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Day: 18 June 2022

BBC News – Business RSS Feed – World News

Interest-free loan scheme aims to reach 20,000 people

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesA scheme offering interest-free loans to the financially vulnerable is being expanded to reach up to 20,000 people.After a successful trial in Manchester the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) will be rolled out across the UK from September.It's backed by the Treasury but will be run by credit unions and other lenders.The aim is to offer emergency loans to people who would normally be turned down, because they can't afford the interest payments.That's the position Lisa was in when she needed help to pay for her brother's funeral. The 40-year-old from Manchester couldn't find a traditional lender to borrow from."My finances were shocking, I was going to court every other week - mainly because of council tax and rent [debt]," she said.But as part of the No Interest Loans initial trial scheme, she was given a £300 loan. And her involvement with South Manchester Credit Union, who ran the trial, led her to change her approach to managing her finances."I'm saving now, I've learnt how to budget, I've learnt how to pay my bills on time, so we've got a roof over our heads and food in our cupboards. Going from having nothing to having everything, is all I could ask for," she said.The initial trial Lisa benefited from began earlier this year and is still ongoing.But it is now being expanded in a larger pilot phase to various locations across the UK which will last for up to two years.After that, a decision will be made on whether to roll it out further.What does the No Interest Loan Scheme offer?It is only available to people who have been turned down for normal borrowingThey can borrow between £100 and £2,000. The average amount borrowed is £500They can borrow the money for six to 18 months. The average length of time is 12 months Customers can only have one no interest loanThe No Interest Loan Scheme is being run, in part, by Fair4AllFinance, which was founded by the Treasury and Department for Culture Media and Sport three years ago to "support the financial wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances" with a mission to "increase access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial products and services".The pilot is being funded with £3.8m committed from HM Treasury, £1.2m from JPMorgan Chase and up to £1m of lending capital from each devolved administration, matched in England by Fair4All Finance.The nationwide pilot phase is designed to offer small scale help to 20,000 people, who otherwise would have struggled to borrow.If that phase is a success, a full-scale roll-out could reach 500,000 people, according to a feasibility study conducted before the pandemic. Thanks to the cost of living crisis, even more people could now be eligible, one expert suggests.Apart from the emergency finance, one over-arching benefit of the scheme is that it introduces people to the credit union and other lenders providing the loans, which can then offer further support in the form of advice around budgeting and debt management.Credit unions are financial co-operatives owned by their members. They offer lots of the same services as banks, including ways to save, secure deposits and loans. They're fully regulated and because they're owned by members any profits stay within the union for the benefit of members - rather than going to shareholders.Encouraged by the credit union, Lisa is now saving for the first time and has put away £5 every week since January leaving her with £105."Even seeing it brings a smile to my face. For some people that's nothing, but to me it could be a million pounds," she said "That's how it feels because I've never had it before."Sheenagh Young, chief executive of South Manchester Credit Union, where the initial proof-of-concept trial took place, says the feedback so far has been excellent."Credit Unions are working away on street level but somehow we're a bit of a best-kept secret, so we need to rocket fuel it and scale it up."This [trial] shows that HM Treasury want to invest in us, external investors want to invest... and extend that gateway which supports the work we're doing and amplify it."Earlier this year Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen talked about the £3.8m of government funding for the pilot.The scheme was designed for consumers "in vulnerable circumstances who would benefit most from affordable credit to meet unexpected costs", he said."This is a fundamental, worthwhile, new initiative, to provide a gateway product for people who at the moment are beyond the lending capacity of some credit unions."The challenge now will be to take that proof-of-concept pilot to a bigger pilot so that we can now validate it," he said.You can hear more on this story on BBC Radio 4's Money Box podcast by clicking here.Follow Money Box and Dan on TwitterMore on this storyFears funeral reforms could mean thousands lose moneyPrice rises trigger shift from saving to borrowing'She won't ask me for money for period products'Related Internet LinksFair4All FinanceSouth Manchester Credit UnionThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

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BBC News – Business RSS Feed – World News

Interest-free loan scheme aims to reach 20,000 people

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesA scheme offering interest-free loans to the financially vulnerable is being expanded to reach up to 20,000 people.After a successful trial in Manchester the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) will be rolled out across the UK from September.It's backed by the Treasury but will be run by credit unions and other lenders.The aim is to offer emergency loans to people who would normally be turned down, because they can't afford the interest payments.That's the position Lisa was in when she needed help to pay for her brother's funeral. The 40-year-old from Manchester couldn't find a traditional lender to borrow from."My finances were shocking, I was going to court every other week - mainly because of council tax and rent [debt]," she said.But as part of the No Interest Loans initial trial scheme, she was given a £300 loan. And her involvement with South Manchester Credit Union, who ran the trial, led her to change her approach to managing her finances."I'm saving now, I've learnt how to budget, I've learnt how to pay my bills on time, so we've got a roof over our heads and food in our cupboards. Going from having nothing to having everything, is all I could ask for," she said.The initial trial Lisa benefited from began earlier this year and is still ongoing.But it is now being expanded in a larger pilot phase to various locations across the UK which will last for up to two years.After that, a decision will be made on whether to roll it out further.What does the No Interest Loan Scheme offer?It is only available to people who have been turned down for normal borrowingThey can borrow between £100 and £2,000. The average amount borrowed is £500They can borrow the money for six to 18 months. The average length of time is 12 months Customers can only have one no interest loanThe No Interest Loan Scheme is being run, in part, by Fair4AllFinance, which was founded by the Treasury and Department for Culture Media and Sport three years ago to "support the financial wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances" with a mission to "increase access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial products and services".The pilot is being funded with £3.8m committed from HM Treasury, £1.2m from JPMorgan Chase and up to £1m of lending capital from each devolved administration, matched in England by Fair4All Finance.The nationwide pilot phase is designed to offer small scale help to 20,000 people, who otherwise would have struggled to borrow.If that phase is a success, a full-scale roll-out could reach 500,000 people, according to a feasibility study conducted before the pandemic. Thanks to the cost of living crisis, even more people could now be eligible, one expert suggests.Apart from the emergency finance, one over-arching benefit of the scheme is that it introduces people to the credit union and other lenders providing the loans, which can then offer further support in the form of advice around budgeting and debt management.Credit unions are financial co-operatives owned by their members. They offer lots of the same services as banks, including ways to save, secure deposits and loans. They're fully regulated and because they're owned by members any profits stay within the union for the benefit of members - rather than going to shareholders.Encouraged by the credit union, Lisa is now saving for the first time and has put away £5 every week since January leaving her with £105."Even seeing it brings a smile to my face. For some people that's nothing, but to me it could be a million pounds," she said "That's how it feels because I've never had it before."Sheenagh Young, chief executive of South Manchester Credit Union, where the initial proof-of-concept trial took place, says the feedback so far has been excellent."Credit Unions are working away on street level but somehow we're a bit of a best-kept secret, so we need to rocket fuel it and scale it up."This [trial] shows that HM Treasury want to invest in us, external investors want to invest... and extend that gateway which supports the work we're doing and amplify it."Earlier this year Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen talked about the £3.8m of government funding for the pilot.The scheme was designed for consumers "in vulnerable circumstances who would benefit most from affordable credit to meet unexpected costs", he said."This is a fundamental, worthwhile, new initiative, to provide a gateway product for people who at the moment are beyond the lending capacity of some credit unions."The challenge now will be to take that proof-of-concept pilot to a bigger pilot so that we can now validate it," he said.You can hear more on this story on BBC Radio 4's Money Box podcast by clicking here.Follow Money Box and Dan on TwitterMore on this storyFears funeral reforms could mean thousands lose moneyPrice rises trigger shift from saving to borrowing'She won't ask me for money for period products'Related Internet LinksFair4All FinanceSouth Manchester Credit UnionThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

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BBC News – Science & Environment RSS Feed – World News

Friendly fungi help forests fight climate change

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingThis award-winning essay from young British science writer Zara Hussan explores the hidden, underground networks of fungi that are silently helping plants and trees to lock away carbon and combat climate change. Winner of the 2022 Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) Young Science Writer of the Year award, her essay explores a microscopic realm: Earth's fungal "life support system".Image source, Victoria GillA forest is home to billions of living things, some of them too small to be seen by the naked eye. Collectively, these micro-scale species contribute more to our planet than most of us could imagine. While we know that forests play a major role in countering global warming - acting as reservoirs for carbon - what is less well understood is how tiny organisms that dwell hidden in the soil help lock away our greenhouse gas emissions.The trees in our forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they photosynthesise; their leaves, powered by sunlight, convert that carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar. As a tree grows, the carbon becomes part of its woody "biomass". Ten fascinating facts about fungiNew global effort to map 'Wood Wide Web'This is how trees naturally combat the planet-warming greenhouse effect. In the last 20 years, the Amazon rainforest alone is estimated to have taken in 1.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.Trees though do not act in isolation; they are entangled with - and work alongside - a vast community of micro-scale fungi. A 2016 study led by researchers from Imperial College London revealed that one particular type - ectomycorrhizal fungi - enables certain trees to absorb CO2 faster (and therefore grow faster) than others. This is known as the "CO2 fertilisation effect". These fungi live in the root system of a host tree. In a symbiotic relationship, fungi help the tree to absorb more water, carbon and other nutrients. In exchange, the tree provides food for the fungi by photosynthesising.Ectomycorrhizal fungi have also been found to slow down the process of rotting; decomposition breaks down all that locked-away carbon and releases it into the atmosphere. So the fungi, in effect, have two methods of fighting global warming. Insights into the critical, growth-boosting role of fungi have already been applied to agriculture. Seeding the soil with "friendly fungus" is considered a promising technology for future sustainable farming. Research conducted into planting one particular variety - Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, or AMF - in soil has shown how it can not only help enrich soil fertility, but also reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere.Image source, Getty ImagesUsing these fungi can also provide a more sustainable alternative to chemical fertilisers, which can run into and pollute nearby water sources. The benefits of so-called "biofertilisers", like AMF, have resulted in the global biofertiliser market reaching a value of more than $2bn.Switching from chemical to biological fertilisers does come at a financial cost. Biological fertilisers are also often crop-specific and they generally do not boost crop yield as much and as quickly as chemical fertilisers. They are understood to be so much more beneficial for the soil and for the environment though that, in the UK, the government has developed a scheme called the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). It aims to provide financial assistance to farmers who opt for more sustainable, nature-enhancing practices.Moving away from chemical fertilisers on farmland could give those helpful fungi a boost in our forests, too. Scientists say that naturally-occurring forest fungi are being put at risk by some chemicals. Dr Colin Averill, a senior scientist at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, says chemical fertilisers - that are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium - actually break down the symbiosis between fungi and plant roots.Research has also shown a link between the loss of soil fungi and a reduction in carbon content of forest soil. Meanwhile, deforestation, which annihilates the fungi along with their host trees, disrupts this whole underground, climate change-fighting ecosystem.The system can be repaired, though. Dr Averill says that, by transplanting soil from rich, biodiverse "donor" sites to sites where soil is depleted, it is possible to restore fungal networks. He argues that taking these steps is necessary to help protect microbial communities. More recently, a project led by the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (Spun) has set out to map these microscopic fungal networks and to understand their essential role in protecting our soils. The project is the start of what scientists have called an "underground climate movement", aiming to protect this ancient life support system and to help it to help us fight climate change.These fungi might be tiny and hidden beneath the ground, but they form a network that is protecting our planet. Scientists who study them say we can do more - particularly through sustainable farming methods - to protect them. Young Science Writer of the year 2022, Zara Hussan, 14, is from Plashet School, East Ham, London. The ABSW Young Science Writer of the Year award invites students aged 14-16 years, to submit an 800-word essay. The competition, supported by BBC News, is designed to get young people writing and thinking about the big questions in science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics.More on this storyNew global effort to map 'Wood Wide Web'Ten fascinating facts about fungi

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BBC News – Business RSS Feed – World News

US parents turn to black market due to formula shortage

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, LaurenMum Lauren Galvin needed to get extra milk into her baby. He was spitting up so much after nursing that he wasn't gaining weight and had to be taken to hospital, twice.But, with the US in the grips of a severe national shortage of infant formula, she couldn't find any to buy.So Lauren turned to the black market, going online to order a Dutch-made brand that is barred from import to the United States.US authorities have repeatedly warned against buying milk that hasn't been approved for export to the US.Last year, customs officials seized $30,000 worth of European formula, saying it lacked appropriate nutritional labelling and they could not guarantee its safety. Two years before that, they blocked formula worth $162,000 at the border. Lauren, a nurse in Missouri, consulted with her paediatrician and others about the risks, but she didn't hesitate long."If this is healthy enough for European babies, American babies aren't any different," she says.'I am angry'Lauren says the rules don't make sense to her. And she's not the only one with questions.The baby formula shortage, now in its fourth month, has shaken confidence in US food safety authorities, revealing a mix of weak oversight and rigid government rules, that analysts say left the industry vulnerable to crisis.US faces baby formula 'crisis' as shortage worsensOnline groups hunt for baby formula during US shortageUS mothers warned against DIY formula amid shortage"I am angry," says New Jersey mum, Stephanie Esposito. She spends her days hunting for formula for her nine-month-old son Dominic, who has allergies and can only tolerate certain mixes. "What are we supposed to feed our babies?"I don't understand how they could let it get to this point."Signs of the shortage first emerged last year, following Covid-related supply strains. It reached full blown crisis in February after formula maker Abbott Nutrition, the firm behind the brand Similac, issued a major product recall. Authorities shut one of the firm's factories, citing bacterial contamination, thereby knocking out a large share of US production.Few dispute that conditions at the factory required action, but the government's handling of the situation has been widely criticised, especially after it was revealed that a whistleblower had alerted authorities to sanitary problems months before inspectors responded.After the shutdown, analysts say the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees the formula industry, made matters worse by overestimating the ability of Abbott's rivals to fill the gap in production, especially after parents panicked, sending sales surging.Operation formulaMore than half of American infants receive at least some formula by the time they are three months old. So political pressure has been mounting to find a solution.Was there ever a golden age of breastfeeding?How formula milk shaped the modern workplaceLast month, US President Joe Biden announced "Operation Fly Formula", allowing the FDA to temporarily relax its rules, and approving the use of military jets to ship in formula from overseas.More than two dozen companies have applied to bring formula into the US. The UK's Kendamil, Bubs Australia and Nestle's NAN are among the brands that have received waivers, which are valid until November.Had such moves happened earlier, the crisis could have been averted, says Morvarid Rahmani, professor of operations management at Georgia Tech's Scheller College of Business. "There is obviously not a global shortage," she says. "All of this could have been prevented by taking timely action."In the mixBut even before the shortage, doubts about the FDA had been simmering. There was a wave of reports warning of risky ingredients in products overseen by the FDA, including baby food, sunscreen and cosmetics. And some parents were already turning to banned foreign baby milk products, drawn by were stricter rules in some overseas markets, such as a ban on corn syrup, an ingredient common in US mixes.Image source, DOLLY DELONGInstagram influencer Mallory Whitmore, a certified infant feeding technician known as "Formula Mom", says parents are "no longer putting a lot of stock" in FDA guidance."Especially right now, we're seeing this very rapid approval of foreign imports ... which is very exciting, but I think a lot of parents ... are starting to wonder: was the FDA actually concerned about what was safest and healthiest for my infant or were they concerned about protecting the interests of American formula manufacturers?"Once the waiver allowing in foreign formulas expires, parents won't believe they are no longer safe, she points out. "So the question is, 'Are these formulas going to stay or not?'"This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Analysts say increasing the number of formula suppliers in the US is critical to preventing another crisis.But currently two big players, Abbott and Reckitt Benckiser's Mead Johnson, which makes Enfamil, dominate the market, together claiming roughly 80% of sales.And it's a tough sector to break into.Abbott and Reckitt Benckiser hold many of the government contracts to supply formula to low-income families enrolled in social support programmes, which account for around half of all US formula sales. And for new entrants there are lengthy reviews of their mixes, border taxes, and strict labelling rules to grapple with.Meanwhile, US formula sales are in decline, as birth rates slip and breastfeeding rates tick higher.Thorben Nilewski, is managing director of the Swiss formula maker Holle's US unit. It has applied to sell infant formula under the relaxed rules, but he says the regulatory hurdles for importing are "very high"."Holle has observed this field for a long time but has to date never finally applied for admission due to immense cost and time expenses needed," he says. Image source, Getty ImagesLaura Modi argues it's time the market was made more open to competition. Her own start-up Bobbie, makes a "European-style" formula, launched after she was dismayed by the lack of choice she encountered as a new mother."When you look at the reason we're in this shortage, it is inextricably tied to the fact that only two players own the majority of the market," she says. "When one manufacturer goes down, we should be able to turn to another."The FDA, however, has continued to refer to the current waivers for overseas imports as temporary.At hearings in Washington last month, Commissioner Robert Califf admitted problems with food oversight, saying that side of the agency needed a "shot in the arm", and calling for more funding and power to monitor company supplies. But he has defended the current rules in general as upholding safety standards.Lauren says something needs to change. "Do better," she says. "Our kids' lives are at risk."More on this storyHow formula milk shaped the modern workplaceUS faces baby formula 'crisis' as shortage worsensWas there ever a golden age of breastfeeding?Baby formula producer to supply US amid shortageOnline groups hunt for baby formula during US shortageUS mothers warned against DIY formula amid shortageWorry and fear as US faces baby formula shortage

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Asahi Shimbun Digital

<CNET Japan>勤務地を問わない新規求人数がコロナ禍前比「11.3倍」に–ビズリーチ調べ

 ビズリーチは6月15日、2022年1月~3月期に同社の運営する転職サイト「ビズリーチ」に掲載されている「勤務地を問わない新規求人数」が、コロナ禍前の2019年10月~12月期と比べると、11.3倍に上昇したと発表した。 「勤務地を問わない新規求人」が急増--首都圏人材が地方企業で活躍する事例も  ビズリーチ上における2022年1月~3月の「勤務地を問わない新規求人数」は、コロナ禍前の2019年10月~12月に比べ11.3倍に急増していることがわかったという。また、2021年10月~12月と比較すると増加率が鈍化していることから、コロナ禍を経て「リモートワーク可」が新たな求人の特徴として定着しつつあるという。  求人傾向としては、IT企業のエンジニア職種が多くなっている。不足が深刻といわれるIT人材の採用において、企業がリモートワークの導入により採用条件を緩和し、居住地を問わず優秀な即戦力人材を採用しようとする動きが広がっていることが伺えるという。IT企業のエンジニア職以外では、「オンラインの営業企画」「インサイドセールス」「採用・労務などの人事」などの求人が増加しており、リモートワークでも成果を発揮しやすいといわれる職種で多い傾向があるとしている。  また、首都圏のIT企業を中心にリモートワークが浸透してきていたが、地方にもその動きは波及しているという。ビズリーチでは、勤務地を問わない求人を掲載することで、香川県の企業が東京都在住の即戦力人材を採用したり、山形県の企業が神奈川県在住の即戦力人材を採用したりするなどのケースがあり、首都圏の人材が居住地はそのままに地方の企業に転職し、活躍する事例が増えてきているという。 勤務地を問わない求人であれば会社の所在地にかかわらず転職を検討「約85%」  ビズリーチの会員を対象に転職のアンケートをとったところ、現在週1回以上のリモートワークを行っている人のうち、9割以上が「リモートワークを継続したい」と回答した。また、リモートワークを継続する場合、希望する頻度として最も多かったのは「週2~3日(40.2%)」で、次に「週4日(29.1%)」「週5日以上(27.7%)」という結果になった。  また、「勤務地不問の求人(完全リモートワーク)であれば、会社の所在地にかかわらず前向きに検討しますか?」という質問には、約85%が検討に前向きであると回答した。コロナ禍でリモートワークという働き方が広がった結果、居住地にとらわれず転職先を検討するビジネスパーソンが多いことがわかったという。

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