Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Slippy pavements and debit cards

AyeRight writes for the evening edition of today's gurn:
There was more than just a little local disquiet when the wrong type of weather hit Nairn in the new Year and pavements were left as certain injury spots as the council seemed to fail to grit or clear the ice quickly enough.
As far as I know no official statement has been made by the council as to why this was the case, but just a couple of weeks later councils throughout Britain are facing
more than just icy footpaths
As the recession bites it is like a huge Mexican wave, but each air born arm is holding an axe which it will bring down on some unsuspecting worker.
As consumers we just haven’t done our bit. Mr Brown’s reduction in VAT didn’t inspire us to take to the High street in droves in order to add more debt to our already laden pieces of plastic
Our debt:
take a look here.
But as the economy slides to a halt it will take a lot more than token gestures to make it flow again.
UK banks, like their US counterparts have learnt that it is not a good idea to lend money to folk who cannot afford to pay it back, the problem is they have already given it away.
When debit cards were first launched, banks never envisaged that customers would use them in any other way than as a convenient way to pay for large purchases, with the balance being cleared each month. What quickly became apparent to customers was that this was an easy way to get a loan compared to going into a bank and applying for one, and banks soon found that they could charge some very handsome interest amounts on outstanding balances, everyone was happy.
When it went wrong I cannot remember, but despite clearing my plastic balances each month I was offered more and more credit on my cards, thousands of pounds, even blank cheques encouraging me to spend, spend, spend (I didn’t). Everyone and his bank was trying to lend you money, but no-more.
How do we extract ourselves from the ever increasing economic downward spiral? Whilst our local councils are seeing a shortfall of income from the lack of movement in the housing market, is there anyway they can take this opportunity to refine the services they offer? One thing is for sure, any service that is not statutory is going to have to put up a very good fight to stop it being a victim of the new Mexican wave, and slippy pavements may become the norm.
Thanks for that AyeRight: more on the frozen pavement issues soon .

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