Top Stories

August 16, 2022


Supermarket Iceland to roll out interest-free loans to help UK food bills

A zero-interest loans scheme aimed at helping thousands of people who are struggling to put food on the table is being rolled out across the UK. The initiative, coordinated by supermarket chain Iceland and a charity-owned lender Fair for You, is the latest interest-free loans scheme to launch in response to growing concern about households who are unable to access or afford existing forms of credit. The scheme is designed to enable consumers to access ‘microloans’ of between £25 and £100 to buy everyday items. A pilot phase saw 5,000 customers access preloaded cards with repayments set at £10 a week. During the pilot, customers paid a “minimal” amount of interest on the loans, but Iceland had decided to invest an undisclosed amount to make all loans interest-free for a national rollout. (The Guardian)


PwC says graduates do not need a 2:1 degree to work at the firm

Professional services firm PwC, one of the UK’s largest graduate employers, has said it will no longer require new recruits to have a first class or 2:1 degree. PwC said accepting applicants with lower second-class degrees would help increase the socio-economic diversity of its workforce. Around 14% of graduates received a lower second-class degree, or 2:2, in 2021. The big four accountancy firms – PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY – began to loosen the criteria for their traditional graduate recruitment programmes more than six years ago. PwC will remove the 2:1 requirement for all its graduate roles, internships and placements in order to open up opportunities for more people and improve social mobility. At degree level, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to gain top grades, said educational advocacy group Universities UK. (BBC News)


Pandora launches lab-made diamond range in North America

Jewellery maker Pandora has said it will move ahead with its plan to focus on lab-made diamonds, following its announcement in 2021 to stop selling mined diamonds. The jeweller will launch a collection using unmined gems in North America as it hopes to attract younger shoppers with cheaper and more sustainable stones guaranteed not to have come from conflict zones. Lab-grown diamonds have seen demand growth and price decreases relative to natural-mined diamonds, according to Bain & Company research. While production of lab-grown diamonds is energy-intensive, Pandora has stated that its diamonds would be made using only renewable energy. Jewellery behemoths De Beers and Swarovski have similarly ended their decades-old policy of excluding synthetic gems in their jewellery. (Reuters)


Starbucks delays union elections at US cafes, claiming misconduct

Coffee chain Starbucks has accused the US National Labor Relations Board overseeing union elections at its US cafes of misconduct and asked for elections to be suspended nationwide pending the outcome of an investigation. Starbucks said in a letter to the federal labour board that its agents helped Workers United win elections by manipulating the voting process and collaborated to cover up the behaviour. Starbucks accused agents of providing the union with confidential details in real time about ballots it had received. Since 2021, employees at 216 Starbucks cafes have voted to join the union. Labour experts said Starbucks’ complaint may be designed to delay elections, which make them harder for unions to win as organising loses momentum due to high employee turnover. (Reuters)


Esso secures interim injunction against protest of aviation pipeline

Oil company Esso, owned by gas giant ExxonMobil, has secured an interim high court injunction to prevent environmental protesters from disrupting construction work on a 105km-long aviation fuel pipeline. Activists have targeted Esso’s efforts by interfering with equipment and “attacking” it with angle grinders, a judge was told.  The Southampton-to-London pipeline project aims to replace 90km of pipe originally built in 1972. Esso claims its replacement will help keep 100 tankers off the road every day. Esso’s legal representatives said it urgently sought the injunction to prevent people from conspiring to injure its business by “unlawful means”. The court heard that protestor action arose due to concerns about the effect of air travel on climate change. (The Guardian)








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