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Poll Says Utility Companies And Football Clubs Are ‘Profiteering At Expense Of Consumers’

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According to a survey released by Social Enterprise UK, football clubs and utility companies are named as the industries to be making an excessive or unfair profit at the expense of consumers.

The findings of the poll, which surveyed the British public, show that two-thirds (67%) of the British public think football clubs are profiteering at the expenses of consumers. They are followed closely by electricity, gas and water companies (61%), and television subscription providers such as Sky, Virgin, BT and Talk Talk (61%). Train companies are believed to be profiteering by 58% of people, followed by banks (53%).

The YouGov poll has been released ahead of Social Saturday which takes place later this week on 15th October. The day aims to inspire people to buy from British social enterprises – well-known names include The Big Issue, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant chain, Divine Chocolate and Belu Water.

Free of shareholders, social enterprises are able to plough their profits back into the business to deliver on their social or environmental mission, which might be getting ex-offenders back into work or reducing food waste.

Britain is home to 70,000 social enterprises and to an increasing number of Social Enterprise Places. These towns, cities and villages, including Gateshead, Salford and Plymouth, are nurturing social enterprises to start-up and grow to tackle local issues and to help communities flourish.

The poll also reveals that awareness of social enterprise is rising amongst the British public. A majority (51%) are now aware of these alternative businesses, compared with 37% two years ago in 2014. In 2008, only 1 in 5 (20%) British adults were aware of social enterprise.

Geographical differences

The polling reveals that while more people living in Scotland, the North and the Midlands than in other parts of the UK think that banks are profiteering at the expense of consumers (55%), more people in Wales than anywhere else think the same of businesses operating in childcare (30%).

More people living in the East than anywhere else think that businesses in the food industry (including supermarkets) are making an unfair profit (26%), while more people in the Midlands than anywhere else think the same of insurance companies (57%). A greater number of people living in London than anywhere else in Britain think that train companies are profiteering at the expense of consumers (62%).

And while more people living in the South than anywhere else believe that utility companies are making an excessive profit (64%), more people in the North than anywhere else believe the same of football clubs (71%) and television subscription providers such as Sky, Virgin, BT and Talk Talk (64%).

Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, the national campaigning body for the sector, said:

The findings of this poll tell us that in some industries British consumers are really losing out and it’s a sign that capitalism has gone wrong.

“The public are getting a rough deal because some businesses have an insatiable appetite for profit.

“There are social enterprise alternatives in almost every industry that consumers can buy from. These businesses are free of the shackles of profit-hungry shareholders, which means that they’re free to put customers and communities first. One of the reasons that the UK’s social enterprise movement is growing is because people care about the ripple effect of their spending. Research shows that an increasing number of social enterprises are selling products and services to British consumers.”

Social Saturday

On Saturday 15th October, social enterprises around the country are opening their doors and hosting events to motivate the British public to ‘buy social’. Local MPs are also visiting social enterprises in their constituencies. Visit www.socialsaturday.org.uk to find out what’s happening near you and to buy from social enterprises online.

Social enterprise case studies

Fan-owned AFC Wimbledon Football Club was founded by its supporters in 2002 as a direct reaction to the decision by an independent commission appointed by the Football Association to allow Wimbledon F.C. to relocate to Milton Keynes. The majority of Wimbledon F.C. supporters opposed the idea of moving the club more than 50 miles away from Wimbledon. Wimbledon F.C. physically moved in 2003 and then changed the name of the club to Milton Keynes Dons in 2004. In its short history, AFC Wimbledon has been extremely successful, being promoted six times in thirteen seasons, and going up from the ninth tier (Combined Counties Premier) to the third (League One).

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water is a not-for-profit water company which has no shareholders and operates solely for the benefit of its 1.3m customers. In June 2016 it announced a £32m windfall for its customers – a first for the UK utility industry. Previously customers have received a reduction in bills, but for the first time Welsh Water is returning the value through a series of investments identified as community priorities in research carried out by the company. This will include investing in on-site renewable energy schemes that will lower the carbon intensity of the business while helping to keep bills down in the future. The company will also increase help for customers who are struggling to pay their bills.

Energise Barnsley has been setup with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council to deliver community owned renewable energy and heating projects. It aims to alleviate fuel poverty and support vulnerable people living in the borough. So far more than 300 council owned homes have received free solar PV assets: 75% of the houses are bungalows in which elderly tenants live. All homes have a solar electricity reader which helps residents maximise their savings by indicating when the solar panels are generating and when to use the free electricity. Energise Barnsley is channelling all surplus profits from the generation of renewable electricity into a Community Fund to improve the lives of those living in the community.

Award-winning Plymouth Energy Community aims to give people in Plymouth the power to change how they buy, use and generate energy. Run by the community for the community, this social enterprise reducing energy bills for local people, improves energy efficiency and generates a green energy supply in the city. On Social Saturday the team will be offering guided tours around its Community Solar Farm in Ernesettle to show people how the solar farm works and tell visitors about their work.

Triodos Bank connects individual savers and investors who believe in a fairer, more sustainable world with the social enterprises, charities and businesses that are making it a reality. The bank only lends money to organisations that make a positive difference to people and the planet.

UK social enterprise facts

Britain’s social enterprise sector contributes 24bn to the economy and employs one million people [1].
Social enterprises are much more likely to be led by women than mainstream businesses. Forty per cent of social enterprises have a female chief executive, compared with 7% of FTSE 100 companies.
Start-up boom: Close to half (49%) of all social enterprises are five years old or less, and a third (35%) are three years old or less – more than three times the proportion of SME start-ups.
The majority of social enterprises (59%) actively employ people who are disadvantaged in the labour market, including ex-offenders, people with disabilities and the long-term unemployed.
Three quarters (74%) of social enterprises pay the Living Wage as accredited by the Living Wage Foundation [2].

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Environment

New Climate Change Report Emphasizes Urgent Need for Airline Emission Regulations

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In less than two months, the United States has grappled with some of the worst natural disasters in its history. Hurricanes battered the south central United States. Fires destroyed homes throughout Northern California. Puerto Rico experienced some of the worst storms ever. A massive windstorm caused more damage to the northeastern United States then any other storm on record before winter even struck.

These recent incidents have spurred discussion on the dangers of climate change. A recent report from the University of London has shed some light on the discussion. The new report suggests that new regulations are needed, including stricter EPA regulations on Airlines.

Review of the new report

The new report was published in the British medical Journal, Lancet. The report concluded that climate change is a “threat multiplier” for a variety of social problems, including diseases and natural disasters. While numerous studies have processed the risk that climate change plays with creating natural disasters, University of London report is among the first to explore the relationship between climate change and disease.

The authors warned that the problems are becoming irreversible. They will continue to get worse if risk factors are not adequately addressed.

The most concerning part of the report is that these problems are having the most serious impact on the most vulnerable communities in the world. Countries that depend on agriculture and other issues will suffer the most if climate change escalates.

“The answer is, most of our indicators are headed in the wrong direction,”said Nick Watts, a fellow at University College London’s Institute for Global Health and executive director of the Lancet Countdown, one of the lead researchers of the paper. “Broadly, the world has not responded to climate change, and that lack of response has put lives at risk. … The impacts we’re experiencing today are already pretty bad. The things we’re talking about in the future are potentially catastrophic.”

Airline industry discovers climate change is a two-way Street

The airline industry is coping with the problems of climate change, while also coming to terms with the fact that it has helped accelerate the problem. Earlier this year, American Airlines was forced to cancel four dozen flights near Phoenix. Cancellations were called due to excessive temperatures. The air was over 120 degrees, which is too hot for some smaller jet planes to get off the ground.

One anonymous airline executive privately admitted that their business model has facilitated climate change. They warned that the problem may become twice as bad in the next few years if proper safeguards aren’t implemented. Representatives from Goindigo have echoed these concerns.

The EPA has stated that airplanes account for 11% of all emissions. They are expected to increase over 50% within the next 30 years. This could have serious repurcussions if newer, greener airplane models don’t become the new standard in the very near future.

This is driving discussion about the need for new policies.The EPA has been discussing the need for new airline regulations for nearly two years. An EPA ruling made in July 2016 set the tone for new regulations, which could be introduced in the next year.

The new policies may be delayed, due to the new president’s position on climate change. He hired an EPA chief that has sued the organization about a dozen times. However, the Trump Administration may not be able to oppose climate change indefinitely, because a growing number of people are pressing for reforms. Even younger conservatives primarily believe climate change is a threat and are demanding answers. This may force the EPA to follow through on its plans to introduce new solutions.

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