Wednesday, January 16News For London


Controversial tampon tax to be scrapped

Business, Politics
The so-called tampon tax could be abolished after British officials reached an agreement with EU leaders. All sanitary products in the UK are taxed at 5%, compared with the general VAT rate of 20%. But more than 300,000 people have signed a petition demanding it be reduced to 0%. Under current EU rules, all member states must agree before any country is allowed to introduce a VAT exemption. At a European Council meeting in Brussels last week, leaders of the EU’s 28 states agreed to relax the current rules on setting VAT. This would allow the UK, as well as other European member states, to remove VAT on products as they wish. Chancellor George Osborne said the government had “heard people’s anger over paying the tampon tax loud and clear.” It has been distributing the 5% ta

How does the UK government support start-ups?

The UK government backs many schemes that promote new start-ups. Some entrepreneurs, however, have criticised current efforts and fear the upcoming referendum on Brexit. "The start-up community started to spring up in London about five years ago," Vicky Hunter, the Head of Operations and Community at 3beards, a company which organises events for aspiring entrepreneurs, told Westminster World. “People were graduating from college, and there were literally no jobs”, she recalls while chatting at the Electric Showrooms pub in Shoreditch, the area in London highly populated by start-ups. The pub is overcrowded; there is a regular gathering for start-up enthusiasts. Several years after the recession, in October 2015, London topped the list of the most entrepreneur-friendly cities in

Uber and out: the battle for London’s streets

Business, Tech, Transport
The cacophonous din of some 8000 black taxis blasting their horns in sporadic unison tore through the afternoon of Wednesday the 10th of February. The usually bustling thoroughfare of Whitehall had been brought for a second time to a complete and surreal halt. For as far as could be seen in either direction, from Trafalgar Square to the Houses of Parliament, stretched row upon row of London’s iconic cabs. Centred outside of the guarded gates of Downing Street, the United Cabbies Group (UCG) and Rail, Maritime and Transport workers (RMT) protest had begun and the discontent was palpable. Since its 2012 London launch ‘ride’-hailing app Uber has angered the capital’s black cab industry by challenging, what has become to many, an outdated regulatory system. The company occupies a new s

There is talk of another recession, but what will this mean for young Londoners?

Business, Politics
On 12th of January the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) gave a stark warning to investing customers: “Sell everything ahead of a stock market crash. This looks very much like 2008.”  Whilst experts have said RBS might be overreacting, a month of crashing oil prices, turbulent stock markets and poor economic growth results has made the prospect rather more possible than before. Snapchat: Will there be a London crash? A crash and subsequent recession would hit everyone hard, with businesses going bust, fewer jobs and less cash to go round. What makes this worse? No one can predict if or when a recession will hit. If it does what will it mean for young Londoners who have already been battered by the wake the 2008 financial crisis? David Cameron recently dubbed young Londoners as “Ge

Multi-currency bank card to help cut travel expenses

Managing money while travelling or buying from foreign retailers online usually costs extra money. A virtual bank Revolut tries to cut such costs. “Every time you travel abroad and pay with your debit card, you lose money – about 30-40 euros, depending on the bank you use, for every 500 euros. We allow people to save these 30-40 euros,” Nickolay Storonsky, the founder of Revolut, said to Westminster World. Revolut is a British startup launched in July 2015.  The company produced a debit card with three accounts in different currencies – USD, EUR and GBP – and a mobile applications. Users need to download the app and order the card to be delivered home. The mobile application is used to top up in any of these currencies with a debit card or a bank transfer, and send money to other R

Women make better computer coders than men, study finds

Business, Tech
Computer code written by women has a higher approval rating than that written by men, according to a study carried out by US researchers. But the analysis also showed that if women revealed their gender, their coding contributions were less likely to be accepted. In what they claim is the “largest study to date on gender bias”, scientists from Cal Poly and North Carolina State University looked at contributions made to Github, a software sharing platform which has more than 12 million users. They found that 78.6% of pull requests (suggested code changes) made by women were accepted, compared with 74.6% by men. But the number of accepted pull requests from women fell to 62.5% when they specified that they were female. “While our big data study does not definitely prove th

Twitter has a new hope: “resurrected users”

Twitter is stuck: its user growth is flat for the first time ever. It is even shrinking in the US, while Facebook and Instagram are growing at rocket pace. Twitter disappointed investors and media with its financial results on Thursday. Last quarter, Twitter had 320 million monthly active users, and this quarter was very similar. However, excluding SMS fast followers, the audience actually fell quarter-on-quarter from 307 million to 305 million. Some Americans have even abandoned Twitter: its US audience fell from 66 million to 65 million. Twitter spokesperson Sam Hodges refused to break down their numbers by country. In total, the international monthly audience is flat – 254 million users in the fourth and third quarters of 2015. So where is Twitter's user base growing? Answer

Nestle ends sponsorship of athletics body IAAF

Business, Sport
Confectionery giant Nestle has withdrawn its sponsorship of the IAAF, the international athletics body, following the doping scandal which came to light last November. Media reports on Wednesday said that Nestle was concerned about damage to its reputation after the IAAF was accused of widespread corruption and bribery. The Swiss company said it had terminated its partnership with the IAAF Kids Athletics programme “with immediate effect” but it is understood the contract still had a year left to run. “This decision was taken in light of negative publicity associated with allegations of corruption and doping in sport made against the IAAF,” Nestle told the BBC. “We believe this could negatively impact our reputation and image and will therefore terminate our existing agreement

Courier Hermes steps up competition with new delivery slots

Parcel service Hermes is to introduce four-hour delivery slots, meaning customers will no longer have to wait at home all day for their online shopping.   The new feature will apply to both next-day and standard delivery purchases, as well as returns, according to retail trade press reports. Hermes is the first delivery company to offer such a narrow timeslot. Around ten companies now operate in the UK’s rapidly growing courier market, which is worth £7.8 billion annually. Hermes’ delivery window has been launched following a trial with UK retailers, and will be shortened to just two hours later this year. According to the company’s CEO Carole Woodhead, around two thirds of consumers worry about leaving their homes when they are expecting a delivery. “A Retail Week st

Users angry about Twitter changing its design

Business, Tech
Twitter changed its design to show tweets in a popup window. Many users, however, did not like the new feature. The new feature is called popup tweets. Before, Twitter users clicked it would just slide out to display inline. Now it pops open an entirely separate modal to show you a single tweet. The new popup model led to confusion. Some users accidentally unfollowed people. I keep on almost accidentally unfollowing people because of Twitter's stupid popup bollocks — Mermaid Princess (@Pastel__Mermaid) February 8, 2016 Others found that posts are difficult to read now. Wow that new @twitter POP UP box sure makes threaded tweets/stories hard to read, huh. What a piece of shit. Why do you do this, Twitter? — Angie Manfredi (@misskubelik) February 7, 2016 Twi