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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to 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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India drug firm pays record US fine

Category : Business

India’s top drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories will pay a record fine in the US for lying to officials and selling badly made generic drugs.

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Government share sale chief quits

Category : Business, World News

The man in charge of selling off the government’s stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds has resigned.

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SSE set to pay £1.5m in compensation

Category : World News

SSE, the firm that was fined for mis-selling energy contracts, says it expects to pay £1.5m in compensation.

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Daimler to sell final stake in EADS

Category : Business

Carmaker Daimler is selling its remaining 7.5% stake in pan-European aerospace and defence group EADS, the owner of Airbus

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PPI complaints start to decline

Category : Business, World News

The Financial Conduct Authority says the number of complaints about the mis-selling of PPI fell in the second half of last year.

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Selling your own house: A good idea?

Category : Business

How to go about selling your own house

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VIDEO: Your Money: DIY home sales and pensions

Category : Business, World News

In this week’s Your Money, Declan Curry looks at the OFT’s investigation into free online games that charge for extras, DIY house-selling and how to avoid losing track of all your work pensions.

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Panic selling forces Bitcoin crash

Category : Business, World News

Panic selling caused the value of the Bitcoin virtual currency to halve in less than six hours.

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Mythbusting: People buy from social enterprises purely on ethics

Category : Business

Social businesses must do more than simply convince consumers that they are ethical. Quality is essential, says David Floyd

As a model for social enterprise, the Fairtrade movement has a lot to answer for. I grew up in a Christian family and, although I’m no longer religious, I continue to recognise, with fondness and respect, many of the apparently bizarre but ultimately socially valuable things people to do as result of their faith.

Buying and, even more bizarrely, drinking some of the earlier brands of Fairtrade tea and coffee certainly fell into that category. Now those days have passed, it’s probably OK to admit that some of these drinks were a cocktail of unpleasantness – if I close my eyes, it’s still possible to recall the aftertaste 20 years on – and additional expense that, by any conventional logic, should have proved commercially lethal.

Instead, Fairtrade has proved to be a massive success because it’s a movement based on a good idea. The idea that customers who buy Fairtrade products know that, as a result of their purchase, the producers and workers who make Fairtrade products are paid a fair price and a premium on top of that to invest in social projects.

The idea was so good that, with the support of particularly socially committed early adopters, it generated enough momentum to give specialist Fairtrade manufacturers time to make their tea and coffee first relatively drinkable, then relatively affordable, until it eventually tasted really good and cost a similar amount to other brands.

Now many Fairtrade brands have progressed from the stall at the church coffee morning to the shelves of the major supermarkets, while many of their corporate rivals are now also producing their own Fairtrade products.

Unfortunately, many in the social enterprise movement observed the success of the Fairtrade brand and make some giant leaps of thinking that were superficially comforting but ultimately wrong.

A reasonable message to take from the Fairtrade experience is that, when choosing which specific product from a range of available brands, a small percentage of people give a very high priority to ethical considerations and a significantly bigger percentage may consider ethical factors if everything else – price, quality, availability – is more or less the same.

This is also suggested by the limited research available on the subject. For many social entrepreneurs, the message has been that there are millions of people who buy Fairtrade products, and therefore there are millions of people who’d really like to buy products from social enterprises if only they could find them.

At the other end of the social enterprise optimism spectrum, in a recent piece social entrepreneur Robert Ashton apparently questioned whether social enterprises could possibly compete with (increasingly socially aware) mainstream businesses at all.

Reflecting on Starbucks’ recent decision to boost its social impact, he noted that: “Starbucks ran a series of full-page press ads explaining their plan to contribute directly to one of the UK’s most pressing social problems: youth unemployment. They’re going to take on 1,000 new apprentices over the next two years.”

Ashton predicts that: “… 2013 will see social enterprises challenged by large corporates. Starbucks sells an awful lot of coffee, sandwiches and cake. A turnover of almost £400m per annum, and 8,500 employees, makes it easy to make a big difference with a very little effort.”

Ashton may be right in the sense that simply boasting of being social enterprise is not a strong basis for a rival company to compete directly with Starbucks on the basis of price, brand awareness and general ubiquity.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a local, independent coffee shop – run on a social enterprise model – couldn’t use the fact that it was a social enterprise as an additional selling point, on top of offering good coffee and cakes and alternative to the major chains.

The point is that, for most customers, the social enterprise element would be a bonus and, at best, one consideration among many others. And that’s the situation for most social enterprises selling most goods and services to most customers.

As Matt Jarratt, director of social enterprise development at health and social care social enterprise, SCA Group, says: “In our experience customers, be they private purchasers or commissioners, buy our services because they offer the highest quality and best value for money. They like the impact we create as a social enterprise, but the legal model itself is of little interest to them.”

He adds: “As a social enterprise, it’s up to us to use our model well, but the end result must be that we offer the best commercial and social value possible, regardless of the ownership status of the business.”

Like any other business, a social enterprise has to make use of any advantages it has in order to convince customers to buy what it’s selling.

Depending on the situation, the fact that an organisation is a social enterprise may be a significant factor or entirely irrelevant to the choice a customer makes – but it’s never going to be the sole reason for their decision.

David Floyd is managing director of Social Spider CIC and blogs on Beanbags and Bullsh!t

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To join the social enterprise network, click here.

SSE fined record £10.5m by Ofgem over ‘prolonged and extensive’ mis-selling

Category : Business

Utility giant gave ‘misleading and unsubstantiated statements’ to potential customers about prices and savings, says watchdog

The utility giant SSE is to be fined £10.5m for “prolonged and extensive” mis-selling in what will be the largest ever penalty imposed on an energy provider.

The energy watchdog Ofgem said it found “failures at every stage of the sales process” across SSE’s telephone, in-store and doorstep selling activities.

SSE provided “misleading and unsubstantiated statements” to potential customers about prices and savings that could be made by switching to SSE, according to Ofgem.

Ofgem said the level of the fine reflected the seriousness and the duration of the mis-selling, as well as the harm caused to customers and the likely gain to SSE.

Management at SSE – one of Britain’s “big six” energy suppliers – failed to pay enough attention to compliance, which allowed the mis-selling to take place, added Ofgem.

Ian Marlee, the managing director for markets at Ofgem, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “This is a woeful catalogue of failures by the SSE management.

“This fine represents the fact that what they were doing was allowing a culture of mis-selling to continue. They weren’t doing enough to prevent sharp selling practices from their selling agents. They actually provided misleading sales scripts.

“Some people were being told they were going to get savings when actually they were being put on a worse deal. People were expecting savings and were not getting the levels of savings. People were being told direct debit levels that made it sound like they were going to be better off when in fact they were worse off.

“What we need and what we expect from energy companies is they have a culture of putting consumers first and complying with the rules.

“Clearly SSE management were not doing that which is why we imposed the largest fine on energy suppliers we have ever imposed.”

The fine will be paid to the Treasury, Marlee said.