Industry reacts well to Autumn Statement

first_imgLeading industry figures have responded favourably to the Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement but raised concerns over the impact of a new Apprenticeship Levy.Osborne named key initiatives affecting business, including a £61bn investment in transport infrastructure, business rate devolution to local councils and an Apprenticeship Levy on businesses to pay for a target of £3 million apprenticeships by 2020.Mike Holling, executive director of the Craft Bakers’ Association, expressed disappointment Osborne had not addressed the sugar controversy but said: “The Craft Bakers’ Association cautiously welcomes some of the items in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.”John Allan, national chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), added: “Given the tight constraints that the Chancellor was working to, small businesses will be pleased that he has listened to their concerns. Mr Osborne has managed to fund areas that drive productivity and long-term economic growth, such as skills and the science and innovation base.”Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), was more positive.She said: “Businesses will be pleased to see the Chancellor staying the course on deficit reduction, his commitment to an industrial strategy and the emphasis on nurturing a vibrant business community.”ApprenticesOsborne’s announcements of the Apprenticeship Levy, which taxes companies with paybills of £3m or over, caused some concern.Fairbairn said: “The Apprenticeship Levy, set at 0.5%, is a significant extra payroll tax on business and, by widening the net, it will now catch a greater number of smaller firms.”She added: “With the levy set at 0.5%, even those businesses most committed to training and development won’t be able to recoup their outlay and it looks like an additional payroll tax.”The Food and Drink Federation agreed. While keen to see apprenticeship numbers grow, it said: “Reform is needed to make this route more attractive and an apprenticeship levy system that is proportionate, simple and works for businesses of all sizes will be a key ingredient in achieving this.“The rate announced today will be a cause of concern for larger businesses, and may hit company investment pots for staff training and, perversely, new apprenticeship starts.”Allan was more positive, saying: “The FSB supports the decision to use payroll as a measure to determine which businesses pay the Apprenticeship Levy, as opposed to headcount. The 0.5% payroll levy on firms alongside a £15,000 allowance will mean that the levy will only apply to firms whose total payroll exceeds £3 million. We believe this is a fair level as it recognises that not all businesses will be able to afford to pay the charge.”Holling raised concerns about the quality of the apprenticeships, saying: “We are very interested to learn about the Apprenticeship Levy, but we will wait for further information to be published. I think the most important thing is that the training has to be of a high-quality standard. The Craft Bakers’ Association is working hard with the Trailblazer 3 project and is engaged in setting the standards of the apprenticeship in craft baking.”Business ratesThe news that business rates would be devolved to local authorities was greeted cautiously, with Holling saying: “It was encouraging news about the business rates, but we shall wait and see what happens in the future. We will be interested to see how this works when devolved to local authorities.”However, for Fairbairn and Allan, more important than devolution was the extension of the Small Business Rate Relief for another year to April 2017.Allan said: “Small firms face a challenging start to 2016 and the FSB welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to small firms by extending the temporary doubling of Small Business Rate Relief to April 2017.“Over 600,000 small and micro enterprises depend heavily on this relief. Many are still struggling to adjust to challenges around the National Living Wage, changes to dividends on tax and pensions auto-enrolment. Its removal would have been an additional tax rise.”Fairbairn lamented the delay of long-term reform. She said: “It’s disappointing to see the promised response to the Structural Review of Business Rates pushed back to the 2016 Budget. The current system is based on a decades-old model that no longer reflects economic conditions, so alleviating the burden cannot come soon enough.“While extending the small business rate relief scheme for another year is positive news, business wants to see concrete steps taken to make the system simpler, fairer and more competitive to tackle the cumulative burden upon firms.”InfrastructureInvestment in transport infrastructure received raised universal acclaim from both Fairbairn and Allan.Fairbairn said: “It’s good that the government has increased capital spending and remains committed to road and rail investments, including the Trans-Pennine railway. Businesses will want to see promised projects breaking ground as early as possible in this Parliament to maintain momentum.”Allan added: “We welcome the significant and much-needed increase in investment in transport infrastructure, allowing our road and rail network to help provide an environment to support economic growth and rebalance the economy.“The commitment to start building HS2 early on in the Parliament is a welcome statement of ambition. We now look forward to seeing such an unequivocal statement about expanding airport capacity in the south east.”last_img read more

Uncertain chapter in dental student’s life

first_imgThis is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.On Dec. 20, Lindsay D’Amato woke up and put on her glasses. She was relieved when she could see normally. It told her the brain surgery had gone well.The surgery brought an end to a scary and uncertain chapter in D’Amato’s life, one that flipped her customary role of caring for others, and made her the one being cared for.Five months on, and D’Amato will graduate — on time — from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM). Despite the fear and disruption caused by the tumor and subsequent surgery, D’Amato acknowledged that its timing was serendipitous: The surgery occurred right before winter break, giving her several weeks to recover.She wound up missing just three weeks of her community health externship at a community dental clinic, and was able to make up missed time over the ensuing weeks.Though her recovery went smoothly, it was not easy. The surgery left her with constant, severe headaches as the brain healed. Though nearly nonstop for the first three weeks of recovery, the pain has subsided, leaving the scar on the left side of her head the most prominent remaining reminder.The episode was the latest in what D’Amato called her “so weird” life. She grew up in St. Louis nurturing a budding interest in the sciences. Her high school AP biology and physics teachers had a particular influence on her and she went on to study biological engineering at the University of Missouri.Though contemplating a career in engineering after graduation, she was also attracted to the Peace Corps. She joined a civil engineering master’s degree program that combined a year of study at the University of California, Davis, with two years in the field doing hands-on water and sanitation work.After her year in California, D’Amato left for rural Panama, where she raised money and installed a solar-powered electric water pump in a community whose diesel pump only ran for 15 minutes a week because of the cost of fuel. She later coordinated with the Colorado nonprofit Bridges to Prosperity to put in a bridge so people heading to work and school could cross a nearby river that regularly swells in the rain.While in Panama, D’Amato began to reconsider engineering as a career. She realized that she liked interacting directly with people and began to think about other options, including dentistry, which an uncle with a private practice had recommended she consider. She applied to HSDM and was accepted, arriving in Boston in the fall of 2014.Once here, D’Amato immersed herself in her studies and in her clinical duties at the Harvard Dental Center and her externships. But she also found time to join the Crimson Care Collaborative and bring her dental skills to men held at the Nashua Street Jail in Boston. Dental care was badly needed there, she said, as the overwhelmed prison dentist mainly saw the most advanced cases: men in pain for whom care often involved extraction.“Lindsay was a delight to work with. Like many of the volunteers we’re lucky enough to have, she has a keen understanding of the social determinants of health and how incredibly vulnerable many of our patients are,” said Lisa Simon, a fellow in oral health and medicine integration and attending dentist of the jail and dentistry program. “It was really wonderful to watch her clinical skills and clinical confidence grow and to see her really connect with patients who may have had bad dental experiences in the past.”Aram Kim, instructor in restorative dentistry and biomaterials sciences at HSDM and D’Amato’s adviser, said the engineering background that she and D’Amato share will serve her in good stead in the future.“Lindsay’s engineering background has made her an excellent problem-solver,” Kim said. “As a dentist, you need to be a doctor, a scientist, an engineer, a mechanic, and an artist. … I’m excited for her future and her patients are very lucky to call her their dentist.”It was last August, while doing an externship at Massachusetts General Hospital, that D’Amato noticed problems with the vision in one eye. She had been working long hours, so she initially attributed it to fatigue, and then, when rest didn’t cure it, to an out-of-date eyeglasses prescription. When a new prescription didn’t do the trick, additional tests indicated the problem was with her optic nerve.By then, it was late November and D’Amato was increasingly fearful she had multiple sclerosis, which mirrors some of her symptoms. She went for an MRI and asked the doctor not to call her with results before the following Wednesday, because she was going to be in New York interviewing for residencies on Monday and Tuesday and had to sit for a board exam on Wednesday. They called Monday night.“I asked you not to call,” D’Amato recalls saying into the phone. “I’m standing on Fifth Avenue with a suitcase.”“I didn’t think this should wait,” the doctor replied. “There’s a mass on your brain.”D’Amato spent a tearful evening in her hotel room and called a friend in Australia whose husband is a neurosurgeon. He looked at the MRI files her physician sent over and told her that the tumor was in all likelihood a meningioma, which was treatable and, as brain tumors go, relatively good news.By the end of the first week of December, D’Amato had returned to Boston and been scheduled for surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The operation took 7½ hours, but was a success.“When I woke up, I reached for my glasses and I put my glasses on and I could see again, which was crazy,” D’Amato said. “They had said that … it looked like the optic nerve was intact, so we might know fairly quickly if it was going to get better afterward, so I was curious to find that out.”Now, she is looking forward to graduation and a residency in the Bronx at the Jacobi Medical Center.“After the year that I had?” D’Amato said. “I am so excited.” read more

Area Girls Basketball Sectional Scores (1-31)

first_imgArea Girls Basketball Sectional Scores.Tuesday  (1-31)Class 2A-Sectional 45 @ Austin.Austin  62     Milan  31South Ripley  64     Switz. County  25Class 1A-Sectional 60 @ Jac-Cen-Del.Hauser  46     South Decatur  28Class 3A-Sectional  29 @ Rushville.Greensburg  37     Madison  17Class 4A-Sectional 14 @ Columbus North.Columbus East 33     Bloomington South  28Columbus North  87     Shelbyville  25last_img

Women’s hockey: Badgers head west to start 2015-16 campaign

first_imgAs the summer becomes a distant memory, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team heads west to start the season.With the calendar marching toward October, the realities of fall are setting in, and the Badgers are ready for the autumnal awakening. The end of September means the beginning of a long journey for head coach Mark Johnson and his team.Entering his 14th season at the helm, Johnson was optimistic about the start of the regular season, he said at his news conference Monday afternoon.“We have been practicing for eight or 10 days, and certainly as a coaching staff excited about the way the players came back in to start school,” Johnson said. “They spent the summer working out, conditioning and are in a good place right now, so the fun part is to get ourselves organized for game week.”Coming off a successful season that saw UW bested by Minnesota in the Frozen Four, the Badgers enter the season younger and with minutes to fill. This poses a challenge for Johnson and his staff, but the early indications look positive.“We have everybody except one of our incoming freshman able to spend the summer here, and it showcases it,” Johnson said. “They took that seriously, put themselves in a position to start the season in a good place.”With a large youth movement, the Badgers will look for a veteran presence to lead them. To guide the relatively inexperienced squad, Johnson has tapped senior Courtney Burke as captain.To open the season, the Badgers will ditch the surprisingly cooperative Madison weather this week and instead fly to San Jose, California, to prepare for their season opening showcase series against Providence.UW faces off at 9 p.m. Friday night and will make the quick turnaround for their final tilt against the Friars at 5 p.m. Saturday.The trip to the West Coast offers the Badgers the chance to not only get their feet wet as a unit, but to act as ambassadors for women’s hockey. Johnson was excited for the exposure players like Annie Pankowski — a Laguna Hills, California native — will receive.“A lot of young players look up to her, and I’m sure she is going to need a few [tickets],” Johnson said.Instead of flying back to Madison right away, the team will remain in the Golden State until Sunday to put on a youth clinic for girls in San Jose and the surrounding areas.“It gives the players a chance to show some of the tips that got them to be a Division I player to these young kids,” Johnson said. “And hopefully it inspires them to continue with their careers and maybe one day get the opportunity to play college hockey.”last_img read more