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Economy

Why does Britain need a ‘social’ supermarket?

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Britain’s first social supermarket opened its doors to customers in Goldthorpe, Barnsley, on Monday, giving 500 people in the area the opportunity to access high quality food marked down by around 70% when compared to mainstream retailers. But why is there a need for this in 2013? Nicky Stubbs went to the Community Shop to find out.

A few days ahead of the opening of Community Shop, staff were wandering around sticking things out on shelves while workmen added the finishing touches to the outside of the store. From the front of the shop, passers-by cannot see through the frosted glass, amid worries that shoppers would be stigmatised by fellow locals.

The Community Shop, which is the UK’s only ‘social’ supermarket, has a membership criteria which allows only those claiming in or out of work benefits and pensioners to join.

Sarah Dunwell, the social entrepreneur behind the idea, who worked with parent company, the Company Shop, told Blue & Green Tomorrow about the need for the concept.

Food poverty is a particular problem at the moment in the UK. With so many people on the poverty line, we want to be able to empower people to get out of these difficult financial circumstances, without having to turn to food banks, and to be able to give them the right access to skills in order to do that”, she said.

Dunwell’s claims are backed up by figures released by the Trussell Trust, a food poverty organisation, which said only last week that it has given out 500,000 emergency food parcels to families struggling to meet the rising cost of living. These very same families are often faced with the extremely tough decision of paying bills or putting food on the table. The charity claimed that this year, UK households are facing their “toughest ever winter”, and warned that George Osborne’s declaration in last week’s autumn statement that the economy is recovering was “not filtering down”.

But there is more to the Community Shop than first meets the eye. The food that is sourced, which is surplus stock, would usually go to landfill due to packaging errors or omissions of some minor nutritional information. The store has successfully managed to secure contracts with Asda, Morrisons, the Co-operative Food, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Mondelēz, Ocado, Tetley, Young’s and Muller.

Dunwell is insistent that helping out those in need is not simply about matching them with affordable food. The Community Shop has a ‘community hub’, where customers can access a range of services to help them out with other difficulties that they may be faced with.

“If we just gave people the opportunity to buy affordable food then we aren’t really tackling the root of the problem. We act as a signposting service and have come together with a number of agencies to provide support”, she said.

We’re working with Citizens’ Advice, debt advisors and other agencies to provide people with the support to be able to lift themselves out of this position and overcome the challenges they are faced with.”

Customers can also access cookery lessons, a service which Dunwell claimed is vital to encouraging people to undertake healthier lifestyle choices, as well as employment workshops and CV building classes.

If successful, the Company Shop plans to roll out the business model to other areas of the country, with six stores in London and 14 stores elsewhere.

But to return to the frosted window, why should the supermarket feel the need to shield its punters from the outside world? Why should people have to do their shopping undercover over fears of stigmatisation?

The existence of the welfare state is not to simply label those being supported by it as scroungers or lazy. Meanwhile, the range of other services on offer at the Community Shop show that there are people out there genuinely trying to help those in need where the welfare state is being slashed to such an extent that people are having to make choices between heating and eating.

What we shouldn’t do is kick people while they are down. These are tough times for everyone, and the recovery of our economic system seems to be coming at the cost of the poorest in society. It is sad that in 2013, the third sector is still having to step in to support people who have been largely failed by both the private and the public sectors.

Further reading:

UK’s first ‘social supermarket’ opens its doors

Why food banks are necessary in modern society

Poorest facing ‘toughest ever winter’, says food poverty charity

Charity calls for inquiry into ‘scandalous’ food poverty levels

Citizens Advice reports 78% increase in food bank enquiries

Economy

Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance

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“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]mintel.com

Report contents:

OVERVIEW
What you need to know
Report definition
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
ISSUES AND INSIGHTS
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
THE MARKET – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
PUTTING FINANCIAL SERVICES IN AN ETHICAL CONTEXT
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
GREEN, ETHICAL AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ISSUES IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
The role of investing
Divestment
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
THE CONSUMER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
THE ETHICAL CONSUMER – SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITIES
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
CONSUMER TRUST IN THE BEHAVIOUR OF FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS GREEN AND ETHICAL FINANCIAL PRODUCTS
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS TRANSPARENCY
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS IN SOCIETY
The social debt of the financial crisis
THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
CHALLENGER COMPANIES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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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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