Warning of City’s recession risk...
THANKS to a
fantastic year in 2008, as European Capital of Culture, Liverpool
has been feeling good for the first time in years, with many
business leaders throughout the UK and internationally, predicting
2009 will be better than ever for Liverpool. But could this be too
optimistic? A report released on Monday, 26 January 2009 by a
charity called The Centre for Cities has caused a huge reaction from
Merseyside based businesses, who are shocked at its findings and the
headlines that follow the report but describe the picture in
different way. The report says Liverpool should be put on
"red" alert along with Belfast and Hull, owing to high
numbers of unemployed and unqualified residents. The Centre for
Cities has been running since 2005 and is aimed at helping cities
improve their economic performance, but after this report many
business leaders have questioned this. The group work with employers
and national government to develop research with practical policy
solutions which help urban economies grow. Interestingly, the
group's research programme in 2008 focused on the economic prospects
of our cities, but according to their own website they are working
with specific cities, including Bristol, Brighton, Belfast,
Cambridge, Hull, Sunderland and York. Also they say on their website
that:- "We are producing new solutions and fresh thinking on
the challenges and opportunities that they and other cities face."
This has also caused many of the business leaders in and around
Merseyside to ask if these attention grabbing and alarming headlines
Liverpool City Council commented:- "We are not really bothered
by this report. Our city is now very strong and our new figures and
those of many other organisations show that Liverpool is well on the
way up and able to ride out the storm. What people outside Liverpool
need to understand is that the City is looking to the future with
high hopes and lots of confidence. The new figures we have show this
and we need to focus on them and not the negative figures in the
We contacted Centre for Cities and asked them why they listed
Liverpool as a risk. Dermot Finch, Director at the Centre for Cities
said:- "The Capital of Culture and the associated investment
did provide a boost to the Liverpool and the £1bn investment in
retail means Liverpool is now the fifth busiest shopping destination
in the country. What is more, its secondary schools are now
producing GSCE results which are just above the national average.
But these huge strides forward won't insulate Liverpool, with its
low employment rate and high numbers on benefits, from the effects
of the recession in the next couple of years. The best way for
cities like Liverpool to mitigate the worst impacts of recession and
to lead the UK economy back to recovery in future is for each city
to put together its own front line action plan - and to identify new
sources of growth for when the upturn comes."
As several 08 BusinessConnect members commented:-
"Interestingly Liverpool has been doing that for a long time as it
developed the program for Capital Of Culture and is still doing so."
Despite the doom and gloom in the financial services, Liverpool, if
the new figures are anything to go by, will not be as badly hit as
this report makes out, leaving many to question if this report...But
could it be a case of shooting the messenger?
Another group of business leaders said:- "It is interesting
they did not pick Manchester or Birmingham in their statements.
Birmingham for example is having massive redundancies in their
business sectors and many more are expected over the year."
To this Centre for Cities responded that:- "We listed
Liverpool due to the massive increases in people claiming Job
Seekers Allowance in the City and the levels of unqualified
workers." They also stressed that:- "All cities were
assessed on the same basis..." According to the Centre for
Cities, research showed that:- "More than two thirds of the
cities with the largest increases in people on Jobseeker's Allowance
were in northern England", leading on to them suggesting
early job losses were amongst "the more vulnerable workers",
this was backed up by "their figures from Jobseeker's
Allowance claims over 2008, that saw Cambridge with the lowest
increase with Hull having the highest."
One self employed business man, Mark Smith from Liverpool
commented:- "It strikes us that Bristol, London and Edinburgh
were only placed on amber alert, as most of the big job losses are
involving the vulnerable financial services. Also the fact that the
all clear has been given to places including Oxford, Cambridge and
Reading, due to what a report has called their 'highly qualified
workforces', is highly insulting for Liverpudlians. Merseyside is
one of the few cities with a flexible and mobile workforce, who are
often highly skilled. We have a massive tourist business that is
growing and a port that handles ever increasing amounts of cargo. So
to say that Liverpool will be one of the worst affected is scare
scaremongering and in our view, just designed to centre finance back
on the South East."
Please do let us know your views on this by emailing us on
banks fail to make customers smile, says Which? Money
LAST Week we ran a report by the
'The Institute of Customer Service (ICS)', who clamed
"The banking sector saw a satisfaction rise – proving that customers
will rate service as they see it, rather than reflecting recent
media coverage." This statement has been contradicted by
Which? Money who say that "the big banks are trailing behind
smaller banks, building societies and internet banks for customer
satisfaction", in the first annual People’s Choice report
from Which? Money.
Which? Money surveyed almost 15,000 Which? members about how
satisfied they are with their current account, savings, mortgage and
credit card providers. Smile, First Direct and the Co-operative Bank
were the top three overall winners, while Abbey, Barclays and
Halifax were the bottom three.
Smile and First Direct were awarded the two highest customer scores
for their current accounts, at 88% and 85% respectively, followed by
Cahoot (82%) and the Co-operative Bank (82%). Abbey and Clydesdale
Bank were the worst, scoring 44% and 45%.
The highest scorers for savings accounts were the Co-operative Bank
(80%) and First Direct (78%). First Direct also impressed its
mortgage holders - with 90%, it scored 11% more than the lender that
came second – Yorkshire Building Society.
People were most satisfied with their credit cards from John
Lewis/Waitrose (90%), Nationwide Building Society (87%) and Smile
Abbey, Barclays and Halifax were the bottom three for savings
accounts and mortgages, and Abbey took the bottom spot for credit
cards, with a customer score of 52%.
Martyn Hocking, Editor, Which? Money, says:- “While a good
deal is likely to be the main reason for choosing a financial
provider, customer satisfaction should also figure highly.
Factors that affect this could
include overall service, whether the provider keeps you informed
about better deals, the accuracy of your statements and the product
itself – all of which are very important to the customer.
Once again our findings show that the big banks are being left
behind by the smaller players, which seem to offer a better service
and keep their customers more satisfied.
If you’re not happy with a
provider, then switch... not only could you be treated better, but
you could bag a better deal.”
See last weeks report by clicking
Everton pledge donation
of 500 football shirts to Ethiopia
FOOTBALL fanatics in Ethiopia
will kick start the New Year in a sea of blue and gold after
receiving a donation of 500 football shirts to the town of Lalibela
from the Everton’s Former Players Foundation.
Members of the Foundation made the pledge after witnessing the
remarkable work undertaken by Ex-England footballer and Merseyside
resident John Barnes as part of the Score Ethiopia campaign - a
partnership between ‘no fuss’ shampoo Wash & Go and
educational charity Link Ethiopia.
As part of the campaign, Barnes took to the road on a week-long
‘van dash’ visiting all the Premiership clubs in the
country with special stops at Goodison and Anfield. John was
presented with unique signed shirts which were then auctioned off to
raise funds for football facilities, schools and water amenities in
Rev Harry Ross, a Trustee of the Former Player’s Foundation said:-
“When we read the story in the Echo about John’s activities
and spoke to Graeme Sharpe who presented the shirt to John, we knew
instantly this was a campaign we wanted to help out with.
Football is a fantastic medium
through which to build bridges and raise awareness, so I would like
to think we have put a few smiles on faces in Ethiopia.”