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Feature

What the chancellor’s summer statement will mean for you and your family

Everything you need to know…

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Bill Boaden / Geograph

Rishi Sunak has announced today the economic schemes for post-coronavirus, and they include some pretty big changes.

Mr Sunak announced a £2bn kickstart scheme designed to create jobs, incentives for businesses to bring people off furlough, VAT cuts, a stamp duty holiday plus more.

Details of how this package will be paid for – by tax increases and borrowing – are expected to be unveiled in the chancellor’s Autumn budget.

Here’s a breakdown of his main points:

Furlough

Members of the public who have been placed on furlough as part of the government’s Job Retention Scheme are aware that this is coming to end in October, but many people have been concerned for the future of their jobs.

Mr Sunak today announced an incentive for businesses to bring back those employees that are on furlough, with a £1,000 bonus for every person they bring back into the workplace.

He said: “So for businesses to get the bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to the end of January – the equivalent of the lower earnings limit in National Insurance.”

Employment

The chancellor has also announced a £2 billion kickstart scheme that will pay employers to create jobs for people aged between 18 and 24. The government emphasised that they need to be ‘good jobs’, and the government will pay six months of wages plus an amount to cover overheads. The grant for a 24-year-old will be around £6,500. 

There will also be a new £2,000 payment to firms who take on apprentices. This is alongside an unspecified amount of funding for career advisors.

On top of that, there’ll be traineeships to get young people ready for work, including work experience placements and work preparation for 16-24-year olds. 

Tourism & Hospitality

The chancellor has cut VAT for the tourism and hospitality sectors on food, accommodation and attractions from the usual 20% to 5%, which will come into effect from next Wednesday and last until January 2021.

Mr Sunak has also announced that everyone in the country will be given 50% off meal and drinks for the whole of August through a ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

This scheme sees a 50% reduction up to a value of £10 per head on sit down meals and non-alcoholic drinks Monday to Wednesday.

The chancellor hopes this will get 1.8 million people who work in the hospitality industry back in jobs and ‘customers back in restaurants, cafes and pubs’.

Businesses can claim the money back from the government and the funds will appear in their bank account within five working days.

More details on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme are yet to be confirmed.

It is currently being debated as to whether the reduced VAT will be passed onto the consumer in lower prices as many in the sector will consider this as an opportunity to shore up their finances and ail their business.

Buying a Home

If you’re in the market for house-buying, the chancellor announced a stamp duty holiday which could save you thousands.

The rate at which stamp duty will be placed on a home has been increased from the usual £125,000 to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland, with immediate effect until March 31st.

The stamp duty holiday hopes to get people buying houses again, a sector which suffered a big drought throughout coronavirus.

The chancellor explained that on average people buying a home could save £4,500, and current homeowners moving on could see savings as big as £14,999.

Many people have expressed concerns regarding how this will help first-time buyers. Around 16% of housing sales in England are not liable for stamp duty as is the case with first-time buyers.

Currently, first-time buyers only pay a 5% stamp duty on houses between £300,000 and £500,000 which means this scheme will not affect new buyers directly.

Those buying a new home or second home will reap the benefits of this scheme.

Green Home Grant

Mr Sunak has announced a budget for home improvements that will help your home become ‘greener’, for instance, double glazing, eco-friendly boilers, low-energy lighting, energy-efficient doors and loft, floor or wall insulation.

The scheme will start in September and will see the government pay for at least two-thirds of the cost of home improvements that save energy, up to a value of £5,000.

Low-income households are expected to receive a larger contribution of up to £10,000.

This is expected to create new jobs and enable the UK to achieve its 2050 goal of net-zero carbon emissions. More information can be found here.

Feature

Supermarket workers share the worst thing they’ve seen customers do in-store

Turns out customers aren’t that sneaky…

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SchuminWeb

Many supermarket workers have caught shoppers using underhand tactics, and they’ve now revealed the worst things they’ve witnessed.

Employees from Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have shared the numerous things they have noticed customers do to grab an unfair bargain.

They’ve also listed all the ways shoppers are really annoying at breaking rules, from trying to sneak in early, shopping after hours or weird queuing tactics.

A report last year revealed that a quarter of supermarket staff have experienced abuse during the coronavirus pandemic. 

See below for some of the things supermarket employees have witnessed.

Philafrenzy

“The worst are the ones who graze as they shop” 

I think we can all admit we can’t resist picking at the French stick as we shop, but the employees, rightfully, aren’t a fan of touching grubby half-eaten food to scan. 

“Customers are messy – and it’s annoying”

Just pick up the things you drop, ok?! Also – stop putting dog food down with the shampoo because you don’t want it anymore.

“You’re not actually allowed to swap the stickers, you know” 

This one is lost on me, I didn’t realise anyone actually peeled a reduced sticker off and slapped it on another product. Might seem dead clever, but it’s technically stealing. 

“We can spot a ‘savvy’ shopper a mile off”

We all love a good bargain but apparently it’s dead obvious when you swarm around the poor sod who’s got the reduced price gun. Who would’ve thought? 

ASDA

“I see you have your evening planned”

Around Valentine’s day, hundreds of men go shopping with the exact same shopping list; cheapest flowers possible (preferably red), card, chocolate, cheap bottle of Prosecco and some condoms. 

“Clocking onto loyal customers’ routines”

If you’re one of those on a tight schedule doing your weekly shop every Thursday at 7pm, they know all about it. 

“If you mess up my display I’ll be furious”

Pretty self-explanatory this one. Imagine working hard to get all the tins facing the right way and some little terrors come along and put their grubby little paws all over them, messing the display up. 

Keith Williamson/Tesco /CC BY-SA 2.0

“We know you know what 10 items or less means” 

So no, don’t bring your entire monthly shop into the basket-only till. You aren’t special. 

“I can’t just unlock the doors because you’re standing there” 

If the shop opens at 7am, it opens at 7am. It doesn’t matter that you’re early or stood in the rain. Look up trading laws folks.

“We see you trying to get to the store at 3:59pm on a Sunday” 

Honestly, anyone who goes anywhere minutes before it closes is so annoying and immediately on the naughty list. And don’t do a naive ‘oh sorry, are you closing?’ when the shutters – which you just ducked under – are halfway down. OBVIOUSLY we are closing! 

“Huffing and puffing in the queue won’t make me go any quicker on the checkouts” 

It’s just busy, ok!? Actually, in the past, it’s made me go slower if people are rude – oops, sorry!

Don’t be rude to people who work in the service industry folks! 

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Feature

The most brutal reviews of Greater Manchester’s towns

These are ruthless…

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Bill Boaden / Geograph

While we definitely think Greater Manchester is the greatest place on earth, we can’t help but have a laugh at these terrible reviews of areas of our region.

ILiveHere.co.uk is a website specialising in providing terrible and brutally honest reviews of areas across the country, and each year it releases a list of the top ten worst places to live in the UK – here’s the list for 2021, if you’re interested.

We’ve hand-picked some of the best insults the site has dished out to areas across Greater Manchester – take it all with a pinch of salt and remember it’s just a laugh!

Credit: G-Man

Mossley

In an article titled ‘Mossley, home of ‘Who’s got the most toes competition’ you can imagine what the rest of the review was like.

In a small section that’s without profanities, the review describes the town with a nod to evolution: “Darwin clearly left Mossley out when he wrote origin of species.” Not exactly something you’ll see on a poster board for the town…

Credit: Martin Clark / Saddleworth Church / CC BY-SA 2.0

Saddleworth

The reviews of Saddleworth are all pretty similar in their incredibly derogatory comments.

This one sums it up: “Saddleworthians are easily spotted in a crowd amongst their fellower Oldhamer’s. They’re the ones who have fake accents, no wit and a false sense of superiority. Yes if you like a bit of bullsh*t and self congratulations you’re in for a treat.”

Credit: Andrew Stopford / Flickr

Rochdale

Unfortunately, Rochdale has made the site’s top 10 worst places to live in the entire country list two years running.

Most of the reviews see some pretty catty comments about the inhabitants of Rochdale, with one stating: “Majority of the residents disdain this town. The sole act of living here, and even being associated with Rochdale is a disgrace. Not for trivial, but rather major reasons. In fact, the (not so) respectful residents may just happen to be the contributory factor!

“Possessors of low IQ, users of unknown speech codes, devoted to ‘grime’ and overly fond of drugs, in particular marijuana- are few of the admirable traits and practices common among the youth.”

Ouch…

Credit: Keith Williamson

Harpurhey

All I know of this place is to avoid it, and this review seems to agree: “When me mam told me we were moving to Harpurhey in 2002, I was devastated.

“When she showed me the estate we were going to move on to I tried to throw myself under the 52 bus. Unfortunately it never turned up on time, I don’t think it ever has since. Here lies the problems with Harpurhey.”

Credit: Andrew Stopford / Flickr

Bolton

One of my few experiences of Bolton involves venturing to a nightclub called J2. I got attacked by a girl for looking at her in a takeaway, after being served triangle shapes of buttered toast in J2 a few hours earlier. Great times.

This reviewer really isn’t a fan of the place either: “Superficially at first the greenery, rivers Croal and Irwell seem appealing… unfortunately, soon you have a suspicion that all is not as it appears-in fact the whole place gives the impression of nature reclaiming post-holocaust man-made destruction, the greenery taking from direct sight the utter ruination wrought by hundreds of years of poisoning the land, and utter despoliation of the environment.

“The place has a sort of chemical stink…a miasma…even on the freshest of days.”

Credit: Eugene Regis / Flickr

Salford

Salford has come a long way in recent years so I’m going to guess this review was left a while back, probably by someone from Walkden: “Charles Darwin would have had a field day here, as Salford not merely proves the theory of evolution but actually allows a casual observer to witness the process in reverse.”

Credit: Andrew Stopford / Flickr

Stockport

This one really paints a picture of the home town of Blossoms, maybe it was left before the Plaza had a revamp: “The average Stopfordian seems to roll out of his bed around eleven, take a 192 – or better still a deathtrap Corsa with a stolen stereo more powerful than it’s engine – down to sign on and then simply hangs around in the town.

“They aren’t even entertaining like the drunks in Manchester they’re just, well… ****!”

Credit: Rept0n1x

Bury

I’ve never ventured to Bury so I can’t vouch for how true this one might be: “Bury has its own perfume – Eau de Weed which is particularly noticeable between the Spotted Cow and the Old Crow on Bell Lane.”

Credit: Parrot of Doom

Stretford

Widely recognised as the next victim of gentrification, here’s a cracking and detailed review of the south Manchester suburb: “The local park is full of teenagers who have broken the children’s climbing frames. These teens are usually swearing their heads of pissed off white ace and that’s just on a Monday afternoon.

“The local council then put a murder tape round it for nearly two years. The people who cant escape have taken to impaling themselves just to end it all.”

What you waiting for, get on the property ladder here and cash in?!

Credit: Gerald England / 28-32 Wallgate, Wigan / CC BY-SA 2.0

Wigan

Honestly, I’ve only ever been to Wigan once and I went to Spoons, so my view of it wasn’t too dissimilar to this review: “The hub of the pissed-up activity at the weekend is King Street, a place where (to nobody’s surprise) there seems to be a murder once every couple of years.

“The road is closed to traffic every Friday and Saturday night, giving the drunken oafs the freedom to lurch around trying to find the taxis that aren’t allowed to drive down that road, or the takeaways that apparently aren’t allowed to serve anything that won’t make you ill for a couple of days.”

Credit: Rept0n1x

Droylsden

This is my hometown so I can say what I want about this shithole. Enjoy this considerably kind review: “Let us begin with the very heart of Droylsden – the precinct. Dominated by the vast grey concrete tumour that is the Concord Suite.

“A building so hideous that to gaze upon it leaves a stain on the scorched retinas of the observer. Imagine if you will, a building so hideous it makes the newly built Tameside Council Pension offices look like Cologne Cathedral.”

The square has got a little better since the Silly Country opened, still…

Credit: Rept0n1x

Wythenshawe

This one makes you do that deep breath in you do through your teeth when someone says something a bit risque: “It actually has some decent shops here to be honest, well catered for the masses of ball bags, moaning about paying 5p for a JD bag they’ll use for the rest of their lives until the black paint has come off and it looks like a dandruff encrusted version of it’s former self, sleeveless bubble coats to match.”

So there you have it some of the most brutal and degrading reviews of Greater Manchester we could find – we still love it though.

You can read more ruthless reviews here. If you’re offended, please please please, don’t let us know in the Facebook comments.

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Feature

One of the UK’s most haunted places is a pub in Greater Manchester

The scariest pint you’ll ever have…

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Credit: Eccles.Express / Flickr

The Ring o’ Bells pub in Middleton is actually one of the most haunted places in the whole of the UK and it’s bustling with paranormal activity.

The land that lends itself to the pub was once the site of an ancient Druid temple in the Bronze Age, where dark rituals and human sacrifices often took place.

From the off, this little patch of land has been home to spirits. The pub itself goes back to the 12th century and has been a hot-bed of eerie happenings ever since.

Credit: whatpub.com

Ring O’ Bells resident ghost is nicknamed Edward, also known as the ‘Sad Cavalier’. He’s often found moving glasses along the bar, stomping with heavy footsteps upstairs, moaning and groaning and even throwing the occasional rock at the landlord and regulars.

It is thought that Edward is the son of Lord Stannycliffe and he died during the Civil War in a brutal massacre.

At this time, Middleton was a strong Parliamentarian camp and a group of Royalists, including Edward, were using the pub as a secret base.

Credit: Eccles.Express/ Flickr

There have been tales of a tunnel that ran directly from the pub to the local parish church as a means of escaping the Roundheads if they were ever caught plotting against Cromwell.

Many people have speculated that the sitting room on the upper floor is where Edward did his secret plotting. It’s not uncommon to experience sudden, spine-tingling temperature drops in this room.

One dark wintry night, Edward and his Royalists were going along as they normally did, plotting their revenge – but the Roundheads were waiting for them. What followed was a brutal massacre where they were not only killed but dismembered and buried in the cellar of the Ring O’ Bells pub.

The only remains of this night were helmets, spears and other historical artifacts. There have yet to be any bodies found and the tunnel to this day remains undiscovered.

Credit: Budby/Flickr

That’s not the only haunting murder that has happened at the Ring O’ Bells though, no no no.

A pair of serial killer landlords lived in the pub in the 17th century. The legend goes that over 60 murders were committed by the landlord and his wife.

Their targets were the wealthy guests, disposing of the bodies in a specially hinged bed of boiling liquid. They made a fair bob or two from the victims’ valuables too. Creeps.

It’s safe to say, ever since there have been ghostly figures wandering the walls of the Ring O’ Bells pubs.

Credit: Broady/Flickr

Some of the scariest encounters include a cold invisible hand pulling at the pockets of punters, could it be that the serial killing couple are still after your valuables?

There’s also plenty of cold spots, sightings of figures and generally a feeling of ‘not being alone’ in this pub, even after the doors close.

If you think you can handle one of the scariest pints you might ever have, put the Ring O’ Bells pub top of your places to visit after lockdown. While you’re there, say hello to Edward from us. 

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