Monday, February 16, 2015

Bank branch closures

Hardly a surprise that the proposed internal banking guidelines provide no protection for smaller communities, banks are businesses and obliged to return a profit. If a branch is not making money then it's only obvious it should be closed; the invisible hand of the free market dictates a simple logic: if people wanted a branch they would use it, if they used it then it would be profitable.

Except what dictates profit in these cases? If a customer makes a withdrawal does that count as a loss, is it how many loans and mortgages a bank sells that determines its success?

Can I be charitable and simply confidethat it's the number of transactions that a branch deals with? If so then with a decline in numbers, a branch would hardly be missed. But why would numbers decline? To listen to the banks its the advent of new technology, you can do your banking, apply for a loan etc. online. There is no longer a need to physically present oneself at a local branch, how much more convenient.

Except is this really the case or an example of false cause and effect, is the drive to online banking driven by the customer or rather by the banks themselves? Consider the operation of bank branches in the latter 20th and early 21st centuries compared to other businesses.

What time does your local branch open, what tine does it close? Chances are it opens at 9am (or even 10am) and shuts at 5pm (or even 4pm) and then only Monday to Friday. Where is your local branch? Probably in the main thoroughfare of your town or village.

Given that most employed work the same hours (although with the rise in shift work that's changing) that the banks are open and that places of employment became out of town estates, is it any wonder that the branches started to empty and that when an opportunity to bank at a time and location of your own choosing became available it was jumped on?

Does this mean that people don't want or need physical branches and points of contact? Not necessarily merely that the banks have slowly been removing them and providing no other option.

So is there an option available to maintain branches while acknowledging the main point of a bank's existence (making profit) and the addition of online services, I think the answer is yes and an example is already up and running in the form of every major airport in this country.

Unlike supermarkets and other convenience stores banks offer exactly the same non-physical goods, no requirement for any major physical storage just a desk and a computer; sound familiar.

Could banks pool funds for a 'bank terminal' and staff it 24/7 with separate kiosks? Reduced overheads, better footfall (anyone banking with a rival will get to see your offers), stops the whinging from the government (regardless of Party), and heck might even bring more customers in. Certainly better than just pulling services and shutting out or displacing customers to your rivals and certainly better than sticking your fingers in your ears and reciting "but this is what the customer wants" over and over again.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chancel Repair Liability Insurance

I'm hearing stories of those buying new houses or moving house being contacted by their solicitors or mortgage brokers with regard to the taking out of chancel repair lability insurance.

I'm guessing this has been prompted by stories of landowners suddenly being presented with invoices from their local church as their property, being within the diocese, are liable for its upkeep.

As such it seems that such insurance is being made a compulsory part of the mortgage agreement or that solicitors are badgering homeowners into taking it out.

All well and good if your particular church has such a provision in place, not so good if they don't. Not that such niceties seem to be concerning those pushing this insurance.

(Oh wait it seems the premiums for this insurance is quite low until it's confirmed that the property may actually be liable at which point they increase)

Indeed one homeowner pointed out to an insistent firm of solicitors that their local church had no such provision in place with written documentation to back up their claim yet this same firm continued with their selling tactics to the point they handed over money just to shut them up.

Given the PPI mis-selling scandal does this have the makings of another?

Friday, March 07, 2014

Tesco and the Squirrel Inn at Stourport

Once again Tesco puts the moves on Stourport this time over the river and in Areley Kings, this time with a bid to turn the old Squirrel Inn into a Tesco Express.To some this may seem a little odd given the hold-up with the new store that, rumour has it, will finally be built and ready by September this year. However this isn't odd in the slightest given the proximity of a Londis, a newsagents, and a pharmacy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Eye operation

After some eye troubles at the weekend I was booked into Kidderminster hospital with a detached retina in one eye. The operation apparently went well but for the next couple of weeks I'm pretty much blind in that eye.

Hopefully the jobcentre will accept "can barely read or write" as a good reason die not pursuing jobs as diligently as normal

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The joys of the job hunt - an open letter to politicians

I have now been unemployed for 3 months, by the rhetoric of most government  politicians I am some sort of lazy soul who simply isn't looking hard enough as such let me elucidate those who have never had to look for a job in their lives (i.e. most government politicians) or deal with the many ways of searching for one.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The problem with shift work

Huzzah unemployment is down with less young people signed on and there are more private sector jobs being created every day. Proof, if proof were need, that the Conservative economic policies are working. Really?

Take the new apprenticeship scheme, a government funded package aimed at 16-19 year olds and pays half the minimum wage. Anyone think they count towards the unemployment figures?

But what about all these jobs? Awesome except most are part-time shift work. There's nothing wrong with shift work, however there does seem to be a problem with employers who offer it.

I'm not talking about the government's current "gosh we must do something about this" zero hour contacts, but something more insidious.

Three tales to tell that were simply offered to me with no pushing, I'll start with the shortest I've already told in another entry.

A gentleman working morning shifts applies for extra work doing afternoon shifts elsewhere, the new company expects him to quit his morning job.

A young mother working at a food retailer drops her children at school, works her shift, collects her children, goes back to work more. She's told she's not "committing enough" and is fired.

A lady workng for a different food retailer on an 8-hour week is told which days she'll be working 4-hours for, is called up at various times to cover other shifts. If she can't "there are plenty of other people who can".

A part-time job that doesn't offer enough to live on and excludes the ability to get another complimentary part-time job.

That's what this government is crowing about.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Job seeking - the Conservative Party conference 2013

The headline news this morning was the multi-million trust-fund owner and tax-break giver George Osbourne stating that they'll be no money for nothing under their administration. They're going to make the long-term unemployed do community work.

What I find annoying anything about this is that they're partially right, but due to their indulgent background and rigid dogma they're doing it wrong.

First up is the non-explicitly stated, but easily-inferred, assumption that these people can't get jobs because they're lazy so let me tell you a tale.

A friend of mine works part-time and, coincidentally, also does voluntary community work. He was looking to supplement his earnings with another part-time job that complimented his existing employment. He applies for suitable positions and gets asked: "So you'll be giving up your other part-time job then?".

Why this question? Because they don't just want him to work the stipulated hours they want to be able to whistle and have him run.

Take my position - I've 20 years of IT and office admin experience and I can't get a job. Why? Well I saw one company advertising for an Admin post, an IT post, a Marketing post and for a PA. No that wasn't four jobs, that was one job combining skills that don't normally go together. I've applied for jobs that turn out to be nothing like what's been advertised and for ones in which I've been deemed too old and/or overskilled.

If it's a choice between employing someone young that you're not legally obliged to pay as much as someone older; or someone with no skills (or long-term unemployed) who has to take whatever shit the job shovels at them who would you take?

Yet according to good old George this is all our own fault. But is there a way around this, possibly.

Consider the local councils creating two 4-hour shifts a day over the whole week. Someone doing three shifts for the ~£70 a week in benefit would be on minimum wage. Given that technically they're already paid by the government why not work for the government?

As the local councils are already cutting staff etc. it's not really going to affect full-time staff and may require more managerial positions to oversee the 'community' workers. At the same time we'll see a reduction in litter, graffiti as well as tidier verges etc.

Except that's not going to happen as that would be an expansion of government over private enterprise. Far better to make people work for free for privately hived off services and charities than for the public sector.