for the server room enclosure test. We can also offer a sealing service should it be required.

If you would like more information in regards to a server room integrity test, please contact us now at on 07775 623464 or visit the Air Pressure Testing website today.

Business:             Air Pressure Testing


UK Government Borrowing Down 34%

UK Government Borrowing Down 34%
Britain’s public finances improved in February leaving government borrowing down a third on a year earlier.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed tax receipts from self-assessment were £4.2bn, up £1.8bn on last February. January and February are the months when taxpayers who have not made full payments under PAYE make the bulk of their payments to the revenue.

February’s government borrowing totalled £6.9bn, a fall of £3.5bn.

The government’s latest target to borrow £90.2bn in the current fiscal year looks likely but it has failed in its plans to eliminate the deficit by 2015.

On Thursday, ratings agency Fitch warned it was unlikely to restore Britain’s top-notch credit rating until it saw proof government debt-to-GDP was falling steadily.