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Economy

Co-op party calls for Credit Union membership targets

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The Co-operative party is to lead calls for a push to treble the UK membership of credit unions, in order to battle exploitative payday lenders.

The Co-op party, which works in partnership with Labour, will promote policies that would swell credit unions’ membership to 3 million within 10 years at the latter party’s annual conference.

A credit union is a financial co-operative that is owned by its members and exists primarily to provide savings and loans to these members. Unlike banks, they are not ultimately motivated to create profit for external shareholders.

In recent years, credit unions have been hailed as a more ethical alternative to high street banks and payday lenders. 

The coalition government has already pledged to invest in credit unions, but Gareth Thomas, chair of the Co-op party, will call for specific targets on membership in Manchester this week, according to reports in the Guardian.

He will also call for workplace contributions, direct from payrolls, to support credit unions, while expressing support for Labour leader Ed Miliband’s pledge to levy payday lenders and give the proceeds to mutuals.

“There needs to be a change in attitude from public sector bodies to encourage employees to join a credit union,” Thomas added.

Earlier this month, Bank of England statistics revealed that credit unions now hold over £1 billion in deposits. 

The figures also show that membership of credit unions exceeded 1 million people at the end of March, up by 6.8% in just 6 months. 

Speaking to Blue & Green Tomorrow, Frank McKillop, policy manager at the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL), said that the Co-op party’s target should be achievable, as around 2,500 Britons now join a credit union each week.

“Ongoing development of new technology, new products and partnerships with employers should make credit unions an even more attractive option for consumers from all walks of life over the next decade,” he said.   

“Where credit unions get this right, fast membership growth is entirely possible – such as in the US, where one in three Americans is now a credit union member. 

“More and more credit unions are offering a wider range of financial products including pre-paid debit cards, current accounts and even mortgages, and are increasingly seen as a viable alternative to other financial services providers.”

Photo: Images of Money via Flickr 

Further reading:

Radio Taxis Credit Union votes to merge with London Capital

Lloyds unveils package to boost credit union sector

Iain Duncan Smith highlights financial and ethical benefits of credit unions

Credit union deal allows MPs to ‘put money where their mouth is’

Credit unions: a growing movement

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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