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Mark talks about supportive employers at mental health conference

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Mark Smith, a member of the Centre’s Marketing Team, was invited to speak at the Mental Health Today Conference, which was held in Newport, last week. Here’s his story…

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve lived with mental ill health for many years. I’ve always been open about my experiences of depression and anxiety, which includes disclosure to my employers.

I was diagnosed before joining the Centre. My previous employer was the first to know and, fortunately for me, he responded positively saying that he’d rather have ‘me operating at 80% than most others at 100%’. That’s stuck with me for a long time.

Ever since I joined the Centre in 2007, the support that I’ve been given has been invaluable. My own manager, Catherine, attended a Mental Health First Aid course to equip her with skills and knowledge that she could use to support me and others with. I’ve condensed my hours, to give me a bit more breathing space from one working week to the next. I can work from home when I need to. My colleagues are generally more understanding when my mood bounces all over the place! There are a number of people at the organisation that I can confide in, at all different levels and in various departments. I’ve also listened to others and advised them when I’ve been well, but they’ve been struggling.

It was a reference to this support that I started a speech with, at the Mental Health Today Conference. Mind Cymru invited me to be on the panel of a workshop that looked into the role of service users in their own care planning. The term ‘service user’ is not one that I like, but we moved on. As well as outlining my experiences of other areas of support that I’ve accessed down the years, I also made some suggestions for how health professionals could improve engagement with people that have mental ill health and wider engagement with support bodies that may end up helping the same people. People with mental ill health are generally happier and healthier in employment, than not. Working for a supportive employer can be absolutely critical to someone’s wellbeing and the overall structure and purpose of a person’s life, particularly if they’ve experienced mental illness.

My colleagues Katija Dew and Jocelle Lovell, who head up the Centre’s Financial Inclusion work, also attended the conference. Jocelle said she found the event useful for a variety of reasons:

“Having recently joined the Centre’s Diversity group, I found the conference of real value. It was very encouraging to see the afternoon session really focusing on collaboration across different services areas and teams; taking a very person-centred approach to service delivery, and ultimately delivering better value for money.

“The focus on financial inclusion for individuals suffering from mental health conditions should be an absolute priority, as the statistics shared in the morning session showed a high correlation between debt issues and mental health issues. With services available, such as the Credit Union Rent Account, this is a great way to support people to manage their money more effectively, whilst prioritising their rent payments, and reducing the additional stress caused by rent arrears.”

Later in the day, it was good to hear that not only were senior figures in the mental health sector in Wales open to genuine partnership working and new, innovative approaches, but they were also open to the prospect of co-operative working. The Centre is involved in work around the Health and Social Care agenda in Wales, with potential for more services to be delivered on a co-operative basis in future.

I’ve been inspired by the Wales Co-operative Centre and some of its clients, to develop a social enterprise ‘Making Minds’ that promotes the role of art and creativity in mental health. This takes up a fair bit of my spare time. I’m also volunteering for the Time to Change Wales anti-stigma and discrimination campaign. Workplaces that are proactive about discussing mental health and supporting employees that experience mental illness are, in my opinion, going to be better and more productive places to work in the long-term. After all, mental illness is the biggest single health-related cost to the UK economy. There are lots of organisations out there that can go into workplaces to help them achieve this and I’d be happy to help signpost people to that support, time and capacity allowing!

If you would like to contact Mark directly, please do so to 01443 742143 or mark.smith@walescooperative.org

If you would like further information on the Centre’s Credit Union Rent Account work, please contact our Tackling Homelessness Through Financial Inclusion team on 029 2055 6195.

 

Written by Mark Smith

May 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Working with Rae and Pencoed Growers – Digital Day 2013

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We’re running a social media ‘marathon’ for the ‘Digital Day’ of Adult Learners’ Week, led by Communities 2.0 and NIACE Dysgu Cymru.

Our Marketing Officers are out and about, visiting special activities on Digital Day. Here’s a report from David Madge…

I’ve joined Rae, one of the Communities 2.0 Circuit Riders with Yvonne at Pencoed Growers near Llanilltid, just off Junction 35 of the M4.pencoed growers 2

Pencoed Growers is a supplier of home grown, organic salads and vegetables. Rae has been working with them to develop a WordPress website, a Facebook company page and to streamline their email marketing approach.

When we arrived this morning Yvonne had a list of questions ready for Rae. These included how to use her new email programme, how to edit posts on Facebook and how to upload photo’s on to Facebook.

Yvonne had recently bought a new laptop and her email contacts list hadn’t transferred correctly to her new laptop. Rae was able to help her find her contact groups, import them into the email system and help her to send out a test email.

Yvonne wanted to let her customers know about their new Facebook page but didn’t know how to put the link from Facebook into an email. Rae showed her how to copy and paste the link and explained how the link could be included in a permanent email signature.

We’ve looked at adding pictures to Facebook and how to build up followers and friends on a company page and on a personal page. As Pencoed Growers produces fresh farm produce they benefit from the seasonality of their produce: as fresh crops are ready there is a steady stream of information and pictures that can be added to the Facebook page. We discussed a regular update on the growth of their Christmas trees, veg faces and directly informing customers when a new crop is ready and on sale. At the moment there are turnips ready to go – I’m not a big fan of turnips but I didn’t realise they could be eaten raw in salads – we discussed putting images of turnip salads on Facebook with a recipe.

produce grown at Pencoed Growers

Some of the produce at Pencoed Growers

Rae has been going through the Facebook privacy settings on the accounts to limit searchability on external search engines and to limit people tagging images.

Next step… Twitter!

Further information about Pencoed Growers can  be found on their website or their Facebook page.

Written by David Madge

May 24, 2013 at 2:58 pm

9 ways in which working collaboratively can help your business.

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Businesses that work together grow together.

In difficult conditions businesses need to look at ways in which they can address the issues that challenge their potential for growth. Following the launch of our publicationCo-operative Consortia: A Model for Growth in a Challenging Economy’ this week, we felt it might be useful to look at some of the common challenges to growth and some examples of how they can be addressed.

1.       Access to Procurement Opportunities

In Wales £5bn is spent every year by public sector procurers and it is estimated that Local Government spends 44% of that total (source: Barriers to Procurement Opportunity Research, Welsh Assembly Government – Value Wales. 2009). Most SME’s trying to access this work do not have the economies of scale available to them to service the bids efficiently. A consortia approach can allow smaller companies to bid together to service contracts. As the South East Construction Consortium in England puts it, consortium working ‘open[s] doors that would otherwise be closed’.

          a.       Secure Wales

The Secure Wales consortium is a collaboration between six providers of security and fire protection services. The consortium can supply solutions for any aspects of security from CCTV, dog protection and street furniture to online and data security. Secure Wales is run as a marketing consortium designed to promote each individual company’s services and to offer a comprehensive, tailored range of solutions to clients security needs. The consortium is able to promote itself to a wider market than the individual companies could and are also in a position to bid for bigger contracts as a consortium supplier.

2.       Joint Marketing

Small businesses operating in competitive environments can often feel that their marketing is ineffective against the sheer weight of their competitors offers. In tourism however, consortia working has long been established as a means of pooling marketing resources across similar geographical or themed areas to achieve more with a limited marketing budget.

          a.       Clwydian Tourism Range Group

The Clwydian Tourism Range Group was founded as a response to the foot and mouth crisis in 2001. It has approximately 100 members comprising of small tourist based businesses across the Clwydian Range, which is a designated Area of Natural Beauty. The consortia aims to provide support, advice and networking opportunities to members, and to work in partnership with Denbighshire and Flintshire County  Councils to promote the Clwydian Range as a major tourist destination.

          b.      Green Events

Green Events was originally created by a group of businesses in Llanwrtyd Wells who got together to devise methods of bringing tourism trade to the town as the pony trekking industry declined. The organisation has created a number of distinctive events which has bought Llanwrtyd Wells to a wide audience. From stone skimming championships, walks and mountain biking championships as well as the well-known Man vs Horse Marathon and World Bog Snorkelling Championships. Green Events has created a strong identity for this small spa town in mid Wales, supporting and sustaining the tourism industry in the area. Nowadays, a mixture of businesses and local volunteers run the events and the town has a worldwide profile as a result of this work.

3.       Shared Risk

New contracts, innovation and product development are necessary processes but by their very nature they incur risk.  Sharing development approaches, costs and even personnel could mitigate some of those risks and help the companies involved deliver better products to the market than they could by themselves. Shared risk in new ventures also allows the businesses to share expertise and offset each others weaknesses.

          a.       SMart Wind

SMart Wind is a supply chain led consortium developing the 4GW Hornsea wind farm off the Yorkshire Coast. The consortium consists of Mainstream Renewable Power and Siemens Project Ventures GmbH who formed the venture in 2009. SMart Wind combines the development expertise of Mainstream Renewable Power with the financial strength of Siemens Project Ventures GmbH as well as the expertise of various Siemens companies. The aim is to reduce project risk by bringing together experienced partners to manage the risk. Both parties also bring to the consortium key relationships with leading supply chain companies that will be necessary to ensure the cost effective design, construction and long-term operation of the offshore wind farms.

4.       Joint Purchasing

By working together to purchase commodities in bulk, companies are often able to access economies of scale they couldn’t get by themselves. In retail, NISA today acts as a buying and marketing consortium for independent retailers, allowing them to purchase grocery stock at prices that allows them to better compete with the larger grocery chains.

          a.       Independent Buyers Ltd

The Independent Buyers Consortium’s membership consists of several hundred small and medium sized businesses with a stated total buying power of £1bn. The consortium, which advertises itself as the UK’s largest private-sector purchasing consortium has negotiated over 100 competitive discount agreements for a varied range of common purchase categories such as energy, components and car hire. Member businesses benefit from reduced prices and a savings guarantee.

5.       Defining Quality Standards

Where a group of companies sell a similar or complimentary product it is possible to work together to define quality standards to ensure the overall quality of the products and services offered. These quality levels can then become a selling point for each of the businesses involved and the consortia can then be used as a quality branding tool for each of the member businesses.

          a.       Cilydd

Cilydd is a co-operative consortium of independent tea houses and cafés in North Wales. The members share a common commitment to an independent ethos and use the consortium to examine ways in which they could work together to improve their marketing, buying, training and quality standards – whilst retaining their own individual identities. Cilydd intends to create a tea and coffee culture in Wales which is a market leader in the UK by utilising its branding effectively, establishing a co-operative roastery and investing in training and quality standards throughout their establishments.

6.       Localised Improvements

Small businesses linked by a geographic location can join together to address issues within their physical location. These can include litter, street furniture, commercial signage or floral displays. Consortia can also be used to promote their unique selling points in the face of competition from out of town retailers or large supermarket developments. Consortia can also be used to develop events that can give an area a unique sense of place (see Green Events above).

          a.       Swansea BID

A Business Improvement District (BID) delivers projects above and beyond that of the local authority and works with partners including the business community and the local authority to develop projects and services that will benefit the trading environment within the boundary of a clearly defined commercial area. Swansea BID is the first and only Business Improvement District in Wales at present. The BID provides a platform for businesses to work together to improve the City Centre of Swansea. The BID is operated as a not for profit company limited by guarantee with its own board of a directors made up of city centre businesses. It focusses on five objectives: Car Parking & Transportation; Safety and Security; Marketing and Events; Cleansing; and Supporting and Attracting Business. The company’s aim is to improve the overall trading and shopping environment in Swansea making the City Centre a better place to visit, shop, stay, live, work and do business. Swansea BID has proven to be a great success and in 2011 City Centre Businesses voted for the BID to continue into a second term.

7.       Mutual Support

Running a small business, or operating as a sole trader, can be an isolating experience. With few (or no) colleagues to support a business owner, working within a consortium can offer more than just marketing or efficiency benefits. Very often the consortium can provide a supportive environment that provides opportunities for discussing ideas, comparing experience and supporting each other.

          a.       Oren Actors’ Management

Oren Actors’ Management is the longest running actors agency in Wales. It is a co-operative consortium of actors and actresses and is based in the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. The consortium acts as an agency, with each member of the organisation taking responsibility for finding acting work for each of its members. The actors pay a membership fee, which gives the consortium the resources required to deliver its services to members. Each actor is expected to participate fully in the running of the organisation.

          b.       Craft in the Bay

Craft in the Bay (the Makers Guild in Wales) is a highly successful retail gallery situated in Cardiff Bay. It has been running as a co-operative business since 1997. The gallery was established by the Makers Guild in Wales to bring together and promote Welsh talent in the craft sector. All 70 plus members of the co-operative display their work within the gallery and spend an agreed number of hours working there each year to reduce running costs. Although the Makers Guild is now a registered charity it still runs as a membership consortium with a membership selection process and it continues to adhere to the co-operative ethos.

8.       Response to competitive environment

All businesses work within a competitive environment. It is necessary to be aware of changes in the sector the business is operating in and to be aware of any localised threats. In retail, shop owners can form consortia to promote their independent offer in the face of competition from out of town developments or the construction of new supermarkets.

          a.       Quality Solicitors

QualitySolicitors is a group of law firms providing legal services in over 350 locations across the United Kingdom. Each firm is an independent law firm authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The member firms aim to provide a standardised level of customer service under a recognisable brand that is heavily promoted online and on television. The organisation has created a strong, marketable brand as a response to the specific threats and opportunities created by the ‘alternative business structures’ included within the Legal Service Act (2007) – which partially deregulated the legal profession and allowed bigger retailers to enter the legal services market. Quality Solicitors is now a recognised brand with a range of accessible locations and a UK wide reach – well placed to compete within a quickly changing legal services retail environment.

9.       Shared Facilities

In some situations it is possible to create consortia for sharing specific facilities. These could be specific machinery, logistics channels, back office functions or online sales mechanisms. In wine growing countries it is common for growers to form wine production co-operatives which share the processing, production, bottling and logistics.

          a.       Calon Wen

Calon Wen brings together Welsh organic dairy farmers to supply organic milk products throughout Wales and the UK. It enables the farmers to share dairy and processing facilities as well as logistics, marketing and a strong brand identity. The co-operative was born out of a desire to ensure that as much Welsh organic milk is processed in Wales as possible. Since its formation, it has developed innovative partnerships with suppliers and customers. It has a close supplier relationship with Rachel’s Dairy, and supplies products to Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury and Waitrose as well as other key customers across the UK. Calon Wen is developing environmentally friendly packaging and piloted the Soil Association’s ‘Ethical Trade’ system.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre we have thirty years experience in working with businesses to facilitate co-operation and achieve business efficiencies through collaboration. Through its specialist consortia development team, the Centre can advise groups of businesses on the most appropriate consortia structure to help them achieve their goals.

To contact them team for a discussion on the merits of using a consortia approach for your business, contact them via the website www.walescooperative.org, by phone 0300 111 5050 or by twitter @WalesCoOpCentre

The publication, ‘‘Co-operative Consortia: A Model for Growth in a Challenging Economy’, is available to download from the Wales Co-operative Centre’s website here.

 

Written by David Madge

June 28, 2012 at 9:48 am

Should businesses trade competitive rivalries for collaboration?

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In difficult times businesses should be looking for opportunities to grow and develop.

The current economic climate paints a bleak picture: the country is in one of the worst economic crises for decades; the UK has entered a double dip recession and business confidence has fallen again. Is it now time for businesses to start actively collaborating for growth instead of focussing on their competitive rivalries, asks Wales Cooperative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker.

The business benefits of consortia working have been examined in a new Wales Co-operative Centre publication that is released today. The publication, ‘Co-operative Consortia: A Model for Growth in a Challenging Economy’, examines marketing consortia, buying consortia and tendering consortia across several sectors and demonstrates that there are both business growth and cost saving benefits available to businesses working in this way.

It is well known that Wales is dependent on its micro business sector for its economic prosperity. Micro businesses account for 94.5% of all businesses in Wales and large businesses of 250 or more employees account for only 0.8%.  The Micro Business Task and Finish Group Report commissioned by the Welsh Government in January 2012 to investigate the issues facing micro businesses in Wales recommended five priority areas for Welsh Government: awareness and access to business support services; access to finance; mentoring and coaching; access to public sector procurement; and reduction of regulatory burden. Specifically the report supported the consortia approach to give micro businesses better access to public sector procurement opportunities.

The Welsh Government is currently consulting with businesses on the simplification of tendering processes and the Wales Co-operative Centre believes that the benefits of consortia working in allowing smaller businesses to team up to access larger contracts locally must be built in to this evolving framework.

There are many examples of businesses working together to access public sector procurement opportunities they could not otherwise access. In England, the South East Construction Consortium was formed by four construction companies to carry out projects for both public and private sector clients. The consortium’s aim is to apply for works that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to apply for and to ‘open doors that would otherwise be closed’. Whilst there is no indigenous Tier One construction company in Wales at the moment, consortia working could allow Welsh construction companies to deliver public sector work in Wales and ensure the finance and benefits from that work are kept in Wales.

In the South Wales Valleys, Secure Wales, a consortium of security providers was set up as a marketing consortium offering a one-stop shop approach to a full range of security services. The approach has allowed them to bid jointly for a series of bigger security contracts across the country.

Consortia aren’t just about accessing public sector contracts though. The collaborative nature of the approach can allow businesses to work together to bulk buy and lever economies of scale. Many people aren’t aware that the retail brand NISA Today is actually a consortia organisation that offers branding and bulk buy benefits to its independent retailer members. In the construction industry, both United Merchants and the National Merchant Buying Society offer their members the benefit of bulk purchased services and commodities such as invoice clearing and building materials.

The consortia model can also help businesses marketing complimentary products or services. There are many great examples of this across the Food and Tourism Sectors. In North Wales, Cilydd is a consortium of independent café’s and tea houses. The members share a common commitment to an independent ethos and use their consortium to work together to improve their marketing and their quality standards. The consortium has aspirations to create a tea and coffee culture in Wales which is a market leader in the UK. In tourism, the consortia model is well established. Tourism consortia  work together to promote an area or an activity to specific sets of customers. In South Wales, the South Wales Attractions Partnership is a consortium of tourism attractions who contribute to joint marketing of their attractions to customers across Wales and England.

The benefits of consortia don’t stop at procurement, buying and marketing. In Pembrokeshire, the logistical difficulties small food producers have in getting their products to an outlet are addressed by Pembrokeshire Produce Direct which operates an online sales portal and distribution system. In West Wales, Calon Wen is a consortium of dairy farmers who have used the model to address economies of scale in production facilities, logistics and marketing. They are now an established brand with products available in most major supermarkets. In Cardiff, Oren Actors Management is a consortium of actors working together as an actors agency to find each other acting work. The consortia approach allows them to utilise the time they have between jobs to develop their acting careers and actively look for suitable roles for each other.

Collaboration can be an effective means of mitigating some of the problems that businesses currently face. A consortium arrangement can help businesses develop in a sustainable and co-operative manner. Yes, these are difficult times but as the cliché goes ‘Why waste a good crisis’? Collaboration and consortia working may provide  the answer that many businesses are now looking for.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre we have thirty years experience in working with businesses to facilitate co-operation and achieve business efficiencies through collaboration. Through its specialist consortia development team, the Centre can advise groups of businesses on the most appropriate consortia structure to help them achieve their goals.

Derek Walker is Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre.

The publication, ‘‘Co-operative Consortia: A Model for Growth in a Challenging Economy’, is available to download from the Wales Co-operative Centre’s website here.

Lawrlwythwch yr adroddiad Consortia Cydweithredol: Model ar gyfer twf mewn economi heriol

Written by David Madge

June 24, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Is it too late to defuse the Business Succession Time Bomb in Wales?

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Business succession is a ticking time bomb in Wales.

Our economy is dependent on SME’s and Micro businesses. In Wales our business owners stay with their businesses longer than other owners anywhere else in the UK. If business owners do not have a robust exit strategy in place, they may find that the only option remaining to them when the time comes is to close the company and make their employees redundant.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses research, business owners in Wales have owned or co-owned their businesses for an average of nearly 16 years and 29% of businesses have been owned by the same owners for 21 years or more. This suggests that business owners in Wales see the growth and nurture of their businesses as a long-term commitment and devote a large proportion of their lives to it. However, it also suggests that there is a massive proportion of business owners approaching a realistic retirement age.  With approximately 99% of businesses in Wales classified as SME’s or micro-businesses, it is apparent that these business owners succession plans have more than just the successful continuation of their companies dependent on them.

29% of small businesses in Wales equates to somewhere in the region of 15,000 owners who could be looking to leave their business in the next couple of years (See footnote). In an economic climate which makes trade sales difficult for most owners and in a country where the vast majority of businesses are too small to consider public listing, the effect of poor or non-existent succession planning on the Welsh economy cannot be underestimated.

If 15,000 business owners closed theirs shops, factories and warehouses tomorrow, where would that leave the Welsh economy?

Media focus lately has been on business start-ups, inward investment and the dramatic reduction in employment in the public sector currently occurring in Wales. Yet, with the implied need to find replacement employment from the home grown, domestic private sector, very little concern has been raised about the approaching issues of an ageing owner manager population.

Who will ensure these existing businesses survive, grow and flourish?

Our report published today looks at these issues in detail; it identifies issues with the traditional approaches of family succession and trade sales and offers employee ownership as a viable and sustainable alternative which benefits both the business owners and the employees.

The report, which has been endorsed by the Federation of Small Business in Wales and written by the Oxford Centre for Mutual and Employee-owned Business at Kellogg College, Oxford University suggests that there is a need for

 

  •          Further awareness of the need for earlier succession planning and for businesses to allow a reasonable amount of time to manage an exit strategy effectively

 

  •          A one-stop shop that integrates the knowledge of Wales Co-operative Centre, Federation of Small Businesses in Wales, Finance Wales, Co-operative and Community Finance and the Employee Ownership Association for owners contemplating an exit strategy.

 

  •          An equity fund to help facilitate more employee buy-outs

 

  •          More extensive research on the topic to gain a clear focus on the risks and precise costs that bad business succession strategies have on Wales. 

Employee ownership schemes, employee buy-outs and support for the development of worker co-operatives could all contribute to a more stable economic future for Wales – but the work needs to be undertaken now.

For example, Skye Instruments in Mid Wales produces electronic instruments used to monitor the impact of micro-climate  variations on crops. The owners came across the idea of employee ownership via the Wales Co-operative Centre and were attracted to the possibilities for using it to secure the businesses location in Mid Wales. After initial difficulties in finding accessible and clear advice on how to approach the process the owners presented several options to their staff who voted for an employee benefit trust. This was set up in 2009 and 40% of company shares are now in the trust. The remaining 60% of the shares will be sold to the trust over the next 6 years and whilst the owners will have exited financially, the hand over process will be on-going and they will retain involvement in the business.

Installing employee ownership mechanisms and developing and engaging staff takes specialist knowledge, time and effort and the work needs to be undertaken from the moment the owner starts considering succession – not from the moment the owner starts trying to sell their business. At the Wales Co-operative Centre, we have been involved with employee ownership and worker co-operatives ever since we started 30 years ago. Our specialist Business Succession Team offer advice and support to business owners and employees taking their first steps down the road to employee ownership. They can help provide advice on suitable employee ownership models, look at how vehicles such as Employee Benefit Trusts and Share Incentive Plans can be used to support the transfer process, and provide support with finding finance, business planning, management and governance issues.

So is it too late to defuse the Business Succession Time Bomb in Wales?

No, it’s not – but to avoid a massive drain on the Welsh economy over the next few years it is essential for politicians, business advisers and business owners themselves to consider all sorts of plans for viable and sustainable business succession including the benefits of employee ownership and to ensure support and assistance for those businesses is provided as and when they need it. There is every reason to believe that long-term succession planning leads to long term success but that planning needs to be implemented and the available options discussed now.

The report ‘Employee Ownership: Defusing the business succession time bomb in Wales’ can be downloaded from the Wales Co-operative Centre’s website here.

The Wales Co-operative Centre’s Business Succession Team is running a series of business succession roadshows in Swansea, Caerphilly, Bangor and Ruthin. Further information and ticket booking facilities are available on the website here.

Footnote

Figures taken from Welsh Government’s ‘Economic Renewal: A New Direction’ http://wales.gov.uk/topics/statistics/articles/economicrenewal/?lang=en

In 2009 there were 53,205 active SME’s (1 – 249 employees) in Wales. Federation of Small Business Research suggests 29% of Welsh Businesses have had the same owner for 21 years or more.  29% of 53,205 is equal to 15,429 small businesses.

Beware Christmas loan sharks, says First Minister

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First Minister Carwyn Jones today [13th December] urged people finding it difficult to meet the cost of Christmas this year not to take out loans from high cost lenders, even if it seems quick and easy.

The cost of a personal unsecured loan from a high cost lender of £500 paying back £17.50 for 52 weeks means that you will actually pay back £910.

The same loan from a credit union would cost about £10.83 each week, paying back a total of £563.16, a saving of more than £340.

The First Minister will talk about the impact of high cost credit on families and communities during a visit to the Save Easy Credit Union in Llanelli.

The First Minister said,“Too many people do not realise that Welsh credit unions provide savings accounts, personal loans and other basic financial products that can save them money. Credit Unions offer a real alternative the activities of high cost lenders and illegal loan sharks, by offering safe and affordable alternatives.

“Tackling poverty and financial exclusion where it persists in our communities is one of my key priorities over the next five years. Credit unions are ideally placed to help achieve this.”

The Minister also emphasised he wanted to continue to raise awareness of credit unions.

He said,“Too often we hear stories about people on low incomes and others who are most vulnerable in our society not being able to access affordable sources of credit.

“Some communities remain blighted by loan sharks exploiting vulnerable people in an environment of intimidation and violence. This has a devastating cost on individuals, families and entire communities.

“Credit unions can and do make a difference in such a situation. Having strong credit unions here in Wales will help us as we continue to build the fair and just society we all want to achieve.”

Source: News Wales

Find out more about credit unions in Wales on the Wales Co-operative Centre’s website.


Written by C Kenzie

December 19, 2011 at 9:33 am

Job vacancy – mapping and web assistant

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Communities 2.0 logoCommunities 2.0, the digital inclusion initiative from the Welsh Government, is looking for a mapping and web assistant. The role will be based in the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Cardiff office.

The successful applicant will need to be a graduate able to collate data and information into a self-built SQL databse. This data will be collected over the phone and by post from various groups throughout Wales.

As part of the web assistant role, the applicant will also need to be familiar with writing for the web and using social media. This work will involve writing blog posts and updating social media accounts as well as the initiative’s website and associated sites.

The role is available as a fixed term 6 month contract with a salary of £19,250 to £23,691 pro rata.

If you are interesting in applying, please visit the Wales Co-operative Centre’s website http://www.walescooperative.org/current-vacancies

 

Written by C Kenzie

September 21, 2011 at 9:40 am

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