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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 200

Date:- 09 May 2005

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Liverpool businesses back campaign to bust employment myths

LIVERPOOL based company JKP Enterprises and the Federation of Small Businesses today supported a drive by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) to bust the myths surrounding employing and retaining disabled workers. 

The initiative is backed up by a DRC survey of 1,000 small employers which found that 85% of small employers would be flexible about making changes to working conditions for employees with the right skills and enthusiasm. The DRC campaign follows the introduction of disability discrimination laws in October 2004 which now cover all firms. 

Local Liverpool business JKP Enterprises which backs the DRC's employment campaign, are a successful company providing a range of training consultancy and online services in Merseyside. Owner John Perry (42) is blind and has hydrocephalus and spina bifida. To assist him with his work, John Perry reads Braille, uses a computer with an in-built speech synthesiser and reading system and also uses a scanning device, which allows him to access reading material. He also has a personal assistant who helps him on a daily basis and his own driver.

John employs part time administrator John who helps out at the business and who has mental health problems. Employer John Perry says he has made a number of adjustments for John.

John Perry said:- "We provide taxis for John as there can be difficulties with public transport. We agreed a part time arrangement with him and allow flexible working. John is very reliable and does his work well. When the time is right we would be happy to have him full time."

The 5 common myths that will be the focus of the DRC's myth busting initiative are:-  "Disabled people can't work and don't want to work" There are 3.4 million disabled people, including those with long-term health conditions, already working in this country. Another 1 million are currently out of work but want a job.   Most disabled people are in wheelchairs and we can't cope with them in our workplace or fit them into the sort of work we do"  Thinking that all disabled people use wheelchairs is the equivalent of thinking that all football fans are Chelsea supporters. Wheelchair users make up only about 5% of disabled people. Many people face barriers at work that can be overcome by an enlightened attitude, equipment or flexible working, the Disability Discrimination Act covers people with a wide range of conditions including arthritis, depression, diabetes, dyslexia and chronic heart disease.
"Disabled employees costs more money"
Some businesses think it costs more to employ disabled people when in fact two thirds of companies employing disabled people say they incurred no extra costs and of the third that do, the average cost for a small employer is £76.

"Big companies can afford to take on disabled staff, but I run a small business and I can't afford the time or effort it will take" 

There are more than half a million (or 600,000) disabled workers, including people with long-term health conditions, currently working for successful, solvent small businesses. Avoid disabled staff and you miss out on talent, skills, experience and commitment.  "Disabled people take more sick-leave than non-disabled employees and are less productive" There is no evidence to suggest that all disabled people are less productive than non-disabled people and plenty of disabled people have exemplary attendance records. 

Bert Massie, Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission said:- "Smart businesses realise that providing support to workers makes good business sense. It also makes sense, cost wise to make small improvements that have minimal outlay rather than incur the increased expense of redundancy and recruitment. 

In fact over half a million disabled people are already making their contribution to the success of thousands of Britain's small businesses up and down the country."

Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses says:- "Small employers want to embrace diversity because of the strong business case for retaining suitably skilled disabled people. The Federation of Small Businesses supports this important DRC campaign."

Southport Brownies are gadget girls

TELEWEST Broadband reveals a new breed of technology badges are tops. Gone is the tradition of making a cup of tea to prove a Brownie's worth. Today's young adventurers are employing their passion for gadgets to earn their Brownie Guide badges.

A survey of packs across the North West, including the 13th St. John's Brownies, by local cable company Telewest Broadband, reveals today's Brownies are more switched-on than ever. A staggering 79% have access to a computer, 55% own a mobile phone and 61% enjoy spending more than half an hour each day texting, phoning or emailing their friends.

As a result, a new Brownie trend has begun to emerge. Traditional badges such as Cookery, Hobbies and Dancing are falling out of favour with local groups, whilst 21st century additions like Computer and Communicator are powering ahead. 

To help local tech-savvy Brownies add Communicator and Computer badges to their set of achievements, staff from Telewest Broadband will be running a series of fun-packed evenings throughout May to test packs on their gadget know-how. Activities will include text messaging, sending and receiving emails and taking photos using a digital camera. 

Philip Snalune, director of product management and marketing at Telewest Broadband, said:- "These youngsters really are a generation of truly connected individuals, and the Computer and Communicator badges are a tremendous addition to their learning and enjoyment. We hope our fun, interactive sessions will help the Southport Brownie packs to pass their badges with flying colours."

The survey also reveals that, when it comes to identifying the Brownies' all-time dream badge, the popularity of famous role models such as Rachel Stevens and teen band McFly don't seem to sway their decision. Only 1 in 10 of those questioned said their ultimate badge would be Pop Star and instead, Princess, 38%, and Gameboy, 26%, lead the way in the dream badge league.

And finally, when asked who the Brownies' all time 'Brown Owl' would be, the princess of pop, Britney Spears, pipped her way to the post, ahead of Harry Potter, computer game icon, Sonic the Hedgehog and Barbie.


RATES are average 1% lower for accounts with passbooks. Savers who insist on a pass book for their easy access account are passing up the chance of earning nearly 1.1% more on their money, research for shows. And those rates are at the best-paying firms, some accounts with passbooks pay a miserly 0.1% on balances of £1,000, their website says.

The average rate paid by the top 5 easy access savings accounts which offer passbooks is 4.16% compared with an average 5.29% at the top 5 instant access accounts. However some accounts with passbooks pay just 0.1% on £1,000 such as Bristol & West's Access Account and Northern Rock's Silver Savings.

Someone with £1,000 invested for a year in an account paying 0.1% will earn just £1 in interest and that's before tax. The same £1,000 invested in the average of the best easy access accounts with passbooks will earn £43.30 in the year while in the best instant access account it would earn £52.70. chief executive Sean Gardner said:- "Many savers like the sense of security a passbook gives them and are unwilling to just trust in annual statements and the internet. But they are paying a price for that security. An extra 1% interest a year is probably worth more than a passbook. Like it or not the best deals are now on the Internet because these accounts are cheaper to run and make more money for the providers. Providing passbooks to savers is just another cost for many banks and building societies and they don't offer the best rates to investors as a consequence. There are still some reasonable accounts, which offer passbooks, and we'd urge savers to seek out these accounts or similar ones rather than leave their money languishing in an account paying 0.1%. You'd be as well sticking the money under your mattress."

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