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As inflation rises and food prices continue to climb, many households across the UK have made the decision to go without broadband this year. 

According to a survey conducted by Citizens Advice, up to one million individuals have canceled their broadband subscriptions in the past year due to the high cost of living, attempting to save money, and as part of their debt consolidation. The charity suggests that these individuals could have benefited from cheaper social tariffs or special low-cost packages. However, watchdog Ofcom has issued a warning, stating that 4.3 million eligible people are missing out on these deals.

In response to the situation, the government has collaborated with Ofcom and the industry to introduce a variety of products to the market, aiming to encourage the uptake of social tariffs. These affordable options are available in 99% of the UK and start from as low as £10 per month, according to the government's statement.

To simplify the process for benefit claimants signing up for social tariffs, a broadband eligibility checker has been introduced, and major providers such as Sky and Virgin Media have already joined the initiative. 

Despite these efforts, Ofcom's findings reveal that the adoption of social tariffs remains very low, with only about 5% of eligible individuals taking advantage of them. However, this percentage has quadrupled since January of the previous year.

Citizens Advice conducted a survey of 6,000 people, which indicated that those receiving universal credit were six times more likely to have discontinued their broadband services in the past 12 months compared to non-claimants. Moreover, the charity expressed concern that the problem could worsen, as benefit claimants were four times more likely to fall behind on their broadband bills.

Ofcom reports that one in three households in the UK struggles to afford communication services, and they have called on companies to do more to promote social tariffs. Dame Clare Moriarty, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, stated the need for the watchdog to hold firms accountable and improve the uptake of these tariffs. She pointed out that people were being priced out of internet access at an alarming rate, and social tariffs should serve as the industry's safety net.

Other campaigners also highlight the fact that internet access has become an essential utility for day-to-day life. Those who cannot afford data face challenges in managing benefits, applying for jobs online, and benefiting from cheaper online prices, further exacerbating their financial difficulties.

The government claims that its job centre staff regularly guide claimants to relevant information on social tariffs, and individuals can access computers for their job searches at local job centres. Citizens Advice shared the story of Rob, a 63-year-old who has been unable to afford broadband since 2012. Rob explained that not having internet access at home significantly hampers his job applications and limits his access to services such as his GP, online help, and shopping.

The government highlights various measures it has taken to assist those who find broadband unaffordable. In June, after negotiations with the government, leaders from major broadband and mobile operators agreed to a set of public commitments aimed at supporting customers facing difficulties paying their bills. 

However, the Digital Poverty Alliance, echoing the concerns of Citizens Advice, notes that while the uptake of social tariffs is slowly improving, it still falls far short of the levels necessary to ensure digital inclusion for all households. The organisation argues that even with an affordable social tariff, households in severe poverty may still struggle to afford essential connectivity.


Every year, consumers lean into the green movement, making more and more decisions about where to shop and what to buy based on a company's reverence for the environment.

Understanding and exploring this idea through the lens of energy saving doesn't just make a business more attractive, it can also generate appreciable long-term savings.

Customer Concern

According to an April 2022 study, the environment and sustainability are firmly in the mind of modern consumers. In this survey, 81% of respondents said the environment's future was a prime concern for them, with nearly 80% of US customers making some purchases based on sustainability. 

The exact meaning of sustainability for customers in this survey varied, but it tended to revolve around a business's interest in reducing waste, cutting emissions, and recycling. More than two-thirds of the customers in this survey said they change their shopping habits if a business wasn't operating sustainably.

"20220810-RD-LSC-0308" (Public Domain) by USDAgov

In a modern business, some of the most visible moves made towards a greener motive are found in energy savings. Anything that burns through energy can and will be noted, and this effect will have profound implications for customer retention.

From the right perspective, this ideal offers significant opportunities to explore for savvy businesses, with energy-saving and green solutions aiding both customer interest and business savings.

Energy-Saving Solutions

Fortunately, in the modern environment, cost and energy-saving solutions can cover a wide range of useful products. The most visible of these are LED lighting systems to replace older incandescent bulbs. Though LEDs will often require a slightly higher initial investment, their lower ongoing energy costs and extended lifespans will more than make up the difference by the time they need replacement.

LED bulbs can use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25% longer than traditional solutions, making their adoption a must. 

Similar advantages can be found in practically every part of business systems, where modern solutions are often vastly superior to the status quo. In retail, for example, older automatic hand cleaners are popular, but they can also be energy inefficient.

New solutions like a modern intelligent soap dispenser can allow a hybrid approach, using battery power initially and then falling back to manual operation once the battery is drained. This saves cost over a system that is operable 24/7 and can be better combined with renewable energy sources and smart technology to recharge at the best possible time. 


"Fremont Street Experence. Las Vegas." (Public Domain) by Bernard Spragg


Going into the 2030s has provided challenges, but the technological era had also continued to provide cutting-edge solutions. With so much emphasis put on green solutions by customers, and with money-saving options being more environmentally friendly than ever, there's never been a better time to step forward into new possibilities. Like the rest of humanity, business needs to look forward, and in doing so see a more cost-efficient horizon.


In 2022 energy prices increased by 8%, leaving companies with fewer funds to invest in their growth. Start-ups and small businesses take the worst hit, as they already have limited revenue. By ensuring proper protocols around the office, you can efficiently reduce energy bills and have more funds to spend on business projects. A few such protocols are mentioned below. 

1 - Reduce HVAC Use

The HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system accounts for 40% of a building’s energy consumption. Decreasing the thermostat in winter can significantly reduce your energy bills. Instead of heating, correctly seal your windows and doors by installing weather strips and door sweeps to stop cold air. You can also install double-pane windows and hang insulated curtains. 

You can improve insulation in your walls by filling in holes in the structure and adding new insulation every 20 years. These measures will keep your office warm by preventing cold air from entering while reducing the burden on your heating system. 

You must also regularly clean the HVAC system’s filters so that debris does not accumulate, so the HVAC requires more energy for effective performance. In offices, ensure only the manager can control the HVAC settings. They can set an optimum temperature that is energy efficient and comfortable. They should also encourage employees to wear warm clothing inside the building and rely less on the heating. 

2 - Energy Efficient Lighting

Energy-efficient lighting, such as LEDs, is a great way to reduce energy bills. Not only do they use less energy, but they are brighter and last longer in comparison to traditional bulbs. You must optimize your office’s lighting plan. You can achieve maximum brightness in minimum lighting by efficiently placing light sources. 

Team leaders and managers should encourage employees to close extra lights and only use them per requirement. You can also install large windows and use blinds that allow maximum sunlight to enter your office. This measure will keep the office bright and warm. Ensure that whoever locks up the office double-checks to ensure no one leaves the lights on. Consider adding motion sensor lights in less frequented rooms such as washrooms and meeting rooms. They will automatically close when no one is present, reducing energy consumption. 

3 - Install Solar Panels

Solar panels are the best option if you have an energy-intensive business that can not afford to cut back on energy use but is struggling to pay the bills. Solar panels have a high initial cost, but they make up their expense in 8.7 years. After that, you can enjoy nominal accounts and increased energy use. A commercial solar installer can install solar panels within two to six months and only require maintenance twice a year. 

Utilize your building’s rooftop by adding solar panels. If your business is located in a building with multiple other offices, you can petition the landlord to add solar panels and pay the costs together. Solar panels help you save money and build customer loyalty, as environmentally conscious consumers prefer to purchase from companies that utilize sustainable methods like solar energy. 


Most of our energy supply comes from non-renewable resources like natural gas and oil. These resources are rapidly decreasing, and the increase in demand is causing energy prices to soar. For businesses, high energy prices mean a loss of profit. To ensure your profit margins don’t decrease, you must implement energy-saving tactics such as reducing HVAC use, utilizing energy-efficient lighting, and installing solar panels. The money you save from lower energy bills can be used in programs to grow your business. 

This cost-of-living crisis has emerged from a perfect storm of factors, including the fallout from COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and disruptions to the global supply chain. As a result of all of this, it is thought that fraud could become a bigger issue in the coming months and the Financial Ombudsman has already reported a sharp increase in complaints.

Types of Fraud

There are many different types of fraud to be wary of with cases currently on the rise. These include criminals posing as a customer’s bank and getting them to move money to a “safe” account as well as people buying items online but not receiving the goods that they order. Cryptocurrency scams are also increasingly common, and it is thought that these are mainly driven by social-media-based scams that take advantage of people looking to make money quickly (something many are trying to do during the cost-of-living crisis).

Another type of fraud to be wary of that is not online is MOT fraud. From 2021 to 2022, there were 1324 cases of MOT fraud and this can result in dangerous cars being on the UK roads putting all road users at risk. MOT fraud involves either qualified MOT testers not doing their job by giving certificates to vehicles that should have failed or even cars that have not been tested. In some cases, there are examples of MOT testers taking bribes for certificates. This is why you should always research testing centers ahead of getting your MOT and book MOT online from a trusted tester.

What Can Businesses do?

So, what can businesses do to prevent fraud from being an issue during the cost-of-living crisis? Preventing fraud will involve having robust processes in place, providing staff training, and using high-quality cybersecurity products to prevent cyber-attacks. You can also conduct regular audits to identify any potential vulnerabilities and to ensure that all processes are watertight and secure. Business owners should also pay attention to the news and look out for the latest scams.

The cost-of-living crisis is creating a serious issue for both individuals and businesses in 2022 and it could be a tough period ahead for many. Not only is the cost-of-living crisis stopping people from spending, but it is also having a knock-on effect in terms of fraud and scams. It is important to educate yourself and be wary in the months ahead so that you know what the common scams are and what steps can be taken to protect yourself. 

The number of people shopping in stores is predicted to drop as the cost of living continues to rise. Challenges may lie ahead for businesses both big and small across the UK, with recent research finding that 71% of SMEs view inflation as their biggest cause for concern this year. 

New data from Square has also revealed a trend of “lunchflation” in the UK. Lunch item prices are rapidly increasing, with rates jumping by 3% year on year with soups leading the way, with an average mark-up of 36% as of March 2022. This is a clear indicator of recent setbacks for businesses from the past two years. 

The upcoming months are likely to look as tumultuous as the start of the year, however, there are actions business owners and leaders can take to safeguard themselves against unprecedented challenges and enable continued recovery as businesses navigate the post-pandemic world. Implementing tech to streamline operations is a strong starting point and also acts as a foundation to grow and pivot a business.

Streamlining operations

Making operations more efficient should be at the top of every business owner’s to-do list, enabling employees to spend time on what really matters - building strong customer relationships, perfecting their product or service, building out their offering and creating an engaging brand story to ultimately drive sales. 

By integrating technology into operations, businesses can easily boost efficiency and standardise processes across locations. We’ve purposely designed solutions such as the Square Dashboard so that businesses can track sales by employee, monitor inventory, manage timecards, accept payments and more. This way a business's entire team only needs to use and be trained on one system (and control access to certain features via employee passcodes), so everyone across multiple locations is using the same POS, which is all linked to the Dashboard.

Hospitality businesses can create seamless communication between multiple ordering channels from front to back of house. The benefits of investing in automation aren’t just felt by the restaurants, they trickle down to consumers, too. For 400 Degrees Pizzeria, a pop-up pizzeria in Cambourne, that meant giving customers the choice of how they were served, whether that be online, or in-person. 

Flexibility for maximum customer reach

The pandemic accelerated e-commerce and it’s clear this shift online is here to stay. In the UK, the share of classic lunch items that were ordered in-person hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, as consumers have had to pivot to placing orders online for delivery and pick-up. Despite this, a number of orders are still being placed in-person - highlighting the need for businesses to offer customers flexibility in how they order across platforms. 

Going back to our previous seller example, 400 Degrees Pizzeria, is using technology to maximise orders from each end. The owner Sam Corbin told us; “I’ve been using the Square KDS, it brings together all the orders in one place no matter if they were face-to-face or online everything is just there at a glance. There are two KDS screens in the van with one at the prep side & an ‘expeditor station’ at the hatch. We mark off on our screens when it’s made and that in turn shows at the hatch - then I tap it away when it’s been collected. As we’re all able to see what’s going on clearly we can accurately predict timings for walk-ups and get orders out faster than ever.”

Whatever the next year throws at businesses, one thing is clear; those who embrace change and adopt technology will have what they need to thrive. The human-interaction element of dining and shopping will always be a huge part of the holistic brand experience, but businesses need to use the right tools to meet customers where they are, whether that’s online, in-person, or a mix of the two. 

Recovery is still on the horizon

In recent years, it’s been encouraging to witness small businesses adapt and innovate not just to survive but continue growing. Many have embraced an omnichannel approach by enabling their customers to shop through their own sites, or on social media. Recent research shows that 73% of consumers are now actively shopping through social channels, showing the demand for this approach.

Staying agile and aware of the changing customer habits will enable businesses to bend and pivot. Employing the right technology early will help them to adapt fast and keep multiple revenue streams open. 

Figures from the British Retail Consortium show that shop price annual inflation accelerated to 1.5% in January, up 0.8% in the previous month and the highest rate since December 2012. The increase was driven by food prices, which were up 2.7%.

January saw shop price inflation nearly double, driven by a sharp rise in non-food inflation. In particular, furniture and flooring saw exceptionally high demand leading to increased prices as the rising oil costs made shipping more expensive. Food prices continue to rise, especially domestic produce which have been impacted by poor harvests, labour shortages, and rising global food prices,” said Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium.

Rocketing food prices and the energy bill crisis drove inflation to 5.4% in the 12 months to December, up from 5.1% in November. Inflation hasn’t exceeded this level since March 1992, when it hit 7.1%. However, with gas and electricity costs expected to rise again in the spring, analysts predict that inflation will soon reach this level again.

The surge in energy and travel costs is now impacting disposable incomes and is likely to dent consumer’s willingness to spend. NielsenIQ research this month shows nearly a half of all households are saying that their most important concern at the moment is the rising cost of living,” said Mike Watkins, Head of Retail and Business Insight at NielsenIQ.

National insurance contributions, paid by employers and employees in the UK, are scheduled to increase by 1.25 percentage points at the start of the new tax year in April. The tax increase is a manifesto-breaking move by the Conservative party, aimed at raising £12 billion to support NHS funding amid the pandemic. 

However, former minister David Davis, amongst others, has urged the government to abandon its plans because of the financial pressure households are already facing amid inflationary cost increases and the imminent increase in the energy price cap. 

Speaking on Monday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Davis said, “It was a judgment made on, frankly, quite a lot of wrong data.” 

They didn’t know at the time that by April we would have the highest inflation rate in 30 years, they didn’t know that interest rates would be going up, council tax would be going up, the fuel price is about to jump by £700 a year for the average family. Therefore they didn’t know quite what pressure there would be on ordinary people.”

According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), real average weekly earnings dropped in November for the first time since July 2020, with basic pay without bonuses growing by 3.8% in the quarter to November. Average total pay including bonuses rose by 4.2%.

Meanwhile, consumer price inflation (CPI) jumped to 5.1% in November and is expected to reach as high as 6% in the spring as energy bills increase. Allowing for inflation, total pay was up by only 0.4%, while regular pay stayed level. 

From September to November, the average total pay growth for the private sector was 4.5%, but for the public sector, this figure came in at just 2.6%. 

Inflation has waged war on pay and in November, salaries actually slid once inflation was taken into account. This has piled on the pressure for those struggling through the cost of living crisis, and things are going to get even worse,” said Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. 

Wage rises have been falling steadily since spring 2021. Annual rises peaked at this point at 7.3% for regular pay and 8.8% for total pay, thanks to the fact that during the previous spring, wages had plummeted during the first lockdown. Meanwhile, inflation has ramped up from below 1% in February 2021 to more than 5% nine months later. In November, with inflation at 5.1%, it overtook wages.”

Store employees will see their basic hourly pay go up by 5.3%, from £9.50 per hour to £10 per hour amid a rapidly increasing cost of living and in recognition of the “extraordinary work” they do for customers. 

In inner London, the hourly rate for workers will increase from £10.10 to £11.05, and from £9.75 to £10.50 for those living in outer London. The retailers’ drivers will also be given a pay rise, with Sainsbury’s Groceries Online drivers to receive £11.50 per hour while Argos Fast Track Delivery drivers will receive £11 per hour. 

Around 150,000 members of staff will benefit from the companies’ new pay rates, which go beyond the National Living Wage and the voluntary Real Living Wage. 

Chief executive Simon Roberts said: “To kick off the new year, I am pleased that one of the first things we are doing is investing in our colleagues and lifting our basic hourly rate of pay to £10.”

We are making this significant investment to show our colleagues how much we value the brilliant job they do for our customers every day.”

New research commissioned by Oddsmonkey reveals that Brits are using side hustles to help cover the cost of living.

As the annual inflation rate doubled from 1.2% to 3.1% in the past year, the average monthly wage of £1538.97 is not enough to cover the cost of living for almost a quarter of Brits (24%).

Because of this, 25% of working employees have resorted to a side hustle to earn extra money with 36% of those having 3 or more ways of making extra cash.

The study also found that while some Brits take up side hustles to help with living costs, many take them up to fulfil their passions with over a third (34%) finding their sources of additional income more fulfilling than their full-time job, and almost four in ten (39%) of Brits admitting that they wish their side hustle could be their main job.

Brits earn nearly £3000 a year renting out a spare room or blogging for extra cash

The matched betting experts polled 2,000 Brits on their additional sources of income, to discover the side hustles Brits are taking up to become more financially secure.

The study discovered the majority of Brits are concerned with being unable to cover the cost of their bills (48%) and their rent/mortgage (28%), and therefore adopt a side hustle to earn extra cash.

68% of Brits sell their unwanted items on eBay and Facebook marketplace this side to earn an average of £165 a month, making it the most popular side hustle adopted by Brits.

Most popular Side Hustles % of Brits that do this Average monthly earnings
Making crafts and selling them on 46% £163
Baking and selling goods 37% £183
Rent out a spare room 35% £241
Rent out a driveway 33% £217
Sell second-hand items 68% £165
Blog 35% £231
Sell beauty products 33% £249

Despite not being the most profitable side hustles, making crafts and baking were found to be the most enjoyable – showing that while Brits want to earn more money, they want their additional sources of income to be something they enjoy doing.

Selling beauty products through direct selling companies such as Avon was found to be the most lucrative side hustle, with the third of Brits taking this up, earning an average of £249 commission a month.  Renting out a spare bedroom and blogging were also found to be lucrative side hustles with Brits raking in an average of £241 and £231 per month respectively.

More than 1 in 3 Brits with a side hustle don’t declare their extra earnings

Those with a side hustle are earning nearly £3,000 a year on top of their yearly salary and many admitted to dodging tax.

Despite earning over the £1,000 annual allowance, 34% of those with a side hustle confessed to not declaring their extra earnings.

The research also revealed that it’s not only those in full-time employment who have side hustles, students are also taking advantage of side hustle to cover the increasing cost of living in the UK.

Earning on average £895 a month and not receiving any help from their parents (47%), 1 in 3 students have taken up a side hustle to earn extra cash and are interestingly making more money than the average Brit.

Younger Brits earn £78 more a month than the average Brits from making and selling crafts (£241), £69 more for blogging (£300), and £17 more a month for baking (£200).

Peter Watton, spokesman for Oddsmonkey comments on the research: “With the constantly increasing cost of living, we were hardly surprised that Brits are having to take up side hustles in order to earn themselves some extra cash. While it is great that Brits are using their passions to earn extra income, it is important to remember to declare any income over £1000 to ensure you don’t get in trouble with the tax man!”

(Source: Oddsmonkey)

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