Government Reduces Stake in Lloyds Banking Group

Government Reduces Stake in Lloyds Banking Group
The UK government’s stake in Lloyds Banking Group has fallen below 17%, as more shares have been sold to investors. UK Financial Investments (UKFI), the body responsible for handling the government’s stakes in the privatised banks, has been gradually selling down the Treasury’s stake in Lloyds. The banking group received £22.5bn from taxpayers during the financial crisis.

Investment bank Morgan Stanley handled the share sales.

The government originally owned a 41% stake in the bank, but started selling Lloyds shares in 2013. This latest sale means that about £11.5bn has been returned to the taxpayer so far.

“Today’s announcement shows the further progress made in returning Lloyds Banking Group to full private ownership and enabling the taxpayer to get their money back,” Lloyds Banking Group said in a statement. UKFI’s “trading plan”, under which government-owned Lloyds shares have been sold to big institutional investors, was was due to end at the end of June. But it has now been extended to 31 December.

The Treasury said the extra six months would help it meet Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge to sell a further £9bn of Lloyds shares in 2015-16. Before the general election, Mr Osborne announced that a tranche of shares would also be made available to the public, possibly this year.

Ellen Conlin Hair & Beauty – Glasgow

Healthy, Beautiful Skin All Summer Long
Summer is here – or so they say, and you’ve planned a spectacular holiday in the Mediterranean or some other exciting destination with beautiful beaches and lots to do at all hours of the day and night.

Then again, maybe you don’t have big plans, but even if you won’t be heading south before the temperatures start dropping back to something tolerable at your favourite holiday spot, you absolutely want to make sure that every time you go outside during the daytime, your skin has adequate protection from harmful UV rays.

Even if you only plan on going outside to tend the garden on a quiet Saturday afternoon or to go for a midday walk or run during your lunch break, you never want to assume that because it’s not too terribly hot, there’s no need to put on sunscreen. If you’re not going to be in the shade the entire time, you can inadvertently come back inside with red skin – and not from the effort you just put forth.

This is also true in social settings such as outdoor concerts, where you might want to dress up a bit and put on makeup. There was a time when a woman had to resign herself to applying sunscreen before her oil-based makeup and then have heavy-feeling skin – and risk skin breakouts – as a result of multiple layers of moisturizer and makeup sitting on and being absorbed by the skin.

Fortunately, today that is no longer the case, as some very high-quality cosmetics have come on the market with built-in skin protection factors in the 25 to 30 range that keep the skin protected and you looking your best without having to sacrifice comfort or risk breakouts. Products from the Priori® skincare line offer flawless coverage, comparable sun protection to a conventional sunscreen and Coffeeberry® extract for additional antioxidant protection. Try them today – your skin will thank you!

Ellen Conlin Hair & Beauty
Ellen Conlin Hair & Beauty have been supplying high-quality beauty and skincare products across Glasgow for over 15 years. We use all the products listed on our website in our Glasgow based salons because we truly believe that these are the best available for the price.

To learn more about how our products keep your skin looking its very best all summer long, call us today on 0141 339 8223 or 0141 638 0331 or visit the ECH shop online beauty store now.

Business:             Ellen Conlin Hair & Beauty Glasgow


Why SEO Is Essential For Any Business

Three Reasons Why SEO Is Essential For Any Business
If you are a new business owner or a long-time business owner, then chances are you have been barraged with information about how essential it is to have a company website and, in recent years, a social media presence. In today’s business world, however, these two things are only the starting point. Now more than ever, search engine optimisation or SEO is what allows your current and potential clients to find you through targeted keyword searches so that you can in turn sell your products and service through your website and Facebook and Twitter feeds. Following are three of the most important reasons for developing an effective SEO marketing campaign in today’s business climate:

Online reviews
The good news is that your online reviewers are, in a sense, providing your SEO for free; the bad news is that you get what you pay for.

Depending on what your existing customers are saying about your product or service, this “free service” they are providing may or may not be a good thing. Although you run a sound business and are doing everything within reason to keep your clients happy, the fact remains that only those who have had either a very good or a very poor (in their view) experience dealing with you are going to take the time to create an account and log on to a customer review website to tell the world what was so wonderful – or not so wonderful – about your business.

If you don’t go to the trouble of telling potential clients what you can do for them in your own words, then you are leaving yourself at the mercy of those speaking for you. Even if unsolicited reviews of your company are overwhelmingly positive, customers looking for your service want, need and deserve more. In the interest of building your brand, it is imperative that you give potential a better sense of what to expect than most reviewers can.

Smartphones and tablets
The last time you paid your company’s liability insurance – or your home or automobile insurance – you might have been directed to an “app” through which payment could be made electronically. As a business owner, what this should tell you is that mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have become so commonplace that more and more service-oriented companies have committed to providing apps as a means of improving access to their products and services. Smartphones and tablets are also being more widely used to search online for local products and services – hotels, restaurants, tow trucks and auto repair shops in the event of an unexpected mechanical failure, you name it. Any business which fails to seize on the opportunity to increase visibility through a local SEO marketing campaign does so at its peril.

The competition
If you decide to invest in SEO for no other reason, do it because your competitors are already on board. Particularly in industries in which individual businesses face lots of competition, it pays to invest in an organic SEO campaign which shows your current and future clients what is unique about your business, be it your location or any way in which your product or service is different from and better than all the rest. Don’t let the lack of an SEO marketing strategy keep your business from being as profitable as it can be!

Direct Submit Internet Marketing Services is dedicated to helping businesses of any size and in all sectors to reach and exceed their profit goals through effective and ethical SEO marketing. Whether yours is an established business with a website in need of more traffic or you’re just now venturing into cyberspace, Direct Submit will develop the ideal SEO marketing campaign to bring in new clients so that you can focus on the core business while watching revenues soar.

We provide a diverse range of  SEO and other Internet marketing strategies for UK businesses both large and small – at affordable costs. No matter your advertising budget, we will work with you to develop a campaign to help your clients find you right when they need you.

To learn more about how we can help you maximise profits, call us today on 0845 272 2350 or visit our Internet Marketing Services website today.

Stock Markets Rise on Hopes of Greece Deal

Stock Markets Rise on Hopes of Greece Deal
Stock markets have risen on the hope that a deal may finally be agreed between Greece and its creditors, after Athens submitted fresh proposals to try and avoid defaulting on its debts. Paris and Frankfurt markets were up 3.3%, while London’s FTSE 100 was 1.4% higher. Japan’s Nikkei closed up 1.3%.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras is meeting with his country’s creditors later. If a deal is not agreed, Greece risks defaulting on a €1.6bn (£1.1bn) loan repayment due at the end of June.

The proposals submitted by Athens have been received positively by its creditors – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission (EC) – and by its eurozone partners.

“I see the work that has been done,” said French Finance Minister Michel Sapin. “It is quality work.” He added: “A deal requires both sides to evolve. This work is underway and is being undertaken in good conditions.”

Earlier, a representative of the EC said the proposals represented a “good basis for progress”. Investors took heart from such comments, pushing markets higher in early trading, with the Athens Stock Exchange jumping more than 7%.

“The most likely outcome, with a 75% probability, is a deal,” said Credit Suisse analysts in a note.

However, they warned that any deal would probably only be agreed late in the day. “An unfortunate but predictable feature of European crisis decision-making is that such deals are only ever made at the last minute, ‘at the edge of the abyss’,” they said.

Greece’s creditors are insisting that Athens agrees to implement far-reaching economic reforms before it unlocks €7.2bn of bailout funds.

The country’s Syriza government has so far been unwilling to introduce such reforms. The outcome of Monday’s talks will depend on whether Athens’ latest proposals are deemed as an acceptable compromise.

UK Government Borrowing Falls in May

UK Government Borrowing Falls in May
A rise in income tax receipts helped to cut UK government borrowing in May, official figures have shown.

UK government borrowing fell to £10.129bn in May, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, down from £12.35bn a year earlier. It was the lowest borrowing figure in May for eight years, while income tax receipts recorded their highest level for May in four years.

Income tax receipts rose by 5.3% from a year earlier to £10.8bn.

Public sector net debt excluding public sector banks now stands at £1,500.2bn, the ONS said, which is 80.8% of gross domestic product.

Online Reviews Used as Black Mail

Online Reviews Used as Black Mail
Businesses are ambushing rivals with fake reviews and customers are using the threat of online criticism to win discounts, research has found. Review sites may leave negative commentary unpublished to allow firms to solve complaints, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also said. Consumers could be unaware that some endorsements in blogs were paid for.

It has now launched an investigation into various companies, as the use of paid-for endorsements may be unlawful.

“We are committed to ensuring that consumers’ trust in these important information tools is maintained, and will take enforcement action where necessary to tackle unlawful practices,” said Nisha Arora, senior director at the CMA.  “We have opened an investigation into businesses that may be paying for endorsements in blogs and other online articles where the payment may not have been made clear to readers.”

The CMA found that 54% of UK adults used online reviews, and many found them valuable.

These were found on websites ranging from specialist review sites such as Tripadvisor and trusted trader schemes such as Checkatrade, to booking agents such as Expedia and retailers such as Amazon.

The competition authority estimated that £23bn a year of consumer spending was potentially influenced by online reviews. However, it discovered cases which have been known as “astroturfing” – the practice of creating fake grass root reviews.

Among the potentially misleading cases, on unnamed sites, were:
Businesses writing fake reviews of themselves to boost their ratings on review sites compared with rivals
Firms writing or commissioning fake negative reviews to undermine rivals, for malicious reasons, or for personal gain
Review sites cherry-picking positive reviews
Sites allowing businesses to remedy negative reviews, that go unpublished, meaning a complete picture is not clear to review site users

Impartiality could be compromised by review sites’ need to make money through subscriptions, click-throughs, or selling reputation management services to businesses.

“A review site may want to maximise its own commercial revenues from subscriptions, and may jeopardise this if it upsets business clients by publishing negative reviews,” the CMA report said.

The authority also heard allegations of consumers using reviews to get money off.

“Consumers may be using the threat of a poor review to ‘blackmail’ businesses into providing some concession, such as a price discount,” the report said.
The CMA also researched the trade in endorsements on blogs and online publications which are paid for by businesses. “We have seen examples of suppliers paying bloggers sums of between £100 and £500 in return for a blog post about a product or service, and up to £50 for a pair of tweets,” the report said. “We have also heard of payment in the form of gifts, vouchers, tickets to events and, or, hospitality.”

In some cases, the payment was made clear in the blog, but in others it was not. An investigation had now been launched into these cases, although the CMA did not name any of the companies under the spotlight.

Millions let Down by Broadband Speed Ads, says Which?

Millions let Down by Broadband Speed Ads, says Which?
Up to three-quarters of UK households are still not getting the top broadband speeds promised by advertisements, according to consumer watchdog Which? Up to 15.4 million households were paying for packages with advertised maximum speeds they would not achieve, a report suggests.

Ofcom has begun a broadband crackdown, making it easier for people to swap providers if they are unhappy with the speed of their service.

But Which? said more needed to be done. Its tests also suggested that only 17% of homes were achieving the average advertised speed, with even fewer during peak evening times.

The problem was particularly bad in rural areas where 98% of homes were unable to get the advertised headline speed of the broadband service they had chosen.

“We want Ofcom to ensure consumers get the speeds promised by providers,” said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd. “It is not good enough that millions of homes are so poorly served by their broadband provider with speeds that just don’t live up to what was advertised.”

Under current rules, internet service providers have to ensure that 10% of customers can achieve a top speed before they can advertise it as the maximum.

The research suggested that some packages could not even meet that low threshold. Its tests indicated that only 4% of customers on TalkTalk’s 17Mbps package were getting the top advertised speed and just 1% of those on BT’s 76Mbps deals could achieve that speed.

The ISPs disputed these claims.

“Our data, based on over half a million customers, which far exceeds Which’s base of a few hundred, shows that TalkTalk homes can achieve speeds beyond 17Mbps,” said a TalkTalk spokesman. “We’re compliant with the advertising guidelines and if they change, we will continue to comply. Our network is faster and more resilient than ever and we continue to work hard to further increase broadband speeds.”

Meanwhile BT said that more than 10% of its super-fast broadband customers could achieve speeds of 80Mbps or above.

“We’re very clear that customers should not rely on headline claims, but instead use the personal speed quote we give them at the point of sale, which is based on their own line,” it said in a statement. “If they aren’t happy with this personalised speed they can decide not to buy from us; if they are happy with the speed, but find they don’t achieve it, we allow them to end their contracts in line with the Ofcom code of practice.”

Sebastien Lahtinen, of broadband website ThinkBroadband, said it was difficult to provide one message for all.

“It can be very frustrating for consumers who buy an ‘up to 76 meg’ broadband service, only to find out they can only in fact receive a fraction of this speed,” he said. “The problem with marketing broadband services which are delivered over telephone lines is the service speed will depend on the quality of the line and without knowing your telephone number, a provider can’t personalise this marketing message.”

Publishing average speeds would “mislead those users who had better quality lines”, he said. The best thing that consumers could do was make sure that they got an estimate of the speeds they could expect from their supplier before they signed up to new packages, he added.

Which? wants Ofcom to work with the Advertising Standards Authority to ensure that broadband providers advertise only speeds that are available for the majority of their customers. It also wants the watchdog to publish data annually showing what proportion of consumers receive the advertised speeds for the main broadband packages.

Preventing Workplace Injury

Preventing Workplace Injury: Information for Safety Employees
Businesses of any size whose workers perform manual labour – particularly in the manufacturing industry – are expected to comply with HSE’s regulations regarding workplace safety. Even under the best circumstances, however, routine tasks put workers at some level of risk. According to statistics for the year 2013 (the latest for which data are available), there were:

» 133 workers killed at work
» 629,000 injuries at work reported through the Labour Force Survey
» 28.2 million work days lost due to workplace-related illness and injury
» 14.2 billion spent nationally on work-related illness and injury

While manufacturing concerns have reason to be grateful for the fatalities being so low, the monetary and productivity costs show that there is significant room for improvement where workplace health and safety are concerned.

How can you as a safety representative best address these concerns within your company?

Know & Understand Applicable Laws
First and foremost, know – and fulfil – your responsibilities to workers under the regulations which apply to your position; these will vary depending on whether you are a trade union-appointed safety representative.

Listen to your People
In either case, involving workers in the risk management process is key to preventing both major and minor work-related illnesses and injury. Who better to consult on these issues than those who are most likely to find themselves in harm’s way if issues go unresolved? Listen to the valuable information workers can provide, and advocate for their health and safety by following up on potential and actual health and safety issues identified by staff.

Document all Incidents
Since it is virtually impossible to prevent every work-related illness and injury, it is of paramount importance that reporting be thorough and accurate as set forth under RIDDOR. Safety representatives and company management must fully document every such incident not only out of concern for legality, but also to ensure that the health and safety needs of the affected employee(s) continue to be met following the incident.

Provide Safety Work Gear
If it is your responsibility to order standard personal protective equipment for employees, then keep an up-to-date inventory of such supplies as ear plugs, hard hats, face masks, welding gloves and other forms of PPE that are specific to your industry and plan to reorder supplies periodically before any run out. Keep in mind that hard hats have an expiry date, and place orders to replace any unused ones whose expiry date has passed. Any employees whose work may require the use of steel-toed boots should be fitted before their first day on the job so as to avoid delays which could place them at risk.

The Supply Chain Warehouse
Supply chain Warehouse is dedicated to providing a full array of personal protective equipment at the lowest prices so that your company can focus on productivity and revenue goals and rest assured that your workers are fully protected. They also offer a wide range of hand tools, work wear, welding equipment and helmets and other supplies for the skilled trades.

With FREE delivery on all orders within the UK, and next-day delivery is free on the UK mainland for orders placed before 5 pm, let Supply chain Warehouse be your one-stop shop for all your workers’ safety needs and supplies. It’s also a great place to buy your hand tools, work wear, welding equipment and lifting gear is from the Supply Chain Warehouse. Located in the North East of the UK, they offer a great range of high quality and well-priced professional tools and associated equipment.

For further information on the tools, work wear, welding equipment and much more on offer – including some great special offers why not visit the Supply Chain Warehouse website today.

BT’s Broadband Prices under Scrutiny

BT’s Broadband Prices under Scrutiny
UK regulator Ofcom is proposing cutting what BT charges for its leased telecoms lines, which could see significant price cuts for those who buy them. That includes broadband operators, schools, universities and libraries. Ofcom said that the savings could be passed on to consumers.

It follows a review that found the former state monopoly had “significant” market power.

BT said that more regulation could damage investment in infrastructure. “These are proposals for discussion, so we’ll be making our views known to Ofcom. We don’t expect a final decision for some time,” the company said in a statement. “We believe there should be less regulation in this market, not more, as businesses already have diverse and growing choice amongst a large number of providers.”

The consultation – which runs until July – will consider a form of charge control that aims to bring prices down over a three-year period.

The charge controls relate to two groups of services – older leased lines that offer speeds up to 8Mbps (megabits per second) and newer Ethernet lines that offer speeds up to 1Gbps (gigabit per second).

“The slow speed traditional service on up to 8Mbps leased lines is not likely to help mobile and other broadband operators, since slow lines like this are not sufficient for modern backhaul,” said Andrew Ferguson, editor of broadband news site ThinkBroadband. “The real market is the Ethernet sector where the price reduction will be very welcome by those buying these lines.” But he added: “There is also the real risk that BT – if revenue is reduced in one area – will seek to maintain profits by increasing prices elsewhere.”

Ofcom is also proposing that companies providing leased lines should be granted access to BT’s networks through a process known as dark fibre.

This would involve BT giving competitors physical access to its fibre-optic cables, allowing them to take direct control of the connection. It is called dark fibre because the cable would not be lit using BT’s electronic equipment. Instead the competitor would install its own equipment at either end of the cable.

Ofcom expects to publish its decision in the first quarter of next year, with any price cuts coming into effect in April 2016

UK Unemployment Falls Again

UK Unemployment Falls Again
UK unemployment has fallen again while wage growth has hit a near four-year high, official figures have shown. The number of people out of work between February and April fell by 43,000 to 1.81 million, the Office for National Statistics said.

The jobless rate held steady at 5.5%, the lowest level since August 2008.

Meanwhile wage rises grew at their fastest rate since August 2011, rising 2.7%, both including and excluding bonuses.

The total number of people now in work is 31.05 million people, which is 114,000 more than in the previous three month period.

The British pound rose to a one-month high against the US dollar, as traders reacted to news that wages are rising more quickly than expected.