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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Richmond Plastic Surgeon Explains Body Contouring Options for Different Body Types

Category : World News

Dr. Neil Zemmel Discusses How Patients May Benefit From a Tummy Tuck, Liposuction, or a Combination of the Two

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Global Study by GreenTouch Consortium Reveals How Communications Networks Could Reduce Energy Consumption by 90 Percent by 2020

Category : Stocks, World News

Findings Identify Technologies and Solutions to Improve Energy Efficiency by a Factor of 1043 in Mobile Networks and Substantially Benefit Fixed Line and Core Networks

Read more: Global Study by GreenTouch Consortium Reveals How Communications Networks Could Reduce Energy Consumption by 90 Percent by 2020

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Rich elderly ‘should shun benefits’

Category : Business

Wealthy elderly people who do not need benefit payments to help with fuel bills or free travel should voluntarily give the money back, Iain Duncan Smith says.

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Rich elderly ‘should shun benefits’

Category : Business, World News

Wealthy elderly people who do not need benefit payments to help with fuel bills or free travel should voluntarily give the money back, Iain Duncan Smith says.

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Co-operative skills: what are they and why do we need them?

Category : Business

A co-operative development worker explains how to deal with some common skill shortages

Meetings that never seem to end or dissolve into frequent arguments; members leaving; frequent disputes; difficulty in retaining people on your board or management committee.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you may have a co-operative skills deficit.

What do I mean by co-operative skills? When I explain it to people I often use the analogy of a car. You go to the showroom, you are shown all these amazing vehicles, you choose the one you like the look of and, importantly, one that will meet your needs – whether that be off-road, commercial vehicle or zippy runner for about town. It’s only when you drive it away from the forecourt that you realise you’ve never driven a car before and never had any proper lessons.

Trying to manage a co-operative without members possessing co-operative skills can be like trying to drive a car without ever learning to drive – with the added complication of several of you trying to drive at once. Co-operative skills could be described as the understanding of how to work effectively with other people on an equal basis towards commonly held aims and objectives.

Legal structures and governance systems used by co-operatives are a technology. Like all technologies, you need to understand it to be able to use it effectively. I’ve heard people dismiss this approach, saying that it is just a governance issue and that the rules or articles of association are the “manual” but even the best governance framework or member handbook may not unlock the base level skills needed to interact with other people to achieve mutual benefit and put the “manual” into practice.

Some technology – such as a smartphone – is iterative and application can be learned by experience or through use. Like using a smartphone, co-operative skills can be learned through trial and error – and co-operating is a natural human behaviour with psychological and emotional benefits. The problem we face is that a certain amount of “relearning” may be required. People are taught at school to compete, have hierarchical approaches to work and management imposed on them, and in the schoolyard or workplace they have been taught to use power play to achieve individual success at all costs over mutual benefit.

Common skill shortages I have noticed include:

Communication skills – understanding communication as a two-way process, listening skills, assertiveness. A building block for all co-operative skills. Vital for good meetings and to negotiate with other members. Communication skills also provide a boost to the day-to-day running of your co-operative in areas such as customer care and marketing.

Meeting and decision making skills – different ways to reach decisions, how to chair a meeting and how to participate. Speaking as chair of a co-operative, even the best chairing techniques require all participants to share responsibility for helping the meeting run smoothly.

How to deal with conflict – not just conflict resolution but techniques such as principled negotiation which encourage and value disagreement as a means to producing the best outcome for your co-op.

Team working – recognising individual roles, behaviours and skills; techniques for galvanising your team around common goals.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some well established co-operatives whose members developed these skills over time through trial and error or with the assistance of other co-operatives and co-operative development bodies. However, each time a new member joins the co-operative the newbie also needs these skills – not only to thrive as an individual member but also for the whole co-operative to continue to function effectively. I’ve noticed that in startup co-operatives, those with good co-operative skills have progressed more quickly and been better equipped to deal with the hardships that face any startup business.

I believe that for co-ops at all stages of development, investing in the co-operative skills of their members pays dividends: time is spent running the business effectively and generating profits, not dealing with internecine strife; the business is managed more effectively; mutual needs of all members can be met, and members who add to the co-op’s diversity are retained by enabling them to participate.

Many co-operatives – including my own, Co-operantics – host ideas, tools and tips on their websites to encourage co-ops to carry out a bit of DIY before calling in the experts. I’d like to see a time when every co-operative has co-operative skills as a standard item in their training or human resources development plan.

Nathan Brown is an experienced co-operative development worker and member of Co-operantics, a co-operative development body.

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Benefit payments cap rollout begins

Category : World News

A government-imposed limit on benefit payments begins in four London boroughs ahead of its introduction across England, Scotland and Wales.

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Work doesn’t pay for multi-part-time employees

Category : Business

On paper the number of people in work has risen. But many of these jobs are part time, poorly paid and insecure

They’re the forgotten victims of Britain’s long recession. The individuals and families who have lost well-paid work, but figure only briefly in the unemployment figures as they patch together poorly paid part-time work while struggling to cope with a collapse in their living standards.

Sophie Gaskin worked for 13 years as a forensic scientist then, as a trainer, she taught government agencies and police forces how to gather valuable evidence. She was made redundant in October 2010, shortly before the government closed the Forensic Science Service after it ran up losses of £2m a month – a decision later condemned by the House of Commons science and technology committee for the impact it may have on the criminal justice system.

But for Sophie, it has been personally devastating. After specialising in a niche area, she has found it impossible to find work elsewhere using her scientific skills.

Her savings were initially too high to qualify for welfare benefits. “I couldn’t claim until I was down to the minimum £5,000. Then it took six months to get any money, by which time I was down to my last few pounds,” she says. She has, though, qualified for housing benefit on the flat she rents in Surrey.

This single, fortysomething, has only been able to find part-time admin work paying £8 an hour, and is desperately struggling to make ends meet. “There’s no possibility of going full time and, even if I could, I’d lose my housing benefit. On such a low wage I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent,” she says.

Gaskin has been helped by her union, Prospect, which has provided training and advice, as well as four days of paid work as a trainer.

However, that income resulted in the loss of jobseeker’s allowance.

She goes to the supermarket in the evenings, looking for sell-by date reductions. “I buy value brands and shop late to pick up cut-price food. I get fruit and vegetables from my mother and bake my own bread,” she says.

She’s resilient but is clearly saddened by the loss of her job: “I am upset that forensic evidence is being overlooked. That could lead to miscarriages of justice.”

Low-paid part-time work and self-employment have mushroomed in Britain since 2007 as laid-off workers battle to maintain their living standards. Many economists have been puzzled at the lower-than-expected levels of unemployment, given the scale of the fall in GDP since 2008.

The jobless total jumped from 1.6m in early 2008 to a peak of 2.7m in 2011, but has since dropped to 2.5m. Meanwhile, those in work has risen to a record high of 29.73m, a result of population growth and what the government hails as a dramatic increase in private-sector employment.

But the majority of the newly-created jobs are in the service sector, many part-time, poorly paid and insecure. Even for these, critics say, there is competition from an army of underemployed workers seeking longer hours. A recent poll conducted by IPSOS Mori found that 40% of people in work (and 65% of 18 to 24-year-olds) said they would take on more hours if they could.

A report from the Resolution Foundation on the “squeezed middle” found that low-to-middle-income workers account for 70% of the overall growth in self-employment. Increasing food inflation means families within this group have to pay a £280 cost of living “premium” as they spend a greater share of their budget on essentials (which have risen faster than other goods) compared with higher-income households.

Lower income households are also bearing the brunt of unavoidable increases in the cost of food and utilities, such as gas, electricity and water.

Andrea Kennedy, 48, a divorced mother of two in Liverpool, is typical of those surviving on casual contracts with no job security and sometimes weeks or even months without work.

Until two-and-a-half years ago she was just about managing to cope taking short-term, six-month and 12-month contracts as a full-time administrator. “It was financially hard work, as I was often out of work for up to a month between contracts,” she says.

After yet another contract ended prematurely, she has turned to cleaning to earn a full-time income. “Until recently I’ve been doing three or four part-time cleaning jobs on the minimum wage of £6.19 an hour in order to make ends meet. However, eight weeks ago my hours were cut as one company lost a contract. Now I only have 21 hours.”

Although she owns her two-bed house, she made the mistake of taking out a £15,000 secured loan on her home in 2006 and is still struggling to pay the debt, which has grown to £24,000. “My mortgage is £251 a month and £223 on the loan. At best, I’m only earning £775 a month and, because my working hours fluctuate, I can’t claim tax credits when they drop below 30 hours a week.”

She admits her standard of living has been hit hard. “I’ve had to sell my car, cut back on food and can’t afford a computer or phone. There are no nights out and a cup of coffee is the only treat I can afford.”

She is now considering moving out of Liverpool and gets by with the help of friends and Citizens Advice.

The Trussell Trust, a charity that operates food banks in the UK, says it is not just the homeless, or those living entirely on benefits, who are using its services, but also the working poor, whose incomes have plummeted.

“We’re opening three new foodbanks every week to try and help local communities meet the growing need for emergency food,” says its executive chairman Chris Mould. “People are often surprised that less than 5% of foodbank clients are homeless but many of the 300,000 people we’re helping are low-income working families.”

Moreover, many workers are also getting into debt. National Debtline is a free national telephone helpline for people with debt problems in England, Scotland and Wales. Its spokesperson, Paul Crayston, says: “Almost half of the 234,000 calls in 2012 were from people in employment.”

But there are some who, having gone through the trauma of losing their job and taking a cut from a relatively high income, are now happier.

Maisie Collin, 36, lives in London with her 18-month-old son and her fiancé. Before the recession she worked on a freelance basis in the youth and family care sector, with an income of around £55,000.

After the downturn she took a job as a director of a charity, earning £40,000. In 2011 it was dissolved and she was made redundant while pregnant.

Maisie was unemployed for 18 months, not claiming benefits. She re-mortgaged her flat and used the money to retrain as an Ofsted-registered childcare provider and turn her flat into a nursery. She now runs a daycare centre from home part time, paying two apprentices from a local college to help. She also does part-time life coaching and massage therapy, as well as voluntary work with young people and families. She estimates her new income at between £33,000 and £35,000.

“I’ve got no security, and I have to work really hard. But I love the variety. My lifestyle had to change: everything stopped – I’d eat out quite a lot before, but we couldn’t do that, so I ate differently. I reduced going out.

“It can really affect everything, from your lifestyle to your friendships and relationships with your family. I had to create my own work, and I do earn a lot less than I used to and have a child to support, but I am happier now.”

Benefit cap ‘to hit fewer families’

Category : Business, World News

Government figures show 25% fewer households than expected will be hit by a benefit cap, ahead of its launch in four areas of London on Monday.

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Obama unveils $3.8tn budget plan

Category : Business

US President Barack Obama unveils a $3.77tn (£2.4tn) budget that proposes fresh taxes on the wealthy along with cuts to benefit programmes.

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AUDIO: Ed Balls: Most worse off after tax changes

Category : Business, World News

Shadow chancellor says new measures, coupled with benefit cuts, will leave most ordinary people worse off.

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