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Economy

Report Finds Employment Inequalities After “Time Out” Penalty

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Resolution Foundation, an independent think tank, has produced a report that highlights differences in employment prospects between disabled people and non-disabled people who have been unemployed for over a year. The publication finds that the odds of a disabled person returning to work after this period of time are reduced at twice the rate of non-disabled person. This information comes ahead of the Government’s Green Paper on improving disability employment.

Time spent out of work is a key factor of the chances of getting another job for all groups – but it is particularly crucial for those with disabilities. The analysis shows that 16 per cent of disabled people who have had a job within the past year re-enter work each quarter. This falls to just 2.4 per cent for those who left a job more than a year ago, meaning the chance of re-entering after a year out is 6.5 times lower than in the first year of unemployment.

Importantly, this ‘time out’ penalty is more than twice the size of that for non-disabled people, who are only three times less likely to re-enter employment after a year out of work than in the first year after exiting.

The report argues that the current policy focus on disabled people on benefits is therefore seriously misguided. Being assessed for disability benefits after leaving employment can take between nine months and one year: six months in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay followed by at least three months spent waiting for an assessment after making an Employment and Support Allowance claim. By this point, the odds of re-entering work have fallen considerably.

The Government has made clear its commitment to improving employment outcomes for disabled people. This includes real-terms spending increases in this parliament, and a much more health-focused back-to-work programme – the Work and Health Programme – to replace the Work Programme next year.

However, the Resolution Foundation estimates that under current plans even a high-performing Work and Health Programme would only support 20,000 disabled people per year into work. This approach alone will make very little dent in the Government’s ambition to halve the disability employment gap, which the Foundation estimates will require a 1.5 million increase in the number of disabled people in work by 2020.

The report calls for the forthcoming Green Paper on disability employment – due to be published later this year – to consider a radical new ‘damage prevention’ approach to bring support to people with disabilities not when they are on benefits but before they exit the labour market and during periods of sickness absence.

The Foundation proposes that the Government sets a target to reduce the number of disabled people leaving employment, to sit alongside the ambition to halve the disability employment gap. To meet that target the Foundation calls for a major focus on retaining links between a firm and an employee. That should include the introduction of a statutory ‘right to return’ period of one year from the start of sickness absence, and a government rebate on Statutory Sick Pay costs for firms who support employees to make a successful return during this period.

In addition, the Foundation highlights the potential of the new Fit for Work service, an occupational health and rehabilitation service for employees on sick leave introduced by the Government last year. However, it is concerned that restricted entry routes and low referrals are hampering its chances of success. The Foundation therefore recommends that the service is opened up to the self-employed; that employees are allowed to initiate engagement (rather than just GPs and employers); and that incentives for both firms and employees to engage with Fit for Work are introduced.

The Foundation also suggests that the Access to Work programme – which provides grants to workers with health problems and disabilities and is widely regarded as a success – is expanded. 

Laura Gardiner, Senior Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Helping people with health problems or a disability to enter and remain in work is a major concern in an ageing society, and the key challenge to overcome if we are to achieve the Chancellor’s goal of full employment.

“The current focus on supporting people after they have been assessed for benefits is misguided, with help arriving too late and on too small a scale for the millions of people who need it.

“A ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach that improves support and incentives in the workplace and during periods of sickness absence should be at the centre of the Government’s forthcoming Green Paper on boosting disability employment. Such an approach would mean fewer workers have to experience the stress of being out of work, employers see a reduction in their staff turnover and the Government can make faster progress in its laudable ambition to halve the disability employment gap.”   

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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