Research Shows SMEs Need to Embrace New Payment Methods

Research by Barclaycard has revealed that SMEs reluctant to adopt new payment methods are losing out on business, online and in store.


The research shows that nearly half of all millennial shoppers (18-34 year olds) prefer to pay with invisible payment methods (where card and shipping details are saved in advance of the transaction) and conversational payment methods, such as Amazon’s Alexa.

15 per cent of shoppers, rising to almost three in ten (29 per cent) 18-34 year olds have chosen to abandon a purchase because preferred payment methods were not available.


  • 24 per cent of SME retailers are yet to introduce any form of contactless payment.
  • 28 per cent of those spoken to had plans to introduce new methods of payment.
  • 20 per cent didn’t think they would ever need to introduce invisible payments.

With more than four in ten (42 per cent) consumers and over half (53 per cent) of 18-34 year olds choosing ‘touch and go’ as their preferred way to pay, and the usage of contactless having risen by 104 per cent in the last 12 months, contactless is no longer an option but a necessity for retailers, with next-generation payment methods not far behind.

Greg Liset, head of small business at Barclaycard said “Our figures show that SMEs are losing sales by not adopting increasingly popular technologies that facilitate invisible and conversational payments. While it’s encouraging that many smaller retailers are becoming aware of the importance of these emerging methods, they need to turn this ambition into action to steal a march on the competition and keep up with consumers both now and in the future.

‘Making these changes needn’t be complicated or time-consuming – with support from their payment provider, SMEs can ensure they have the right solutions for their business while satisfying the ever-growing group of tech-savvy, digitally-minded shoppers.’

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Islington Care Home Rated Inadequate Following CQC Inspection

An Islington care home run by Care UK Community Partnerships Ltd, has been rated as Inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.

Lennox House in Durham Road provides residential care and nursing care for up to 87 older men and women in purpose built accommodation. Following the unannounced inspection in January 2017, it has been rated as Inadequate for being safe and well-led. It is rated Requires Improvement for being effective, caring and responsive.

During the most recent inspection CQC found that there was:

  • No registered manager in place, as required by law.
  • Medicines were not managed safely. People had missed their medicines due to a lack of supply or other administration and recording errors.
  • Insufficient effort was being made to engage and stimulate people, including people who remained in their rooms.
  • The service was not well led. Systems to assess, monitor and drive improvement in the quality and safety of the service were not effective

Alison Murray, CQC’s Head of Inspection – London, Adult Social Care, said “It is disappointing that standards at Lennox House have fallen. Although almost everyone we spoke with who used the service, relatives and friends, praised staff for their caring attitudes, we found significant shortfalls in the quality of care people received. The overall rating for this service is now Inadequate and the service is in special measures.”

“If not enough improvement is made we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating this service.”

“For adult social care services, the maximum time for being in special measures will usually be no more than 12 months.”

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Is International Trade Slowing Down For UK SMEs?

Jeremy Cook, Chief Economist at World First, commented: “The volatility of foreign exchange markets over the past twelve months, combined with the political and economic uncertainty has made the task of approaching foreign exchange markets with clarity and confidence even more difficult.  Rather than address the issue of currency volatility, many SMEs seem to be burying their heads in the sand. The lack of forward planning amongst SMEs is leaving them susceptible to future shocks that could have a significant impact to their bottom line – we only need to look towards June’s UK general election as another potential flash point.”

Top 5 Business Concerns Shared by UK SMEs

  1. Rise in inflation
  2. Fall in consumer spending
  3. Currency volatility
  4. Change in government policies
  5. Increase in business rates
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Cambridge University Student’s Photos Go Viral

Photo of students from Cambridge University14 black male students from Cambridge University have hit the headlines following the publishing of a photo on Facebook.

Inspired by the viral image of young black men from Yale, the Cambridge ACS (African-Caribbean Society) decided to capture just some of the black men who contribute to one of the world’s most innovative intellectual spaces.

The image of the students on the lawn at the University was posted in a bid to encourage more black students to apply to the university, challenging the stereotype of a Cambridge student.

The post on Facebook said: “In 2015, only 15 black, male undergraduates were accepted into Cambridge.  However, it is important that despite their underrepresentation, we let young black people know that this is something that they can aspire to.”

“There are people here at Cambridge from different backgrounds, who don’t fit the stereotypical image of what a Cambridge student looks like, doing their thing and killing it.”

Dami Adebayo, who studies engineering, said there needed to be more black role models for men to aspire to.

Talking to the BBC he said growing up he had aspired to be like actors, artists and sportsmen such as Lebron James, Will Smith and Jay-Z because “that’s how I perceived success”.

He went on: “Barack Obama is probably the first black role model I had who made it ‘cool’ to be ‘book smart’, and that was by the time I was 11, that’s crazy.”

Mr Adebayo said he applied to Cambridge University because he “knew he was capable” but was unsure if it would be the “right place”.

“But with a mindset like that, these types of institutions will never be the right place for people like me.

“Every student from a diverse background who applies and gets in here is a step towards changing that.”

Cambridge is one of 27 universities that are currently members of the Race Equality Charter (REC) – a scheme designed to address the representation of staff and students from ethnic minority backgrounds.

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CQC Places Havering GP Practice into Special Measures

A Havering GP practice has been rated Inadequate and placed into special measures following a Care Quality Commission inspection in January 2017.

Dr Rana Chowdhury’s practice at Oak Lodge, Romford, was rated Inadequate for being safe and well-led. It was rated Requires Improvement for being effective. For being caring and responsive it was rated as Good.

Some of the actions the practice must now take include:

  • Putting a system in place to ensure mandatory training for staff regarding fire safety, safeguarding and infection control is up to date.
  • Improving the monitoring of patients on high-risk medicines.
  • Investigating safety incidents thoroughly and ensure that the procedures are adhered to and there are effective reporting systems in place.
  • Establishing a system for disseminating and acting upon national patient safety alerts to ensure that staff are aware of the process.
  • Reviewing which emergency drugs are kept and the system for ensuring they are fit for purpose.

The practice has also been told to establish systems to:

  • monitor uncollected prescriptions
  • review how patients with caring responsibilities are identified
  • ensure that staff have the capability to use clinical computer systems.

Michele Golden, CQC’s Head of General Practice Inspection, said “We are placing the Dr Rana Chowdhury’s practice into special measures. This will be for a period of six months when we will inspect the practice again to consider whether sufficient improvements have been made. If we find that the provider is still providing inadequate care we will take steps to cancel its registration with CQC.”

“We did though find that patients said they were treated with compassion, dignity and respect, and they were involved in their care and decisions about their treatment.”

“Information about services and how to complain was available and easy to understand. Patients said they found it easy to make an appointment with a named GP and there was continuity of care, with urgent appointments available the same day.”

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Fancy Writing Comedy for the BBC?

The BBC Writers Room’s regular window for unsolicited scripts is now open for comedy scripts (TV, film, radio, stage or online).

This year writers are being asked to specify which 10 consecutive pages of their script to read first.   So think about which 10 pages make your characters really shine, and will grab the judges attention, making them laugh and wanting to read more.

All submissions must be sent via the BBC’s e-submission system (not by post).  All you need is an email address and access to the internet in order to use it  – you can find out more here.

Submissions should include:

  • 1 comedy script of at least 30 minutes/pages in length for TV, Film, Radio, Stage or Online.
  • Details of which 10 pages to read first.
  • A brief biography of the author’s writing to date.

Submissions for a series may also include a brief outline (1-3 pages) of further episodes and the series as a whole (as a separate PDF).

Full details of the BBC’s Script Room system, including judging criteria, can be viewed at

The closing date for submission is Monday 15th May 2017 (5pm).

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Brits Don’t Want Gimmicky Work Benefits

According to new research released by global recruitment specialist Michael Page, more than eight in ten (82%) Brits think businesses over-complicate workplace benefits, making them difficult to understand, and hard to use or claim.

The survey – conducted among 1,000 UK adults (18+)* – also revealed that almost two thirds (64%) of people believe businesses are investing in expensive benefits that employees neither want, need nor use. Rather than offering unusual job benefits, such as free massages, which seven in ten (70%) find a “gimmick”, more practical benefits topped the most wanted list.With 73% saying that benefits factor into their decision to turn down a job, the results highlight the importance of getting the benefits mix right in today’s competitive job market.

Most Wanted: Top Five Benefits

  1. Flexible working hours (71%)
  2. Work-from-home options (55%)
  3. Unlimited paid holiday (46%)
  4. Company car or subsidised travel (43%)
  5. Weekly free lunches (41%)

Oliver Watson, Executive Board Director for UK and North America at PageGroup, commented: “Whether you’re an employer scouting for new talent, or a candidate searching for a new job, the benefits package on offer needs to match both parties’ expectations. Yet while we may be accustomed to negotiating a starting salary, discussing more tailored benefits is rarely given the same priority – resulting in neither party getting an agreement that drives engagement for an employee and performance for an employer.”

As it stands, more than half (52%) of respondents said there was no opportunity to negotiate the benefits package on offer to them last time they interviewed for a job. In fact, over a third (37%) did not know what their benefits package comprised of before they took their current job, and two-thirds (65%) have been surprised to find out about a particular benefit after working in a role for some time.

Watson continued:  “As working cultures become more flexible and dynamic, a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to benefits no longer applies. With only two in ten (20%) UK consumers completely satisfied with their current benefits package and 85% saying a flexible benefits package would make a job more desirable to them, employers need to relax their typically fixed policies and start an open conversation about benefits far earlier in the recruitment process.”

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New CQC Inspections to Focus on the Care of Children Living With Neglect

A new set of inspections will examine how local partner agencies – including local authorities, health and probation services and the police – are working together to protect children living with, or at risk of, neglect.  In particular, the inspections will focus on the experiences of children aged between 7 and 15 years old, who may be at higher risk of going missing or being exploited, or who exhibit challenging behaviours in adolescence.

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York Care Home Prosecuted by the CQC Ordered to Pay Over £150k

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) brought a prosecution against the owners of Lamel Beeches, a care home in York, following two offences of failing to provide safe care and treatment with one offence resulting in avoidable harm to a resident and a second offence resulting in people using this service being exposed to a significant risk of avoidable harm.

This is the fifth prosecution that CQC has brought against providers since inheriting special enforcement powers from the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities in April 2015.

The registered provider, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, based in York, pleaded guilty to both offences.

Kevin Donnelly, prosecuting, told the court that In August 2015, 98-year-old Alfred Colley fractured his hip during a fall at the home but was discharged back to Lamel Beeches after treatment in hospital.

Less than four weeks later he fell out of bed and re-fractured his hip. He died in hospital.

The court was told that this fall was avoidable if Lamel Beeches had followed correct procedures around bed rail safety.

A safety consultant had previously identified that 14 beds needed bed rail extensions to prevent the occupants falling – but the provider had not authorised the work, until after Mr Colley’s accident. There were four other incidents where Mr Colley had become trapped in the bed rail, or attempted to climb over it, prior to breaking his hip.

When CQC inspectors visited the care home in November 2015, they found concerns around the use of bedrails used by all 10 people they checked on, suggesting that insufficient action had been taken to deal with risks or to keep people safe.

The Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust was fined £100,000 for failing to provide safe care and treatment to Mr Colley and £50,000 for failing to provide safe care and treatment which exposed people to a significant risk of avoidable harm. They were also ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £13,000.15 and a £170.00 victim surcharge.

In a victim impact statement, Michael Colley, Alfred’s son said:  “Although my father was very old and increasingly frail, I was still able to take him out for brief trips, and he maintained his former interests in golf, rugby and cricket as a spectator. He engaged enthusiastically with family matters, taking particular delight when new great-grandchildren visited.”

“Any bereavement is distressing, but these circumstances have made my father’s death particularly so. At the age of 98, death is not an improbable event. However, my father underwent unnecessary pain and distress. He deserved a better death.”

In a statement, the CQC said: “If we find that a care provider has put people in its care at risk of harm, we will always consider using [our] powers to the full to prosecute those who are responsible.”

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Number of University Students Using Tech to Cheat in Exams is on the Rise

The Guardian has published research into the number of university student’s cheating in exams by using tech such as mobile phones, watches and hidden earpieces.

They found a rise in the number of students caught cheating of over 40% since 2012.

The number of cheats is highest in economics and maths subjects, and many experts have suggested that writing exam questions in a manner that requires students to demonstrate understanding rather than simply regurgitate facts, would be one way to combat the cheats.

The Worst Offenders:

  • 54 students at Queen Mary University of London were caught cheating, two-thirds with the help of technology.
  • 19 students at the University of Surrey were caught in 2016, 12 of them with devices.
  • Newcastle University reported 91 cases of cheating – 43% of which involved technology.

Thomas Lancaster, an associate dean at Staffordshire University and one of the UK’s leading experts on cheating, said: “These figures are only going to show what’s been detected and students who cheat well won’t always get caught, especially now there’s so much mini-tech out there which is hard to spot.”The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education said: “Clearly there’s potential for wearable tech to allow dishonest students to cheat. We are looking into this and will raise this with the group of experts that is helping to steer our contract cheating work.”

To read the whole of the Guardian’s article click here.

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