Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Wednesday, June 07, 2017 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , , , ,


£100bn a year is missing from our high streets thanks to 50 years of pay squeezes

Why does everyone say inequality is falling, when it's rising? Because they're only counting incomes, not all wealth (property, pensions, etc.)

The NHS is not a “cost”. It creates nationwide jobs, technology, growth and wealth. Oh, and health

FTSE bosses take 2.5 days to earn what you earn all year. Data shows they don't deserve it

All governments agree to fix the housing crisis. Latest figures show we're still not even trying

Recovery? What recovery?! Bank of England director explains why broke Britain is still broken

Brexit was about inequality in Britain, not immigration. Have our politicians realised this?

See the Stats: Osborne's 2016 budget protected the wealthiest while the most vulnerable suffer

Inequality: the UK has 9 of the 10 poorest regions in Northern Europe. But Inner London is the richest

Graphs at a glance: With highest pay and highest job growth is London sucking the life out of Britain?

Londoners earn 15% more 'cos London is damn expensive! But the poorest 5th in London are paid only 4% more

Graphs at a glance: Britain is already a low-pay economy with falling average wages

Is your Cost of Living crisis over?! Average wages are still back where they were 10 years ago

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Jeremy Hunt quizzed over why nurses are using foodbanks
The Health Secretary was interviewed on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show after Theresa May said last week there "many complex reasons" why nurses are increasingly turning to the charitable centres. It comes after the Royal College of Nursing claimed that nurses are seeking debt advice and increasingly turning to food banks. Mr Hunt said: "The minimum a nurse can be paid in this country is £22,000 - £27,000 in inner London. The average pay was £31,000. Is that enough considering the brilliant work that they do? I think many people would say they want to pay them more. I think they do an incredible job.” Nurses have had seven years of pay freezes. Mr Hunt also acknowledged that failure to hit A&E targets was "not acceptable" during Sunday morning's show, but insisted that the Tories were increasing funding and recruiting more doctors and nurses. A separate target is for 92% of patients to be treated within 18 weeks of referral by their GP. But the NHS has not hit this target since February 2016 and performance has been slipping since then. Insisting that focusing on the targets was not a "fair reflection of the performance of the NHS" he said: "Just before the election was called, at the end of March, the NHS published an independent report in which they said that if you take most major conditions - heart attack, stroke, cancer, so on - outcomes have dramatically improved over the last five years." EVENING STANDARD

Germany admitted that crippling austerity measures would destroy Greece, claims former Greek finance minister
In his new memoir, Greece's former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis claims German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble candidly admitted to him that he would not have endorsed an EU-ordered austerity plan. In one exchange he said he asked Schauble whether he would sign up to the EU's austerity measures, to which his German counterpart responded: 'As a patriot, no. It's bad for your people.' The former Greek finance minister claims to have secretly recorded his conversations with top figures, and says his experience showed how far Germany was willing to go to protect the single currency. During one of these conversations, he said former US president Barack Obama agreed that 'austerity sucks', but said he could do nothing to influence Germany. In his new book, The Telegraph reports, the former Greek finance minister claims Germany blocked a Chinese rescue deal for Greece. He also warned British Prime Minister Theresa May not to expect the EU to play fair during Brexit negotiations. DAILY MAIL

New free schools funding system 'incoherent' and offers poor value for taxpayers' money, PAC warns
The Department for Education is spending “well over the odds” in its bid to create 500 more free schools, while local authority buildings crumble, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) warned. In a damning new report, the committee criticised the Government's focus on free schools, which it said were sometimes opened in areas with no shortage of places for pupils while existing schools struggle to make ends meet. The cross-party board also noted that each pupil place in a new free secondary school “costs 51 per cent more than places provided by local authorities”.  This was largely due to the high cost of land, which the DfE was found to be paying almost 20 per cent over official valuations for. Listening to evidence at the PAC hearing, MPs heard how one school was being forced to make two staff redundancies as a result of being unable to fund building maintenance costs. It was also noted that some 85 per cent of schools are known to have asbestos. The only way to address this would be to completely rebuild the schools at a total cost of £100bn. Analysing the report’s findings, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said: “The outgoing government committed to freezing school spending per pupil in cash-terms up to 2019–20. This implies a real-terms cut in spending per pupil of about 6.5 per cent between 2015-16 and 2019–20.” The IFS added: “We haven’t had a proper funding formula since the early 2000s, which has allowed various inequities across areas to develop, which will only grow if left unaddressed.” The committee added that the Government's pledge to create 500 free schools - including some grammars - by 2020 involved spending “significant funds”, even in areas with no shortage of pupil places at a time when existing schools “struggle to live within their budgets and carry out routine maintenance”. INDEPENDENT

£10.50 a call?! Ofcom opens investigation into the cost of 118 calls
The regulator will examine directory enquiries numbers, which begin with 118, after some providers were found to be charging up to £10.50 a call. It will also look at 070 numbers, which allow users to be contacted on any phone at any location, and can cost up to £3.40 a minute. The telecoms regulator said prices should be "transparent and fair". Ofcom, which raised its concerns last week, said there were now more than 400 directory enquiry services offering a variety of options and prices, with call costs ranging from 35p per call to £10.50. However, there is no stipulated cap on such charges, meaning operators are free to charge up to a maximum of £23.97 for calls of less than a minute. Ofcom said it knew of one client who had received a £150 bill for calling a 118 number. Meanwhile Ofcom said it was aware of one consumer who called directory enquiries in 2009, and ended up with a bill for £350. When directory enquiries was deregulated in 2003, calls to BT's 192 service cost just 40p. BBC NEWS

HMRC steps up inquiry into employment status of Hermes couriers
HM Revenue & Customs has stepped up its investigation into the delivery company Hermes classifiying its couriers as self-employed, while the business has also been hit with an employment rights lawsuit from the GMB trade union. Drivers for Hermes were sent letters from HMRC over the weekend asking them to provide evidence as the tax authority looks into their employment status. In the letter, seen by the Guardian, HMRC requests that the drivers disclose information such as their written contract and payslips, and agree to a one-hour interview. “This will help us decide what your employment status is/was,” it says. HMRC’s investigation follows one by the Guardian that found some self-employed couriers were being paid less than the “national living wage”, in an arrangement the company said had been approved by HMRC. Separately, GMB has filed a lawsuit challenging Hermes over employment conditions for its couriers, vowing to battle “bogus self-employment and gig economy exploitation”. Maria Ludkin, the GMB’s legal director, said: “Under the false claims of ‘flexibility’, Hermes seems to think it’s acceptable to wriggle out of treating its workers with respect. “Guaranteed hours, sick pay, pension contributions – these aren’t privileges to be bestowed when companies feel like it; they are the legal right of all UK workers. The union won a similar case against Uber last year, resulting in a ruling that the ride-hailing service should pay the minimum wage and grant drivers holiday pay and other benefits. Uber is contesting the ruling at the employment appeal tribunal. As well as Uber and Hermes, takeaway food delivery service Deliveroo has come under pressure from workers seeking improved conditions. The company was accused of “creating vocabulary” last month, after issuing managers with a list of words to ensure it did not accidentally use terms that indicated its motorbike riders and cyclists were employees. GUARDIAN

AstraZeneca shareholders revolt over chief executive's £13m pay
Nearly 39% of investors voted against the pharmaceutical group’s 2016 remuneration report at its annual meeting in London, similar to the rebellion it faced three years ago. Support for the new pay policy was much stronger, with 96% of investors backing it. AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, received a total pay package of £13.4m last year because a long-term incentive plan and other rewards paid out. He was paid an annual salary of £1.2m and an annual bonus of £1.2m, down from £2m the previous year. But he pocketed a further £6.9m from a long-term incentive plan, plus a one-off payment of £3.6m in compensation for bonuses he lost when he left his previous employer. Royal London Asset Management, which holds 1% of AstraZeneca shares, said it voted against the remuneration report and the chair of the remuneration committee, but backed the new pay policy. Two advisory groups, PIRC and Institutional Shareholder Services, had urged shareholders to vote against the remuneration report and policy. PIRC described the £6.9m long-term incentive plan payment as “excessive”. The housebuilding firm Persimmon suffered a near 10% protest vote over executive pay on Thursday, while Crest Nicholson has pushed ahead with plans to pay out controversial bonuses, even though more than 58% of shareholders rejected its remuneration report last month in a non-binding vote. GUARDIAN

UK pay growth outlook is 'among gloomiest in advanced economies'
The prospects for pay growth in the UK are among the gloomiest in advanced economies, with only Greece, Italy and Austria forecast to suffer bigger falls in real wages by the end of 2018, according to a TUC analysis. The trades union group said UK real wages – pay adjusted for the effects of inflation – were on course to fall by 0.5% between the start of 2016 and the close of 2018, based on forecasts from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In contrast, real wages were predicted to rise in most of the other 31 countries analysed. The average rate of real pay growth for those 31 countries was 2.6% between 2016 and 2018. Workers suffered years of declining real wages in the wake of the financial crisis. After a two-and-a-half-year period of respite, pay recently started falling again in real terms. That drop is the result of sluggish pay growth being overtaken by inflation, which has risen as the pound’s weakness since the Brexit vote makes imports more expensive. Higher oil prices have also raised inflation. The TUC said UK real wages will be 6.8% lower in 2018 than they were in 2007 before the financial crisis, according to OECD predictions. Only Italy and Greece will have suffered bigger falls, of 7.3% and 25.2%, respectively. GUARDIAN

The risky loans that let drivers on minimum wage buy a £19,000 sports car and could be fuelling a debt crisis
Every day, flashy cars are being snapped up by motorists on modest incomes. Our investigation found that drivers earning as little as £8,200 a year can walk away with a brand new £12,500 Ford Fiesta, Britain's most popular car. You would need to earn just £13,500 to be able to afford a Mazda MX-5 — a flashy Japanese two-seater sports car that's worth roughly £19,000. You'd need a salary of £20,000 to buy an Audi TT, which starts at £28,500; while a Range Rover Sport, a £60,000 luxury 4x4 off-roader, requires an income of £41,000 a year, according to figures from car finance broker No wonder car sales are soaring in Britain. Indeed, dealerships shifted a record 2.7 million new cars last year — the fifth consecutive year of rising sales. According to the Finance and Leasing Association, some 320,000 new and used vehicles were acquired through some form of finance in March — £3.6billion worth of new cars and £1.4billion worth of second-hand motors. Fuelling the boom is a relatively new type of finance called Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) — a type of lease agreement that dramatically cuts the monthly cost of owning a car. As many as nine in ten new cars bought on finance are done so using PCP deals — £160 million in loans a day. But fears are now growing that PCPs are luring millions of drivers into taking on too much debt. So rapid has been the growth of PCP finance that the City watchdog is concerned that some customers are being sold complex deals they do not understand. It has launched an investigation. Once the money has been loaned, many car finance firms package up the debt to flog to investors — a chilling echo of the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007. Last year, finance firms packaged and sold £6.7 billion-worth of car loans — more than double the year before. Experts say that while a car finance bubble bursting would not have the same devastating impact on the economy, it could still cause significant damage. DAILY MAIL

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,
Fee and KJ hazard a guess...

SOURCE PUBLIC SECTOR EXECUTIVE: Lib Dems join Labour in pledge to scrap 1% public sector pay cap
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has pledged to put an end to the government’s 1% public sector pay cap and uprate wages in line with inflation, a commitment that is in line with Labour’s pledges according to its leaked manifesto. Farron, who accused the Conservatives of treating health workers “like dirt” at yesterday’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) annual conference, said nurses and teachers could be £780 better off by 2021 as part of his party’s plans. Conversely, it is estimated that a new nurse would be around £530 worse off by then under current Tory plans, while a primary school teacher would lose out on £550 and an army sergeant £830, according to Lib Dem analysis. The party’s leader also said that the controversial pay cap, branded by many unions as a “cruel” policy, would leave the average civil servant £800 worse off by 2021. Vince Cable, Lib Dem shadow chancellor and the former business secretary, said: “Public sector workers are facing a double blow at the hands of this Conservative government, with years of pitiful increases to pay combined with a Brexit squeeze caused by soaring inflation. “Our NHS and schools are already struggling to recruit the staff they need. "Living standards are falling, prices are rising and nurses are going to food banks – but Theresa May doesn’t care.” Just last week, a leading trade union claimed the cap policy will cost the UK economy around £16bn in lost wages by the end of the decade. Analysis by the GMB also predicted that between 2017 and 2020, five million workers in the public sector will find themselves out of pocket by around £3,300 each. As expected, the cap has been an extremely controversial policy since its inception, and is now threatening to drive the nursing workforce to its first-ever strike in the RCN’s 100-year history.


£100bn a year is missing from our high streets thanks to 50 years of pay squeezes. See the stats

Hoping for a Brexit U-turn? Then let's U-turn inequality. Except Hammond’s budget is making it worse

Why does everyone say inequality is falling when it's rising? Measure all wealth/assets, not just incomes

The NHS is not a “cost”. It creates nationwide jobs, technology, growth and wealth. Oh, and health

FTSE bosses take 2.5 days to earn what you earn all year. Data shows they don't deserve it

All governments agree to fix the housing crisis. Latest figures show we're still not even trying

Recovery? What recovery?! Bank of England director explains why broke Britain is still broken

Brexit was about inequality in Britain, not immigration. Have our politicians realised this?

See the Stats: Osborne's 2016 budget protected the wealthiest while the most vulnerable suffer

Inequality: the UK has 9 of the 10 poorest regions in Northern Europe. But Inner London is the richest

Graphs at a glance: With highest pay and highest job growth is London sucking the life out of Britain?

Londoners earn 15% more 'cos London is damn expensive! But the poorest 5th in London are paid only 4% more

Graphs at a glance: Britain is already a low-pay economy with falling average wages

Is your Cost of Living crisis over?! Average wages are still back where they were 10 years ago

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,
A pound’s worth of product is not worth a pound when you’ve made it. It’s worth a pound when someone has bought it. That’s why Britain needs a pay rise.

There’s no rise in UK sales without a rise in UK incomes. That’s why we’ve not had a recovery. Only a recovery in credit card debt!

Whichever party understands that, vote for them.

Wages have flatlined since July 2005, says the Office for National Statistics. But it’s worse than that. Notoriously, the Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) data never include the earnings of the self employed, which have been getting worse, so that means there has been an overall decline.

If you’ve been one of the lucky ones who have seen his/her earnings increase, you have a counterpart who saw the opposite. As the graph tells us, the more you earned the more someone else didn’t. So if you’re trying to sell them something, you’re in trouble too.

Those people earning less: are they all lazy and stupid? Nigh on half the workforce?!

A balance must be struck between earnings rising too fast (businesses and their customers can’t afford it. So the business goes bust) and too slow or not at all (businesses can fill their shelves, but nobody can afford to buy the damn stuff. So the business goes bust). That balance has been lost since the 1970s. For too long wages, as a percentage of the nation’s GDP, have been falling.


That 10% drop in the UK’s wages bill, compared to 50 years ago, equates to around £100bn a year in spending being taken off our high streets.

Now take a look at the list of sectors where wages are falling. If your business depends on selling to people working in those sectors, you’d better pray they get a pay rise.

Yes, I said pray. Because businesses, in competition, find it genuinely difficult to coordinate a pay rise lest someone breaks ranks and win-wins by keeping pay down while selling to those who got the rise. That’s why unions do us all a favour, by coordinating that pay rise. Government too, by legislating that rise.

The Resolution Foundation, digging into Office for National Statistics data on wages, says around 40 per cent of the workforce are in sectors where pay is falling in real terms.

This is despite another “good performance” on jobs, with fast growth in hours worked, employment remaining at a record high and unemployment falling by 45,000. Although, notoriously again, the official employment data says anyone who has worked a measly one hour a week is “employed”. One hour! What a job that must be!

We’re wasting our time if jobs are being created, but incomes aren’t rising. We’re driving with the hand brake on.

“But having a job matters more than having a pay rise!” says the tub thumping right, who see low pay as a way of creating jobs. These are the same people who say “Those Commies, they think full employment matters more than growing the economy.” They’re asking for the same thing as the Commies now. Beautiful! Someone should tell them that if wages don’t rise, economies simply don’t grow *.


* ...except, of course, through immigration. More people, more GDP. Simples. No wonder neither New Labour nor the Tories cut immigration. Immigration is not the cause of our problems **, it’s the only thing that’s making our economy look as though it has a future.

** Do you seriously think if the population had risen through more British babies instead of immigrants, those past governments would have built the 250,000 houses a year we need, increased spending on the NHS and schools to shorten those queues, and raised those wages?

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
3m poor working families face losing £2,500 a year from benefit cuts
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) the freeze in benefit rates and cuts to child tax credit, coupled with the rollout of universal credit, which has become less generous as a result of changes to work allowances, signal “large losses” for low-income households. If the cuts announced in 2015 were fully in place now, nearly 3m working households with children on tax credits would be an average of £2,500 a year worse off, with larger families losing more. The scheduled cuts for lower-income families come alongside tax breaks worth £5bn a year that predominantly benefit middle- and higher-income households. Although the average impact of tax and benefit changes since 2015 has been relatively small so far, planned benefit cuts will reduce government spending by about £15bn a year in the long run, with the poorest working-age households facing losses of between 4% and 10% of income a year, the IFS says. The impact of the planned cuts on the poorest working-age families over the next five years will be much greater than those imposed during the 2010-15 coalition government. Pensioner households are mostly protected from future benefit cuts. Tom Waters, a research economist at the IFS, said: “As suggested by the 2015 Conservative manifesto, the government have announced income tax cuts that mostly benefit middle- and higher-income households and working-age benefit cuts that mostly hit lower-income households. But while the tax cuts have largely already been delivered, most of the benefit cuts are yet to take effect.” GUARDIAN

NHS needs £25bn in emergency cash, say NHS leaders
An influential group representing NHS trusts says that the care provided by hospitals and GP surgeries will suffer over the next few years unless the prime minister provides an £5bn a year for the next three years – and a further £10bn of capital for modernising equipment and buildings. NHS Providers, an association of NHS Foundation Trusts and Trusts, is preparing to release its own manifesto next week, calling on the Conservatives and Labour to end what it calls the austerity funding of the health service. Hospitals needed that £5bn a year to get rid of their deficits of £800m-£900m a year, fulfil new NHS commitments on cancer and mental health and improve their performance against key waiting time targets. The NHS also needed a further £10bn for capital spending on building and repairing premises, buying new equipment and modernising how care is provided, she added. That is the sum which a recent report commissioned by the Department of Health said the service needed for those purposes. A second group, the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals and ambulance and mental health services, urged May to commit to giving the NHS £8bn-a-year annual budget increases after 2020-21, when the current funding settlement expires. The DH’s budget is due to reach £133.1bn by March 2021. Niall Dickson, its chief executive, said NHS services were so stretched that it would have to go back to getting at least the 4%-a-year budget increases it enjoyed historically between its creation in 1948 and 2010. After that, the coalition government limited rises to 1% annually. Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, has voiced concern that per capita health funding will decline in 2018-19 and 2019-20. It is due to fall from its current level of £2,223 a head this year by £16 next year and £7 in 2019. GUARDIAN

McDonald’s offers fixed contracts to 115,000 UK zero-hours workers
Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam and the bank's board of directors have offered to cut The move is a significant development in the debate about employee rights because McDonald’s is one of the biggest users of zero-hours contracts in the country. Sports Direct has also used workers on zero-hour contracts in its shops. The fast-food chain is to offer fixed-hours contracts after staff in its restaurants complained they were struggling to get loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts because they were not guaranteed employment each week. Zero-hour contracts are controversial because companies can use them to exploit workers, offering unpredictable working hours and changing shifts at short notice. The TUC has called for the government to ban zero-hours contracts. It has found that staff on these contracts earns a third less per hour than the average worker. McDonald’s has been trialling the shift to fixed-hours contracts in 23 sites across the country. The company said that about 80% of workers in the trial chose to remain on flexible contracts and it has seen an increase in levels of employee and customer satisfaction after the offer. Staff have been offered contracts in line with the average hours per week they work. This includes contracts of either four, eight, 16, 30 or 35 hours a week. The company will initially expand fixed contracts to 50 more restaurants before rolling it out nationwide to existing and new employees later this year. Paul Pomroy, the chief executive of McDonald’s UK, said: “The vast majority of our employees are happy with their flexible contracts, but some have told us that more fixed hours would help them get better access to some financial products.” He added: “The hard work of our restaurant teams has enabled us to deliver 44 consecutive quarters of growth in the UK.” The company has been targeted by protesters over its treatment of staff. Earlier this month, campaigners from Fast Food Rights and Better Than Zero dressed as clowns and demonstrated outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Glasgow over its use of zero-hours contracts. The TUC has warned that 3.5 million people could be stuck in insecure work such as zero-hours contracts, agency work or low-paid self-employment by 2022 – 290,000 more than at present. GUARDIAN

The UK's middle class remains one of the smallest and poorest in Europe despite having expanded the most over two decades
The United Kingdom’s middle class has seen one of the biggest expansions among Western countries over the past two decades but it remains one of the smallest and least wealthy, new analysis by Pew Research Centre has shown. To qualify as middle class via Pew's income-based model, a family of four in the UK would need a cumulative disposable income of between just over $29,000 and $87,300 (£19,000 - £57,350 in 2010 rates). Among Western European countries this is the lowest except for Italy’s minimum of $25,000 and Spain’s $24,500. The study covers the two decades between 1991 and 2010 for Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the UK and the US. But while middle classes shrunk in seven out of the 11 countries, including Italy, Germany and Spain, mirroring a long-term trend in the US, Ireland saw its middle class expand most, followed by the UK. The report also shows that the UK had the biggest share of people on upper-income in Europe at 14 per cent, second only to the US (15 per cent). Norway, on the other hand, had the smallest proportion of population on upper income at 6 per cent as it also counts the biggest middle class, which makes up 80 per cent of its population. The Pew said that countries where incomes are more equal have larger shares of middle-income adults, and vice versa, suggesting that countries like Norway and Denmark are more equal than countries like the UK and Italy. For a UK family of four to be defined on ‘upper income’, it would need to have a cumulative disposable income of around $87,000, compared to Ireland’s $90,000. That is $43,600 for an individual in the UK, compared to $45,000 in Ireland. DAILY MAIL

Arrests as Newcastle and West Ham raided in £5m tax probe
Newcastle's managing director Lee Charnley was among "several men within professional football" who were arrested. He was released without charge at about 17:00 BST. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) deployed 180 officers across the UK and France. The BBC understands the suspected income tax and National Insurance fraud amounts to £5m. HMRC said it searched premises in the north east and south east of England, and seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones. Newcastle were promoted to the Premier League on Monday, just 348 days after relegation. According to its 2015-16 accounts, the club had a turnover of £126m, paid out £75m in players' wages and recorded pre-tax loss of £4.1m. HMRC raided West Ham's offices at the London Olympic Stadium where the club moved in August, having played at Upton Park since 1904. Companies House figures for 2015-16 show it turned over £142m, paid out £85m in player's wages and made a pre-tax loss of £4.8m. In January, a Parliamentary Committee revealed 43 players, 12 clubs and eight agents were the subject of "open inquiries" by HMRC. The Public Accounts Committee highlighted particular concerns about tax evasion in the football industry and the "misuse" of image rights to reduce tax liabilities. BBC NEWS

Barclays boss faces shareholder revolt over whistleblowing case
Barclays’ chief executive is facing a shareholder revolt at next month’s annual meeting because of the ongoing regulatory investigation into his attempts to unmask a whistleblower. Shareholders are being advised to abstain from the annual vote to re-elect the American banker Jes Staley to the board by ISS, an influential adviser to major investors, in a sign that the bank could face a significant protest vote against its chief executive at the 10 May AGM. Staley will be braced for questions about his conduct when the bank reports its first-quarter results on Friday. He has issued a written apology for becoming too personally involved in the whistleblowing case, which related to the conduct of Tim Main, who worked with Staley at US bank JP Morgan and was then recruited to Barclays in a senior role last June. Both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority are investigating the matter. Barclays has formally reprimanded Staley and insisted that there will be a significant reduction in his bonus, which was £1.4m last year. Not only is it unusual for City regulators to investigate the conduct of chief executives of major financial institutions, it is also unusual for major proxy firms to issue advice to abstain against their re-election to the board. GUARDIAN

"GDP" is measuring the wrong things! Car accidents, poor health and the throw-away society boosts GDP
GDP is seriously messed up. It is often thought of simply as the most common measurement of the size of a country’s economy – how could that be controversial? But far from being impartial, GDP considers all sorts of negative things as good for the economy and ignores other things that are actually really beneficial. Worse than that, it incentivises governments to prioritise those negative things at the expense of the positive – and that can be hugely damaging for a healthy society. Lorenzo Fioramonti is the professor of political economy at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and author of The World After GDP. According to Lorenzo, the perfect GDP Man – someone who lived to optimise economic growth – would be ‘obese, driving a car to work every day and stuck in traffic, probably have a serious chronic disease and be on the verge of a divorce because after a divorce means more fees to lawyers but also two houses to be bought and one house to sell’. He adds that in theory to maximise GDP, no one would spend any time with their children and work all the time instead. That way, there would be two contributions to GDP instead of none – one of the parent earning money and a second of the carer being paid to look after their children and then spending their earnings. Furthermore, car accidents, poor health and destruction boost GDP, while maintaining and keeping things as they are – such as good health and natural resources - does not. He points out that the two countries that have seen the strongest GDP growth in the last few years have been Libya and South Sudan – both of which have suffered civil wars. DAILY MAIL

Anger as Tate asks underpaid staff to contribute towards boat for boss Nicholas Serota
Tate has come under fire after it asked members of staff, many of whom are not paid the London living wage, to contribute towards a boat for departing director, Nicholas Serota, just one week after their canteen discount was taken away. A notice which went up in the staff rooms of both Tate Modern and Tate Britain on Wednesday asking employees – including security, cleaners, those maintain the galleries or work in the cafe and gift shop – to “put money towards a sailing boat” as a “surprise gift” for Serota. The notice said management had thought “long and hard” about an appropriate gift for the director, who is leaving in May after 28 years at the Tate. “Nick loves sailing and this would be a lasting and very special reminder of the high regard which I know so many of us have for Nick and his contribution to Tate,” the plea for donations added. The appearance of the notice was a source of anger among junior staff. The gallery has been embroiled in disputes over low pay and its decision to outsource a large number of jobs to agency Securitas, which does not pay the London living wage and pay workers less than those hired directly by Tate for the same jobs. The notice was still up on Thursday morning but by lunchtime had been taken down. Tracy Edwards, the PCS Union representative for Tate staff, said several had contacted her about it, adding that she had originally thought the notice was a spoof. “The staff at Tate are underpaid paid and overworked, and haven’t had appropriate pay rises, and this just demonstrates how divorced from reality the management at Tate are,” she said. A staff member at Tate, who is hired through Securitas and spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, spoke of the “disgust” among colleague when they saw the request for donations. “There was a mixture of shock and laughter,” he said. “The chasm that exists between upper management and the staff on the ground is just farcical and this just made it clearer than ever. For us, Serota’s legacy among staff is one of privatisation and union busting and turning the Tate into Westfield with pictures.” GUARDIAN

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , , , ,
KJ and Fee know who and what is to blame...

In safe seats odds are firmly stacked against any voters looking for change. The average constituency last changed hands between parties in the 1960s, with some super safe seats having remained firmly in one-party control since the time of Queen Victoria. That means, at every election, the majority of seats can be predicted because of Westminster’s broken First Past the Post electoral system. As consituencies are small and only elect one MP, rival parties often don’t stand a chance of winning in hundreds of seats across the UK. Even if they have significant support it counts of nothing if they lose. As the loss of safe seats is rare, parties target their resources on a small number of floating voters in marginal seats – meaning they give up on millions of voters across the country. Four weeks away from the 2015 election we could predict the results for over half of the total constituencies.


More votes shifted left than right at GE2015. That's where the Labour party needs to be. See the stats

It's constituency boundaries wot won it: The Tories won more swing seats. But more people shifted their votes left

Apathy? Since the 1970s Brits vote less. But they take part in community, charity and civic activities more

British Election Study shows UKIP voters are well to the left of the Tories and even the LibDems

Every democracy, including ours, needs a left and a right party. Politicians who shift too close to their opposition are putting their careers before the nation

Most MPs vote the way they're told by the party. Many have second jobs earning tens of thousands. Half sit in safe seats they never lose. It's tough being an MP!

British Social Attitudes Survey: Tories & Labour are losing their core supporters

In 1997 the percentage of young people not voting shot up. Under 55- year-olds too

Since 1979, Labour or Tory, inequality rose whilst economic performance remained the same

"It's the economy, stupid" means the economies of individual families, not just UK Plc

Hope you didn't vote for anyone who helps pump up house prices

Lest we forget: all policies are pointless unless the banks are reined in

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Google accused of being 'less than transparent' after revealing latest UK tax payments
The search giant said in its UK accounts that it had made sales of £1 billion - despite declaring a figure of over £5 billion to US officials. In Google's US accounts for 2016 the company said it made sales of $7.8 billion in the UK - which is £5.65 billion at current exchange rates. That means it paid just £36.4 million in UK corporation tax on pre-tax profits of £148.8 million - much less than if the full £5.65 billion of turnover had been put through the UK. It is the result of a legal loophole which means some sales are recorded via Ireland where the revenue is untouchable by the UK taxman. Tax expert Richard Murphy, a Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City, University of London, told ITV News: "What this implies is that £4 in every £5 that Google sells in the UK is not subject to UK tax, and as the accounts note, this is with the full agreement of our tax authority." He added: "The implications are big. Google is reporting profits in its UK accounts of £149 million, or roughly £15 for every £100 of sales it does actually record here. But if, as its US accounts imply, Google should be recording five times more here than it does then the profit in the UK would logically be at least five times higher too. And in that case so too would the tax payment be bigger. And that’s why this matters." The company has faced mounting pressure over its tax affairs amid a backlash against corporate tax avoidance by multi-national companies. Google agreed to a controversial £130 million deal with HM Revenue & Customs in January last year to settle a 10-year tax inquiry into its UK business. Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell tweeted: "It seems Hammond and May are more interested in cutting Google’s taxes than making them pay their fair share.” A Google spokesman said: "As an international business, we pay the majority of our taxes in our home country, as well as all the taxes due in the UK.” ITV NEWS

Benefits Cap reduces thousands to 50p-a-week housing benefit
A Panorama survey of hundreds of councils shows at least 67,600 homes in England, Scotland and Wales have lost some money due to the new welfare cap. The cap is £23,000 in London and £20,000 in the rest of the country. More than 7,500 of those households have all but entirely lost their housing benefit and instead receive a nominal 50p a week. They have to be in receipt of some housing benefit in order to be eligible to apply for discretionary housing payments, a special government fund set up for those particularly affected by the cap. The cap is part of the government's drive to get unemployed people back into employment by cutting out-of-work benefits. The amount of money above the limit is taken from either housing benefit or Universal Credit. Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: "Removing people's housing benefit basically means that people can't afford their home, so it puts people at risk of homelessness. "It also means that they have to use money that's intended to buy food for their kids and for their other living expenses - this has to be used to plug the hole in their rent." Where someone finds work - 16 hours a week for single parents, 24 hours for a couple - their benefits are reinstated, and research suggests about 5% of those affected by the cap have returned to work. But Ms Garnham said about 80% of those affected cannot be expected to work as they are sick or have very young children. BBC NEWS

Lloyds to pay £100m to victims of HBOS Reading fraud as FCA reopens probe
The bank has already written off about £250m of fraudulent loans made in the scandal, which in February saw six people, including two former HBOS employees, being jailed for a combined 47 years and six months. It now expects to spend a further £100m reimbursing customers who suffered “economic losses, distress and inconvenience” because of the fraud at HBOS’s Reading office in the years before the financial crisis. In a further blow, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also announced that it had resumed a probe that it had suspended in early 2013 while Thames Valley Police conducted its own six-year investigation into the scam, which resulted in this year’s convictions. The scam was carried out at HBOS’s division in Reading which handled small businesses that had run into trouble and took place between 2003 and 2007, before Lloyds rescued the bank with a disastrous takeover in 2009 during the financial crisis. It involved bribery with sex parties, luxury holidays, expensive watches and cash to refer companies that were HBOS clients to a consultancy firm called Quayside Corporate Services (QCS). The troubled businesses were then asset-stripped by QCS. The £100m provision taken by Lloyds will surprise investors because the bank, which is just under 2pc-owned by the taxpayer, had recently been playing down the amount of compensation it expected to pay. It had initially estimated that about 50 customers had been embroiled in the fraud but because others have come forward it now believes between 70 and 100 clients could have been hurt by the scam. TELEGRAPH

Libor: Bank of England implicated in secret recording
A secret recording that implicates the Bank of England in Libor rigging has been uncovered by BBC Panorama. The 2008 recording adds to evidence the central bank repeatedly pressured commercial banks during the financial crisis to push their Libor rates down. Libor is the rate at which banks lend to each other, setting a benchmark for mortgages and loans for ordinary customers. The Bank of England said Libor was not regulated in the UK at the time. The recording calls into question evidence given in 2012 to the Treasury select committee by former Barclays boss Bob Diamond and Paul Tucker, the man who went on to become the deputy governor of the Bank of England. Libor, the London Interbank Offered Rate, tracks how much it costs banks to borrow money from each other. As such it is a big influence on the cost of mortgages and other loans. In the recording, a senior Barclays manager, Mark Dearlove, instructs Libor submitter Peter Johnson, to lower his Libor rates. He tells him: "The bottom line is you're going to absolutely hate this... but we've had some very serious pressure from the UK government and the Bank of England about pushing our Libors lower." Banks have already been fined more than £6bn for allowing submitters to be influenced by requests from traders or bosses to take into account the bank's commercial interests, such as trading positions. Chris Philp MP, who sits on the Treasury committee, said: "It sounds to me like those people giving evidence, particularly Bob Diamond and Paul Tucker were misleading parliament, that is a contempt of parliament, it's a very serious matter and I think we need to urgently summon those individuals back before parliament to explain why it is they appear to have misled MPs. It's extremely serious." BBC NEWS

Struggling credit card holders could see fees and charges waived
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced a raft of measures to help people in persistent credit card debt, including waiving or cancelling interest and charges if customers cannot afford to curb their liabilities through a repayment plan. The watchdog found that 3.3 million people have fallen into a persistent credit card debt spiral, where all their money is spent on repaying interest, while the total debt is never lowered. Debt campaigners welcomed the announcement, but warned that the proposals do not address the fundamental question of how credit cards trap people in “persistent debt”. Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, said credit card companies are reluctant to intervene to help these customers because they are profitable business. Persistent debt can be very expensive – costing customers on average around £2.50 for every £1 repaid – and can obscure underlying financial problems. Because these customers remain profitable, firms have few incentives to intervene. The proposals drawn up by the FCA would force firms to contact customers and ask them to make faster repayments if they are struggling with persistent debt. Those customers that remain in debt for another year-and-a-half would then be put on a repayment plan. However, customers could have their card suspended if they fail to respond, or can make the repayments but refuse to do so. Credit card holders that cannot afford any of the options would be offered even greater help from firms, such as cutting or waving their interest or charges. GUARDIAN

Credit Suisse embroiled in major global tax evasion investigation
In a fresh blow to Switzerland’s attempts to clean up its reputation for banking secrecy and tax evasion, the Netherlands is leading a coalition of five tax authorities conducting a criminal investigation into undeclared “black” accounts and money laundering. Raids on homes and offices took place across the Netherlands and France on Thursday and Friday. Taxpayers and high ranking bank employees in Britain, Germany and Australia are under investigation. Dutch prosecutors acted after receiving a tip-off on assets hidden within “offshore accounts and policies”, estimated in the millions of euros. They say the information concerns a single Swiss bank, but have so far declined to name the target. However, Credit Suisse confirmed on Friday that its offices in London, Paris and Amsterdam had been searched by local authorities concerning “client tax matters”, and that it was cooperating with their inquiries. The action has prompted fresh calls for an end to Swiss banking secrecy. If proven, evasion on this scale would amount to a “global criminal enterprise”, one tax expert said. The raids sparked a diplomatic row between Switzerland and the Netherlands, with officials in Geneva furious at what they claim was a deliberate decision to keep them in the dark. Two arrests have been made in the Netherlands, where the haul of assets seized from safes and homes in the Hague and other areas included property, cash, 35 paintings worth €1.2m (£1m), a luxury Mercedes, and a 1 kilogram gold ingot. The country’s Fiscal Information and Investigation Services (FIOD) has reportedly been handed the names of 3,800 account holders and details of 55,000 accounts by a Dutch informant. Dozens of Dutch taxpayers are under investigation. More actions would follow in the coming weeks, the agency said in a statement released on Friday. France announced that 25 customs agents had carried out raids across the country as part of an inquiry into “aggravated money laundering and financial fraud” which began on 26 April last year. Investigators have found “several thousand” bank accounts opened in Switzerland by French taxpayers who are suspected of having failed to declare them to the authorities. Alex Cobham, chief executive of Tax Justice Network, said: “Allegations of laundering and tax evasion on this scale would, if proven, indicate the bank was effectively a global criminal enterprise.” GUARDIAN

Travel websites ticked off over 'misleading' claims
Websites that show bargain prices for flights, hotels and other travel bookings, are not giving customers accurate information, say European consumer protection authorities. The first price shown was often much lower than the final price, they said. Some offers that look too good to be true, are - because when you click to buy they aren't available. The Consumer Protection Cooperation body said the 235 websites that they had identified would be required to correct the problems. If websites failed to comply, national authorities could pursue legal proceedings, it said. Key findings: In one third of cases the first price shown was not the same as the final price to pay; In one fifth of cases promotional offers were not really available; In nearly one third of cases the way the total price was calculated was not clear; In one quarter of cases prompts on scarcity (eg "only 2 left") only applied to availability on that particularly website, which wasn't made clear. The CPC screened the sector in October 2016, covering 28 European countries. It checked a total of 352 sites, including ones offering to book accommodation, transport tickets and car rental. Some were price comparison websites. It also found that over a fifth of the sites it looked at presented consumer reviews in an unclear way, sometimes throwing doubt over their truthfulness. BBC NEWS

MPs urge crackdown on excessive pay to rebuild public trust in business
Among their wide-ranging recommendations, the MPs’ committee called for a ban on long-term investment plans, complex multi-year pay deals that have been criticised for masking the true extent of huge awards to executives and for encouraging short-term thinking. Responding to the gulf in pay that has emerged between bosses and average workers, MPs on the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee also called on firms to publish pay ratios between top executives and other employees and to put workers on remuneration committees. The MPs urged the government to grant the corporate governance watchdog more powers to hold company directors to account. The committee highlighted revelations that workers at Sports Direct were being paid less than the legal minimum wage and the demise of BHS, which cost 11,000 jobs and prompted MPs to declare that the retailer had been subject to “systematic plunder” by former owners Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective “hangers-on”. It said that gathering evidence for the report, MPs were told by one witness “pay was now so complex that executives themselves do not always understand their own remuneration”. It also heard LTIPs could distort executive behaviour, with chief executives tailoring decisions to affect the share price around the time their shares were due to vest. The MPs’ new report recommended companies establish stakeholder advisory panels, including workers, consumers, and suppliers. It also suggested workers be represented on remuneration committees and for the chairs of those committees to be expected to resign if fewer than 75% of shareholders fail to approve the company’s pay policy. But it stopped short of demanding a worker representatives on boards – something proposed and then watered down by Theresa May last year. The Institute of Directors said that call reflected its own longstanding concerns about the lack of transparency in the governance of unlisted firms. “A code for private companies is supported by two-thirds of IoD members and should be established for the largest firms,” said IoD director general Stephen Martin. The TUC welcomed that and other recommendations. “British people are fed up with the bad behaviour of big business. Workers are getting a raw deal, and our economy is harmed by short-term thinking in the board room. Reform is badly needed, and the government should take up many of the excellent ideas in this report,” said the TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady. GUARDIAN

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