1p and 2p coins could be scrapped thanks to a rise in electronic payments

The penny could become a thing of the past, thanks to the rise in contactless and digital payments.

Phillip Hammond has told of his controversial plans to get rid of the 1p and 2p coins, as well as the £50 note, in the Autumn budget.

This comes after the Treasury revealed that 60 percent of all 1p and 2p coins are used only once before being put away into savings. It was also revealed that in eight percent of cases these coins are just thrown away.

According to the Treasury’s consultation document, the government and the Royal Mint have:

“needed to produce and issue over 500 million 1p and 2p coins each year to replace those falling out of circulation.”

One of the strongest criticisms of these changes comes from charities, who believe they will be strongly affected by these changes.

1p coins may be scrapped due to proposed changes made by the Treasury | Image Credit: Gizmodo

According to Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy Volunteering at the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), although there has been a massive rise in electronic payments, the majority of donations to charities are given in cash.

He said:

“Giving by cash methods remains, by some distance, the most popular way of giving to charity. 58 percent of donors give to charity using cash.

“Giving coins to charity is the starting point on a journey for lots of people. Direct Debits bring in more money to charities, but giving loose change underpins Britain’s culture of giving.

If we are going to scrap coins and notes then we need to think about ways to give smaller charities different ways to get people on the journey of giving to good causes.”

He added:

“Perhaps we should be thinking creatively about how we can encourage people to give them to good causes instead.

“As society moves from cash to digital payments we particularly need to help small charities get ready as the people who give pennies today are the people who give pounds tomorrow.”

Members of the public have taken to Twitter to express their concerns about the possible changes. Twitter user Jay believes that arcades, charities and homeless people will feel the impact of the scrapping of one and two pence coins.

 

Twitter use @wallin_08 believes that these changes will have a negative affect on many industries | Image Credit: @wallin_08 on Twitter

On the other hand, some believe that this could result in people donating higher amounts to charities instead, giving 5p or 10p coins instead.  Twitter user Alexander believes that “charities stand to benefit from this.”

Some members of public believe that getting rid of low value coins may result in charities receiving higher donations | Image Credit: @Xandyballs on Twitter


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Discounted Winter clothes boosts Scotland’s February retail sales

Winter sale shoppers purchasing outdoor clothing helped to boost sales figures in Scotland this February, a report has revealed.

There was also an increase in food sales, with purchases of both groceries and drinks going up, which is partly linked to Valentine’s Day.

According to a report by the Scottish Retail Consortium, February’s total sales were up 0.7% compared to the same time last year.

Consumer’s were convinced by discounts to buy Winter clothes, according to the SRC | Image Credit: Scottish Grocer

Food sales increased by 3.5%, whereas non-food sales decreased by 1.6%.

These figures range from the end of January until 24 February, just before the ‘Beast from the East’ left shops with bare shelves.

David Lonsdale, SRC Director, said that although the increase was largely driven by food purchases, discount clothing and footwear convinced many shoppers to spend their money on winter and outdoor wear.

He said:

“This was once again driven by the food category, aided in part by grocery and drink sales associated with St Valentine’s Day, and by better sales of clothing and footwear spurred on by discounting of winter and outdoor wear.

“The polarisation between food and non-food retail sales was less marked than before, with the latter recording a much shallower rate of decline than over recent months.”

The director also stated that it is too soon to say whether “inflationary pressures” will effect Scottish shoppers over the next few months.

He added:

“Scotland’s shoppers face a number of headwinds over the coming months which may prove hard to shrug off and which could well crimp consumer spending, notably higher council and income taxes and with overall inflation continuing to outstrip the growth in wages.”

Total sales increased by 0.7% since this time last year | Image Credit: Scottish Retail Consortium

Craig Cavin, Head of Retail in Scotland at KPMG, believes that retailers in Scotland will be “cautiously optimistic” of these figures, stating:

“Indeed, total growth of 0.7 per cent in February is an accomplishment in the current retail environment.

“Performance in non-food sales was disappointing once again, as consumers continue to migrate online. This, teamed with rising costs for retailers, is continuing to put pressure on our high streets.

” Retailers will need to adapt and think of new ways to encourage spending over the next few months through focussing on a differentiated proposition and staying relevant to the consumer.”

The effects of the heavy snowfall on consumer’s purchases will be shown in next month’s report.

New rights for 0 hour workers in Britain

New government reforms will give greater rights to the millions of zero hour and agency workers across Britain.

The changes come as a response to last year’s Taylor Review into working practices. Business Secretary Greg Clark has said that the changes will “address very clearly” the rights of those who are in this line of work.

He told the BBC:

“We will be enforcing the rights that people have and are entitled to.

We want to embrace new ways of working, and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare our employment rules to reflect the new challenges.”

The government claims that the majority of the Taylor Review’s suggestions will be adopted.  However, unions have said that the changes will leave 1.8 million workers without vital rights.

As part of its changes the government will: enforce holiday and sick pay entitlements, give all workers the right to demand a payslip and allow flexible workers to demand more stable contracts.

The review focuses on the gig economy of part time and flexible workers.  There was an estimated 1.1 million people working in Britain’s gig economy in 2017.

What do gig workers do? | Image Credit: Reuters

EN4 News spoke to some 0 hour workers to get their views on the proposed changes.

Leila Wallace, an agency worker for Quality Link, said that although her experience with agency work has been positive, she appreciates the changes and how they will benefit others.

“I personally already receive these benefits.  I get a payslip every week, even if I’m not working, and recently received my holiday pay.

I think 0 hour contracts are great, obviously there are some negatives, but the job allows me to work around my university schedule and my social life.

However, I do know some more disadvantaged 0 hour contract workers who struggle to get the hours they need, so giving them more stability in their job will definitely be a positive change.”

Other workers agreed that they had positive experiences with 0 hour contracts in the past, Sophie-Ann Mair, a member of the House Team for Edinburgh University’s Student Association, said:

“Personally zero hour contracts in my experience have always been positive.

However, in my current job I do get holiday pay and they allow me flexible working hours around my studies.”

She added that it is important that all employers follow these rules, not just some:

“I know I’m in a lucky position in that my employer works around me rather than the other way around.

I think it is important people on zero hour contracts are entitled to the same rights as contract workers, as if they do not, zero hour contracts become a way for employers to cut corners and not value their workers.”

Unions have criticised the proposed changes, claiming that there is little substance to the plans.  Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The government has taken a baby step – when it needed to take a giant leap.

These plans won’t stop the hire and fire culture of zero-hours contracts or sham self-employment. And they will still leave 1.8 million workers excluded from key protections.”

UK factories enjoy best week for new orders since 1988

British factories received more orders this month than any other in the last three decades, according to an industry survey.

The report from the Confederation of British industry adds to growing evidence that the fall in the value of the pound since last years Brexit vote is helping manufacturers.

Best week for UK factories in 29 years. Source: Google

The CBI’s monthly industry health check showed massive growth in both total and export orders, resulting in higher factory output as firms expect the trend to continue over the next three months.

While manufacturing only makes up 10% of the UK economy, the strength of the CBI report will increase the chances of growth picking up after a slow year so far.

Firms are still dealing with an increase in costs but the CBI said these were improving since the 15% drop in the value of sterling earlier this year pushed up the price of imported materials and fuel.

Anna Leach, the CBIs’ head of economic intelligence, said: “UK manufacturers are once more performing strongly as global growth and the lower level of sterling continue to support demand.

“Output growth has picked up again, and export order books match the highest in more than 20 years.”

“Nonetheless, uncertainty continues to hold back investment and cost pressures remain strong.”

The news comes ahead of tomorrow’s chancellor’s budget and will provide a much needed boost to his position after his widely criticised first budget.

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15% drop in British Pound. Source: Google


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UK Economy Boosted by Scotch Whisky

Scotch whisky contributes to the UK economy nearly £5bn a year. The figures were announced after The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said that more than 40,000 jobs were supported by the industry across the UK, including 7,000 in rural areas. [Read more…]

Budget 2016: Chancellor Signalled his “Commitment to Edinburgh” said City Leader Andrew Burns today

Maria Gran

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Chancellor George Osborne has signalled his “commitment to Edinburgh” in his spring budget, City leader Andrew Burns said today.

Speaking the day after the Chancellor backed proposed funding for the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal, Mr Burns said the extra money would help the Capital grow its economy.

The deal will seal an extra £1bn fund from the UK and Scottish governments, which aims to allow cities and regions to grow their economies.

Councillor Burns said: “Yesterday’s Spring Budget signalled an important commitment to Edinburgh and to our neighbouring local authorities.

“Through more innovation, the development of skills and infrastructure projects and the acquisition of increased powers, we can further enhance the region’s reputation as a great place to live, work, do business and invest in, and help accelerate economic growth not just for the region but for the whole of Scotland and the wider UK.”

Detailed information on what the funds will be spent on is yet to be released, but it is believed that transport, housing and universities are among the frontrunners for funds.

The hope is that securing the £1bn fund will attract £3.2bn from private sector business, that will further boost the economy.

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