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Few of us enjoy going through our bank statements at the end of the year, but for Poppy Brown it was particularly painful.

A lunch out, a takeaway coffee, a midweek shop and a taxi ride for a distance she could have walked all added up to £100 of unnecessary costs in a single day.

It was this discovery that convinced her to commit to a radical budgeting challenge: ‘no-spend January’.

Frugal: Money blogger Emma Jackson has always watched her spending, but after committing to ‘no-spend January' she found there were still plenty of areas where she could cut back

Frugal: Money blogger Emma Jackson has always watched her spending, but after committing to ‘no-spend January’ she found there were still plenty of areas where she could cut back

Despite what the name implies, you can (of course) spend some money during the month. But you must commit to paying only for essentials such as bills, groceries and transport.

And the ‘no-spend’ trend has taken off this year, as households worried about the rising cost of living look to cut back. Hundreds of people have joined Facebook groups dedicated to helping splurgers go cold turkey.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: ‘I suspect far more people signed up to “no-spend January” in 2022.

‘Energy bills are at the top of everyone’s mind and many of us will be looking to save more to prepare for higher costs in the months ahead.’

Cutbacks: Poppy Brown saved £950 by ditching takeaways, switching to Aldi for groceries and making coffees at home among other measures

Cutbacks: Poppy Brown saved £950 by ditching takeaways, switching to Aldi for groceries and making coffees at home among other measures

Poppy, 21, expects to have squirreled away an extra £950 this month. The wedding planner earns around £2,500 a month and is saving for a deposit on her first home with her boyfriend Nathan.

She used to spend up to £30 a week on coffees and £300 on regular weekend trips to London with her friends.

But since January 1 she has not spent a penny on anything she doesn’t absolutely need.

Poppy now takes homemade coffees into work, plans her journeys to avoid last-minute taxi rides and cooks for her friends instead of eating out.

Swapping from Morrisons to budget store Aldi has also cut the cost of her weekly shop from £50 to £30 — and she now makes a meal plan to avoid buying groceries in midweek.

Liquid assets: Pierce Holland spent £700 on takeaway coffees in a year

Liquid assets: Pierce Holland spent £700 on takeaway coffees in a year

Poppy, from Maldon, Essex, says: ‘It has been tough, but I have a calendar on the wall and I cross off each day and put a £1 coin in a jar to keep myself motivated.’

Her love of clothes shopping, which can set her back up to £200 a month, has been harder to curb. To avoid temptation, she unsubscribed from emails from all of her favourite retailers and even unfollowed them on Instagram.

Poppy has also made £80 by selling old clothes on the second-hand marketplace Depop.

She says: ‘Due to the cost of living crisis, it makes sense to have a bit of money put aside. I love seeing my friends but I’d like to cook for them more and eat out once or twice a month, rather than every week.’

Pierce Holland is a seasoned saver and has completed three ‘no-spend Novembers’ in previous years. 

The public sector worker began paying more attention to his outgoings after he worked out that he had spent £700 on takeaway coffees in a year. 

Since then, he has kept detailed spreadsheets of his everyday spending, and recently saved £10,000 in his Lifetime Isa — enough to put down a 5 per cent deposit on his first home.

This month he is determined to spend no more than £200, which will cover petrol, parking, groceries and the £100 he pays his grandparents in rent.

However, the frugal 24-year-old always allows himself two ‘cheat days’ when he can spend money on things he doesn’t need.

This month he has treated himself to a £21 ticket for an ice-hockey match and a coffee with a friend. 

Shop smart: Switching to a budget supermarket and avoiding buying groceries mid-week can result in sizeable savings over the course of a month

Shop smart: Switching to a budget supermarket and avoiding buying groceries mid-week can result in sizeable savings over the course of a month

Pierce, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, says: ‘While I’ve got enough for my deposit, I know I’ll have a higher interest rate than someone who has a larger one.

‘I also want to put aside between £1,000 and £2,000 for costs I’ll have to pay when I buy my house, such as solicitor’s fees.’

Money blogger Emma Jackson has always watched her spending carefully and, at 27, has already paid off her mortgage.

But after committing to ‘no-spend January’ this year, she found there were still plenty of areas where she could cut back.

Leftover chicken pasta lunches have replaced £5 meal deals, and the £200 she used to spend on going out with friends and her partner Hannah has been temporarily cut to zero. 

Emma, who works in HR at a hospital, has also been shopping around for better deals. So far she has reduced her broadband bill from £40 to £20.

She has also moved £10,000 of her savings from an account that paid 0.3 per cent interest into another which pays 0.7 per cent.

Emma, who lives near Sheffield, says: ‘Avoiding buying lunch at work was one of the most difficult things to do, as I had to be so organised the night before.

‘I usually spend £50 a month on takeaways and there were a few occasions when I was really tempted, but I managed to stay strong and cook one of my favourite meals instead.’

f.parker@dailymail.co.uk

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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Top 10 companies for customer service: First Direct and John Lewis slip down the rankings as a pets retailer takes the crown

  • Pets at Home has been crowned the best business for customer service
  • First Direct and the John Lewis Partnership have slipped in the rankings
  • Total number of customer complaints has reached highest on record
  • Received dismal customer service? Email jane.denton@mailonline.co.uk 










First Direct has lost its crown as the company with the best customer service levels in the country, fresh data has revealed. 

Pets at Home has pipped First Direct to the post and been hailed as the top business when it comes to satisfying customers, the Institute of Customer Service said.

The pets retailer has surged from seventh place to first place in the ICS’s latest rankings, while the John Lewis Partnership has been pushed down from second to seventh place. 

Top 10: The top 10 best companies for customer service, according to the ICS

Top 10: The top 10 best companies for customer service, according to the ICS

Saga Insurance has climbed from 27th place to take third place in the latest customer service league table, while Timpson has jumped from 127th to fifth place.

The 10 companies topping the index for customer service represent a wider range of sectors than ever before, breaking the traditional retail stronghold, and there is an increased presence among the top 50 from financial services and automotive brands. 

The ICS said: ‘The gap in customer satisfaction between the top 50 organisations and other organisations in the ICS is widest for complaint handling, speed of service and providing reassurance.’       

While the likes of Pets at Home and First Direct have fared well when it comes to customer satisfaction, today’s data also reveals that the number of customers complaining about shoddy service has reached its highest ever level over the past year.   

The survey found 13 per cent of people had made a complaint in the past year, up from the 11 per cent figure reported six months ago.

First place: Pets at Home has been crowned as the best firm for customer service this month

First place: Pets at Home has been crowned as the best firm for customer service this month

The ICS, which has run the index since 2008, attributes this spike to the impact of Covid-19 on product availability and reliability.

Many companies have also trimmed down their telephone customer service helplines, leaving customers to deal with online ‘chat’ services or email systems with lengthy response times. 

Out of around 10,000 people surveyed, the ICS found 16 per cent of people had experienced problems with a brand’s service in the past six months.

Thirty-four per cent of customers said they would be willing to pay more for better service, marking the highest proportion ever recorded.

Jo Causon, chief executive at the ICS, said: ‘The latest UKCSI results demonstrate the complexities of the current environment, with relationships between brands and customers becoming increasingly challenging. 

‘There is no easy remedy for rising prices and shortages of goods, so we must all become better at dealing with delays and disappointments. Although satisfaction with complaint handling and overall satisfaction has improved, we need to address wider service chain issues if we are to improve the nation’s performance and productivity.’

She added: ‘More customers than ever before are willing to pay a premium for quality service. 

‘This suggests there is an opportunity to invest in delivering the real value that customers expect and deserve. 

‘Those that have made our top 10 make it easy to contact the right person, and build trust that they truly care about their customers. 

‘Against the backdrop of a challenging economy, a strong service offering is an increasingly important battleground for brands to differentiate themselves and drive stronger financial performance.’

Slipping: The John Lewis Partnership has fallen from second to seventh place in the rankings

Slipping: The John Lewis Partnership has fallen from second to seventh place in the rankings

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Lex Greensill once boasted he was the only boy from Bundaberg to have an office at 10 Downing Street.

Now the disgraced Australian financier who charmed his way into former prime minister David Cameron’s affections and sparked the biggest lobbying scandal in a generation, has returned to his humble roots in rural Queensland.

Since his supply chain finance empire Greensill Capital imploded last year with debts of more than £2.5billion, the 45-year-old has been laying low with his English doctor wife and two sons at their converted, eight-bedroom Georgian vicarage in the picturesque village of Saughall, Cheshire.

Disgraced Australian financier Lex Greensill (pictured with his wife and mother collecting his CBE in 2019), has returned to his humble roots in rural Queensland

Disgraced Australian financier Lex Greensill (pictured with his wife and mother collecting his CBE in 2019), has returned to his humble roots in rural Queensland

But he is now more than 10,000 miles away in Bundaberg, a rackety country town best known for the ginger beer and fiery dark rum which bears the town’s name. 

It will only be a fleeting visit back home, according to business newspaper the Australian Financial Review, and there are no immediate plans for the Greensill family to move to Australia.

But the trip will at least afford him the opportunity to enjoy his £2.3million five-bedroom holiday home in Bargara, a coastal outpost of Bundaberg just a few miles out of town. 

Dubbed The Glass House, it is located a few doors down the road from his brother Peter and a few minutes’ drive from where his parents Judy and Lloyd live.

Like many Australian expats, Lex Greensill has been locked out of his own country for almost two years after the Australian government shut its borders to keep out Covid.

But the recent easing of border restrictions has enabled citizens living abroad to return.

As well as reuniting with his parents and two brothers Peter and Andrew, Lex will be able to check up on the family’s farming business.

While Greensill Capital has folded, the farm has expanded rapidly in the area and has become a dominant force in sweet potatoes. Local farmers have complained that the Greensills have ruthlessly under-cut them, driving some growers out of business.

Holiday home: Greensill's £2.3m five-bedroom property in Bargara, a coastal outpost of Bundaberg, has been dubbed The Glass House

Holiday home: Greensill’s £2.3m five-bedroom property in Bargara, a coastal outpost of Bundaberg, has been dubbed The Glass House

‘The Greensill name is very unpopular in Bundaberg,’ one farmer told the Mail. Lex, however, has been careful to distance himself from the farming business in an apparent bid to shield it from creditors. 

While his financial empire was creaking he removed himself as a director, later offloading stakes in farming entities to companies run by close associates before it collapsed.

The farming operation, which has always maintained it is entirely separate from the failed financial business, is more crucial than ever for the Greensill family fortunes.

Though Lex may not be getting his hands dirty. ‘Lex wouldn’t know one end of a tractor from another,’ one local farmer said.

Bundaberg plays a central role in the folksy narrative that Lex Greensill carefully cultivated around his supply chain finance empire. 

His parents grew cane and melons on a farm started by their grandfather Roy at the end of WW2. Greensill said the family struggled to make ends meet as his parents had to wait – often for months – to get paid for their produce. 

He would later say that the inspiration for Greensill Capital came from ‘the adversity that my parents, our family, endured being farmers in country Queensland’.

After moving to London, Lex become an investment banker at Morgan Stanley where he befriended the late Jeremy Heywood, a Whitehall mandarin who was on a secondment in the private sector at the time. 

After setting up Greensill Capital, Heywood – who by then had been elevated to Cabinet Secretary – would make the fateful introduction between his Australian friend and Cameron, who was prime minister.

Cameron promptly appointed Greensill as a senior business adviser, giving him an office in Downing Street and access to the corridors of power in Whitehall. Lex hired Cameron in 2018 as a part time adviser, reportedly on a salary of around £720,000 a year.

The former prime minister proceeded to bombard ministers and former colleagues with text messages and phone calls to promote his new paymaster’s business. 

And when Greensill Capital was fighting for survival, Cameron pleaded with Chancellor Rishi Sunak for emergency loans established to help firms weather the Covid pandemic.

His requests were denied and in March last year Greensill Capital collapsed into administration, triggering a string of investigations and a probe by the Serious Fraud Office.

A parliamentary inquiry concluded Cameron broke no lobbying rules but had showed a lack of judgement.

As administrators pick over his business empire, the Boy from Bundaberg stands accused of far worse.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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CHILDCARE costs have reached crisis point. Parents say they are being forced to sacrifice their careers, while underfunded pre-schools are closing at record rates.

Yet Money Mail can today reveal that parents are missing out on nearly £3 billion in vital childcare support every year.

The tax-free childcare scheme tops up 20p to every 80p parents spend on nannies and nurseries — the equivalent of the basic-rate of income tax. It offers a maximum saving of £2,000 per child each year — or £4,000 for a disabled child.

Untapped support: Tax-free childcare scheme tops up 20p to every 80p parents spend on nannies and nurseries. It offers a maximum saving of £2,000 per child each year

Untapped support: Tax-free childcare scheme tops up 20p to every 80p parents spend on nannies and nurseries. It offers a maximum saving of £2,000 per child each year

But while the perk is available to 1.7 million children under the age of five, take-up of the scheme has remained pitifully low since it was introduced in 2017. 

Fewer than 300,000 have an account in use — less than a quarter of the total eligible for help, according to March 2021 data provided by HM Revenue & Customs in response to a parliamentary question. A further 225,000 have an account open but not in use, which could be because they do not use it regularly.

The government also spent £650 million less than expected on the scheme in the 2019/2020 financial year. If all eligible families who do not currently benefit from the perk signed up overnight it would cost the Treasury an extra £2.8 billion a year, the figures show.

Critics say not enough is being done to raise awareness of the scheme.

Many parents complain they were never informed about it and only stumbled across it after speaking to friends or when doing their own research.

Official figures show that in 2018/19, the government spent £1,113,270 publicising the perk.

But by 2020/21, this figure had dropped to £197,338. And for 2021/22, the government is forecast to spend only £151,205.

What’s more the application process can be confusing and protracted — with parents asked to reapply every three months.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has been a vocal advocate for working parents and drew headlines when she brought her three-month-old son strapped onto her chest to a debate in the Commons in November last year.

It feels like a secret 

Spreading the word: Bethany Dempsey with her son Oscar, five, and daughter Eden, two

Spreading the word: Bethany Dempsey with her son Oscar, five, and daughter Eden, two

Mum blogger Bethany Dempsey struggled to make ends meet while working and taking care of her children Oscar, five, and Eden, two. 

Oscar was at school, but childcare for Eden cost £680 a month — just £100 less than Bethany’s salary of £780 a month. 

Their dad, Dean Ashford, a council-worker, kept the family afloat on his wage. 

When Bethany changed jobs, a friend r­ecommended the tax-free childcare scheme. ‘We’re saving hundreds on childcare bills now. 

But it feels like the scheme is kept a secret,’ says Bethany. 

She says: ‘The problem with tax-free childcare is that most parents simply do not know it exists. Either the government needs to raise awareness of the scheme or they need to take the funds available for it and come up with a better system.

‘I am not asking the government for any new money. I am asking for parents to get their money back.’

She adds: ‘Childcare costs have risen at four times the rate of wages over the last two decades. For most parents, these costs take up a massive chunk of their cost of living.’

And with families facing a cost of living crisis, as a perfect storm of price rises and tax hikes squeeze their budgets to breaking point, they have never needed help with childcare costs more.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, says: ‘With the tax-free childcare scheme still struggling with low uptake several years after being introduced, it beggars belief that the government would not choose to reinvest the underspend from this scheme back into the early years sector.’

For Joeli Brearley, founder of campaigning group Pregnant Then Screwed, the application process can be enough to put parents off.

She says: ‘I remember when I was applying for tax-free childcare I wanted to throw the computer out of the window.

‘I hear that from a lot of parents who say the appllication form is very long and requires a lot of detail. You also have to reapply every three months.’

The average annual price of a nursery place now stands at £14,000 per child — more expensive than university tuition fees.

And it is often mothers who are hit hardest by spiralling nursery costs.

Figures from Pregnant Then Screwed say there are around 870,000 stay-at-home mums in the UK who want to go back to work but cannot afford to do so.

A third either pay to go to work – because their childcare outgoings exceed their wage — or only just break even.

Ms Brearley says: ‘Many mothers I know end up paying to go to work because they can’t give it up.’

And the pandemic has only exacerbated the situation.

A study by charity The Fawcett Society in 2020 found that a third of working mothers reported losing work or hours due to a lack of childcare during lockdown.

At the same time, nurseries have also struggled to stay open, with 2,549 childcare settings closed down between December 2020 and March 2021.

How to claim £2,000 a year

Who is eligible?

The scheme is paid to working parents with children aged 11 and under.

To qualify, both parents must be in work — either full or part-time — and each earning at least £142 a week, but not more than £100,000 a year.

This means that if both partners earn £99,000 they qualify for help. However, if one earns more than £100,000 while the other earns less, the family is not eligible.

Your ‘partner’ means the person you live with. They do not necessarily have to be the child’s other parent.

You can still qualify if you are self-employed, so long as you earn within the same income bracket.

Where can I find it?

First, you need to create an online childcare account at gov.uk/apply-for-tax- free-childcare.

You can then make a payment from your bank account or set up a standing order so money goes in regularly.

The Government should top up the fund the same day. So if you put in £8 it should become £10 within hours.

Grandparents and family friends may also put money into the account.

You can then use these funds to pay your childcare provider directly.

You must re-confirm that you are eligible for the support every three months.

What does it cover?

The funds can be used to pay for a range of childcare services, such as breakfast and after-school clubs, nurseries, playgroups, childminders and nannies. 

Holiday activities are also included, for example tennis, football and art clubs.

The only requirement is that the provider is registered with the tax-free childcare scheme as well as with a regulator, such as Ofsted, the Early Years Register or the Childcare Register.

Currently only 0.5 per cent of GDP in the UK is spent on early childhood services.

By comparison 1.1 per cent of GDP is spent on subsidising childcare in Nordic nations such as Denmark and Sweden.

‘We are constantly talking about how expensive university fees are and whether they are worth the money. 

But we never talk about childcare in the same way,’ says mother Rachel Carrell, who set up her own childcare app Koru Kids to offer an affordable solution.

‘Couples often go into parenthood blind and are shocked to find out just how expensive childcare is.

‘Many people I speak to really do feel they’ve been priced out of parenthood.’

HMRC says figures from September show 316,000 families accessed the tax-free childcare scheme.

A spokesman says: ‘Tax-free childcare is a great offer for working parents providing financial support with their childcare costs.

‘More and more families are benefitting from the offer with close to 50pc more families taking advantage of it compared to March 2020.

‘We consistently encourage eligible families to sign up for the scheme via stakeholders, social media and the press and will continue to explore ways to further increase take-up.’

h.kelly@dailymail.co.uk

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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The ‘last financial taboo’? Wealthy people more likely to discuss inheritance with a financial adviser than with their partner or children

  • Nine in ten have made at least some plans for passing on their wealth
  • Among Britons with £250k-plus assets, 36% had talked to their partner about it 
  • However, 38% had discussed plans with a financial adviser 
  • Need financial advice? Find an adviser with our partner Flying Colours










Wealthy people are more likely to discuss their inheritance with a financial adviser than with their families, according to a study. 

The inaugural Saltus Wealth Index surveyed more than 1,000 people in the UK with investable assets of more than £250,000. 

Investable assets include things like cash, funds in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit and insurance contracts with cash value, but not properties. 

It found that while nine in ten had made some form of plan for passing on their wealth, most had not relayed these plans to their family. 

Most wealthy people do not discuss their inheritance plans with their families. In fact, a slightly higher proportion have consulted a financial adviser, according to a new survey.

Most wealthy people do not discuss their inheritance plans with their families. In fact, a slightly higher proportion have consulted a financial adviser, according to a new survey. 

Only 36 per cent claimed to have shared their plans for passing on wealth with their partner. 

This was slightly less than the 38 per cent who said they had discussed them with a financial adviser.

And while more than four in five of those over 65 had made a will, only 28 per cent of that age group had discussed their inheritance with their children

Reena Mistry, financial advisor at Flying Colours said: ‘Talking about money and wealth remains one of the last remaining taboos in society, and so the study does not surprise me.

‘People find it easier to speak to someone who is unrelated to them, like a financial adviser, as they can offer an unbiased view, free of judgement.

 People find it easier to speak to someone who is unrelated to them, like a financial adviser, as they can offer an unbiased view, free of judgement

Reena Mistry, financial adviser at Flying Colours  

‘Money can be an emotive subject when speaking to loved ones, and so speaking to a financial adviser may seem easier.’

The survey also looked at how many of those with more than £250,000 in investable assets had made a will.  

Although the majority of over-65s had made a will, less than than half (45 per cent) of respondents overall had done so.  

Mistry adds: ‘A will not only ensures your wealth is distributed according to your wishes, it also makes the administration of your estate easier once you pass away, and dying without a Will means your estate may not pass to those you want.

‘If you have property or money – no matter the value – that would need to be distributed on your death, then you need to make a will.

Some wealthy parents may not wish to tell their children about their inheritance because they believe it will make them less motivated to succeed in life, according to a financial adviser

Some wealthy parents may not wish to tell their children about their inheritance because they believe it will make them less motivated to succeed in life, according to a financial adviser

She adds: ‘It is also important for parents of young children to make a will as they can appoint a guardian to look after their children should both parents die.

‘Without a will, the courts would appoint a guardian for minor children, and they may not be your first choice.’

The study also found that whilst over-65s were the most likely to have a will in place, they were the least inclined to share their plans with their children. 

Mistry says: ‘Parents may not want their children to know the amount of inheritance they may receive as they may fear that their children may lose motivation to be successful and productive on their own, and they may miss out on the life skills working and managing your finances brings.’

However, being open with your family about their inheritance may also help them to make better-informed financial decisions.

‘For many people, their financial goals may centre around their family – for example being able to give their children some money for a deposit towards their first home, or grandparents wanting to pay for their grandchildren’s school fees,’ says Mistry.

‘Speaking to your partner or family about this allows them to plan their finances better, and it also gives you an understanding of what their financial goals and aims may be and whether the money you intend to leave or gift them aligns with this.

‘Additionally, speaking to a partner or family about wealth means you can make sure all tax allowances are used and that your money is invested in a tax efficient manner.’

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Graduates stand a better chance of bagging a job this year than they did before the pandemic, new statistics suggest.

They’re most likely to get hired in well-paid sectors such as energy, engineering and health and pharmaceuticals.

That’s because graduate job vacancies are forecast to rise 22 per cent this year compared to 2019, according to a survey by the Institute of Student Employers which surveyed the UK’s largest graduate employers.

In a further boost to those coming out of further education, the ISE adds that starting salaries are set to increase as companies fight to fill roles.

Spoilt for choice: job vacancies for graduates will this year increase by a fifth compared to 2021

Spoilt for choice: job vacancies for graduates will this year increase by a fifth compared to 2021

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of ISE, said: ‘The number of graduate jobs has slowly increased but this is the first time we’ve seen hiring back to pre-pandemic levels. 

‘It demonstrates business confidence and how much employers continue to value a degree. This is great news for those job hunting.’

Pandemic impact

The pandemic had very little long-term effect on the number of opportunities for graduates and school leavers, the report suggests. 

It says the pandemic has created a shortage of workers readily available to fill roles, which has resulted in an environment that is more candidate driven. 

Skilled graduate workers, in particular, are in high demand as a result. 

ISE’s survey comes as a leading UK recruitment firm, Robert Walters, based in Covent Garden has admitted to offering graduate lawyers £150,000 as a starting salary due to the shortage of workers.

The ISE survey shows that all sectors have returned to pre-pandemic levels of hiring apart from jobs in retail and FMCG (fast moving consumer goods).

Graduates have a higher chance of getting employed in 2022 than they have in previous years, particularly when it comes to jobs scarcity during the 2008 financial crisis

Graduates have a higher chance of getting employed in 2022 than they have in previous years, particularly when it comes to jobs scarcity during the 2008 financial crisis

But even in these two sectors things are starting to change. With FMCG, for example, the sector is currently recruiting three per cent fewer graduates than in 2019, however, it has also seen an increase in vacancies by 20 per cent from 2021 to 2022. 

Meanwhile, school leaver roles in retail and FMCG have increased 55 per cent since last year.

ISE found that, overall, school and college leaver vacancies did not reduce over the pandemic but instead grew by 17 per cent compared to 2021.

In addition to this, retail and FMCG have both experienced strong growth, while finance and professional services has grown by 37 per cent and the built environment (construction sector) grew by 30 per cent.

 Students and graduates should take advantage of internships and formal work experience programmes, but also recognise that working part time in restaurants or bars provides skills that employers look for.

 

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of ISE

Lack of quality

However, employers have been disappointed with the quality of candidates that have applied for vacancies, the study found. 

Around one in five of employers felt the standard of applicants had dropped and warned that students need to focus on career planning and application readiness to be successful.

Isherwood said: ‘The hike in vacancies means a return to a student-driven market. 

‘However, with a significant number of employers noting a drop in the quality of applicants, students should be aware of resting on their laurels.’

‘The graduate labour market is and always has been competitive. While students should feel confident about their prospects, they need to apply themselves rigorously to their job search and make every application count.’

The table shows changes to graduate vacancies in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels, and compared to 2021

The table shows changes to graduate vacancies in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels, and compared to 2021

He added that there were still opportunities for graduates to improve their skills so that they were more attractive to employers. 

‘Students and graduates should take advantage of internships and formal work experience programmes, but also recognise that working part time in restaurants or bars provides skills that employers look for.

‘Graduates often don’t realise the transferable skills they get from any kind of work. Gaining work experience in all its forms and understanding the skills they create is extremely valuable to employers.’ 

More senior roles 

A whopping 90% of employers noted a lower quality of applications for school and college leaver vacancies the ISE found

A whopping 90% of employers noted a lower quality of applications for school and college leaver vacancies the ISE found

Graduates and school leavers are not the only ones to see an increase in job vacancies. 

Brexit, the desire for remote working, and movements like the ‘Great Resignation’ have led to several senior roles opening up and companies across most sectors struggling to fill them, the ISE says.

Last year, This is Money highlighted that three in four professionals intended to look for new jobs in 2022. 

Alex Hattingh, chief people officer at Employment Hero, said: ‘The Great Resignation is a recent buzz term that’s got a lot of people feeling excited or concerned, depending on what perspective you’re looking at it from. 

‘The phrase comes from the World Economic Forum and their shocking statistic: 41 per cent of employees worldwide plan to leave their jobs this year. 

‘This isn’t only totally unprecedented, for many employers and HR managers, it’s beyond comprehension.’ 

Opportunities for role switchers? 

Isherwood adds: ‘Our understanding is that the labour market is healthy across all types of employment and there’s a strong uplift in jobs regardless of level, so what we have found in the graduate market isn’t an isolated case. 

‘The pandemic led to many people reviewing their jobs, so as well as moving employer people are also career changing, which is opening up positions across the board.’ 

While vacancies have increased across the board, senior workers could still take advantage of the increase in graduate vacancies, particularly if they are bored of their current role. 

Isherwood explained: ‘While age isn’t a barrier, graduate programmes are generally aimed at people who are starting out in a particular career and most schemes include two to three years of training. 

‘So, they’re more likely to appeal to an older worker who is career changing rather than people who have worked in a sector for some time.’

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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Generation gap: Over half of over 55s claim they could financially withstand another lockdown while younger workers struggle and see wealth hit

  • Over half of those aged 55 or over said their finances would hold up in a crisis
  • But the pandemic has left younger people even more worried about money 










The ‘baby boomer’ generation feel more confident in their ability to withstand the financial shock of another pandemic-driven lockdown than their younger counterparts, new findings suggest.

Over half of people 55 or over said they were in a similar financial position to last year and that their current finances would enable them to manage daily expenses in the event of further turmoil triggered by an event like a fresh lockdown.

But, just 20 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds expressed the same sentiments regarding the potential financial fallout involved,  a Quilter and YouGov’s survey found.

Stark differences: Over half of people 55 or over said they were in a similar financial position to last year

Stark differences: Over half of people 55 or over said they were in a similar financial position to last year

Ten per cent of people surveyed aged 55 or over said their current finances would not allow them to manage expenses in another lockdown, regardless of whether or not they were better or worse off financially compared to last year. This compares to 20 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds and 21 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds, according to the findings.

Four in ten under 35s could not cope financially in another lockdown, the data suggests. 

The pandemic has had a marked financial impact on many younger people and their employment status, with a high number working in sectors most affected by lockdowns, like hospitality and retail. 

Official Government figures suggest that around 4.3million people aged between 18 to 34 were placed on furlough at some stage, representing 40 per cent of total claims. This compared to 1.9million people 55 or over, Quilter said. 

Quilter thinks there is a potential gap for older generations to help younger ones in the fallout from the pandemic. 

Ian Browne, financial planning expert at Quilter, said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly had different consequences for different cohorts, with some experiencing harsher impacts than other. Clearly younger generations have suffered to a greater extent than their older counterparts and it is concerning that this group is more likely to say they are not financially ready for another lockdown.

‘However, what the data does show is a great number of people that could clearly benefit from conversations around intergenerational wealth planning. Many baby boomers have accumulated wealth over their lifetime and have benefitted from rising asset prices. Millennials and generation Z have not been so fortunate and have found it harder to get on the property ladder or are paying exorbitant costs in rent.

‘If just a portion of this wealth were to trickle down to younger cohorts it would go a long way to ensuring more people feel financially fit for another lockdown. Doing this through gifting is a great way to help families make the most of their financial assets, and for people to enjoy seeing their life savings helping younger generations to prosper.’  

Poll

Could you handle another lockdown financially?

Previous research conducted by wealth management group Quilter in 2020 found that 48 per cent of ‘baby boomers’ said they could afford to give money to family members before they passed away. 

While this may be the case, it is important that no one feels pressurised into giving money away to others, or stretches their finances more than they want to and can afford.

Plus, it is important to note that the mounting cost of living crisis is affecting people across all age groups, including people both in and out of work. 

According to findings published by the Resolution Foundation last month, 2022 is set to the ‘year of the squeeze’, with real wages on track to be no higher next Christmas than today, and households facing a typical income hit of around £1,200 a year from April as a result of tax rises and soaring energy bills.

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Getting Britain’s homes insulated is the cornerstone of the Government’s green energy policy and an obsession for road-blocking eco-protesters.

But the scale of damp-related problems linked to cavity wall insulation is so serious that an MP is calling for an independent inquiry to improve protection for householders.

One expert has estimated that up to two million homes may have problems as a result of insulation being pumped into the cavity between outside and inside walls.

In some extreme cases, the resulting problems of damp and mould inside the house have rendered properties worthless and unsellable.

The scale of damp-related problems linked to cavity wall insulation is so serious that an MP is calling for an independent inquiry to improve protection for householders

The scale of damp-related problems linked to cavity wall insulation is so serious that an MP is calling for an independent inquiry to improve protection for householders

Critics claim victims of botched installations have been ignored and nothing has been done to establish the true number affected by the problems, often caused by incompetent or unsuitable installations.

Fixing cavity wall insulation disasters can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Over the past 35 years, about eight million homes in the UK have been retrofitted with wall insulation to improve energy efficiency. 

More than six million of these were done under the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) scheme, providing a 25-year guarantee for the work.

Although properly installing suitable wall insulation in an appropriate property does reduce heat loss, thousands have blamed insulating wall cavities for triggering mould and damp inside.

More than 34,000 people have tried to claim for corrective work under the CIGA scheme, with only a small percentage accepted as ‘justified’.

Rejected claims are usually blamed on the lifestyle of residents or poor property maintenance, rather than on the negligence of installers.

Chris Elmore, Labour MP for Ogmore in South Wales, says action needs to be taken to help householders.

It cost me £4,500 to rebuild my sodden walls 

As a heating engineer with renovation experience, Claire Hillyar thought she could handle any problems with her new three-bedroom terrace.

She renovated her £150,000 home in Portsmouth from top to bottom.

The previous owner had taken advantage of green energy grants to have cavity wall insulation installed in 2009.

It was only after Claire suffered sinus problems in 2018 that she discovered there was a serious damp issue linked to the insulation work. 

Claire Hillyar discovered a serious damp issue in her end-of-terrace home linked to cavity wall insulation the property's former owner had installed

Claire Hillyar discovered a serious damp issue in her end-of-terrace home linked to cavity wall insulation the property’s former owner had installed

Damp patches on the living room wall were linked to her ‘systemic fungal infection’.

The property was covered by the CIGA guarantee and an inspector accepted that there was damp caused by the cavity wall insulation, which had to be removed.

‘I was told it shouldn’t have been done on this property,’ Claire says. The front, gable end and top floor of the back of her home were all affected.

Sub-contractors removed the insulation — but Claire says that by ‘blasting’ it out with high-pressure air, they caused more damage to the building and it has cost her £4,500 to rebuild the walls.

Mr Elmore adds: ‘I have long called for fundamental reforms to be undertaken by the Government… to ensure that people have the protection they expect and deserve. 

The Government must initiate an independent inquiry into the way cavity wall insulation complaints have been handled, to determine the scale of the problem and find resolution for people affected.’

Problems arise when rain penetrates the outer wall and the insulation material can transfer water across the cavity to the interior. 

Debris can also enable the cavity to be bridged, while gaps in the insulation create cold spots with increased condensation inside. The result is mould, damp and damage to internal walls.

Over the years, governments have failed to set up a register or conduct surveys to accurately establish the number of homes with problems linked to cavity wall insulation.

But a leading industry expert who has advised the Government has estimated that 20 per cent to 25 per cent of retrofitted homes — up to two million in total — could have problems of some sort. 

Other estimates within the industry have put the figure at three million.

Experts say that only homes not overexposed to the elements and with exterior walls in good condition, with a proper damp-proof course, should be considered suitable for this work, and ideally a survey should be carried out first.

But with government green energy grants fuelling demand, cowboy installers have carried out work on numerous unsuitable properties. 

The result has been the birth of a new industry of tradesmen paid to extract insulation from inside walls.

But the scale of damp-related problems linked to cavity wall insulation is so serious that an MP is calling for an independent inquiry to improve protection for householders.

But the scale of damp-related problems linked to cavity wall insulation is so serious that an MP is calling for an independent inquiry to improve protection for householders.

Damian Mercer runs a Lancashire-based company with eight staff that specialises in extracting botched cavity wall insulation — and he’s busier than ever.

He says ‘standard’ jobs cost about £3,500 but it can cost £65,000 to remove some insulation that solidifies, as the outer wall needs to be dismantled.

He says: ‘Installers are not policed and have never been policed. When an installer goes on site, he has to do a due diligence check. 

They drill holes in the wall, look at the condition of the building and check the cavity and if there is rubble inside. They should walk away if there is a problem.

‘But they are paid by the square metre — and if they fill it and get paid, and five years later damp manifests itself, they will say: ‘It’s nothing to do with us’.’

Mr Mercer says many of his customers have had applications to CIGA for work to correct damp-related problems rejected on spurious grounds.

He says: ‘Drying too much washing on the line, too many boiled potatoes and steam from cooking going into the cavity are all excuses CIGA have told customers. It’s laughable. They blame the lifestyle of residents rather than failings by the installer.’

Mr Mercer says green energy grants for social housing have made the problem worse, as residents often don’t have the funds to maintain properties in good condition to avoid rainwater infiltrating walls. 

Damp issues started with my green grant 

For 14 years, Joan Rose had no damp-related problems in her suburban terrace home in Bury, Greater Manchester.

When she qualified for a government grant to boost its energy efficiency, she had a new boiler, plus loft and cavity-wall insulation installed.

But the work, carried out by sub-contractors via her energy company, Npower, in 2013, triggered an eight-year nightmare.

Miss Rose, 62, a carer, says: ‘Within a month, I noticed a mark on the wall.’

Then ‘more and more patches’ appeared on the wall at the back of her house. Before long, there were also patches near the windows at the front of the house, and the plaster had ‘started to peel away’.

The contractors, Tameside Energy Services, blamed a problem with a bathroom waste pipe, which Miss Rose says was ‘nonsense’. But her complaints fell on deaf ears and Tameside later went into liquidation.

The work was meant to be guaranteed for 25 years by CIGA, but Miss Rose never received the certificate to prove it.

She says she can’t afford the thousands of pounds required to fix the problem, which she says is now ‘horrendous’.

Pauline Saunders set up the campaign group Cavity Insulation Victims’ Alliance (Civalli) after suffering damp inside her home in Newport, South Wales.

Five neighbours had the same issue with damp, and she discovered that exposure to rainfall meant the properties were unsuitable for the work.

She says the Government’s green energy drive could make the problems worse.

‘What concerns us is that the Government is under pressure to cut carbon emissions and they are pushing this like crazy,’ she says.

‘There will be a lot of cowboys jumping on the bandwagon to do the work.’

She adds: ‘People need to do their research first because we know the Government is turning a blind eye to the problem, as it doesn’t fit in with their message.’

If repairs are not carried out under the guarantee scheme, or the original installer goes out of business, the householder can be left with a home that can’t be sold or is unmortgageable because of the repair work needed.

Those who have opted to take legal action find themselves running up legal bills to add to their financial woes.

Security manager Gavin Ward, 43, was forced to leave his family home in Bridgend, Wales, for four years and moved into rented accommodation after it was deemed ‘uninhabitable’ by the council because of damp, mould and unsafe electrics.

His insulation was fitted in 2011 by a company called Miller Pattison, which should never have gone ahead with the work because there was too much debris inside the wall cavity.

Mr Ward said: ‘Having not assessed the house correctly, they ploughed ahead and did the insulation install. They then installed it negligently.’

He didn’t notice a damp problem until 2016 — and by the time the full damage had been revealed, the cost of extracting the insulation and repairing the damage was put at £63,000.

He was still in dispute with Miller Pattison when it went into voluntary administration in 2019.

Eventually, Mr Ward cut his losses for the sake of his family’s health and managed to sell his house for £120,000 — about £60,000 less than it would have fetched in good condition.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy says: ‘Good home insulation plays a vital part in reducing carbon emissions and keeping energy costs down, which is why we are ensuring that all work completed under government schemes is done to the highest industry standards.

‘To protect customers, installations under government schemes must be carried out by a TrustMark registered installer, which offers a 25-year guarantee and is certified to the highest industry standards.’

CIGA refused to comment.

moneymail@dailymail.co.uk

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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