Business

8 months later, is BREXIT a working-class mistake?

Do you remember Brexit?

Do you remember the constant media coverage? The family arguments over leave or remain? The political moment that taken down two prime ministers. 

I would be surprised if you do not. But since we now live in a pandemic, the media chooses to constantly report COVID-19 instead.

If you think Brexit is a thing of the past, you are wrong.

Over eight months have passed since the United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU), and during those nine months, many sectors of the British economy have found themselves unprepared.

And those sectors happen to be predominantly working-class sectors.

But what does this mean?

The Financial Times report that since Britain left the EU, almost a third of British companies that trade with the EU have suffered a decline or loss of business. Moreover, combining Brexit and the pandemic, thinktank claims that Britain’s economy is on track to suffer more than £700bn.

People often shrug the idea of the country losing more than £700 billion. But realistically, it will collectively affect us in some way. And there is a high chance it will affect working-class people the most.

To start with, why is the economy important?

Scholar Devi Parameswari explains that the economy can help improve living standards, therefore making society a better place. According to the researcher, the economy is used towards institutions like science that “improves living standards. It partly depends on the priorities of society and what we consider most important”.

So now we know that the economy is important, what sectors will be hit the most?

The combination of Brexit and COVID-19 will affect the British one way or another. Investopedia has reported the “few winners” and the “many losers” of Brexit, and they suggest the fishing industry, and the food and agricultural sector – sectors that many working-class people work in – are two of the many losers of BREXIT. 

Nevertheless, the surprising winners of the Brexit vote are UK and EU manufacturing of specialised machine parts, the mining industry (that  professionals argue is unsustainable for the environment), and of course, US bankers.

What does this mean?

From the evidence suggesting which sectors will be hit the most, it is clear that working-class people will be affected the most. Intriguingly, statistics show that working-class men would be hit the most from Brexit. Yet statistics also show that 64% of the working class, and 55% of men voted for leave.

And with sectors such as the fishing industry – a predominantly working-class industry – having been “sold out”, was Brexit a working-class mistake? Or was it a plan?

According to the London Economic, the fishing industry is “worth <£500 million to UK GDP (or 0.1 percent, 0.02 per cent of GDP)”. The organisation further explains that since the industry has “no money with which [the tories has] to lobby… it was logical that the Tories wouldn’t care about fishing”.

Moreover, with the agricultural sector bringing 0.6% of GDP, do the politicians care about the farmers – with 56% of them voting to leave. Although the idea of making free trade deals, and receiving food from other countries is apparent. Yet, the working class will be the ones eating American chlorinated or hormone-pumped meat as they may not be able to afford food from the EU.

Although Thinktank reports that the economy is expected to grow by 5.7% this year and to recover its pre-pandemic level at the end of 2022, the working class must prepare themselves for the real disaster – Brexit.

Candle maker of the year shares tips on how to manage a small business during the pandemic

We are living in an unpredictable time where a deadly virus has forced the world into a global pandemic.

During this time, corporate businesses have taken advantage of everyone being locked at home. Research FDI states that Amazon has reported a 70% increase in earnings in the first nine months of 2020. Moreover, Global News claims that Facebook revenue has increased 48%, due to the surge in digital ad spending as consumers shopped online.

On the other hand, small business owners have not matched the success corporate businesses have achieved. Statistics from Statista show that as of April 2020, nearly one-quarter of all businesses temporarily closed or paused during the pandemic.

Additionally, simply business claims that 61% of small business owners have had serious financial concerns at some stage of the pandemic, and 81% of small businesses said they have not had enough support from the government.

Nevertheless, some small businesses have managed to maintain success during the pandemic.

Amy Howden is the owner of a successful candle business – that is eco-friendly – located in Widnes. The business owner has not only managed to maintain success in her business throughout the pandemic but has also managed to grow her company.

Moreover, The Starlight Candle Company has been not only been promoted in Vogue, but has ben sent to independent store Flying Solo in New York , and has won many awards such as at the Candle Company of the Year at the Northwest and Manchester Prestige Awards 2020/2021.

However, a key reason why her business has been so successful in the pandemic is mainly due to her products. Howden explains that selling home-based products has been an advantage to her company, as “everyone was stuck at home; everyone started to spend their money on products that can be used at home instead of things like family days out or holidays”.

“Candles are a home product, and as everyone was at home people wanted to make their houses smell nice”.

The Starlight Candle Company sells various candle products – that have countless range of scents that once lit or melted, reach all around the house.

One of the most important pieces of advice Amy suggests is to search for, and if available use all of the government funds that are available to you specifically during the pandemic.

Howden stressed to “definitely be on the lookout for government grants or loans that are available at the moment”. The businesswoman was eligible to use the bounce back loan scheme (BBLS) – a scheme that is now withdrawn. The scheme “absolutely helped me and my business” as it enabled small businesses to access finance more quickly during the pandemic.

Nevertheless, the candle maker has noticed that since restrictions have eased her sales have “slightly” been impacted. However, Howden expressed the importance of using social media to market her company and products.

“As more people go back to work, and restrictions are easing, fewer people are staying at home meaning fewer people are buying stuff for their households. But social media has definitely helped me. Using free tools such as Facebook, and Instagram is beneficial for any small business”.

More importantly, Amy conveyed that word of mouth is her most impactful source of marketing as a small business owner. 

“I think word of mouth has definitely helped me the most. What has helped the business is , myself, my friends, or my family spreading the name of my business to their friends or family”. 

You can visit the Northwest and Manchester Prestige Awards candle company of the year 2020/2021 here.

 

Is society becoming cashless? A look into whether cash is declining, and its replacement

The question of whether we are heading towards a cashless society seems to be becoming clearer, as various statistics support the question. A completely cashless society may seem like a futuristic idea for the most world. However, the world – especially during a time a deadly virus may contaminate cash – is rushing towards a society without cash faster than ever.

 

Is cash really on the decline?

 

Although statistics prove that cashless methods such as debit cards are prominent, the use of cash remains prominent. However, each country has different favoured methods of payments.

 

Britain

The statistics already prove that the majority of Brits use cashless payments. A study from Merchant Machine reports that 91% of British people own a debit card. Besides, 21% of Britons are willing to go completely cashless. Moreover, a study from Diebold Nixdorf concluded that within the week of the 13th and 20th of May, 61% of British people aged 55 and over used cash. However, cash payments declined as the age range decreased, which suggests that cash seems to be favoured depending on generation. 56% of Brits aged between 35-54 used cash, and 46% of those aged 18-35 used cash within the same week. Although still in use, cash use is declining with age.

 

Sweden

Despite Sweden being the first nation to introduce banknotes, Sweden aims to be the first country to end cash and become the first cashless country in the world. According to Sweden’s central bank, the proportion of Swedes that use cash has fallen from 39% to 9% in ten years. Also, Eurostat conveys that 82% of the Swedish population makes purchases online, making Sweden the top of every European country.

 

China

China – a country that has over 1 billion people – is also another nation that is leading the way to a cashless society. Finextra estimates that mobile payments in the country already account for four out of every five payments. Moreover, the People’s Bank of China has been developing a digital yuan, a central bank digital currency that aims to replace cash in circulation.

 

El Salvador

The central American country has revealed plans to introduce the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as legal tender. With El Salvador not having its own currency and only using the US dollar, the President explained on Twitter that “, 70% of El Salvador’s population doesn’t have a bank account and work in the informal economy”. By adopting Bitcoin as legal tender, the cryptocurrency “will bring financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development for our country”.

 

What does this suggest?

 

Clearly, digital currencies are becoming more prominent in each part of the globe. Worldplay claims that 44.5 percent of online transactions worldwide are from digital and mobile wallet payments. Moreover, with countries like El Salvador adopting cryptocurrency Bitcoin as national legal tender – and China suppressing Bitcoin but creating their own centralised cryptocurrency ‘Cyber Yuan – it is evident that digital currencies and crypto-currencies are more common than we think they are.

 

 

Cryptocurrencies, and the impact they could have in our future. 

 

 

Image belongs to Shutterstock

What are cryptocurrencies?

 

Dubbed as “bank-free internet money” cryptocurrencies are decentralised online currencies. Dr. Douglas Arner, a professor from the University of Hong Kong that specialises in economic and financial law, regulation, and development, explains decentralised currencies as “currencies that not one person controls. This is different from Fiat currencies – such as the Great British Pound, the European Euro, the Japanese Yen, or the American Dollar – because they are all centralised; meaning they are stored in banks and controlled by governments. The professor conveys that Bitcoin – the most popular cryptocurrency -was created “in response to the global financial crisis in 2008”.

 

“Bitcoin was created following the global financial crisis in 2008, as a reaction to government-controlled money. Bitcoin was created since no government controls the currency, just a computer”.

 

“Instead of trusting money, trust technology”.

 

Cryptocurrencies are created, distributed, traded, and stored through a decentralized ledger system, known as a blockchain.

 

What is blockchain?

 

The best description of blockchain is how online data is structured and shared. Blockchain is split into two categories: data storage system and cryptography system.

 

Data storage system

In order to store any data, a storage system is needed. As cryptocurrency uses data instead of gold or paper, data storage is required.

 

Cryptographic system

A cryptographic system a way of hiding data, meaning that only certain people can see it.

Blockchain is different from the typical database, as it stores data in blocks that are then chained together. The blockchain is recorded with cryptographic signatures called hash. Once new data is entered and filled into a block, it is chained chronologically onto the previous complete blocks.

The most common use so for blockchain is a ledger (a collection) for a transaction.

 

Why cryptocurrencies?

 

Relating back to the financial crisis in 2008, many people including professor Douglas Arner suggest that cryptocurrencies are “safer” than normal currencies. This is because certain cryptocurrencies are decentralised by governments.

“With [certain] cryptocurrencies, you know the government is not involved. In that sense, it is more trustworthy”.

However, with recent news stating that China is condemning Bitcoin, the value of Bitcoin has dramatically decreased and still fluctuates to this day.