Posts Tagged ‘News’

car scrap Should diesel drivers by paid £1,000 to scrap their cars?Do you own a diesel car? Well, you could be paid a grand to scrap it if Boris Johnson gets his way.

He’s trying to tackle air pollution [insert satirical joke about his needless emissions and hot air here] and wrote about this £1,000 scrap scheme to the House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee, who are looking into the air quality of the capital.

This proposal builds on the national scrappage scheme which was introduced in 2009 which offered drivers of vehicles over 10 years old £1,000 toward a new car. This initiative ended in 2010, but Johnson wants it back.

“A national scrappage scheme for diesel and other polluting vehicles is now needed as a priority in order to compensate people who have bought polluting diesel vehicles in good faith, as well as to drive forward air quality improvements,” the submission reads.

 

As you know, there’s already a load of guff about doling out on-the-spot pollution fines to those who keep their motors running while stationary (of course, those giving the fines out will have their engines running while stationary, just for peak farce) and there’s suggestions that diesel drivers will have to pay an extra £10 per day on top of London’s congestion charge.

That said, diesel cars do pump out more soot and nitrogen dioxide, so it isn’t surprising that it is being looked into.

It is little wonder that London isn’t expected to comply with EU legal air pollution limits until after 2030 – at least 20 years after the original 2010 deadline set by the European Commission.

So, fancy scrapping your diesel car and getting £1,000 in return, so you can buy an old petrol banger which is probably just as bad for the environment?

Sellafield: the last in affordable housing

September 1st, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

radioactive Sellafield: the last in affordable housingIf you want to live in affordable housing, then the only place to be in the England is around Britain’s largest nuclear accident.

Copeland, up in Cumbria, a borough which is the home of Sellafield, is the only bit of England with “easily affordable” housing still available. The houses are cheap, but all the cows have webbed legs and everyone down the pub might look like a Toxic Crusader.

Copeland hosts 70% of Britain’s higher-activity radioactive waste.

A report from the TUC found that this area is the only local authority in England where the average house price is less than three times the average annual salary. Back in 1997, one in five areas had average prices that were affordable to the typical homebuyer.

Of course, it isn’t all grim in Copeland. The power plant actually provides the area with a lot of well paid jobs and, for your buck, you also get Scafell Pike, the Duddon estuary and an area that rivals the Lake District, but isn’t nearly as poncy. If you move to Copeland’s neighbour, South Lakeland, houses there are eight times the average local salary.

The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, says: ”London always comes out top when it comes to horror stories about ludicrously over-priced housing, but the toxic combination of rising property prices and falling real wages has meant that local housing affordability remains a huge problem for millions of people across the country.”

“Houses and flats in traditionally affordable areas of the country – from Kirklees to Great Yarmouth and Plymouth to Oldham – are now out of reach for many local people.”

“We need an ambitious programme of home-building to get house prices back under control,” O’Grady added. ”But housing affordability isn’t just about house prices, decent wages are just as important and there is a lot of ground to make up before we return to the kind of salaries that people were earning before the crash.”

Ofwat plug water bills

August 29th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

mbn shark wideweb  470x3210 300x204 Ofwat plug water billsHousehold water bills in England and Wales will rise by less than the cost of living in the next five years, thanks to regulator Ofwat. As for the rest of Britain, we’ve no idea. Probably because water rates are a very sore topic in Northern Ireland and Scotland is probably buggering off to go solo.

The regulator says that bills will be an average of 5% lower, before inflation is applied, by 2019-20.

Thames Water, Bristol Water and United Utilities had already been told that they needed to sort themselves out and start rethinking the way they did things, as their assessments were wildly different to Ofwat’s estimates.

All the water and sewage companies can respond to the Ofwat proposals by 3rd October, with the regulator making the final decision by mid December. Changes will come into play from 1st April 2015.

That’s all good isn’t it? Nope.

Fact is, water companies can still raise their prices in line with inflation, so we’ll most likely to see our bills rising, which is not at all surprising.

Sonia Brown, chief regulation officer at Ofwat, said: “Some companies provided excellent, customer-focused plans. Others did not include sufficient evidence to justify their plans, and so we stepped in to make sure customers get a fair deal.”

“These are draft decisions and things could still change. Companies will be looking hard at where they need to submit new evidence and we will also continue to challenge hard to make sure that our final decisions result in the best possible deal for customers.”

People selling their votes in Scottish Independence

August 29th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Scottish Independence is a political hot potato (catch!) and, for the most part, people can’t muster up the energy to care. Even people in Scotland aren’t too fussed.

So much so that there’s some people willing to sell their vote on eBay.

Of course, this is electoral fraud, so the police have launched an investigation. They’re looking at the numerous listings which have appeared on internet auction site, and if you really want the vote to go a certain way on September 18th, then you can buy their ballot off them.

ebay indyref 500x281 People selling their votes in Scottish Independence

The Electoral Commission is aware of the listings and eBay has since removed the listings from its site. They’re bound to come back, thereby creating yet more internet Whack-A-Mole.

Some fella called ‘chrisoc1986′ sold their vote for a whopping £1.04.

The listing read: “This is my very own unique piece of British History! It is my personal YES or NO vote for the upcoming Scottish Referendum in September.”

“I for one, do not give a flying monkeys about any of this. This could be the deciding vote. Who knows? I am a hard working Scottish citizen with a house, a gorgeous wife and two beautiful kids who are my world.”

“This vote will not change anything in our lives so I have decided not to vote my opinion but instead….. ONE OF YOURS! Happy Bidding”

You can bet Alistair Darling is scouring eBay as we speak.

Scottish police said they are looking into it and a spokesman said: “Our policing arrangements for the referendum are well in hand and will be appropriate and proportionate. Police Scotland’s priority is to ensure public safety and security. We will respond appropriately to any issues which arise.”

“We are investigating these incidents and therefore cannot comment on the outcome of these incidents until all inquires are concluded. Where other incidents are reported they will be investigated and appropriate action taken.”

Apple make vague announcement for attention

August 29th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Apple have been intentionally coy of late, leaving everyone else to fill column inches about what they might do next. Is it going to be their smartwatch?

Or will it be the new, larger iPad (which one reader brilliantly referred to as ‘the maxiPad, which we’re stealing and claiming as our own).

Whatever it is, Apple have gone from coy to downright flirty, sending out an invitation to all, with the date on it (9th September 2014) and a ‘wish we could say more’ on it. Of course, they could totally say more. They don’t want to. They’re like those awful people who put a status on a social network that says “Oh, something amazing has happened! Can’t say too much right now #excited”.

 

apple with they could say more 500x439 Apple make vague announcement for attention

 

So there it is. Apple have, at least, given a date for their devoted fans to excited about (they’re going to book the day off work so they can watch a speech on the internet and make plans to buy some sleeping bags and deck chairs so they can queue up for Whatever It Is for a whole week while being filmed by a tech blog).

Either way, we look forward to people arguing about Apple being overpriced against “Shut up! It’s a luxury purchase! You cheapskates wouldn’t understand!”

We’ll just remind the rest of you that a phone really doesn’t define you as a person (unless you’re making nuisance calls with it, because that absolutely defines you as a person).

So. Is it a phone, tablet or wearable technology?

HP recall power cords

August 28th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

hp logo 300x225 HP recall power cordsHewlett Packard, or HP to you and me, have ordered a worldwide recall of some power cords that have been sold with its laptops.

This callback affects products sold between September 2010 and June 2012.

Apparently six million of the affected cables had been sold in the US and Canada, and lord knows how many elsewhere.

The cords have been burning users due to overheating. They just got so angry they rose up and punished their captors, so to speak.

Any cords with LS-15 on the side, sold alongside HP and Compaq notebooks, PC and other bits and bobs, are the ones to look out for.

Their site bugles: “HP customers affected by this program will be eligible to receive a replacement AC power cord for each verified, recalled AC power cord at no cost.”

There’s only been a handful of events so far, but y’know, worth getting a new one just in case the one you have now decides to melt into your carpet.

Click here to get your new power cord from HP

TNT Post advert: Banned and blown-up

August 27th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

postman 300x300 TNT Post advert: Banned and blown upThe folks at TNT Post have been doing adverts, but alas, they’ve been chatting a load of BS. They compared themselves to the Royal Mail and implied that they offer the same service and similar prices… when they don’t.

The TNT leaflet showed a picture of a bloke in a TNT uniform and said: “What does my postie look like? Like this – in a smart uniform which our posties wear at all times on duty. Like Royal Mail, all are CRB-checked and fully trained in how to keep mail safe and secure.”

“We operate under exactly the same rules and regs as Royal Mail – authorised by the government to carry mail and watched over by Ofcom.”

However, they don’t and the ad got banned by the ASA.

Royal Mail, naturally, were the ones to flag this up, saying that the ad was misleading because TNT aren’t required to deliver to every address in the UK on a next-day basis like they are and, not only that, it isn’t fair that TNT implied that the service they provided was better than Royal Mail’s.

TNT said that the whole thing was designed to make consumers feel safe and secure, rather than make Royal Mail cry.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ad suggested that TNT was subject to the same service levels as Royal Mail in all areas, and that’s not the case.

ASA said the reference to mail being “delivered … all over the UK” was misleading and that information in the advert didn’t allow readers to identify for themselves how TNT was better than the Royal Mail in respect of prices and such.

ASA ruled that the ads mustn’t appear again: “We told TNT Post UK to ensure future ads did not suggest that they were subject to the same service levels as Royal Mail, that they delivered mail themselves to all parts of the UK or that their prices were competitive in relation to those offered by Royal Mail unless they could substantiate that that was the case.”

So there.

Uber to try food delivery with ‘UBERFresh’

August 27th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

uber 300x200 Uber to try food delivery with UBERFreshUber have been upsetting taxi drivers the world over, and now, they’re potentially going to make the food industry cry tears of blood with a new idea they’ve had called UBERFresh.

This new service is being tested out in Santa Monica over in That America, which will see UBERFresh offering a food delivery service to customers.

As well as delivering meals to you, Uber is also playing around with same day grocery deliveries, which is tantamount to trolling as far as supermarkets are concerned. It looks like Uber are just having a go at anything and seeing what sticks.

With regards to food delivery, if Uber can undercut JustEat and HungryHouse, restaurants and fast food joints could well switch their allegiances. We can only hope that food delivery companies react in the same shrieking way that we saw taxi drivers doing.

It looks like Uber want you to use their app for pretty much everything. If they can corner the Small Time Weed Dealer market, they’ll clean up.

However, with Uber drivers being a law unto themselves, they might snaffle your hash and then eat the pizza you just ordered. Either way, looks like Uber are going after every corner of business.

This could end in a spectacular failure or maximum annoyance for their rivals – either way, it’ll be fun to watch.

Anti-deathwatch: Salaries

August 26th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

wages 300x199 Anti deathwatch: SalariesSalaries are showing signs of increasing for the first time since the financial crisis, says obscure-ish jobs search engine Adzuna.

The average salary has had an 0.9% advance on the previous year while the number of vacancies were up by a quarter to 872,629, said the report, which comes based on online job vacancies from more than 300 sources.

They’ve even broken their findings down into areas of the UK, which showed that all parts of the country benefited from a salary rise, except London.

The biggest rise in salaries came in Wales with 19%, with south-west England 7% and 6% in north-east England. London actually recorded a 1% fall in salaries.

The coincidentally named Andrew Hunter of the job hunter website Adzuna said:

“The UK job creation boom has become a double-edged sword, creating record highs in employment rates at the expense of stagnating wages. For once we can see good levels in both job creation and wage increases. And as the UK motors on towards full employment, we may well see wages increase at a higher rate as employers begin a bidding war for skills.”

It’s all quite good news isn’t it? People no longer having to sign on and that.

Loom Bands: are they toxic?

August 24th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

loom bands Loom Bands: are they toxic?Those Loom bands are nice aren’t they? Getting kids into crafts rather than them sitting around eating bogeys and playing beat ‘em ups on their consoles.

Well, they might not be good. In fact, they might be rather bad as swathes of the brightly coloured elastic bands are being tested because they might be full of harmful levels of toxic chemicals.

Official sorts fear that loom bands imported from ‘the Far East’ might not comply with toy safety regulations that we have in the UK and trading standards officers reckon there’s a chance that these loom bands… or should we say DOOM BANDS… could contain 500 times the legal limits of phthalates.

That can harm your health. Why, you may as well give little Maisy 20 Benson & Hedges, you monsters.

Phthalate, basically, is something that can be transferred from plastic into the body through saliva or sweat and the legal limit in toys shouldn’t exceed 0.1 per cent. However, some loom bands contained around 50 per cent.

The British Assay Office found loom band related products had 500 times the legal level of toxins.

Anyway, enough of this clickbait nonsense. Go ahead and eat a handful of poisonous loom bands and see if you die. We’re not the boss of you.

Co-op announce losses of £75.8m

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Co op Co op announce losses of £75.8mThe troubled Co-operative Bank have announced pretax losses of £75.8m for the first six months of this year. Losing that amount of money is not a thing to be sniffed at all.

They’ve said that “much needs to be done” in turning around the company, and hopefully, someone was on-hand to give them an award for stating the obvious.

That said, it isn’t all gloom – this is a significant reduction on the £844.6m loss during the same period last year, but at the same time, customers clearly aren’t happy as the bank said they’d lost 28,199 current accounts in the six months to 30th June.

Chief executive, Niall Booker, said the “deep-rooted issues” would continue to impact on the company’s performance for a while yet.

“Considering the scale of the challenge we faced a year ago we are encouraged by the progress made to ensure the stability of the bank. By the measures of capital and liquidity the bank is considerably stronger than it was a year ago. We are ahead of schedule in the disposal of non-core assets and have improved governance, particularly at board level. However, the issues we continue to face in building a sustainable business are deep-rooted and there remains much to be done,” he said.

“Transforming the organisation into a viable and profitable business which generates capital in the long term still requires significant change – both operationally and culturally.”

“The core bank continues to remain stable. In the first half of the year more people switched into the bank than in the second half of 2013. Although we have also seen an increase in the number of people switching out of the bank, the net numbers remain small relative to our total number of current account customers whose continuing loyalty is deeply appreciated. Recent trends suggest this net outflow of retail customers has slowed.”

One thing working in their favour it seems, is that for the most part, people just can’t be bothered to switch their current accounts.

EDF to pay out £3 million in compensation

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

EDF 280 549370a EDF to pay out £3 million in compensationEDF Energy have been gits and Ofgem has slapped their legs by ordering them to pay £3 million in compensation to benefit “vulnerable customers” after they’d been found guilty of breaching complaint handling rules.

The investigation followed an increase of more than 30% in the levels of complaints recorded by the company during the the introduction of a new IT system in 2011.

Ofgem found that, between May 2011 and January 2012, EDF didn’t have sufficient or correct procedures in place to adequately deal with, process, record and receive, all complaints in accordance with handling rules.

In English, that means customers had unacceptably long waiting times when calling them to tell EDF they are rubbish.

And if you wanted them to follow up your complaint, that wasn’t happening either.

When customers finally got through, EDF didn’t even make a record of all the required details for the complaints. Basically, customers may as well stuck their hand out of the window and tried to finger the moon.

Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s senior partner for enforcement, said: “EDF Energy failed to have sufficiently robust processes in place when they introduced a new IT system and this led to the unacceptable handling of complaints. Their commitment to putting things right and paying £3m to the Citizens Advice Energy Best Deal Extra scheme and the Plymouth Citizen Advice Bureau’s Debt Helpline to benefit vulnerable customers is a step in the right direction to rebuilding consumer trust.”

Virgin Broadband prices are going up!

August 21st, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

virgin media logo2 300x281 Virgin Broadband prices are going up!Virgin Media customers – if you can read and noticed the headline, you’ll know that there’s going to a price rise for your broadband.

The hike will see tariffs increase by an eye-watering £1.50. Think of how drastically your life is going change after that.

You’ll have to get on the scratchcards and hope for a windfall.

Those of you who signed up to a broadband-only contract before May 2014 will be charged an extra £1.50 per month, which follows the £2.50 a-month increase that came about in 2013.

Virgin Media have said that, should you be appalled at this rise, you will be able to cancel your contract free of charge. That’s not a random act of generosity – that’s thanks to those new rules brought in by Ofcom.

At the start of the year, Ofcom said telecoms companies have to give at least one month’s notice if they change an agreed monthly subscription price and, if they don’t, customers can ditch them without penalty.

Virgin Media director of Broadband Joe Lathan said, “As part of a review of our services, we are changing the price of taking just broadband from us. Virgin Media is the only major provider able to supply broadband without a phone line because of our unique cable network and so we remain unbeatable value for money.”

So there you have it.

Everyone needs a Lidl black dress

August 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

lidllogo1 300x298 Everyone needs a Lidl black dressLidl are moving into the fashion world, which means you’ll be able to buy all your Friday night clothes at the same time as filling your trolley with meat and bargainous booze.

From next Monday, you’ll be able to buy clothes for ladies, including a leather-trimmed jacket for £14.99, ankle boots for £9.99, something called ‘stretch’ jeans for £6.99 and shirts for £5.99. Men – don’t feel like you’re being left out. You’ll be able to buy clobber for yourselves as of November.

Of course, Lidl have sold clothes before, but this time it is different. They’re describing the new ranges as ”high-end, on-trend”, which means they’ll be flogging stuff to go to the pub in, rather than basic undercrackers and fleeces.

This is all bad news for Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons who have seen their sales hamstrung by German budget supermarkets. Now, it looks like Lidl are going after Asda’s ‘George’ market, which has been lucrative for the Wal-Mart owned retailer.

Josie Stone, non-food buying manager at Lidl UK, said: “This is the first time ever that we’ve done such a high-end fashion promotion and we’re hugely excited about launching these lines on 25th August. Not only are these jackets bang on trend for this season but they’re also £15 a pop, which is unbeatable value for such high quality. So we’d advise customers to be quick getting down to stores on the 25th because they’re likely to be snapped up very quickly.”

Naysayers will no doubt turn their noses up at Lidl’s fashion choices and no-one expects them to win any awards for what they get in, but cheap clothes are big business – just look at how well Primark are doing at the moment.

Lidl is set to go from 600 stores to around 1,500 in the near future, and they’ve got a customer-base of 5 million shoppers per week in the UK.

Looks like they’re trying to take over the British high street, Lidl by Lidl…

energy Labour say theyre going rough up the energy companiesThe licences that energy companies have, so they can do business, could be revoked by a new regulating body who are there to protect the interests of the public.

That sounds alright doesn’t it? Sadly, this won’t ever happen because Labour are doing that thing where they say ‘when we get in power, we’re going to do all this amazing stuff’, when they know that they won’t get voted in, so they don’t have to actually implement anything.

They might as well say: ‘Under a Labour government, honest, hard working people can be certain that each town and city will have a unicorn mayor that shits £50 notes for everyone and each home will be fitted with a milkshake tap.’

Shadow energy and climate change secretary Caroline Flint said the current Government had helped to create a “broken energy market”.

She reckons that Labour will create a tough new regulator who will manhandle power suppliers and have the ability to cancel energy firms’ licences if they repeatedly commit the most “serious and deliberate breaches of their licence conditions which harm the interests of consumers”.

Flint is obviously playing to the gallery here, as everyone knows that we’re all irritated by the way the energy companies are currently doing their business thanks to crappy customer service, mis-selling, whacking prices up when they feel like it and all the rest.

Ofgem have issued 30 fines since 2001, which total in advance of £87m. That’s a lot of money to us, but presumably, energy firms have that kind of money down the back of the sofa in loose change.

Flint says that Labour’s reforms would see the regulator producing an annual scorecard for energy suppliers, reporting on the firms’ performance and identifying problem areas.

“The public have a right to be treated fairly by energy companies,” she said. ”Where firms fail to meet these standards, there must be tough and decisive action. Too often energy companies seem to view the regulator’s fines as a cost of doing business – not as a warning to get their act together.”

“Of course consumers must be compensated – but if energy companies persist in mistreating their customers they must know their licence could be on the line.”