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Foxtons blames election for fall in sales and profits

But chief executive Nic Budden expects stronger sales in the second half of this year

A slump in profits and revenues at estate agent Foxtons in the first half of this year has been blamed on an uncertainty in the property market in the run-up to the election.

Profits before tax were £18.1m, down from £23.1m in the previous first half. Property sales fell almost 11% and overall group revenues reduced by 2.3% to £71.1m.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Sky profits rise as it passes 12 million UK and Ireland customers

Satellite broadcaster’s annual revenues hit nearly £11.3bn in the first full year since it completed the takeover of Sky businesses in Germany and Italy

Sky has passed the 12 million customer mark in the UK and Ireland for the first time as it reported annual revenues of nearly £11.3bn.

The satellite broadcaster said like-for-like pre-tax profit rose 6% to £1.196bn in the year to the end of June this year, slightly ahead of analysts’ forecasts.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

With the cost of living under control, why don't we feel more prosperous?

Keeping a lid on costs doesn’t immediately translate into good times because it only looks at one side of the ledger – what about income?

The latest cost of living figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that across all household types, the rise in the cost of living remains desperately weak. While this by itself is good news, it underscores the complete lack of demand in the economy at the moment, which is in turn producing weak growth in household income.

Cost of living is a rather interesting economic bit of data which rarely agrees with people’s perceptions. For example, there is little doubt that electricity prices did fall when the carbon price was removed, and yet, as Lenore Taylor reports, 60% of people believe it had no impact on their electricity bills.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Amnesty International says prostitution is a human right – but it's wrong

“If the organization endorses prostitution as a human right, it won’t be supporting the women who might have no choice, but rather the pimps and buyers of sex who have all the choice in the world”

Has Amnesty International been hijacked by proponents of the global sex trade? When the human rights nonprofit convenes its International Council Meeting next week in Dublin, delegates from around the world will be asked to vote on a proposal to recognize prostitution as a human right.

Amnesty is arguing that prostitution is a matter of free choice, a stance heavily promoted by the multibillion-dollar commercial sex industry. The group is putting forth the view that sex work is compatible with the principle of gender equality and nondiscrimination, as if it were a job like any other.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Brussels rejects Yanis Varoufakis' claims that troika controlled Greek tax system

Allegations of covert scheme described as ‘simply not true’ by European commission as Alexis Tsipras looks to conclude third bailout deal with creditors

The European commission has denounced as “false and unfounded” claims by Greece’s former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis that international creditors had exclusive control over the country’s tax system.

Brussels slammed the suggestion that external supervision of the Greek tax revenue agency forced Varoufakis to consider hacking the ministry’s computers as part of a secret plan to devise a parallel payment system for the nation.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Tougher banking rules must stay, says Bank of England deputy governor

Sir John Cunliffe tells City that regulations imposed since 2008 crisis should not be relaxed to drive economic growth

A senior policymaker at the Bank of England has said that regulations imposed on the banking sector since the 2008 crisis should not be scaled back in any effort to fuel economic growth.

Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor for financial stability, told a City audience that while banks had a key role to play in fuelling economic growth, this should not come at the expense of increasing risks to financial stability.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

Zero Carbon Homes Abandoned by UK Government

The UK government recently announced that zero carbon homes 2016 and zero carbon buildings 2019 (non-domestic) will be abandoned. The zero carbon homes policy was designed so that all new buildings would generate as much energy from on-site renewables (PV, wind,…etc) as they consume to heat and power the building. It was a flagship environmental policy and was billed as the first country to ‘commit’ to carbon neutral buildings. Once more the quote “greenest government ever” comes to mind!

So what does this mean for the carbon footprint of the buildings sector? 
Energy consumption in the building sector is projected to double by 2050 and the carbon footprint is expected to increase by anywhere from 50-150% on this timeline. It is therefore unfortunate that this flagship policy has been abandoned.

A further implication is that the removal of 2016 zero carbon homes further extends the debate around refurbishment versus replacement. Furthermore, refurbishment was identified as a key carbon mitigation measure by the IPCC. A large amounts of embodied energy and embodied carbon is invested in a building structure and by retaining as much structure as possible the whole life carbon footprint of the building project is reduced.

Recent analysis by Circular Ecology suggested that with current building regulations it could take 34 years for the lower operational carbon of a new build house to payback the embodied carbon of building a new house. With the scrapping of 2016 zero carbon homes the question of refurbishment or replacement has never been more important. 

Source: Circular Ecology News RSS

Greek debt crisis demonstrates perils of lending to your euro friends

Eurozone must develop insolvency procedures that prevent other member states – and their taxpayers – becoming creditors through debt mutualisation

After months of games and brinkmanship, and only a week after Greek voters rejected the conditions for a €7.5bn (£5.3bn) rescue package, the end came swiftly. The eurozone’s political leaders agreed to start negotiations on a much larger package, worth €86bn , almost half of Greece’s GDP. Unfortunately, the deal reveals Europe’s apparent determination to reenact the same tragedy in the future.

Over the past five years, a whopping €344bn has flowed from official creditors such as the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund into the coffers of the Greek government and the country’s commercial banks. But after six months of near-futile negotiations, exhaustion had set in and holidays were beckoning; so the actual conditions for a new Greek rescue were given short shrift. Although the European Financial Stability Facility (EDSF) had officially declared Greece bankrupt on 3 July, the eurozone’s leaders kicked the insolvency can down the road yet again.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS

What are the limits of a business's responsibility for its employees? – video

There has been a big shift in corporate responsibility over the past decade – particularly the extent to which corporates take responsibility for their employees. The scope of a business’s duty of care has extended to include health, wellbeing and even the welfare of employee families and broader communities.

But is this responsibility fair on business? And does paternalistic intervention feel appropriate or comfortable for employees? Where should the limits be and to what extent should responsibility be shared with governments, NGOS and individuals themselves?

Experts at a recent roundtable discussed the level to which businesses should be responsible for employees and how this can best work in practice to benefit businesses and individuals.

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Source: The Guardian Circular Economy RSS