Cheaper Toys Best Sellers In Credit Crunch Christmas

By David Henderson

Santa will be behaving more like Scrooge this Christmas as the credit crunch curbs spending on toys. The festive bestsellers chart is dominated by presents costing under fifty pounds.

Parents are putting value at the top of their Christmas lists. Britain’s toy shops are preparing for reduced consumer spending and children are being warned not to expect their stockings to bulge with gifts as the recession sends a chill through the holiday season.

Luckily for children, Santa’s sack won’t be completely empty; value and quality presents are selling in big numbers. “Pocket money-priced toys are making a big comeback this year, so we are in for an affordable, family-orientated Christmas this year,” predicts Gary Grant, chairman of  The Toy Retailers Association.

Ben10 set to be a credit crunch Christmas bestseller

Ben10 set to be a credit crunch Christmas bestseller

Ben10 to the rescue! The children’s hero battles aliens on TV and now tackles…the global recession. Priced at an affordable, the Cartoon Network favourite features on the toy sellers’ ‘Dream Dozen’ presents list. If your child would rather play with a cardboard box than Ben10’s Alien Force Action Cruiser,  there’s always a pink palace for pre-school TV favourite Peppa Pig, toy hamsters and Transformers. Lego is on this years best seller list over three decades after it first built it’s reputation with Britain’s children.

 
 
 
                                         CHRISTMAS 2009’S DREAM DOZEN TOYS
  • Bakugan Battle Pack, Spin Master (RRP £19.99) Battle Strikers starter Set, Mega Brands (RRP £9.99)
  • Ben 10 Alien Force Kevins DX Action Cruiser, Bandai (RRP £29.99)
  • GO GO Pets Hamsters, Character Options (RRP £9.99)
  • GX Racers Tightrope Terror, Flair (RRP £22.99)
  • Kidizoom Multimedia Digital Camera, V-Tech (RRP £49.99) 

    Click to view an episode of Peppa Pig

     

  • LEGO Games Minotaurus, Lego (RRP £17.99)
  • Monopoly City, Hasbro (RRP £24.99)
  • Princess Peppa’s Palace, Character Options (RRP £39.99)
  • Sylvanian Families Caravan, Flair (RRP £44.99)
  • Transformers Movie 2 Voyagers Figures, Hasbro (RRP £22.99)

A lucky dip of hi-tech and traditional toys is expected be left gift wrapped under the nation’s Christmas trees: “The toy industry has turned the latest trends into up-to-the-minute concepts to provide today’s kids with innovative and creative toys. The top toys demonstrate how forward-thinking and pioneering the toy industry is. This year’s list also reveals a trend towards nostalgic characters and brands which have been updated with a modern twist. Consumers are reverting back to heritage brands which last longer than the Christmas season,” revealed Grant. As toy and games technology gets cheaper, the hi-tech presents have come done in price at a time when consumers crave value for their money.

‘Ben10’s appearance in the Christmas Dream Dozen toys list follows 2008’s success when the character’s 10” and 15” action figure was named Toy of the Year. That title was first awarded in 1965 when it went to the James Bond Aston Martin die-cast car; Action Man, Sindy and Spirograph also had success in the sixties. The early 1970’s saw the arrival of Lego, Playmobil and the Peter Powell stunt kite soared to the top of the sales charts in 1976. The eighties started with back-to-back successes for the Rubik’s cube. Star Wars toys, Transformers and Sylvanian Families were also popular with the children of Thatcherism. The 1990’s was the decade of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Nintendo and Thunderbird’s Tracey Island. Kids TV show ‘Teletubbies’, featuring strange gurgling furry puppets, won Toy of the Year in 1997 followed a decade later by ‘In The Night Garden’, another kids tv show featuring strange gurgling furry puppets. Maybe it’s the sherry…

Children should be dreaming of a green Christmas, with eco-presents increasing in popularity as Britons become more switched-on to earth issues. Children’s gift website Spotty Gift Boxes predicts that parents will dig deep into their pockets for a worm farm. The worms could crawl to the top of the pile and become the website’s number one seller this year!

Computer Worm. Worm farm is online seller

The good news is that the Earthworm Nursery costs just £17.99; the bad news is that you have worms in your home! Children learn about the full life cycle of the worm and can observe them hatching from their cocoons and growing into full length wrigglers. Yes, all in the comfort of your own home. Your clean home.

Once the worms are safely outside, then why not leave the kids outside playing with their toy gardening tools, another popular choice this year?   This Christmas, think of the environment. Think of the fresh air. Think of the mud. Think of the new hall carpet.

The top selling toy in the run-up to Christmas is a one kids can enjoy weeks before Santa even jumps aboard his sleigh! Internet super power Amazon is enjoying a pre-Christmas rush for the LEGO City 7687 Advent Calendar. Costing £14.99, it’s dearer than a chocolate calendar, but it’s kinder to milk teeth! There aren’t many internet shopping days left until Christmas and you’ll need to buy your advent calendar 24 days earlier – opening night is December 1!

 

‘Capitalism: A Love Story’

Capitalism A Love Story

The 'American dream'

by Scott Norton

Michael Moore’s new documentary, ‘Capitalism: A love Story’ , attempts to broach the subject of corporate greed in American society and begins by illustrating the fact that one percent of the population in America control ninety-six percent of the wealth. Moore’s latest movie is thought provoking as well as extremely moving in the way that it puts a face to the victims of the ongoing recession, but, it reeks of hypocrisy on the part of Moore, who no doubt earns a pretty penny from intellectual property rights. Moore is a great social commentator, yes, his crude tactics attract the public’s attention, yes, but unfortunately this movie does not deal with the real reasons behind capitalism’s failure.  Mankind’s greed!

He, Moore, points the finger at the major corporations and the banking system. He lays blame solely at the feet of the wealthy one percent and rightly condemns the underhand practices of big business. But, while these are the men and women (mostly men) who control the economy and perpetuate wealth inequality, it is the majority who cling to the ideal of the ‘American dream’ who allow these inequalities to continue and prosper. Moore has bypassed or omitted the simple fact that everyone wants this wealth and neglects to criticise the protectors of capitalist society; his viewers the people.

‘Capitalism: A love Story’ is a shallow attempt at addressing serious issues concerning not only Americas economic society, but every capitalist society in the world. It glosses over the fact that it is everyone’s greed, and not just corporate greed, that has led to booming house prices and record levels of individual debt.Tracing the rise of Capitalism and depicting the struggles of those worst effected by the recent economic recession is all well and good but this documentary only skims the subject and uses almost ludicrous tactics to captivate the viewer’s attention. Wrapping wall street in crime scene tape and standing outside banks with a a dollar sign bag declaring that you want the taxpayers money back serves only one purpose, publicity. I have no doubt that Moore believes he is opening the American publics eyes to the problems facing capitalist society but, he surely must realise the hypocrisy of his argument when he deposits his royalties cheque in the same banks he is protesting against.

Moore is correct however. Capitalism no longer works for the majority, if it ever did, and it will be up to us, the people, to come up with an alternative that does. Socialism and Communism are two already available alternatives to Capitalism but neither has been proven to be any better than that which we have already embraced. In the working models of Socialism and Communism we can clearly witness the inequalities already evident in our own society, so it should not only be our goal, it should be our duty to provide an original working alternative to our failed Capitalist experiment.

It is our duty as members of society, regardless of race, class, religion or political standpoint, to ensure that individual economies, as well as the world economy, are  built upon a foundation that will not crumble under pressure, will not discriminate and perpetuate inequality and, most of all, will provide every man woman and child the opportunity, at least, to succeed in life and enjoy freedoms which we claim, as democratic societies, to already possess. Inequalities have only widened and it is high time that these inequalities are addressed properly without the aid of gimmicks and publicity stunts.

Shoplifters Booming During Recession

By J.C Dick

The Centre for Retail Research today released figures for the first half of 2009 that show a hike of 20% in the value of stolen retail goods. The total value of shoplifted goods in the UK hit £4.88bn, making Britain the biggest victims of shoplifters in Europe, and third biggest globally bettered only by the US and Japan globally.

Global Retail Theft Barometer (Courtesy BBC)

This rise in value of stolen retail goods does not necessarily correlate to a rise in the number of shoplifting incidents, according to data on what goods are actually stolen it is actually the price of goods being stolen that has risen. This statistic points to a shocking revelation that during the recession shoplifting among the ‘middle class’ has spiked dramatically.

Neil Matthews, Vice President of Checkpoint Systems who commissioned the report, said that the rise was “epitomised in the recent uprising of the middle-class shoplifter, someone who has turned to theft to sustain their standard of living. This is driving theft of items such as cosmetics, perfumes and face creams, alcohol, fresh meat, mobile phones, computer games and DVDs, as well as small electrical goods like cameras, iPods and personal care gadgets.”

However, despite the rise in thefts to maintain standards of living, thefts carried out by employees still massively outstrip ‘external’ thefts in value. The study shows that the average shoplifting value was £80.31, but average employee theft was a massive £1,595.66 per incident in the UK.

During a recession this is a particularly worrying trend as retailers look to minimise losses across the board they are forced to invest more money in security with an estimated £926m being spent last year on measures such as CCTV, security staff, and electronic tags. As Mr Matthews of Checkpoint Systems says “Retailers simply cannot afford to ignore this problem, it is not going to go away and is the equivalent of criminals taxing every UK household £227 per year.”

Food and Drink is our Bread and Butter

By Grainne Byrne

bonv

The Bon Vivant, Edinburgh

You wouldn’t think we were in the throes of a recession what with the peppering of snazzy new bars and restaurants that continue to pop up across the city.

Mark Fraser and Mike Spink of award-winning bar and restaurants, Sygn and Monteith’s have  just opened Edinburgh’s newest bar in the city’s West End; which you may consider an ambitious move given the knell of headlines that ring out about an economic slump.

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Sygn Bar, Charlotte Lane

Sygn’s sister bar The Westroom, which lies a stone’s throw away, opened its doors at the end of October this year and the company’s directors are optimistic that by offering consumers something a little different, in a central location, that they will soon be reaping the benefits regardless of the pessimism of the press.

“The Westroom has now been open for just a week and despite the world-wide credit crunch, we believe that it shall be a huge success.  Our ethos is all about exceeding customers expectations through offering quality  food and drinks in a relaxed setting. at affordable prices; delivered by personable, well-trained staff that really care about the product.   The Westroom is a uniquely designed bar in the centre of Edinburgh’s West End with a full menu that offers British tapas style food to really set it apart from any other bar in Scotland.”

With radical rations such as beef and beetroot pork pie and fish finger tapas, the Westroom should appeal to those searching for quality food with a twist.  Whether you seek wi-fi with a coffee and cake, a 3-course lunch, dinner, or  just a pint and the rugby, The Westroom is keen to quench your thirst.

Entrepreneur Stuart McCluskey has enjoyed a successful first year with his first-born,  eloquently named eatery, The Bon Vivant, formerly The World pub on Thistle Street.

Stuart says that despite the recession business at the ‘Bon V’  (as it is affectionately known) is booming.  Putting paid to his 12 years of experience in Scotland’s hospitality industry, Stuart says he has learned  a great deal from other people’s mistakes, saying:

“The reason we are doing well and expanding is that we know the market and are good operators.  We have cut our teeth based on the lessons I’ve learned from the bars and restaurants that I witnessed working and failing in Edinburgh.”

Essentially, Stuart puts paid to offering great value food and drink in times when consumers may be watching their spend on socialising:

“For consumers, value for money means everything; we never compromise on quality to offer value to our customers in a great atmosphere. The businesses that are doing well are multi-faceted, offering  both food and drink.  By casting our net over both markets we are able to cater to changing habits, as people are no longer going out and just drinking during the day.”

Another success on the Edinburgh food scene is Stockbridge’s The Saint, a stylish and down to earth food and drink offering from owners of award-winning cocktail bar Bramble.

Jason Scott and Mike Aikman, both with robust backgrounds in the hospitality industry in Scotland, opened their second unit last year.  Not resting their laurels following the many accolades they gained with Bramble, both owners took a step into food and drink with their heavenly haven.
saintfire

The Saint, St. Stephen Street

Laid back co-owner of The Saint, Jason Scott says that they are simply responding to the changing habits of a seemingly more open-minded and food savvy population, he remarks:

“Britain as a nation has become more interested and influenced in food, travel, and the goal of a healthier and more cosmopolitan lifestyle. We like to think that we can be part of that and at The Saint we offer people locally and nationally sourced, good, honest food that is skillfully prepared yet reasonably priced. “

“We don’t stand on ceremony and prefer to preach casual all-day dining; we  like our customers to drop by on a whim, for a coffee, brunch, afternoon tea, or even a late drink besides lunch and dinner as substantial or modest as appetite dictates.”

Like Jason and Mike, the owners of Hamilton’s Bar and Kitchen expanded earlier this year to open their sweet, second eating and drinking venue, Treacle on Broughton Street.

Also taking a risk, and a step back from the DJ booth, was Edinburgh’s much-loved DJ, Trendy Wendy who opened her first funky bar,  ElboW Bar and Kitchen, just down the hill from Treacle.

Not content with running just two establishments, owners of 99 Hanover Street and Hawk + Hunter are enjoying the perks and the recognition of running 3 successful outlets with their newest effort The Green Room picking up an award for Most Stylish Venue at the 2009 Scottish Style Awards.

It is evident that Edinburgh’s entrepreneurs are not afraid to take a risk and build on their successes, Stuart McCluskey of The Bon Vivant is not at threatened by the financial disaster purported by the media and is actively seeking out his next success story, he says, “we are currently looking to expand in Edinburgh and looking for venues now.”

It would appear that  if you give the people of Edinburgh a concoction of good quality bread and water, at the right price in the right place, they will keep coming back for more.  The good news for punters is with these opening rates, we’ll be able to eat and drink in a stylish new bar and restaurant every night for a very long time.

Eat that credit crunch.

Rents Signal Return To Stability In Market

Edinburgh-Skyline

By Lauren Witherspoon

Rent levels in Edinburgh may have bottomed out providing confidence to landlords that Scotland’s recently volatile rental market is now on a path to stability, according to latest research by Scotland’s leading letting portal Citylets.
The latest Citylets quarterly report, which covers the period July to September 2009, shows that whilst some sectors in the capital recorded their biggest year-on-year decreases to date, the overall picture across Scotland has stabilised with average rents down 3.4% year-on-year.
Thomas Ashdown, the entrepreneur behind Citylets Network, which includes major partner brands such as s1homes and Primelocation, said the trend will be good news for landlords and letting agents who have been dealing with an unpredictable market for the past two years.
He said: “We’ve seen a lot of volatility in the rental market in the last two years.  First we had the credit crunch leading to a boom in rental demand as people couldn’t or wouldn’t buy.  That saw prices rise.  Then we had thousands of ‘reluctant landlords’ – those who couldn’t sell putting homes up for rent – redressing the balance before inducing elements of over-supply, so putting a squeeze on prices.

“The Citylets quarter three report, records some of the heaviest falls we have ever seen in rents year-on-year.  In particular the situation for two bed flats in Edinburgh has worsened slightly, down 7.7% year-on-year. However I think that we are now at the bottom of the curve and with demand remaining strong and the housing market seemingly on a more even keel, it is likely we should be moving to a more stable rental sector in 2010.”

“Across Scotland, rents are down but they are no worse than what they were in Quarter Two, providing yet more evidence of the stabilisation trend.”

The average rent for an Edinburgh property in 2009’s quarter three was £729, as opposed to £762 for quarter three in 2008. This represents a 4.3% reduction in the average property price year on year. Rents for one and two bed flats in the city fell on average by 4.6% and 7.7% respectively. Properties in Edinburgh also took longer to let compared with quarter three in 2008, with one bedroom flats taking fifteen days longer and two bedroom flats taking fourteen days longer to rent.

Thomas added: “A return to stability would be welcomed by landlords but at this time the average time to let at well over one month is still considerably longer than a year ago and as such they should continue to adjust to market conditions, have patience and accept the increased probability of voids.”

Steven Currie, director of Edinburgh-based, Murray & Currie Property Sales & Lettings, said: “We’ve definitely seen things stabilise over the past few months in Edinburgh. We’re still getting a lot of enquiries from people looking for flats to rent, so there hasn’t been any noticeable drop in the market.”

Crunch-hit council cancels Hogmanay bash

By Gordon Smith

Amy MacDonald headlined last year's celebrations (Courtesy of hardpeople.wordpress.com)

Amy MacDonald headlined last year's celebrations (Courtesy of hardpeople.wordpress.com)

Revellers in one of Scotland’s largest cities will be without their traditional New Year celebrations as the ongoing economic crisis takes another victim.

Officials at Aberdeen City Council (ACC) have admitted that a squeeze on finances has meant that any festivities will not be “on the same scale” as past years.

Staging last year’s event, featuring Bishopbriggs-born singing sensation Amy MacDonald, and local star Sandi Thom, had set the council back over £300,000.

Officials had already agreed to slash the 2009 budget by £50,000 as part of the council’s larger cost-cutting exercise to ease it out of a reported £60 million financial black hole. Yet this latest news will come as a further blow for many who had hoped to attend the free street party to see in the new year. Granite city residents had previously enjoyed world-class acts such as Travis, Wet Wet Wet, and The Proclaimers as part of their Hogmanay line-up.

Head of Corporate Communications at ACC, Louise Scott said that despite crowds of over 20,000 in previous years, many party-goers had been arriving shortly before the bells at midnight, and as a result, such a high calibre event was not justifiable.

As an alternative, a report to go before the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committee has recommended setting aside around £50,000 for community groups in the city to organise their own Hogmanay parties.

A council spokesman emphasised a formal decision had  yet to be taken, with the city’s famous fireworks display from Union Terrace Gardens and the Castlegate still going ahead.

Conservative councillor for Torry and Ferryhill, Alan Donnelly told the Aberdeen Evening Express: “I feel that surely we should have been able to attract somebody up here, Aberdeen is Scotland’s third largest city.”

Aberdeen is not alone in facing spending cuts, with councillors at Edinburgh City Council recently announcing a 25 percent reduction in capacity for the Capital’s Hogmanay street party following budget issues.

The Way We Eat Now

By Vikki Graves

If you believe everything you read, our eating habits have gone into a steep decline. This time last year, your average Brit was walking home from the farmers’ market chomping an a fluffy organic roll stuffed with freshly roasted pig and apple sauce. But then this nasty credit crunch business came along and pushed many of us away from the hog and towards the Big Mac.

When Jamie Oliver first made his cheap salmon fishcakes in the Sainsbury’s advert, the idea of ‘credit crunch cuisine’ was not yet fully formed. Many of us foodies still sneered at supermarket bargain ranges and headed for the now dwindling organic aisle. These days however, more and more of us will be throwing a few tins of cut price tomatoes into the trolley.

But doesn’t look like us foodies are quite willing to give up our gourmet fishcakes just yet. In response to this week’s news of rising profits for McDonald’s and Domino’s, and the expansion of KFC, The Guardian’s food blog  declared the situation to be “utterly depressing. Penny-watching consumers are turning away from conventional restaurants and slobbing out on the sofa at home, not with a bowl of hearty, homemade soup, but with a whopping great bucket of fried chicken or a calorie-laden pizza.”

Have these people not embraced the true spirit of credit crunch cuisine? Why do they not pinch their pennies bycooking sensible healthy meals from scratch?  And eat out occasionally at their locally owned and run bistro which serves fashionable, cheap (but still delicious and healthy) cuts of meat at reasonable prices? Because apparently they prefer “slobbing out” which, though cheap, is not fashionable.

Before, many of us could afford to eat premium quality foods if we liked. The buzz words were ‘fresh’, ‘organic’, ‘ethical’, ‘local’. But did we want those things because we believed they were better for us, or because they were de rigueur?

Now the doom and gloom has struck our wallets and our trolleys. And the word on the street is ‘cheap’. The diehard foodies have dusted down their slow cookers, but it may well be that some of us have fallen off the home cooking wagon, decided eating out is too expensive and landed comfortably on the sofa with a Domino’s.

For all of us, what we eat has become firmly associated with a need for cheapness and value. For some that will come from their own kitchen, and for others it will come from KFC. Because if you want to talk about calories and fat, even a home cooked pizza can provide ample quantities of both.

Va Va Gloom for Motor Industry

New car sales have dropped nearly 37% since last November, with Edinburgh car dealerships one of the the many affected.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 100,333 new cars were registered in November, whilst private car sales was down 45% in November, which haven’t been as low since the early 1980’s.

This news follows the decision by Honda close its UK factory in Swindon for the duration of February and March next year, whilst BMW is closing its Oxford factory, which produces the Mini following a poor year.

As America’s car manufacturers Ford, Chrysler and General Motors continued to lobby for a $34 billion (£22.9 billion) bail-out many commentators are suggesting the car industry may be the next to fall foul of the credit crunch as financial tension caused by dropping sales and increasing production costs.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: “While some consumers may have delayed their purchases to take advantage of the recent VAT reductions, overall demand continues to fall.

He added: “Urgent action is required to ease access to credit and finance, both to support consumers and meet the cash-flow needs of the industry.”

Shelter Christmas Plea – Help the Homeless

A housing charity is launching a UK wide fundraising campaign this Christmas to aid people suffering from the credit crunch.

The current economic downturn has resulted in over 460,000 people consulting housing charity Shelter for financial help in the past six months.

This has resulted in Shelter running a special Christmas charity plea throughout December, with all donations going towards their housing advice services.

Shelter Chief Executive Adam Sampson said: “As the financial crisis really starts to hit home, Shelter is seeing more and more people turning to us for help, but the more demand for our services, the more funding we need. That’s why support at this time is crucial if we are to help people keep a roof over their heads.”

Donations can be made via the Shelter Scotland website at scotland.shelter.org.uk/christmas.

Bank Of England Cut Interest Rates

The Bank of England have announced that they have cut interest rates by 1%.

This decision, made at noon, reduces the rate to 2% which is the lowest it has been since 1951.

In a poll by Reuters, 40 out of 62 financial experts asked, stated that they thought this was the step that the Bank of England should take.

This comes just one month after the interest rate was cut from 4.5% to 3% in order to help with the growing financial crisis which has led to unemployment rising, a downturn in mortgage lending and high street stores slashing prices in the hope of encouraging public spending.

Financial expert advisors Moneyfacts, say the latest cut will help out those with mortgages, estimating that most homeowners with a repayment mortgage of around £150,000, will save between £20-£75 a month.

Not all lenders are expected to pass on cuts, but Lloyds TSB have announced that they will be passing on reductions to their customers.

However homeowners with a tracker mortgage may not benefit from this cut as they involve tracking the Bank Rate.

This cut is another measure to help Britain fight the credit crunch, following on from yesterdays announcement that government have plans to help those facing home repossession to stall repayments on their mortgages for two years.

Morrisons’ sales rise through credit crunch

Morrisons sees increase in shoppers - photo curtesy of Route 79 on www.flickr.com

Morrisons sees increase in shoppers - photo curtesy of Route 79 on http://www.flickr.com

By Nichole Guthrie

Morrison’s supermarket chain has seen its like-for-like sales rise 8.1% since this time last year, according to global market research specialists TNS.

The sales, which exclude petrol and new stores, are said to be have risen thanks to 700,000 new shoppers visiting the chain every week.

Its ‘Price Crunch’ deals and the ‘Market Street’ fresh food line sold at low prices are luring in customers.

Morrisons’ Chief executive Marc Boland said in a statement: “In this challenging economic environment more customers than ever before are choosing Morrisons.”

The chain has also seen more of a rise that its rivals. Tesco reported a 2% rise, 6.9% for Asda and 4.3% for Sainsbury’s.

The future plans to purchase 38 Co-operative Group stores for £223 million shows the chain isn’t phased by the economic crisis.

The purchase will go through once Co-op’s aquisition of Somerfield is complete. Morrisons’ said in a statement: “The acquisition is conditional upon a successful completion of the Co-operative Group’s acquisition of Somerfield and certain competition approvals.”

Morrisons could not comment.

Paisley Taxi Drivers Find New Ways of Making Cash

By Lauren McKenzie

black_taxiDrivers of largest paisley taxi firm are abusing their company policy in an attempt to beat the credit crunch over the Christmas period.

‘Paisley Cab Company’ which is home to over 600 drivers are feeling the strain of the economy the most. With customer numbers seriously lacking over the holidays, drivers have begun to hand out their own private mobile numbers to customers

Some of the company’s drivers who are using this method are promising customers that if they call them instead of going through the main switchboard they will arrive quicker and will give them a cheaper rate as well.

One driver who wished to remain anonymous said: “There is no work out there, which isn’t normal for this time of the year, you’d be daft not to find your own work – there is probably only a handful of drivers who don’t give out their own numbers”.

Drivers are being pushed to these extreme methods because they are failing to make a profit off their work. With the average rent a week for a taxi being a massive £200 and drivers having to pay for their own petrol – it is not surprising that the majority are failing to break even let alone make a profit.

One driver commented: “I’ve been a taxi driver all my life and i have never struggled for money. I blame the part-time drivers who work only over the Christmas period that are taking all our full-time drivers work. I’m now having to work 12 hour shifts where before i could work a 6 hour shift and make the same amount of money”.

After asking a sample of the Paisley Cab Company customers if they have ever encountered drivers handing over their mobile numbers – the majority said that yes they had.

Megan Johnston, 19 said: ” It’s always the same on a Saturday night when your heading into town, the taxi driver will say to call them when you need a lift home. They seem really desperate for work”.

Small Firms Divided Over New Tax Proposals

Small Businesses on Edinburgh's Gorgie Road

Small Businesses on Edinburgh

By Lindsay Muir and Joel Sked

Small business owners in Edinburgh are divided over Labour’s new tax proposals the Dunedin Napier News has learnt today.

Labour have set out a number of measures which in the short-term will help many businesses overcome the credit crunch which has threatened to put the country in a fierce recession.

The main points that have been set out is to defer the planned  rise in corporation tax for a year, to make it easier for firm to borrow between £1,000 and £1m through a £1bn temporary state scheme, the ability for small firms who are struggling with payments to spread them out over an affordable timetable and an extra £1bn in support for exporters.

Although there are differing views on the High Street as to whether the new budget will help businesses survive the credit crunch.

Neil Finlayson of Finlayson Hayles Estate Agent on Gorgie Road believes that the recent cuts in VAT will have very little impact in the businesses long-term survival.

He said:”It is only a 2.5% decrease in VAT which means that items that cost £117.50 will now cost £115.00 for example.  And that is not going to attract consumers.  It is just like a 2.5% sale.  To make it worthwhile it would need to be at least a 20% decrease.

Finlayson also believes that the housing market will get worse before it gets better.

He carries on: “The market will bump along until it hits rock bottom.  From there it will start to pick up again.”

Although Stella Ross of Johnson’s Delicatessen also on Gorgie Road believes that if the shop was not closing down due to other factors it would have been a great help.

She said: “The owner was delighted with the report and the proposal to cut VAT and help businesses thrive in these difficult times.  It would have helped keep us ticking along without worrying about closing down because of money problems.

“Now it means there is even more of an incentive for prospective business owners to set up their business and run them profitablly.  They are making it easier for them to borrow money therefore giving new owners are starting base to build their business.”

Labour will hope that the recent budget will help maintain small business in this recent turmoil and encourage those thinking about opening their own business to do so.

Shoppers Benefit As Crunch Hits Stores

By Ashley Anderson

The recent economic downturn has hit the shops.  Retailers have reacted by introducing discounts to try and tempt people to part with their cash. Dunedin Napier News looks at how both the major chains and local shops have been affected in Edinburgh.

Video clip by Ashley Anderson

The credit crunch for students

 By Edmund Brown

scottish-parliamentThe credit crunch has affected all social groups and students are no exception. Young people going to university today can expect to leave with a debt of around £26,000 with the majority of this owed in overdraft and credit card facilities given to them by the now under pressure banks.

Banks are therefore going to reform who they give money to after the government rescued them with handouts and as a result students are going to be affected by this more than most. If the banks do not give the same amount of money as they have done in the past, students will need to work more hours in part time jobs to survive. This will result in pressures from universities as students course work will suffer. The number of students who will drop out of courses will increase and surely result in universities reputation being in doubt. I put this to a Scottish Government spokesman who disagreed saying “ There will always be some students who are unable to complete their course but we do not foresee any significant change in these numbers. There is currently a very healthy demand for college places and we envisage that will continue.”

 Students also borrow money from The Student Loans Company which gets paid back through their wages after finishing their courses. The repayment plan, however, only gets paid back when the student earns £15,000 or more. Statistics that have been released show that a third of the students who have had student loans have never paid anything back as a result of not earning enough money. It will therefore have a knock on effect for future students in years to come as government money will run out. The spokesman for the government said; “The financial implications are that these debts remain outstanding for longer with a greater likelihood of the debt not being paid back at all, resulting in greater costs to the government. The Scottish Government’s funding is of course not limitless and any additional costs can result in less resources being available in the future.”

This contradicts previous information given by the same spokesman who advised that the Scottish Government have provisionally put money aside to give students grants whilst at university instead of the current loans system. These grants will be given to part time students at first before being fully implemented in 2011. The Scottish Government did say they support the need for young people to experience further education regardless of the financial cost. They stated; “The Scottish Government believes that access to higher education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.”

There is still a high level of uncertainly when deciding whether to go to university as financial worries are at the forefront of the minds of these families. Whether the government can ease that worry, we will have to wait and see.

 

Horses abandoned as credit crisis worsens

By Lizzie Beattie

Horses are the latest creatures to succumb to the worsening global credit crisis as more are abandoned each day by owners who cannot afford to keep them.

Charities across Britain, including World Horse Welfare, have reported huge numbers of calls from owners who can no longer afford to feed and home their animals. Combine this with a reported fifty per cent decrease in animals being rehomed and the future for these horses doesn’t look bright.

Hannah Rowley, a spokesperson for World Horse Welfare, the UK’s largest British horse welfare charity said that the charity was finding it difficult to find space for the animals with all four centres close to capacity. She said: ” Generally we don’t take private horses as we have to reserve spaces for emergency RSPCA cases.”

In winter, livery costs can be as high as £120 pounds per week and shoeing costs another £55 every few weeks. With the global credit crunch worsening amid another market slump this morning, many people are  having to make difficult choices. Unfortunately this increasingly means horse owners trying to rehome their animals.

The Thoroughbred Rehabilatation Centre which houses retired racehorses has a six month waiting list. The centre’s operations director, Nicky McDonald said: “We are turning down horses every day and unfortunately we can only take horses that can be rehomed as ridden horses.”

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