A round-up of the G15 member housing associations’ responses to Covid-19 and the actions they are taking to help their residents, customers and communities:
The Gambling Commission has announced a ban on gambling businesses allowing consumers in Great Britain to use credit cards to gamble.
The ban comes into effect on 14 April and follows the Commission’s review of online gambling and the Government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures. A public consultation was carried out between August and November 2019.
The Commission says 24 million adults in the UK gamble, with 10.5 million of those gambling online. UK Finance estimate that 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble.
The ban, which will apply to all online and offline gambling products with the exception of non-remote lotteries, where payment is made face-to face, will provide a significant layer of additional protection to vulnerable people.
Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have.
“Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm.
“We also know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability. There is also evidence that the fees charged by credit cards can exacerbate the situation because the consumer can try to chase losses to a greater extent.
“We realise that this change will inconvenience those consumers who use credit cards responsibly but we are satisfied that reducing the risk of harm to other consumers means that action must be taken.”
Mr McArthur warned that, although likely to reduce gambling harm, the banning of credit cards needed to be accompanied by other efforts.
“The ban is part of our ongoing work to reduce gambling harm,” he added. “We also need to continue the work we have been doing with gambling operators and the finance industry to ensure consumers only gamble with money they can afford to spend.”
Culture Minister Helen Whately said: “While millions gamble responsibly, I have also met people whose lives have been turned upside down by gambling addiction.
“There’s clear evidence of harm from consumers betting with money they do not have, so it is absolutely right that we act decisively to protect them. In the past year we have introduced a wave of tougher measures, including cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals, bringing in tighter age and identity checks for online gambling and expanding national specialist support through the NHS Long Term Plan.
“We’ve also secured a series of commitments from five leading gambling operators that will include £100 million funding towards treatment for problem gamblers.
“But there is more to do. We will be carrying out a review of the Gambling Act to ensure it is fit for the digital age and we will be launching a new nationwide addiction strategy in 2020.”
Housebuilder Bovis Homes has announced a new joint venture with G15 housing association Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing for 783 homes at Cambourne West, near Cambridge.
The £240m development will be made up of 70 per cent private units, which range from one to five-bedroom homes, and 30 per cent affordable housing. The 235 affordable homes will be comprised of affordable rent and shared ownership.
Together, the housing association and housebuider will also provide facilities to support the local community as part of the project. Bovis Homes will contribute almost £13m towards education, including the expansion of a secondary school and two new primary schools while £3.2m will also go towards highway improvements.
Building at the site is expected to begin in February next year. The plot is near to the Bovis Homes and Taylor Wimpey Cambourne location, made up of around 4000 homes which were built between 2008 and 2018.
John Lougher, strategic land managing director at Bovis Homes, said: “We’re delighted to announce the joint venture with MTVH to deliver much-needed homes in the area and look forward to working closely with them.
“Local house hunters, whether they are looking at the private market or through a well-respected affordable housing provider, will benefit from a wide range of stunning homes within a popular, easy-to-reach location. The range of housing on offer – from one-bed apartments to five-bed houses – means the development will appeal to a wide range of people at different stages of their lives, creating a real sense of community.
“Building by the established new settlement of Cambourne, the area will become a flagship development over the next decade, demonstrating our commitment to housebuilding across the region while also boosting investment and jobs in the area.”
Richard Evans, development director of Innovations & Partnerships at Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing, added: “We’re really pleased to be partnering with Bovis Homes to deliver homes at Cambourne West, as we continue MTVH’s commitment to delivering excellent quality housing and services in Cambridgeshire.
“MTVH is about more than building homes, we also build and invest in people and communities for the long term too. This new joint venture with Bovis Homes gives us a fantastic opportunity to do this at scale, ultimately helping more people.”
Ireland, the United States and Australia have scooped the top three places in crowdfunding platform GoFundMe’s annual report, which includes a list of the Most Generous Countries.
Compiled by looking at the number of donations per capita, Canada, the UK, Switzerland and Luxembourg come fourth, fifth and sixth, while Netherlands, Denmark and Norway round off the top ten.
The document, called A Year in Giving, reveals the fundraisers that donors respond to and the frequency of donations. In total more than 6.75 billion pounds has been raised via 120 million donations since GoFundMe launched in 2010.
The report shows a donation is made every second, with 40 per cent of all donations less than £40. In 2019 there has been more than a 65 per cent increase in fundraisers mentioning climate change and more than a 20 per cent increase in fundraisers mentioning reproductive rights. A fundraiser is started every eight seconds and nearly 20 per cent of fundraisers in 2019 received donations from more than one country.
The most generous cities in Great Britain are Edinburgh, Cambridge and Bath, with community competitions and events the fastest growing fundraising categories in the UK, excluding emergencies. Friday is the most popular day to donate in Britain, with one in seven Brits having donated on the crowd-funding platform.
GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon said: “We all want to be reminded of the good in humanity and inspired by uplifting news – not just during the festive season, but every day.
“Helping people and causes is what brings us to work every day and we are grateful that we get to empower others to make a lasting difference.
“As we enter a new decade, GoFundMe is committed to spreading compassion and empathy through our platform. We know we can’t do it alone, so we are excited to work with our community who share this vision of positive change. This festive season, we hope that you are motivated by the power of kindness and inspired to lend a hand to those in need. Together, we can bring more good into the world and unlock the power of global giving.”
76 per cent of the UK’s SMEs could be missing out on profiting from online business by not making their websites mobile-friendly, a new report has found.
The latest Lloyds Bank Business Digital Indexrevealed that in the past 12 months, while there has been an 18 per cent increase in the number of small businesses that can make payments via smartphones, 65 per cent of small business websites are still not ‘mobile-friendly’ and therefore potentially missing out on the growing numbers of ‘mobile-first’ spenders.
The report highlights the benefits linked to greater technology skills, with a third (33 per cent) of firms – around 1.3m small businesses – reporting increased turnover and time-saving as a result of being more tech-savvy.
The findings show that businesses without essential digital skills are almost two and a half times more likely to be shutting down their business within the next two years, compared to those with full digital skills.
Meanwhile, businesses with more advanced digital skills are seeing a return on their investment, with an average turnover of £754,000, which is £260,000 higher than the average business polled. They have also seen a 21 per cent increase in turnover in the last two years, saving one day per week by adopting more technology-based processes.
In 2018, small businesses with cloud-based systems, online accounting software and digital training tools had an annual turnover of £103,000 more than those without. This year, the difference more than doubled in 12 months to £262,000.
Tony Danker, CEO at Be the Business, said: “As the 2019 Business Digital Index shows, tech adoption can be transformative for small businesses and the broader UK economy.
“Combining the right skills with the right technology will unlock huge productivity gains for small businesses. The benefits can’t be ignored. Every business leader should embrace these six essential digital skills as part of their path to growth.”
The Digital Index found that SMEs younger than three years old have better digital skills, with 63 per cent of this group having the highest level of capability – 18 per cent more than those SMEs older than ten years in the same group.
Nick Williams, deputy group transformation director at Lloyds Bank, said: “As more small businesses adopt an increasingly digital mind-set and step up their game on staying safe online, they are seeing improved skills translating into increased turnover and productivity.
“Using social media as an opportunity for growth is firmly on the radar, catapulting greater skills in these channels up the most-wanted list. In a world where more people are doing more in their everyday work and personal lives with mobile devices, small businesses are putting increasing energy into keeping pace, with more than double the proportion now having mobile-optimised sites. However, those failing to adapt have been left behind in a competitive marketplace.”
The use of social media for business continues to grow. More than half of small businesses use social media to communicate with suppliers and customers. Facebook is the most popular, with 58 per cent of businesses using the networking site, while Twitter use is up from 39 per cent to 48 per cent over the last year.
Transport for London (TfL) and Notting Hill Genesis have been given the go-ahead to deliver 619 new homes as part of their Kidbrooke Partnership LLP joint venture.
The development will be built on a vacant four-acre site in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The scheme will comprise of eight buildings with the new homes a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom properties. Half of the new homes will be affordable through a mixture of shared ownership and London Affordable Rent.
The green-light on the project follows the decision by the Deputy Mayor, Jules Pipe, to call in the application and act as the local planning authority.
As well as new homes, the proposals for the site include new amenities for the community, such as an improved transport hub and a new village square.
The area, which is described as an under-utilised brownfield site, benefits from its proximity to the Zone 3 Kidbrooke national rail station and the bus stops on Kidbrooke Park Road. It was previously part of an RAF base and was then used as operational land during the construction of the A2. It has since been largely unoccupied, apart from Henley Cross bus stop.
Graeme Craig, director of commercial development at TfL, said: “Kidbrooke offers us a great opportunity to deliver homes the capital desperately needs and we are delighted to have been given the green light to take our proposals forward with Notting Hill Genesis.
“As well as providing hundreds of new homes, of which half will be affordable, our plans will deliver new and improved amenities for the community and support the economy of the area by providing fantastic new retail and commercial space and job opportunities. The development will also generate vital revenue to reinvest into the transport network.”
John Hughes, group director of development at Notting Hill Genesis, said: “Our vision is to create a high-quality, mixed-use development which completes the new local centre at Kidbrooke and contributes positively to the regeneration of the area for the benefit of the whole community.
“Alongside the creation of thoughtfully designed buildings, extensive public realm, business space and new amenities, we look forward to delivering 619 much needed new homes, half of which will be either London Affordable Rent or shared ownership, to meet London and Greenwich’s significant housing need.”
The Kidbrooke site forms part of TfL’s wider housing programme, which has a target to start on TfL sites with capacity for 10,000 homes by March 2021 as well as a commitment to deliver 50 per cent affordable housing across all sites brought to the market since May 2016.
Notting Hill Genesisis one of the largest housing associations in the country, with around 64,000 homes across London and the south-east, serving more than 170,000 residents.