Mental health has long been a taboo subject, seen as a stigma by those that suffer, and a ‘sensitive issue’ for employers. And this is only when the problems have been recognised. Individuals that do suffer from stress or anxiety, for example, may be reluctant to admit their suffering, causing the symptoms to worsen. Unlike any physical condition, it is often difficult for an outside observer to recognise that there is anything wrong writes Paul Shires, Director of Sales and Marketing at Westfield Health.
What are the costs of mental ill-health?
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The FCA has announced it will be bringing in new rules to protect pension savers from making poor decisions about their pension funds. But will it work, asks Malcolm Small.
With just 10 weeks to go until the new “freedom and choice” agenda for pension savers set out in Budget 2014 arrives, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has written to chief executives of pension providers saying it will shortly make new rules, without consultation, requiring them to act as a “second line of defence” behind the “guidance guarantee”. This latter, it will be recalled, was promised in the budget. Everyone would be entitled to a face-to-face meeting (or online, or by telephone) in which they would receive “guidance” (not regulated, full-fat financial advice) about their options at retirement. We now know that this will be delivered by telephone through The Pensions Advisory Service and in person at Citizens Advice Bureaux across the country. Some commentators argued that the “guidance” would not be enough; many people would not take it up, or if they did so, would press ahead with sub-optimal actions anyway. A “second line of defence” was needed, they said.
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In recent years, bank-bashing has taken many forms. One example is that the perceived unwillingness of banks to lend to SMEs was holding up their growth or recovery. But is this really true? Certainly, the recession saw bank lending to business take a serious nose-dive; every pound of spare capital was needed to shore up balance sheets. But just how important, in reality, is bank lending to SME growth? Our recent member survey on funding for business turned up a very interesting view; bank lending is only regarded as a major funding source by less than one-third of members over the last three years, whereas about half of all respondents reported “retained profits” as the most important source of funding. Of course, we could have a “chicken and egg” effect here. If little money is available from the banks (who lent north of £160bn to businesses of all sizes in the UK last year), then the money might well come from retained profits as there may be no other perceived source of funds.
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Companies like John Lewis have shown employee ownership can boost staff engagement, and may even help profits. The government thinks a wide range of company models is good for the economy, and has recently introduced a tax incentive to help the EO sector grow. A free conference next February will provide information for firms interested in exploring the idea. Charlie Mayfield, John Lewis Chairman, explains.
Business is changing. The Employee Ownership Association, along with many businesses like Waitrose and John Lewis, have been working hard over the last year to raise the profile of the sector. As a result, more and more businesses are converting to EO.
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The banks may not be lending enough to business, but other sources are plugging the gap, writes Malcolm Small, Senior Advisor on Financial Services Policy at the IoD.
It is almost possible to feel sorry for the big banks at the moment (alright, not much, and not for long) as they are being asked by politicians and regulators to do two mutually exclusive things: “lend more to business” by the former and “build more, even more, reserves of capital” by the latter. The money cannot be in two places at the same time. No matter how much the banks try to highlight how much they are lending to business, they are actually being asked to do the impossible and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that less money is being lent to business than before the crisis. Read More »
Addressing the UK airport capacity problem is crucial for the future success of the economy, writes IoD Chairman Ian Dormer.
We all want the economy to grow, but sometimes we do not want it to grow too much – or too close to us. I had a relative who lived in Norwood Green, under the Heathrow flight path. He was on the “Stop Heathrow Noise Campaign Committee”, as was a very sharp young lawyer. I had no issue with my relative’s stance as he had bought his house in 1948. However, the young lawyer had just moved to the area, when of course, the airport was already choc-a-bloc with flights.
Living in the North East of England, my personal perspective is very different from those in the South East. The Davies Commission is out for consultation at the moment and reviewing where we should prioritise airport growth. Unless we want our country to stagnate, we have to seek growth. We are increasingly trading globally, and the high growth markets we want to reach are not on our doorstep. One alternative is to let other European nations’ airports serve these markets. But the knock on consequences could be significant. If you were an inward investor from China and you landed in Amsterdam, would you bother making that hop over to the UK? If you were an exporter of perishable goods from the UK you would want to avoid the risk of delays and mishaps of connecting in Paris for that long-haul flight to South America.
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