Tuesday 7th July 2015
The living wage must GO UP to a rate of €11.50 per hour
The Living Wage Technical Group in Ireland believes the current hourly rate of pay should be €11.45 increased by 5cents
Soaring rents and the rise in the cost of car insurance means the “living wage” must be increased to €11.50 per hour, according to an expert group.
The Living Wage Technical Group – which consists of trade unions, think-tanks such as TASC and NERI, as well as Social Justice Ireland and the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice – believes the current hourly rate of €11.45 should be increased by 5c to match the rising costs of living.
The group, which was established last year, believes workers should be paid at least €11.50 per hour to make “a minimum acceptable standard of living” possible. They said the increase in housing costs, household goods and services, car insurance and rising rents are the main drivers for the need of an increase.
This rate is 33% higher than the minimum wage of €8.65 per hour currently paid.
Irish consumers need new insurance legislation,
A new report says
The Law Reform Commission warns of ‘vicious devices and traps’ in existing contracts and recommends that new legislation on insurance contracts is needed.
New consumer legislation designed to remove “vicious devices and traps for the unwary” from insurance contracts has been recommended by the Law Reform Commission.
In a report published today, the commission recommends warranties should be abolished from insurance contracts, changes should be made to the duty of disclosure and there should be proportionate remedies for innocent or negligent mistakes by consumers.
The aim of the Report on Consumer Insurance Contracts, part of the commission’s third programme of law reform, is to “reform and re-balance” the duties of insurers and consumers, including small businesses, the commission has said.
The commission president, retired High Court judge Mr Justice John Quirke, told The Irish Times it was “ridiculous” that an insurance company could refuse to pay out household insurance after a fire on the basis, for example, that the householder did not have a burglar alarm.
Under current legislation, this is permitted where the requirement to have the alarm was a “warranty” or condition of the contract, but should be abolished.
“A number of English courts have described warranties as ‘vicious devices and traps for the unwary’; they are not very popular in the courts,” Mr Justice Quirke said.
He said insurance contract law caused problems for consumers mainly because most laws had their origins in the 16th and 17th centuries, when sailing ships were crossing the Atlantic and the contents were being insured.
They were “hammered out between people who had equal bargaining powers”, he said.
But in modern times, contracts are between multinational conglomerates and ordinary people, and there are not equal bargaining rights or bargaining capacities.
“We want to ensure these problems don’t cause injustice,” Mr Justice Quirke said.
The commission makes 105 recommendations, including changes to the law on disclosure, which dates back to 1776.
It imposes a duty on a consumer to disclose information that a hypothetical “prudent insurer” might rely on in deciding whether to insure that consumer.
If it is not disclosed, the insurer can refuse to pay a claim.
Mr Justice Quirke said the obligation of identifying this information should be placed on the insurer, and there should also be proportionate remedies for consumers if they fail to disclose.
“There can be an absolutely innocent failure to disclose something and if that is the case, then instead of the insurer being able to refuse completely to honour the agreement, the misrepresentation should be examined and investigated to discover whether it is innocent, negligent or fraudulent,” he said.
“If it is fraudulent, the contract should be voided completely, but if it is innocent or negligent, the insurer shouldn’t be allowed to just simply walk away and say we won’t cover this; they should be required to apply proportionate remedies for the consumer.”
The commission also recommends the abolition of a requirement of a consumer to have an “insurable interest” in what is being insured, which dates back to 1774, when gambling was disapproved of and people took out insurance policies on, for example, the life of King George III.
Mr Justice Quirke said that nowadays it referred to situations where, for example, a son or daughter took out a policy on their father’s home when the father was unable to.
The insurance company could accept the payment for such a policy. However, if a claim is made, the company may say the son or daughter has no “insurable interest” in the house and they can refuse to pay.
The commission also recommends third parties, who were intended to be the beneficiaries under an insurance contract, should be permitted to make a direct claim against the insurer.
This could benefit, for example, a person injured at work when the employer had an insurance policy, but where the business has since gone into liquidation.
The commission has included a proposed draft Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill in its report, which will be published this evening by Mr Justice Ronan Keane.
Acne scarring is ‘worse in smokers’
Smoking not only causes wrinkles — it can worsen the effects of acne, scientists have found.
Scarring associated with the condition is more severe in smokers, research shows.
The findings provide another reason for people, especially teenagers prone to acne, to stay clear of tobacco, say experts.
Acne results in unsightly spots that can burst and damage the skin, leaving scars in the form of craters, ‘ice-pick’ holes, or an uneven lumpy surface. Scarring also occurs when people pick or squeeze their spots.
The study looked at 992 sufferers afflicted by severe acne who were referred to a hospital dermatology department over an eight year period.
Scarring was observed in 91% of patients, and while smokers were not more likely to have acne scars, the damage to their skin was significantly more severe.
More than half (53.7%) of smokers had moderate to severe scarring compared with just over a third (35%) of non-smokers.
Dr Raman Bhutani, a member of the research team from Harrogate District Foundation Trust, said: “The correlation seen between smoking and severity of facial scarring could suggest that smoking can increase the severity of scarring in a susceptible person with acne.
“Further work is required to confirm this finding and to understand the mechanisms by which this may occur.”
The findings were presented at the British Association of Dermatologists’ Annual Conference in Manchester.
Nina Goad, from the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “Acne affects a huge proportion of the population, with 80% of teenagers affected at some point. While for most people the disorder will eventually clear, some are left with scarring which can be for life. This can be hard to treat and can make people feel self-conscious and affect their self-esteem.
“We already know that smoking is bad for our health, so perhaps this latest finding will provide an extra impetus for people to quit.”
Acne occurs when oil-producing glands in the skin become over-stimulated by certain hormones. The build-up of oil creates an ideal environment for acne bacteria to flourish, producing inflammation and spots.
Ireland has the highest alcohol consumption during pregnancy
Alcohol use during pregnancy is “prevalent and socially pervasive” in Ireland and the UK, health experts have warned after carrying out a large-scale study.
Women across all socio-demographic groups were likely to drink – but those who smoked were up to 50% more likely to consume alcohol while pregnant, research led by the University of Cambridge found.
Researchers described the widespread consumption of even low levels of alcohol during pregnancy as a “significant public health concern”.
Their analysis of almost 18,000 women in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia found drinking during pregnancy was commonplace in all four countries, ranging from 20% to 80% in Ireland and from 40% upwards in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Ireland had the highest prevalence of any alcohol consumption pre-pregnancy (90%) and during pregnancy (82%), and the highest reported binge consumption before (59%) and during (45%) pregnancy.
Habits and guidelines
The amount of alcohol consumed dropped substantially for all countries in the second trimester, along with the level of binge drinking.
Non-white women were less likely to drink, along with younger women, those who were more highly educated, obese or already had children.
Researchers said the findings show there is low adherence to alcohol guidelines advising complete abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy in Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.
Although most women who drink during pregnancy do so at low levels, those who drink heavily are putting their unborn baby at risk of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which affects their physical and mental development.
The team added that since most women who consume alcohol do so at lower levels, where the effects on the foetus are less well understood, the “widespread consumption of even low levels of alcohol during pregnancy is a significant public health concern”.
Their analysis did not include women who miscarried or who had stillborn babies – and they said this meant they could have excluded the heaviest drinkers of all, and participants may also be more advantaged than the general population, which could have affected the results.
“The findings of this study have direct application to policy and practice,” the study authors concluded.
“Although low proportions of women engaged in heavy drinking, the adverse consequences of heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy on birth outcomes, long-term gross motor function, and social, cognitive, emotional and behavioural outcomes in offspring make heavy gestational alcohol consumption a high public health priority.
“Additionally, since most women who consume alcohol do so at lower levels where the offspring growth and development effects are less well understood, the widespread consumption of even low levels of alcohol during pregnancy is a significant public health concern.”
They added that healthcare professionals should advise pregnant women to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy, while dual targeting of smoking and alcohol consumption should potentially be increased.
“New policy and interventions are also required to reduce alcohol prevalence both prior to and during pregnancy,” they added.
The 52-year-old woman who really does look like she is in her twenties
This mother says sunscreen and coconut oil are the secrets to her very youthful looks. Pamela Jacobs, from Leeds, is 52 but appears to be in her late twenties
- She says her secret is healthy eating and using coconut oil for everything
- Mrs Jacobs, who has 21-year-old son, also exercises once a week
With her clear skin, enviable figure and thick, dark hair, Pamela Jacobs looks every inch the yummy mummy. But while she might look like someone in her late twenties or early thirties, Pamela Jacobs is 52 – and has a 21-year-old son.
So young does she appear, she has been offered student rail fares and is told she must be lying when she reveals her real age.
Much to her son’s horror, she also gets attention from younger men – and embarrassingly, has been mistaken for his girlfriend in the past.
‘A while ago someone my son knows thought I was his girlfriend,’ she chuckles. ‘And some people I know have thought the same in reverse.’
But Marley need not worry about her dating any of his friends because Mrs Jacobs, who is currently single after marrying and divorcing in her twenties, says she has no intention of dating a younger man.
‘It’s flattering but I prefer men of a similar age to me,’ she explains, pointing out that a 21-year-old son ‘puts that [dating a twenty-something] into perspective’.
Nicknamed Pharrell by family members after the enduringly youthful singer, Mrs Jacobs says the odd embarrassing situation notwithstanding, there are no real downsides to looking younger.
‘I can’t remember the last time I was ID’d but a few years ago I was buying ticket to London and the cashier asked if I had my student rail card so I said I didn’t have one.
‘He then asked if I wanted to apply for one so I had to tell him that I wasn’t a student and what my real age is. He went a bit red.’
Another incident came during a health screening two years ago when a nurse refused to believe that she was 50 until seeing her medical notes.
‘She said she was amazed at how young I looked – and also that I still had a waist,’ she remembers.
Despite her youthful looks, Mrs Jacobs, who turns 53 next month, says she is starting to notice some signs of ageing such as being more tired than before.
Nevertheless, she continues to do a weekly body conditioning class and eats a healthy diet packed with leafy greens and coconut oil – crediting the latter with her glowing complexion.
‘I’m a big coconut oil lover,’ she explains. ‘My mother used it on our hair and skin when we were younger and I’ve carried on.
‘I use Biona Organic Coconut Oil for cooking, in coffee, for removing make-up, for hair treatments and on my body twice a day as a moisturiser.’
She avoids wheat products such as bread and pasta because of the bloating they cause and doesn’t eat fruit because of the high sugar content but says everything else is allowed.
‘I follow the 80/20 rule,’ she reveals. ’80 per cent eating well and 20 per cent sneaking in the odd pudding, a little alcohol or organic dark chocolate.’
Other tips include avoiding chemicals wherever possible and using pink Himalayan salt in the bath once a week to help banish toxins.
Regular body brushing – and lavish application of coconut oil – keeps her skin soft, as does an overnight mask once a week.
She has also begun investing in better quality cosmetics which, she says, work better and last for longer.
‘I use a little Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser in Golden which gives a dewy effect and By Terry Terribly Densiliss concealer because contains an eye treatment,’ she explains.
‘I love Nars Taos or Orgasm blusher, Sephora black or blue liquid eyeliner and By Terry Growth Booster Mascara which helps lashes grow and doesn’t clump up and a Bobbi Brown Long Wear Brow pencil.
‘Then for lips, I like Stila lip gloss in Cranberry, Nars lip glosses and also Lipstick Queen’s coral lipstick. Putting it all on takes about five minutes.’
Ultimately, Mrs Jacobs says looking young is all about outlook and says nothing beats a big smile when it comes to knocking 10 years off.
‘I think the secret of eternal youth is to smile every day,’ she says. ‘The best thing about looking young is that it makes me feel good and gives me confidence.
‘I’m not perfect and have flaws like everyone else but I am grateful for what I do have.’
WANT TO LOOK AS YOUNG AS PAMELA? SEE HERE HOW SHE DOES IT:
Pamela, who is of South Asian origin, eats a super-healthy diet based largely on vegetables and topped up with good proteins such as salmon.
Fresh-faced: Pamela eats a daily handful of almonds and eats a vegetable-based diet
Many of the dishes she makes are Asian and are spiced up with ginger, cumin and turmeric, among others, which she says act a bit like food supplements in terms of the health benefits.
Breakfast is usually an organic boiled egg served with gluten-free toast or organic oatcakes and coconut yoghurt with fresh berries and nuts.
To finish off the meal, she has a glass of coconut water with added liquid iron, which she says is key for stopping her iron levels plummeting as she ages.
Lunch comes in the shape of a salad prepared at home in the morning and usually contains a mixture of organic spinach, kale, rocket, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, red peppers, advocado, beansprouts and sauerkraut [pickled cabbage].
Fresh basil and coriander add flavour while pumpkin and sunflower seeds add crunch. ‘For protein I’ll add some Arbroath salmon, eggs or chicken and dress the salad with organic olive oil and lemon juice,’ she adds.
‘I also add cayenne pepper and lots of black pepper.’
Dinner is equally healthy and usually consists of a portion of organic chicken, oily fish or a lamb steak served with a ‘mountain of vegetables’ – broccoli and courgettes are favourites.
She also eats a daily handful of almonds, snacks on celery and houmus and limits her coffee intake to one a day.
Most of what she eats is organic and she drinks water throughout the day, usually flavoured with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Pamela does a body conditioning class once a week and follows that with a fitness yoga session immediately afterwards.
While at the gym, she uses the sauna and steam room and does a whole body exfoliation. She also uses the time to use a hair mask – she likes Aveda’s Damage Remedy.
‘I’ll go in the sauna for 10 minutes then have a freezing cold shower until the water stops,’ she adds.
‘I love it – it makes me so feel invigorated and I’m convinced it has helped to tone my skin. Then I will have 10 minutes in the steam and repeat the cold shower.’
Pamela loves Aveda’s all-natural Damage Remedy range and alternates between that and the Inviati brand to keep her hair soft.
She protects her locks with Aveda’s Brilliant Hair protector and gets rid of flyaways with the help of Oribe Moisturising Cream and Moroccan Oil.
Cleansing is done either with Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (‘It’s reasonably priced and effective’) or coconut oil.
To keep her skin in good shape, she uses Origins A Perfect World moisturiser which comes with SPF25 – a skincare essential according to Pamela.
She also uses Dermalogica Age Reversal eye cream and uses an Omorovicza deep cleansing facial mask once a week. Dermalogica’s Power Recovery Mask is another favourite.
Pamela moisturises her body with coconut oil twice a day and says it keeps her skin ‘incredibly soft and nourished’.
She also uses a body brush before showering and prefers paraben-free shower gel brands such as Sai Sei or Faith in Nature.
Once a week, she detoxes by soaking in a bath topped up with pink Himalayan salt crystals and scrubs her feet each day while showering.
Heatwaves are here to stay the summers will be warmer and drier for next 30 years
New research from the Met Office shows that summers are going to get hotter and drier over the next 30 years
If you’re loving the 35C temperatures we’ve had in the UK this summer then you’ll be pleased to hear that sweltering summers are here to stay.
Not only that, but winters are going to get less cold – although they’ll also be a lot wetter.
New research from the Met Office shows that summers are going to get hotter and drier over the next 30 years.
Lead scientist Dr David Sexton, head of scenarios development at the Met Office, said: “The future UK climate can now be described in terms of the extreme hot, cold, wet or dry seasons which could associate with floods, droughts, heatwaves and cold spells that impact society.’
While ice cold winters and wet summers are looking increasingly unlikely as each year passes, there is still the chance of them happening in individual years.
Still, while all this might be exciting news for sun worshippers, to really feel the affects you’ll have to live until at least the year 2100.
By the end of the century the likelihood of experiencing a blazing hot summer of the kind now seen every 20 years rises to 90%, making scorchers the norm.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows the odds of having a colder than average winter in the UK dropping from around 20% in 2020 to just 4% by the end of the century.
Very cold winters such as the one that occurred in 2009/10 will become almost non-existent. The chance of experiencing one of these is less than 1% by 2100.
Over the next two decades there was still a 35% to 40% likelihood of summers being wetter than average, but the odds fall to about 20% by 2100.
The chances of a very wet summer – defined as 20% more rain than the 1961-1990 average – were expected to fall from 18% in 2020 to 10% eight decades later.
The Met office senior scientist Dr Glen Harris, who co-authored the research, said: “While there is a trend towards warmer winters and drier summers, there will still be a lot of variations in weather from year to year.
‘Cold winters and wet summers just become less likely, and we will still have to be prepared for them.’
Anyone else wishing they were born in 2080?