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Cash-strapped Dudley Council to fund £2.5m car park

A multi-storey car park, creating hundreds of new spaces in a town centre, has moved a step closer with ground surveys being carried out at the site.

But where the cash will come from to pay for the £2.5million project for Tower Street in Dudley remains unclear as finance bosses at the cash-strapped council bid to avoid taking out a loan.

Earlier this year, the council announced it was moving forward with plans for the scheme that was first unveiled two years ago following repeated calls from traders for more parking in the heart of the town.

Does Dudley need more parking spaces? Leave your comments below.

Work on ground surveys has taken place at the site as the council continues to put together a planning application for the project.

Officers are also applying for money to a growth fund to pay for the car park. If the bid is unsuccessful, the council will look to take out a loan for the scheme.

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for transportation, said the parking was a justified investment to support town centre regeneration.

He said: “A business plan is being put together and a couple of options are being looked at to fund the scheme.

“An application has been made for money from a growth fund – I’d rather we had the grant than taking out a loan, of course.”

The car park will have between 200 and 250 spaces.

See also: Work to start on Dudley town centre.

Plans have been changed to move the development back from the street to leave an open space.

The space could be used for retail units.

Councillor Ahmed said: “We are doing the ground survey and plans are now being drawn up for a formal planning application asking for approval for the scheme.

“However, it is not likely work will begin building the car park until 2016.”

He added: “The car park is needed. If you look at Flood Street car park, most of it is not used. But if people can leave their car right in the centre of town I believe that will bring more people in.

Would better transport links stop you from driving into the town centre? Leave your comments below.

“This is about attracting business to support the town economy.”

The car park would be pay and display.

The plans move forward as the council continues work on a new £6million market place in the town centre.

There are also plans for a new supermarket and other improvements to the historic town centre. There are three proposals on the table for supermarkets, two on the Cavendish House site and one at Falcon House off King Street.

Visitors to the town centre can currently leave their cars in Stafford Street and Flood Street car parks.

See also: West Midlands congestion charge plan returns.

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Cash Back Vs Reward Points: Which One Is Better?

Bangalore: No doubt, credit cards have tremendously changed the way we live. However, it’s better to carry some extra bunch of cash every time you step out of the house, with due caution. Using credit card to make high transactions has proved to be more useful, than cash and carry. Because, you have the proof of transaction on which you can always rely upon. Apart from these benefits, credit cards also comfort the cardholder by providing benefits in form or rewards or cash back. Most people many people are consumed as to, which card is beneficial for them. Before taking a look at other advantages, let’s look at the advantages of Cash Back and Reward Points, listed by Bankbazaar.

Rewards Scheme

Reward schemes are one of the oldest forms of credit card benefit that is offered. The amount that is rewards on your credit card depends upon the type of card you have. Usually, gold, platinum and privileged cased get more reward points than just normal credit card. Like for instance, when you make a spending of 150, you will get 1 point on the normal credit card. But whereas, if you spend the same amount from a platinum credit card you will be rewarded with 2 or 3 points on your expenditure.

Cash Back Scheme

At the time of inflation where prices of all the products are rising and haunting the common people, the only option left is to cut down on expenses and choose cash back on credit cards. That is because, cash back credit cards will enable the card holder to by earning free cash whenever he makes a purchase. Infact, through this, you can also help your credit card ratings.

Also Read:
7 Smart Financial Moves Before You Enter the Age of 30
Are You Opting To Lower Home Loan Rate? A Quick Guide To Follow

[…]

Micro credit loans help youths expand business

YOUNG entrepreneurs who are strapped for cash are benefitting from the 1MCA Micro Credit Loan Scheme for Youth as it has helped them expand their businesses.

A total of 735 successful applicants nationwide have received micro loans amounting to RM12.865mil, with the largest number of applicants from Selangor (142) who received RM2.395mil, followed by Johor (137) who received RM2.4mil.

Petaling Jaya Utara Barisan Nasional coordinator Datuk Dr Wong Sai Hou said the 1MCA Micro Credit Loan Scheme introduced last year had proven to be a great help for young entrepreneurs. The loan scheme is managed by Koperasi Jaya Diri (Kojadi), which is providing its professional financial and administrative services.

We want to see as many youngsters make it in business and this scheme is open to all Malaysians, Dr Wong said.

Dr Wong, together with 1MCA Micro Credit committee secretary Loh Seng Kok, handed over cheques to three entrepreneurs.

Sub-contractor Mohd Salim Mohd Ali Sugary, 27, received RM15,000 while electrician Tan Tong Kiat, 45, was given RM20,000 and photo album designer Wong Ming Hui, 30, received RM15,000.

The scheme, with a maximum of RM20,000 for each loan, is open to youths of all races aged between 21 and 45. The applicant is required to be a member of Kojadi with RM110 in initial shares and membership entrance fees.

Loh said the micro credit scheme was easy to apply for, where those who fitted the age profile could submit their business proposals to the MCA headquarters for consideration.

Mohd Salim said he was glad that the loan scheme also had a three-month grace period before repayments were supposed to begin.

Another positive factor is that the interest rate is fixed, he said.

Mohd Salim added that he would use the loan to purchase construction equipment.

Wong, meanwhile, said the loan was crucial to buffer extra expenses as the photo albums she initially created were sold at below market price, and now she could expand her business.

Also present was NGO Voice of Women leader Chew Hoong Ling, who said the micro credit scheme was a good way to encourage entrepreneurship amongst young Malaysians.

1MCA Micro Credit provides a good start for people looking to start their own business without going into debt, she said.

[…]

Cash transfer debut today

New Delhi, Dec. 31: Over two lakh beneficiaries of welfare schemes will from New Year’s Day see the money flow straight into their bank accounts with the launch of the Centre’s cash-transfer scheme, a “game-changer” to replace a system under which it costs Rs 3 to send a rupee.

The transfer scheme will be launched tomorrow in 20 districts and cover seven welfare plans, mostly stipends for weaker sections. But food, fertiliser and fuel subsidies ‘ which guzzle the bulk of subsidies the direct transfers aim to reduce ‘ will not be covered in the initial phase.

The 20 districts are part of a larger batch of 43 spread over 15 states where the scheme will be launched by March to cover BPL families, but none will be in Bengal. The states chosen are those that have made rapid progress in issuing Aadhaar, the multi-purpose unique identity cards.

The spread of bank branches was another key factor. The states are Punjab, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Daman and Diu and Puducherry.

“We are proceeding with caution, 20 districts from January 1. In the seven schemes, the money will be transferred using the UIDAI platform,” finance minister P. Chidambaram said today. UIDAI or the Unique Identification Authority of India is in charge of the Aadhaar project.

The seven welfare plans include matric scholarships for SCs, STs and OBCs, Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahayata Yojana (for pregnant women), Dhanalakshmi scheme and stipends for SC/ST job-seekers.

Other than the first 20 districts, the scheme will be rolled out in 11 districts from February 1 and 12 more from March 1. “We have been moving with great caution so we don’t make mistakes,” Chidambaram said, calling the scheme a “game-changer” in governance. All districts in the country will be covered by end 2013, he added.

The payments will be transferred directly to the beneficiaries’ Aadhaar-linked bank accounts ‘ those opened with Aadhaar cards as ID proof.

Those who don’t have such cards but are eligible for the benefits will also get the payments through “bank correspondents”, officially appointed intermediaries who will receive the payments in their accounts and then transfer it to the eventual beneficiaries against receipt papers.

Anganwadi (social health group) workers, kirana store owners, members of co-operative societies are among some who could be the intermediaries. The aim is to phase out such intermediaries as more Aadhaar cards are issued.

On food and fertiliser subsidies, the current system will continue, Chidambaram said. “At the moment, there is no intention to transfer subsides on food, fertiliser, diesel and kerosene. Here, existing system will continue because there are complex issues.”

On LPG, which accounts for the bulk of fuel subsidies, the minister said: “I don’t know when it will be covered.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month said the scheme was aimed at ensuring that the subsidies of over Rs 3 lakh crore reach the right people. Finance ministry officials said it costs the government Rs 3 to transfer one rupee to the pockets of beneficiaries. The rest is lost in administrative expenses, waste and corruption.

Poll factors are at play, too. The UPA hopes to make the cash transfers a key plank in the 2014 polls, hoping the scheme will help it win voter support, much like the NREGA, the rural job scheme, and farm loan waivers had helped the ruling alliance cruise to victory in 2009.

Advocates of the scheme have cited a recent World Bank study that suggests a direct link between cash transfers and voting behaviour. The study found that such beneficiaries prefer any party that implements cash transfers.

The biggest and best known of all cash transfer schemes in the developing world is the Bolsa Familia in Brazil, catering to over 12 million families.

Mumbai launch

Mumbai and its suburbs are among the six districts in Maharashtra where the scheme will be launched tomorrow. The state is among the leaders in Aadhaar cards.

[…]

More cash for elderly downsizing flat or selling lease

ELDERLY Singaporeans would get more cash upfront and need to put in less to top up their savings accounts if they choose to downgrade to a smaller flat or sell the tail-end of their lease back to the Housing Board.

The National Development Ministry said on Thursday that it had enhanced both the Silver Housing Bonus scheme and the Lease Buyback Scheme in response to public feedback.

These schemes are targeted at lower-income Singaporeans aged 55 and above who earn S$3,000 (RM7,500) or less a month. They are typically those whose children have moved out and now need more money for daily expenses.

Those who apply for the Silver Housing Bonus will now receive S$20,000 (RM50,000) in cash and enjoy up to S$100,000 (RM250,000) of the cash proceeds from the flat sale after topping up their retirement account to at least S$60,000 (RM150,000) and paying off the existing home loan.

When the scheme was first announced in February this year, it was proposed that all the cash proceeds were to be funnelled into the retirement account of the lessees, which could amount to S$139,000 (RM347,500) per person.

Those opting for the lease buyback scheme now can keep up to S$100,000 (RM250,000) of the cash proceeds, so long as minimum sum in the retirement account which starts from S$139,000 (RM347,500) has been met. The eligibility net has also been cast wider.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the enhancements would enable more Singaporeans to take advantage of the schemes. The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

[…]

More cash for elderly downgraders

By Jacqueline Woo
My Paper
Friday, Dec 28, 2012

SINGAPORE – Two schemes that help the elderly monetise their Housing Board (HDB) flats to meet retirement needs have been tweaked to offer them more cash on hand.

From Feb 1, lower-income elderly HDB households that sign up for the enhanced Silver Housing Bonus (SHB) programme to downsize their flat will no longer be required to use all net proceeds from the sale of their home to top up their Central Provident Fund (CPF) retirement account.

Instead, they will need to top up only $60,000 in their CPF retirement account, and will receive a $20,000 cash bonus from the Government in return. Under the initial scheme announced on Feb 17 this year, the bonus would have been disbursed as $15,000 in cash and $5,000 in CPF funds.

Such households will also receive up to $100,000 in cash from the sales proceeds, with the excess, if any, going into the lessee’s CPF retirement account.

The SHB is available to elderly households with a gross monthly income of $3,000 or less, where at least one lessee is a Singapore citizen aged 55 or above.

The other programme that was tweaked is the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS), which allows lower-income elderly folk aged 63 or older and living in three-room or smaller HDB flats to sell the tail-end lease of their home to the Government.

From Feb 1, lessees who apply for the enhanced LBS can use net proceeds from the sale of the tail-end lease to top up their CPF retirement accounts as required, and keep up to $100,000 of the proceeds in cash.

Currently, they can keep a maximum of only $5,000 in cash, while the rest of the net proceeds will go into buying an annuity plan with the CPF Board.

Also, the LBS bonus will be doubled to $20,000, which will be given out in cash.

This differs from the current scheme, which splits the $10,000 bonus into equal parts cash and CPF funds.

Changes made to the eligibility criteria for the LBS also mean that more lower-income elderly households will qualify for the scheme.

From Feb 1, the LBS will be extended to households that are enjoying more than one housing subsidy and to those who previously owned private property.

The scheme will also be open to elderly households with more than $5,000 outstanding in their housing loan, as they will no longer need to have a minimum amount of net proceeds from the transaction to qualify.

The changes, announced in a joint press release by the Ministry of National Development, HDB and CPF Board, were made in response to public feedback.

Among those looking forward to the enhanced SHB is Madam Indarani.

The 56-year-old logistics supervisor plans to downsize her five-room flat in Bukit Batok to a three-room one, as two of her children live overseas and the third will move out sometime next year.

Commenting on the current scheme, Madam Indarani said it is less helpful because elderly people need more cash on hand, especially for those with high medical expenses.

“I don’t want to depend on my children financially,” she added.

Applications for both the enhanced SHB and the enhanced LBS will be open from Feb 1.

Elderly households whose first housing transaction took place on or after Feb 17 this year will be eligible for the enhanced SHB.

Similarly, households whose LBS application took place on or after Feb 17 this year will be eligible for the enhanced LBS.


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[…]

Payday Loans: The Scottish Parliament Must Act |

Image cccs-infographic-payday-loans-for-unemployed.jpg

By Alan McIntosh

Pay day lending is a dangerous business. There are no doubts about it. It preys on the needs of the vulnerable that have been created by failure: the failure of our banking system; the failure of our consumer right laws; the failure of our benefit system; and most importantly our failure to protect the most vulnerable.

It less seduces it’s victims with the honeyed fragrance of easy money, than pedals quick fixes to them with all the subtlety and tact of drug dealers. It targets its victims by identifying their weaknesses. Can’t pay the rent: that’s okay we can help; can’t feed the children: here you go; electricity about to be cut: don’t worry.

The experience of many with pay day loans is one of helplessness and desperation. Helplessness as each month the loan rolls over and you know you are sinking deeper and deeper into a hole. Desperation as you realise the possibility of being able to replace the children’s shoes, clothes and uniforms is growing increasingly remote. The desperation that comes from the realisation that one day it may be your children who will be going to school with inappropriate shoes; jackets; lunches.

It causes depression; fear of answering the phone; avoidance of opening the door. Mail lies unopened. Strangers intrude on your doorstep and violate you and your family’s privacy seeking payment.

And Fergus Ewing, the Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism calls this a “legal, fair and transparent” business.

I don’t blame the Scottish Government for the pay day loan industry. How could I? They don’t have legislative authority over consumer credit laws, they can’t cap the interest rates and they don’t have any control over the key economic levers they need to boost employment and growth in our economy.

I can be angry with them, however, for not going to war with them. I can be angry that they won’t do more to discourage the use of these loans, to promote alternatives such as credit unions and I can be angry that they won’t use the powers they have to send a message that they aren’t welcome here.

Fergus Ewing takes the view this would be “inappropriate”; but for reasons of public health it was not inappropriate to take action to discourage smoking; it was not inappropriate to use our existing powers to restrict the use of alcohol through minimum pricing and it wasn’t inappropriate for the Scottish Government to challenge the authority of the Supreme Court.

Pay day loans are a scourge on our society and have grown up and thrived in the cesspit of financial failure that we have been exposed to in the last few years.

But powers do exist which would allow the Scottish Government to act now.

Debt law is an area that has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. It is possible for certain debts to be treated differently and for interest rates to be frozen or varied once someone is struggling to pay them. Already such a Scheme exists in the form of the Debt Arrangement Scheme, but although this allows pay day loans to be included and for all interest, fees and charges to be frozen, it takes too long to use and allows payday loan companies to benefit from dragging their feet.

It’s within the legislative authority of the Scottish Government to create a new scheme or amend the existing one to create a more streamlined approach with specific rules for pay day loans. The powers allowing for such a scheme exist in the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2004 s7 and s7a.

This, however, requires political commitment: a commitment borne out of a belief that pay day loans are nothing but fair or transparent and the only thing that would be inappropriate is to do nothing. A commitment that is borne out of an understanding of how closely related these firms and their practices are to the issue of poverty; and a commitment that is driven by a belief that the powers of the Scottish Parliament exist if for no other reason, but to make the lives of Scots better and to protect the most vulnerable.

Alan McIntosh is a Legal and Money Advice Training Manger and regularly blogs at www.morallybankrupt.co.uk . A discussion paper by Govan Law Centre proposing a Debt Arrangement Scheme for payday loans can be read here.

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