Monthly Archives: December 2013

OBE for Action For Kids Founder

Sally Bishop OBE

Sally Bishop OBE

We are delighted that Sally Bishop (Mrs Sally Hayes-Smith), Founder and Executive Director of Action For Kids Charitable Trust, has received an OBE in the New Year’s Honours.

Ethos public relations is proud to have worked with Sally for many years and we think Sally fully deserves this recognition for the hard work she has put in to creating and developing the charity.

Over more than 20 years, Sally has provided hope and inspiration to many disabled young people and their families and we are pleased to send her our congratulations. Thanks to Sally, thousands of disabled young people have received mobility equipment, work experience and other opportunities that they might otherwise not have had access to.

We are also happy to hear that long-time Action For Kids supporter actress Lynda Bellingham also received an OBE in this year’s honours.

Season’s Greetings

Christmas Tree

Season’s Greetings from Ethos public relations


Season’s Greetings

We would like to wish
all our clients, suppliers, friends 
and their families
the very best for 2014

We will be contactable throughout the Christmas and New Year period, so do get in touch with any media requests.

Can we thank you all for your support over the past 12 months, and we look forward to working with many of you during 2014. If there are any communications projects, such as videos, media relations or websites, that you would like our input on, please do get in touch in the New Year for an informal chat about how we can help. You can see some of the services we offer at Ethos public relations by clicking this link.

We are already looking forward to working on a number of interesting and exciting new projects next year as well as helping to promote the work of existing clients.

Farewell Nelson Mandela

Latest blog by Sean

Flag of Soth Africa

By Flag design by Frederick Brownell, image by Wikimedia Commons users [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The sad news about Nelson Mandela has refreshed many memories for me that go back more than three decades.

I am not writing this as someone who knew Nelson Mandela of course, although I was at a lunch with him that Leeds Co-operative sponsored in 2001. Nelson Mandela was in Leeds to accept the honour of becoming an Honorary Freeman of the City of Leeds and thousands gathered in Nelson Mandela Gardens to welcome him to the city.

For that crowd, and millions of other people like me, Nelson Mandela was a beacon that shone across the world and proved that life can change for oppressed peoples.

But we should all remember that change for the black people of South Africa did not come quickly or without individual human sacrifice. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for some 27 years and many of his ANC comrades were killed, including Steve Biko.

I remember being in Germany in 1988 and watching the Anti-Apartheid Movement concert from Wembley that celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday. The song ‘Biko’ by Peter Gabriel was one I would listen to for years afterwards. And more or less at the same time I read the book ‘Biko’ by South African journalist Donald Woods – in German.

Before going to Germany I had attended many anti-apartheid marches in London and elsewhere and spent many hours in Trafalgar Square outside South Africa House, long before it became fashionable to do so.

Nelson Mandela was only one person and he will be sorely missed, but his enduring legacy will be as a symbol that the world and its peoples can change.

The younger generation in the West have grown up in a world where, although racism still exists and is as pernicious as ever, there is no longer a state like South Africa that discriminates against its own black majority.

There is still much to do to ensure that all people can live in peace and be free of discrimination because of the colour of their skin.

Thanks to Nelson Mandela we know the colour of a person’s skin shouldn’t matter.

Farewell Nelson.

Current account costs vary widely – but not at the expense of low income customers

 

Friends Provident Foundation logoThe customer costs of current accounts vary substantially depending on the provider and the type of account says a new report, but there is no evidence that low income customers disproportionately bear the burden, as has previously been claimed.

How Much Does ‘Free Banking’ Cost? An assessment of the costs of using UK personal current accounts by Dr John K. Ashton and Professor Robert Hudson, which was funded by Friends Provident Foundation, used 17 years of data to determine the total costs to customers of current account use, and whether any cross-subsidy exists between customers with different levels of income.

The cost to customers of using current account services was found to vary significantly, with a wide range between the highest and lowest cost accounts. Costs varied not only between providers, but between different types of account. In addition, the report showed that the costs of current account use have risen over time and recent increases have fallen most heavily on overdraft users.

Dr John K Ashton, a reader in banking at Bangor University and one of the authors of the report, said: “The pricing methods of personal current accounts have frequently been criticised in recent years and so we wanted to explore the customer costs of using current accounts and the evidence for a distributional cross-subsidy between low income customers and other customers.

“Our work demonstrated that while the costs of current accounts vary widely, there is no evidence of cross-subsidies to the detriment of people on lower incomes.”

High street banks were the most expensive providers overall, although their current accounts offered more payment services and were accessible through more distribution channels. Building and friendly societies were the least expensive. Fee-charging packaged current accounts and so called ‘free banking’ current accounts were shown to be the most expensive types of personal current account.

For the first time in this country, the study calculated current account costs using both visible costs, such as fees and charges, and hidden costs, such as the financial impact on customers caused by their deposits attracting little or no interest and overdrafts being charged at rates higher than the banks charge on their other loan products.

Whether there is a cross-subsidy between customers of different incomes was found to be a function of how costs are estimated. When only the overdraft and package fees of current accounts were emphasised, there was evidence of cross-subsidy from lower income customers to other customers. However, when the ‘cost’ of poor levels of interest provided on current account deposits was emphasised, no such cross-subsidy was present, as these types of costs were incurred disproportionately by higher income groups.

If a cross-subsidy exists at all, it appears to flow from both low income customers incurring large and long duration overdraft loans and inattentive customers of all incomes accumulating large current account deposits and using overdrafts occasionally, to all other customers.

The study recommends measures to make the personal current account market more affordable and transparent, including simplifying and standardising the costs of current accounts, making customers more aware that overdrafts are a high cost form of borrowing, and providing more information on the supposed benefits of additional services provided within packaged accounts.

The report also calls for a reduction in the number of accounts offered, to improve customer decision making, ‘sweeping’ facilities to automatically transfer excess funds to deposit accounts, and more joined-up regulation of the current account market.

Andrew Thompson, Grants Manager at Friends Provident Foundation, said: “It is good news that when the hidden costs of current account use are included there is no evidence of low income customers subsidising other customers. However, as the report recommends, more needs to be done to make the costs for personal current accounts clear and easily understandable, so that everyone can make sensible, cost-conscious decisions about which current account is right for them.”

The report can be downloaded from the Friends Provident Foundation website: http://www.friendsprovidentfoundation.org/how-much-does-free-banking-cost-an-assessment-of-the-costs-of-using-uk-personal-current-accounts

Buy British, I would if I could


Latest blog by Sean

Jeans with a hole in themI try to buy British whenever possible. Not because I am excessively patriotic or xenophobic, but simply because it seems to me buying locally produced goods must be better for the economy.

Recent news that the economy might be slowly recovering on the back of a consumer boom would be so much better, surely, if it was on the back of a consumer boom in British goods.

Last week in London, I searched out a shop selling British made jeans. All well and good, except they didn’t have my size nor is there currently any stock to be had by ordering online. Can’t fault them for that, hopefully they will soon have produced new stock and I can then get hold of a pair. I am getting too old for the holes-in-jeans look!

Trying another shop that proudly refers to ‘London’ on its label, the shop assistant pointed out one pair of jeans that was ‘made in the UK’ while another pair, somewhat cheaper, was ‘made in their Chinese factory’. But once again my size wasn’t available. This turned out to be a close shave though, as when I spoke to their head office to see if my size was available online, the previous information was corrected to say that both styles were produced in China. Can’t buy British there then.

Obviously, any company is entitled to make its products wherever it likes, but I do wish that brands that proclaim their ‘Britishness’ could at least make it clear where their products are made. A bit more staff training might not go amiss. And if more people take the trouble to ask where products come from, manufacturers will hopefully provide more information.

I suppose I will have to wait to get my hands on a new pair of jeans made in Britain and, in the meantime, my money is burning a hole in my pocket – to join the other holes – rather than helping the economy.

UPDATE: Since posting this blog, I managed to get a pair of jeans when I next went to the shop. And more recently, a new brand of English menswear has hit the scene. Take a look at http://www.quantockclothing.com/jeans. I’ve not tried them yet, but great to see them!