This week’s TWTW is penned by Alex.
As we come to the end of another tumultuous week my podcast recommendation is the Guardian’s Politics Weekly: “Conservative Special: Misplaced Truss?” As we say Hasta La Vista to Johnsonism “whatever that was”, host John Harris alongside with journalist Katy Balls and ex-MP David Gauke discuss what is at stake in the Truss v Sunak race. The podcast was a good insight not only into the promises made by both candidates and what they mean but also into how the election process functions and how it will influence the results.
Reflection of the week
A week dominated by inflation, the leadership race, and an impossible task to get journalists on the phone, I wasn’t quite sure what my reflection of the week should be. However, I think it has to be the heatwave, which was a stark reminder of the climate emergency that is accelerating across time and space. Climate scientists have warned us that the UK is no longer a ‘cool country’ and unless we adapt quickly, we risk thousands of excess deaths. Meanwhile, the likes of Kylie Jenner, the new so-called ‘climate criminal’ decided to travel just 17 minutes on a private jet (the equivalent of a 45-minute drive from Gatwick to Heathrow…)
This opinion piece in the Guardian from climate scientist Ella Gilbert discusses how some people’s dismissal of the heatwave and comparisons to the 1976 heatwave are ridiculous. And as we all know “the only way to avoid these sorts of extreme events becoming the norm is to level up the ambition of our climate policies and deliver on our existing pledges.” It will be interesting to see how the Conservative leadership race and indeed the new leader approaches climate change. But unfortunately with the dire climate voting record of Liz Truss in particular, it’s not looking good.
What else was in the news?
The team have also identified other interesting stories from the week below:
Netflix: Why some viewers are unsubscribing and switching off
Summary: Netflix’s latest financial results posted this week revealed that the streaming giant lost almost 1 million subscribers between April and July this year as the cost of living soared. This piece discusses how UK households are increasingly considering the number of subscriptions they have as the cost of living rises, as well as many no longer seeing the value in what could be called the Netflix equivalent of the PR “spray and pray” technique when it comes to producing shows.
So what: Many businesses will be watching these latest developments keenly. Is introducing an AVOD tier enough for Netflix to bounceback after its Covid boom starts to flop? Or do they have a bigger problem when it comes to Brits’ changing expectations for streamed content?
Summary: Germany is heavily reliant on Russia’s natural gas. If Putin were to cut off supplies, reports suggest that car output could drop by 17pc, in a worst case scenario.
So what? Germany has ambitious to maintain its position as an automotive leader as the industry evolves, delivering 15m EVs by 2030. Gas is crucial for many production processes, but under Germany’s rationing plan for gas-related emergencies, auto plants are not deemed high priority and can be shut down. The big OEMs have all made huge investments in their electrification plans but bringing these to fruition will be very difficult if demand is hit by the cost-living-crisis and production falls due to gas shortages.
Spies dispute tech firms’ privacy claims
Summary: A report has outlined how technology can be used to detect online child sex abuse without sacrificing privacy rights. Many tech companies enforce end-to-end encryption, which prevents third parties from accessing data. This has, however, raised fears that online predators could go undetected. Spy chiefs have detailed how AI can effectively be used to prevent child sex abuse while preserving end-to-end encryption.
So what? The rise of the internet has created a variety of problems that are difficult to be monitored. A primary example is online predators. The anonymity that is presented to users by big tech companies (such as Meta and Twitter) is extremely problematic and has raised fresh calls for more thorough internet regulation. However, this has increased concerns over privacy and the sharing of data/information with big tech. Subsequently, the arrival of artificial intelligence that can scan for child abuse material, without violating the privacy rights of end-to-end encryption, is a revolutionary development
Summary: Some cities in the US enjoying the population boom, such as Arizona and Fort Worth, Texas, may become unliveable due to extreme temperatures. These cities have lured people with ‘cheap’ and ‘expansive’ properties, plentiful jobs and cheaper cost of living. However, these cities stretch across the “sun belt” of US and with the reality of the climate emergency, this growth also comes with the cost of record wildfires, droughts, heat that will trigger a range of medical conditions and excess deaths.
So what: Essentially, cities are becoming even hotter due to rapid urban expansion. The waste heat from cars and buildings and lack of green spaces, are exacerbating the climate crisis. These cities will also possibly continue to be cheaper to live as heat and extreme weather becomes more of a factor when choosing a place to live. For those who don’t have much of a choice or the economic means to decide where to live, they will remain in a vulnerable position if governmental action is not taken quickly enough.
What HR can learn from retailers’ recent payroll errors
Summary: The impact of pay mistakes on Asda and Next workers hit the headlines earlier this week, specifically, systematic payroll errors. The wider issue of these careless errors are the implications on workers’ wellbeing, as well as their ability to buy basic goods, pay bills and avoiding debt, whilst also affecting key business performance metrics. This also comes at a time when many people are feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis.
So what? A good payroll can be a key gateway to higher growth within businesses. Large employers shouldn’t be taking any risks with the delivery of employee pay, especially for their lowest-paid workers. Gender pay reporting and other factors have always helped improve relations between payroll and HR and as a result HR work more closely on issues rather than leaving payroll until the end as a reward design. Payroll professionals and HR need to not only work together but be fully aware of rules and procedures so that mistakes like this don’t repeat themselves.
Inflation at 40-year high of 9.4% as cost of living crisis mounts
Summary: ONS stats show Inflation in June rose from 9.1% to 9.4%, meaning Britain had the highest rate of inflation among the G7 in June
So what? This means that there will be even more pain for household budgets as the high rate of inflation is continuing to outpace wage growth, bringing down the real value of incomes across the UK. Economists are warning that the pinnacle of inflation has yet to be reached, however with another round of increasing energy bills in October it is expected to be pushed higher. When the energy price cap is once again modified in October, the Bank of England anticipates a further acceleration, surpassing 11%, which will lead to average annual costs exceeding £3,000
Summary: As part of the new Financial Services and Markets Bill the UK government have decided to bring stable coins into regulatory scope.
So what? This highlights the significant role that cryptoassets are going to play in the UK economy and financial system in the future. This article also suggests that, in order for the UK to not fall behind other global financial centres such as NY or Paris, there will be further consultations and legislation implemented this year.
Summary: The latest teachers’ pay rise of 5% will ‘worsen a shortage of staff after a pay freeze in the last financial year and pay “pay erosion since 2010”’ according to leaders. Unions representing teachers have expressed concerns that the rise represents “a significant real-terms cut to the salaries of most teachers and all school leaders” and are now considering strike action as a result.
So what?: Teachers now look more likely to join the ranks of transport and royal mail workers as the so-called “summer of discontent” continues to materialise. With inflation now at 9.4% education budgets are now going to be stretched even further to bump up wages and stave off industrial action. But a longer term crisis continues to escalate in the sector – lower real wages are placing the country’s supply line of teachers in an even more vulnerable position. In the context of the current scrappy leadership content, this will be a delicate topic Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will need to tread along carefully.