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August 12, 2010

Ethical fund sales continue to rise

by David Masters
Ethical fund sales continue to rise
Sales of ethical funds are at the highest level since the start of the credit crunch, according to new figures published this week. Statistics from the Investment Management Association (IMA) show total ethical investments of £98 million for the second quarter of 2010, an increased of £106 million compared to the -£8 million recorded for the second quarter of 2009. Ethical finance body ...




August 6, 2010

FSA approves Coventry Building Society merger

by David Masters
FSA approves Coventry Building Society merger
The FSA has approved a proposed merger between Coventry Building Society and Stroud & Swindon Building Society. Under the merger the two financial providers will come together from the start of September. The newly formed organisation will be called Coventry Building Society, and will be based in the Midlands. The merger was first announced in June after it received the backing of Stroud & ...




Kiwi parliament votes down ethical investment bill

by David Masters
Kiwi parliament votes down ethical investment bill
New Zealand's government has been criticised for voting down a bill that would have seen state money invested ethically. New Zealand MP's voted 63 votes to 58 against the Ethical Investment Bill, which would have required Crown Financial Institutes to invest their money ethically. Robert Howell, chief executive of New Zealand's Council for Socially Responsible Investment, said the vote against the bill ...




August 5, 2010

Leeds launches 2.55% instant access saver

by David Masters
Leeds launches 2.55% instant access saver
Leeds Building Society has launched a new instant access account paying interest at 2.55%. The headline rate includes a 0.5% bonus until August 2011. The account, known as the London Instant Access Account, is only available through the building society's London branch. Savers can open the account with a minimum investment of £100, and are not required to open any other accounts with Leeds. "Our ...




Social enterprise creates jobs for autistic people

by David Masters
Social enterprise creates jobs for autistic people
A new social enterprise to help people with autism find jobs has launched in Scotland. Specialisterne Scotland is set to recruit a dozen trainees with autism over the next six months. Those chosen for the programme will undertake four months training before being given jobs as software testers for major Scottish companies. These are jobs with a high degree of predictability and minimal ...




Smaller building societies offer better rates

by David Masters
Smaller building societies offer better rates
Smaller building societies are often able to offer better interest rates on current accounts than big banks, a financial expert has claimed. Phil Perry, director of Ark Financial Planning, said smaller, regional lenders such as mutual societies can offer savers higher rates of interest because they have members rather than shareholders. "If the members are looking for something a little bit more special, ...




August 4, 2010

Green entrepreneur to buy Forest Green FC

by David Masters
Green entrepreneur to buy Forest Green FC
Eco-tycoon Dale Vince is poised to take over cash-strapped football club Forest Green, according to media speculation. Vince, 48, built his £85 million empire on wind power, making him Britain's wealthiest green entrepreneur. He is understood to have met up with Forest Green's executives, including chairman David Drew, operations director Colin Peake and manager Dave Hockaday to discuss a potential takeover. The football ...




Road rage to blame for one in three fatal accidents

by David Masters
Over a third of fatal accidents on Britain's roads are caused by road rage, according to new research. The study by AXA insurance found 800 lives are lost every year through road accidents caused by angry drivers. More than one in three (35%) serious road accidents involve at least one angry driver. AXA estimates the monetary cost of road rage at £945 million per year, or £35 per insurance policy. "We are very concerned ...




Citizens Advice: Welfare reforms must tackle poverty

by David Masters
Citizens Advice: Welfare reforms must tackle poverty
Government plans to review the welfare system with a view to simplifying benefits have been given a guarded welcome by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). The CAB said simplifying the system will help more people claim the benefits they are entitled to. However, it warned that the reforms must continue to provide support for the poor and vulnerable. Teresa Perchard, CAB director of ...




August 3, 2010

Aviva welcomes plans to scrap compulsory retirement

by David Masters
Government plans to scrap the default retirement age are "great news" for those approaching retirement, according to pensions provider Aviva. Research by Aviva found nearly seven in ten (68%) of over-55s would like to continue working when they reach 65. Last week the coalition government said from October 2011 employers will no longer be allowed to force employees into retirement at the age of 65. The plans are currently under consultation, but are ...




Coventry launches 3.2% tracker bond

by David Masters
Coventry Building Society has launched a two year base rate tracker bond. Savers are guaranteed a minimum rate of 3.2% until September 2012. There is no maximum cap on interest rates The bond can be opened with any amount between £1 and £250,000. Withdrawals are subject to a penalty of 90 days interest. Customers wanting a regular income from their savings can opt for monthly interest payments. Colin Franklin, spokesperson for Coventry ...




July 30, 2010

Government cuts £11m social enterprise funding

by David Masters
Government pulls £11m from social enterprise
Despite the government's rhetoric on big society, it has announced £11 million of spending cuts to the department responsible for social enterprise. The Office for Civil Society has had its 2010/11 budget cut to £136.9 million, down from £147.9 million. Nick Hurd, minister for civil society, said: "Every area of government is looking at reducing costs and streamlining its work. The Office for ...




July 29, 2010

Banks hide rate cuts from savers

by David Masters
Banks hide rate cuts from savers
Banks are keeping their customers in the dark about interest rate changes on their accounts, new research has found. The study by Which? Money found most banks rely on newspaper adverts or customers popping into their local branch to keep savers informed of rate cuts Only four of the twelve banks investigated guaranteed to keep customers informed of all changes to interest rates ...




July 28, 2010

Irish banks pass stress test

by David Masters
Irish banks pass stress test
Two of Ireland's most important financial institutions demonstrated their resilience this week by passing a European stress test. The Bank of Ireland and AIB passed the test conducted by the Committee of European Banking Supervisors in partnership with the European Central Bank. The test measured the banks' potential to survive intact through difficult economic circumstances. Irish finance minister Brian Lenihan welcomed the test results. The results ...




Undischarged bankrupts barred by banks

by David Masters
Undischarged bankrupts barred by banks
Only two out of seventeen high street banks allow people going through bankruptcy to open a basic, no credit bank account, new research has found. A study by the Citizens Advice Bureau found only the Co-operative and Barclays offer bank accounts to undischarged bankrupts, despite there being no legal reason to deny these people access to basic banking services. "Most people take having a ...




July 27, 2010

Anti-poverty banker to star in The Simpsons

by David Masters
Anti-poverty banker to star in the Simpsons
The Bangladeshi anti-poverty banker Muhammad Yunus is to feature in an episode of hit TV cartoon The Simpsons. Yunus, whose pioneering work on micro-finance earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, will appear in the TV show as a cartoon version of himself. The episode will focus on his micro-credit work in Bangladesh, which has helped to lift millions of people ...




July 26, 2010

Is Islamic finance the solution to India’s poverty?

by David Masters
Is Islamic finance the solution to India's poverty?
A former Supreme Court judge has launched a campaign to introduce Islamic banking and finance to India. Justice Krishna Iyer said Islamic finance has the potential to offer sustainable growth while reducing inequality. "Islamic finance has proven successful in poverty alleviation and promoting sustainable growth in many countries," he said. "It is very relevant in our country where 20 million people are ...




Social enterprises avoid capital injections

by David Masters
Social enterprises avoid capital injections
A £3m fund designed to help social enterprises expand has closed after making only one investment in two years. Triodos, the bank operating the fund, said most social enterprises are not yet ready for large capital injections. "The recession is having an impact," said Charles Middleton, Triodos UK managing direction. "But our experience was mainly not finding the number of social enterprises that were ready ...




July 23, 2010

Children’s Mutual suspends new business

by David Masters
Children's Mutual suspends new business
The Children's Mutual has suspended all new business to its most basic Child Trust Fund (CTF) accounts following the government's decision to scrap the CTF scheme. CTFs were one of the first things to face the coalition's axe as they seek to make massive cutbacks to tackle Britain's national debt. David White, chief executive of the Children's Mutual, said the company has closed for ...




July 22, 2010

BlueOrchard plans to expand microfinance

by David Masters
BlueOrchard plans to expand microfinance
BlueOrchard, the world's biggest private sector investor in microfinance loans, has raised $195 million for a fund to help microfinance institutions (MFIs) expand and modernise. The private equity fund will buy minority stakes in MFIs to pay for their expansion and modernisation. BlueOrchard claims many MFIs need capital injections to improve their corporate governance and risk management systems. With a targeted return of 20% per ...