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One in Three Consumers Claims Cost Prohibits Healthy Eating

Apr 23, 2014

British Heart Foundation concerned at number of consumers who fail to buy fruit or veg, putting lives at risk
 
BHF FruitThe British Heart Foundation (BHF) is reported to be deeply concerned about the health risks faced by those who struggle to afford fresh fruit and vegetables. A recent survey conducted by the charity discovered that 39% of consumers had to disregard the health benefits of eating fresh produce when doing their weekly shopping, simply because of the cost factor.

The charity is worried that consumers are turning to convenience and processed foods, simply to make ends meet. It has recommended that shoppers consider tinned and frozen foods as a lower-cost alternative to fresh food.
 
Two-thirds of consumers want to eat more healthily
The survey has revealed that while two out of three consumers reported that they wanted to eat healthily, half of these respondents complained that the cost of buying healthier items like fresh fruit made it difficult for them to do so.

CEBR Suggests Households Will Pocket an Extra £600 by Election

Apr 22, 2014

Study indicates that pay will rise by 1.5% in real terms by next year, allowing chancellor to cut taxes in next budget

Growth ForecastA new report published by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) suggests that the worst is well and truly over for hard-pressed consumers. The rate of recovery in the economy is set to finally impact positively on householders, with wages rising above inflation, and the prospect of tax cuts before the May 2015 election. Incredibly, it seems that disposable incomes could have risen by 4% by then compared with 2010, while GDP could have risen by as much as 9%. If CEBR figures are correct, this will come as massive relief to consumers, but will leave Labour’s economic policy team in a difficult situation in the lead-up to the election.

1.5% increase in wages in real terms could give average consumer an extra £390 per year
According to the CEBR report, the effect of average wage increases outstripping inflation will continue, growing to a rate of 1.5% by the election. This alone could give the average consumer an extra £390 per year. However, the forecaster further indicates that the chancellor George Osborne will be well positioned to make some £7bn-worth of tax cuts next year. This could give consumers an extra £200, boosting the average family income by some £600 overall.

Shocking 1,000+ Preventable Deaths Monthly in NHS Hospitals!

Apr 22, 2014

Kidney failure kills thousands of patients annually due to thirst and poor care

Patient CareA report commissioned by the NHS has drawn a bleak and shocking picture of the care that patients in NHS hospitals can expect. The study has discovered that between 15,000 and 40,000 consumers die from kidney failure needlessly each year. One of the most shocking aspects of the situation is that many of these patients are simply dehydrated, and are just left to die of thirst.  Although many of the patients concerned could already be suffering from kidney infections before they arrive, it is estimated that one in seven hospital patients have such problems, but in many cases are not properly diagnosed by medical staff. The effects of surgery and some medication can also make the situation worse.

The death toll from this avoidable problem far outweighs other issues like MRSA. In addition to the human cost, it costs the NHS £1bn, while resolving the issue would save £200m per year. The authors note that the situation is ‘completely unacceptable’ and could be resolved by ‘good basic care’.

Tesco’s Profits Fall as Consumers Turn to Discounters

Apr 17, 2014

Second annual consecutive fall in retailer’s profits due to confusion and lack of pricing clarity suggest analysts
 
Tesco Customer ServiceRetail giant Tesco has been forced to admit that its profits have fallen for the second year running. While this would once have been unthinkable, company bosses and investors have heaved a sigh of relief that the results were not considerably worse. The company has suffered from poor performance across Asia, Eastern Europe and in the UK home market.
 
Here, the retailer has lost consumers both to discount retailers and to its traditional competitors. Commentators have noted that Tesco’s marketing seems confused, and that it needs to deliver greater clarity, especially on pricing, if it is to attract consumers back through its doors. However, one gleam of hope came from a rise in online sales, and this is an area that Tesco plans to develop further. According to Bryan Roberts from retail consultancy Kantar, ‘putting shoppers, rather than shareholders, back at the heart of the business’ would be a start in turning the business around.
Overseas, Tesco has suffered badly due to difficult trading conditions in the Eurozone, resulting in a 28% drop in trading profit there. In Asia, the situation was not as severe, but the company still saw profits fall by 5.6%.

Inflation Dips to Lowest Level in Four Years

Apr 16, 2014

Figures just released by ONS show that inflation fell to 1.6% in March leading to hopes that consumers could finally start to see pay rise in real terms
 
Inflation RatesThe Office for National Statistics (ONS) has just confirmed that the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), fell from 1.7% in February to 1.6% in March. This is the lowest level recorded since 2009, and falls well below the 2% target set by the Bank of England. The rate of inflation measured by the higher Retail Prices Index (RPI) has also registered a fall, dropping from 2.7% to 2.5%. Although it brings the risk of interest rates rising ever closer, falling inflation is good for consumers, meaning lower prices in the shops. Statistics that the ONS will release tomorrow are expected to confirm that wages have risen slightly too, meaning that there is finally a real prospect of consumers feeling that they have a little more money in their pockets.
 
Six consecutive falls in inflation creates longest run in recent history
The drop in inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index is the sixth consecutive monthly fall, indicating the emergence of a clear trend.

MPs Call on Prime Minister to Create New ‘Minister for Complaints’

Apr 14, 2014

Public Administration select committee also recommends that each government department should publish details of complaints received and resolved annually, as well as showing how lessons have been learnt
 
NHS Complaints UKThe Public Administration select committee has delivered a scathing review of the piecemeal and inadequate handling of consumer complaints across the NHS, government departments and other public bodies. In a hard-hitting report, MPs have slated the way that complaints are currently handled, with a widespread failure to deal with complaints in good time, and numerous incidences of failure to resolve complaints, and the problems at their root.

They believe that a revolution needs to take place in how the public sector handles complaints. As a result, they have recommended a raft of changes to the current complaints handling system, and have called on the prime minister to appoint a cabinet minister with special responsibility for public sector complaints, to help restore consumer confidence and trust in the system.
 
Another Mid Staffs-scale tragedy likely if complete change to NHS complaints culture does not happen

£40,000 Salary Needed to Get First Mortgage

Apr 14, 2014

Salary requirements and rising property values keeping many first-time buyers out of the market, especially in cities
 
Homebuyers Face DifficultyTwo different reports published today show very clearly the struggle that young people face in terms of getting on the property ladder. According to figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), the average salary that first-time buyers now need to earn to get a mortgage is just under £40,000. As this is considerably higher than the average salary across the country, many buyers are finding that they are priced out of the market.
 
Indeed, the second report, published by Adzuna.co.uk, a search engine, has revealed that nine out of ten homes are too expensive for local and first-time buyers in many cities, including Brighton, Oxford, Chelmsford and Cambridge. Although the Help to Buy Scheme has helped thousands of buyers get their first home, or move to a larger one, many still find it difficult.  However, concerns that property values will rise even further have prompted a huge increase in the numbers of first-time buyers making the leap onto the property ladder.

Barclays Bank Still Tops Naughty List with Most Consumer Complaints

Apr 10, 2014

Good news is that the five most-complained-about banks all received fewer complaints in the second half of 2013 than in the first half
 
Barclays ComplaintsThe Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its latest consumer complaints figures for the financial sector.  The data, which relates to the final half of 2013, seem to show that the banks and other financial institutions are finally starting to get the message that they need to do to undergo a complete transformation and become customer-focused if they are to regain consumer trust and confidence.

As a result, there was a pleasing 15% drop in the total number of complaints received, compared with the previous six months. Even though Barclays Bank saw the number of customer complaints received plummet by an impressive 17%, it still received more complaints that any other bank – 309,494. Clearly, the consumer view is that it, and other banks, must try harder.
 
PPI complaints still root cause of over half consumer complaints received, but they dropped by 22% on first half levels

Toyota Recalls 6.4m Cars over Safety Concerns

Apr 09, 2014

Car maker has been forced to recall more cars in the past 30 months that it has sold!
 
Toyota RecallIn one of the biggest vehicle recalls to date, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota has announced a recall of 6.4m cars globally over possible safety problems. Although it has found no evidence of fatal accidents due to any of them, the company has found five different types of fault in 27 different Toyota models. Some 50,000 of the vehicles concerned are owned by consumers in the UK. The latest recall brings the number of vehicles recalled by Toyota in the last two-and-a-half years to 25m, considerably more than the 21m cars that it has sold in the same period. The recalls have been part of Toyota’s drive to restore consumer confidence in its products, which were once a by-word for safety and reliability.
 
Recalls are double-edged sword in fight to restore consumer trust and confidence in Toyota brand
However, while recalling vehicles to rectify potential problems is an effort to show that the company puts issues right, even if it does sometimes make mistakes, this is something of a double-edged sword.

Consumers Warned Microsoft Ends XP Support Today

Apr 08, 2014

Estimates suggest that 20%-25% of all users still running the old operating system, leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attack; all consumers advised to upgrade immediately
 
XP Support EndsAlthough it should be neither surprising nor unexpected that software giant Microsoft is today ending support for one of its most successful operating systems, which was first released way back in 2001, it seems that many consumers, businesses and even governments have been unprepared for the change.  Industry experts estimate that up to a quarter of all users, including consumers, are still running the old operating system, even though it has been superseded by three new product releases, Vista, Windows 7 and the much-maligned Windows 8.
 
Microsoft estimates that infection rates among XP users will rise by 66% from today
However, analysts have been aware for some time that a higher level of cybercrime is targeted at these XP users than at any other group, partly because each new generation of operating system shipped with updated security.



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