MPs' 2nd JOBS

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Tuesday, October 06, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , , , ,

SOURCE INDEPENDENT: Trade Union Bill - All Scottish councils say they will ignore controversial new law
All 32 Scottish councils will refuse to implement the conditions of the bill when it becomes law. Those conditions include removing the process of check-offs whereby union subscriptions are deducted from the salaries of workers who are members of a trade union. Unions have complained that this is a cynical ploy to reduce their funding and will waste their resources in renewing subscriptions. They are also infuriated that the bill constrains the amount of paid time off that public sector union representatives can take for those responsibilities, a move the authorities will also oppose. Union leaders believe the move could help turn opinion against the bill across the country, in a repeat of Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax debacle. Opposition to the hated levy started in Scotland, where trials were run in 1989, before it was dropped and replaced by the Council Tax four years later.

SOURCE THE SUN: Tax credits cut ‘bonkers’
MORE than three million lower-paid households will lose an average of £1,350 a year under planned tax credit cuts, a new report has found. To add to the insult, letters informing struggling families exactly how hard they will be hit are due to arrive just before Christmas. A new National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour is designed to offset the cuts, but the Resolution Foundation found that for 3.2million families it will be nowhere near enough to fill the shortfall. The think-tank’s analysis found a two-parent family — where one adult works full time and the other does 20 hours a week on the minimum wage — will get a £1,100 annual pay rise, but be £1,800 out of pocket overall as tax credit cuts bite. A single parent working full time on the minimum wage will get a £700 pay rise in 2016 but be £1,500 worse off overall due to the cuts. Resolution Foundation senior economic analyst David Finch said: “The Government needs to re-think its welfare cuts which will hit the wallets of many hard-working people.” A poll yesterday found more than one in four voters would be less likely to vote Tory at the next election because of the cuts. Many Tories also joined calls for the Chancellor to ease the pain. Self-employed telemarketer Judith, 44, works flexible hours to care for daughter Niamh, 12. The single mum, of Wellingborough, Northants, said: “I’m going to have to cut back hugely. “I can’t afford to run a car, I haven’t had one for nine years. This means even more cutbacks. It is like a punch in the teeth. £1,300 is a lot of money to cut from what I have.”

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Sunday, October 04, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Writing in the Daily Telegraph in 2013, Boris Johnson said in a piece titled "We should be humbly thanking the super-rich, not bashing them":
"Now, the top 0.1 per cent – about 29,000 people – pay an amazing 14.1 per cent of all taxes."

Boris’ figure seems to come from a Freedom of Information (FOI) response from HMRC [which we have looked for but can’t find it where it is supposed to be published – we would be grateful for a link to this]. However Boris was mistaken. The Daily Mail, clarified this as 14.1 percent of Income Tax, not of All Tax. Boris' mistake is often heard in the media, with people claiming and some actually believing the top 1% pay for most of public spending.

So, what difference does "Income" versus "All" make? Actually, a lot.

HMRC doesn't publish the top 0.1% tax normally, except in FOI responses. However HMRC estimates for 2015/16 show the top 1% do pay over a quarter, about 27.5%, of Income Tax. HMRC figures also show Income Tax for that year made up 31.7% of "All Taxes". 

Therefore the top 1%'s income tax makes up just 8.7% of "All Taxes" (31.7% x 27.5% = 8.7%).

It has been a common tactic to use the enormous share of Income Tax the very rich pay to throw a smokescreen of eye-lowering "don't look too hard" gratitude over the enormous amount of income they receive. And yet it is true, the top 1% do pay a share of Income Tax disproportionate to their population. 

The reason for this is low pay in Britain has meant most people couldn't afford to pay a greater share of Income Tax even if they wanted to. Far from having spare cash to contribute in Income Tax, a report by the Resolution Foundation think tank in 2012, "Gaining from growth: The final report of the Commission on Living Standards" shows the bottom 50% actually have to borrow money to cover their living costs. The "Savings Ratio" in the graph below shows what percentage of income each group can save. A negative Savings Ratio indicates they are borrowing.

In a separate press release the Resolution Foundation stated by the 2020 General Election the number of workers on the legal minimum wage will have doubled to more than 10% of the working population. It's due to free-market set wages falling behind the government set minimum wage (laughably renamed by George Osborne as the National Living Wage). If you look at specific sub groups of workers, the proportion on minimum wage in 2020 will be even higher than 10%:
  • 15% of female employees
  • 25% in micro businesses (businesses with fewer than 10 employees, who had over 8 million employees in 2014)
  • 40% in the hospitality sector

It is said by some that burgeoning top pay does not hold down bottom pay. That may be true if the question is simply diversion of bottom pay into top pay packets. However top pay is usually justified by profits. According to Gavyn Davies, (hedge fund manager, former Goldman Sachs partner, and former chairman of the BBC) two thirds of corporate profits have come from holding wages down:

"[If the] decline in the wage share had not occurred, and everything else had (implausibly) stayed the same, then gross profits in the developed economies would have been about one-third lower than they are today and net profits (after depreciation) would have been about two-thirds lower."

So while the 1% may not be directly siphoning off the wages of the 99%, they use holding those wages down to boost their profits and boost their resulting rewards. We can see an example of how executive pay has ramped up from a report, "How to make high pay fairer", published in July 2014 by the High Pay Centre think tank. The report stated:

"Typical annual pay for a FTSE 100 CEO has risen from around £100,000-£200,000 in the early 1980s to just over £1 million at the turn of the 21st century to £4.3 million in 2012. This represented a leap from around 20 times the pay of the average UK worker in the 1980s to 60 times in 1998, to 160 times in 2012 (the most recent year for which full figures are available)."

Creating a growing economic distance between the few and the many creates a deeper problem. As those at the top, who direct the government of Britain, no longer need public services they don’t feel the pain when those  services are cut. Those who can afford private health, private education, those who don't rely on subsidised public transport and subsidised housing, and those who don’t live in areas that need strong policing, don’t notice when what they don’t need is not there.

And I suppose it would be churlish to mention the taxes the 1% contribute to the state allow them to keep their staff on low wages (subsidised by in work benefits) and keeps their staff healthy (NHS) and educated (Schools) enough to turn up to work on subsidised public transport. 

So we should not, as Boris suggested, be "humbly thanking" the super-rich. On the contrary, they should be humbly thanking the rest of us: not for our generosity but for our incomprehension of what is happening. 
The Golden Rule, "Those who have the gold make the rules", held until relatively recently. When rule-makers began to be chosen by Parliamentary Elections, those with the gold have relied on the rest of us not really noticing they aren't fairly sharing it.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Thursday, October 01, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Government abandons plans designed to counter corporate wrongdoing
In a surprise U-turn, the Justice Minister, Andrew Selous, said the Government was no longer considering creating a new criminal offence as “there was little evidence of corporate economic wrongdoing going unpunished.” The Conservatives had pledged in their manifesto to strengthen powers to curb corporate misbehaviour, following widespread criticism of the failure to hold major companies such as international banks and other global financial institutions to account for scandals such as rigging the Libor index, tax evasion and insurance mis-selling. Critic Susan Hawley, policy director of Corruption Watch, said: “Companies in the UK are rarely brought to justice and are often effectively above the law because of the UK’s outdated corporate liability laws. It appears that the government is allowing its pro-business deregulation agenda to derails its anti-corruption commitments.” The decision is a blow to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), whose director David Green QC, has championed reform to improve his department’s ability to tackle economic crime.In a speech earlier this month, he said: “If the public interest, in terms of public confidence, demands more prosecutions of corporates, then such change is surely necessary.” The Law Commission, which advises the government on law reform, criticised existing corporate liability laws four years ago, describing them as “inappropriate and inadequate” but a full scale review has been dropped. INDEPENDENT

Sky boss gets 250% pay and perks increase to £16.9m after customers get price hikes
According to the satellite giant’s annual report, CEO Jeremy Darroch saw his pay and perks package rocket by nearly 250% last year. His bumper deal included an £11.8m bonus, through a “long term incentive plan”, for hitting targets in previous years. He also got a near £2m annual bonus, £960,000 salary and £147,000 instead of a pension. It took the amount Darroch has earned since 2010 to £57m. Yet it came as Sky customers were landed with price hikes in June. The broadcaster confirmed subscription fees would rise, just weeks after announcing their record breaking £5.1billion Premier League rights deal. Deborah Hargreaves, director of the High Pay Centre, slammed Darroch’s pay deal , which would take the average UK worker on £27,200 a staggering 620 years to earn. Hargreaves said: “I am sure he has done a good job but it is not just one person driving the firm’s success.” MIRROR

RBS facing inquiry amid accusations it 'falsified' customer records
RBS is accused of editing customer emails and call transcripts and how it presented its 'central file' record of correspondence. The Times newspaper reports the Financial Conduct Authority and the Information Commissioner's Office have been made aware of the claims raised by RBS business customer Andy Keats, who claims RBS forced the closure of his pet tag business Keepsafe after withdrawing its debit and credit card facilities. Keats claims to have uncovered discrepancies in records held by the bank which he says show his customer data had been “falsified to suit RBS”. He claims in some cases entire paragraphs were deleted in correspondence as opposed to being redacted from text and email records, including punctuation changes, with no acknowledgement changes had been made. Keats also claims to have seen the banks' central file records which shows a key exchange between himself and the bank in 2012, relating to mortgage and personal account issues, was missing a key passage in which Keats states he was under no contrafactual obligation to make monthly capital and interest payments. Under Data Protection rules, data-holders are permitted to summarise customer data under certain conditions, though deletions or edits which would change the meaning of the correspondence are forbidden. DAILY RECORD

After the VW scandal, EU probes TV makers over dodgy energy efficiency test scores
Software used in TVs may be skewing their energy rating scores. One study indicates that some Samsung TVs nearly halve their power consumption when a standardised test is carried out. Another accuses a different unnamed manufacturer of adjusting the brightness of its sets when they "recognise" the test film involved. Samsung has denied any wrongdoing. However, one environmental campaign group has likened the accusations to the Volkswagen diesel scandal, in which the German car firm admitted to programming its cars to deliberately cheat emissions tests. Manufacturers run the test themselves and then file the results. Some of these are then double-checked by various countries' energy regulatory bodies. ComplianTV, a consortium that represents various non-governmental organisations including the UK's Energy Saving Trust (EST), found that the power demands of one of the South Korean firm's LCD TVs dropped from 70 watts to about 39 watts within a minute of the test video starting. "That's not normal, it's an anomaly," explained Richard Kay, an EST spokesman. But he added: "We don't have any evidence to back up the accusation that Samsung has a technology to recognise when it is tested." The European Commission says it is "following up" two reports. BBC NEWS

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , , ,

The government has regularly given assurances that they will curb top pay by giving shareholders the power to veto excessive pay packages. But the pay of the average FTSE 100 Chief Executive has increased by nearly £500,000 in the last year. FTSE 100 bosses are now paid an average £4.72 million, equivalent to hourly pay of well nearly £1,200. It takes them just around 22 hours work to surpass the UK average earnings of £27,200. 

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , , , , , , , ,
One month before the UK General Election in May 2015 David Cameron, warming up for a post prime ministerial career as a game-show host, announced it was "Money Back Monday"

On that first day of the 2015-16 tax year Cameron declared: 
"Today is a big day for our country. It's 'money-back Monday' - a day when, quite simply, hard working taxpayers get to keep more of their own cash. A whole host of changes to our tax, benefits, pensions and savings systems come into effect today."

Promising** a handout to the nation one month before the General Election clearly didn't do him any harm. But who actually took the money Cameron promised to give back? 

We get an insight by looking at data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) annual report on "The Effects of Taxes and Benefits on Household Income". Comparing data from financial years ending in 2010 and 2014 (the report for 2015 won't be out until June 2016), we see the personal tax burden actually increased during the last Conservative led coalition government.

How is this possible? Surely the Tories have been lowering some income tax rates and raising allowances? Yes they have. But they take back significantly more than they give via other taxes. 

Personal taxes come in two forms:
1) Direct Taxes including: Income Tax; National Insurance Contributions; Council Tax.
2) Indirect Taxes include: VAT; Duty on tobacco, alcohol, fuel; car tax; TV licence; Stamp Duty; etc.

Between 2010 and 2014 (charts show percentage of gross income taken in tax):
a) Direct Taxes decreased

b) Indirect Taxes increased

c) Overall Direct + Indirect Taxes increased
Because the poorest pay most of their taxes as Indirect Tax they were hit hardest by Tory tax rises. Nonetheless, the richest also paid a higher rate of tax in 2014 than they did in 2010. 

Indirect and Direct Taxes for richest and poorest [click on picture for better view]
How do the Tories manage to be seen as the "party of low taxation"? They do it by saying it with such confidence people believe it is true without checking. In a speech in March 2014, David Cameron said:
"We believe in helping people keep more of the money they earn. It’s the right thing to do. Let’s be clear: there is no such thing as government money. It’s your money – taxpayer money. It’s not my money, not George Osborne’s money, not the government’s money - it’s your money. Hard-working people’s money."

In the same speech Cameron went on to promise: 
"A bit of extra cash that can help a Dad afford those trainers for his son or help a Mum celebrate her daughter’s birthday with a meal out."

The reality is those who depend on a tax reduction to buy trainers and pizza for their children were far less able to afford those treats. Even those at the other end of the income scale found themselves with more tax taken from what they have to invest or to spend on a whim.

The Conservatives warn us the Labour Party can't be trusted with the UK's economy and security. And yet five years of a Tory led government brought higher taxes, increased national debt, cuts to the military, and cuts to the police

The real puzzle in Britain is not what the Labour Party has to do to be trusted. It is what the Tories have to do to be distrusted.

[** Cameron's promise of "money back" in this April 2014 speech was based on an analysis the Tories hadn't published. Sir Andrew Dilnot of the UK Statistics Authority complained about this in a letter that stated:
"Reference to the analysis was made in the Conservative Party press release, but the analysis has not been published and is neither available to all other parties nor to members of the public. We regard this as unsatisfactory because of the significance that we attach to the principle of equal access to statistics and underlying analysis."]

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
CBI chief backs green economy, says government’s U-turns will cost business hundreds of billions
John Cridland, director general of the CBI and the most senior voice of British business, has blasted the government’s performance on the “green economy”, warning that UK companies will lose out on hundreds of billions of pounds in opportunities for overseas exports if ministers do not reverse direction. Cridland said the UK’s green economy alone was already worth £120bn a year, and that between 2010 and 2013, the green economy grew at more than 7% a year, compared with less than 2% a year for the UK economy as a whole. The green economy is a new “emerging market”, comparable to the existing emerging economies of China and India, according to the business leader, but the UK’s previous success in capitalising on such opportunities is at risk: “Over many years, the UK has built up real credibility on climate leadership and low-carbon investment. This is hard won, but easily lost.” Since coming to power, the Conservatives have aimed a series of blows at the green economy, including: slashing support for solar power; effectively ending the building of new onshore wind farms; scrapping the flagship “green deal” insulation scheme, with no replacement; and part-privatising the Green Investment Bank. There has also been a stream of rhetoric from senior ministers that has attacked green aims, including pledges that the UK would hang back on cutting emissions, compared with other major economies. GUARDIAN

Low prices, high pay! Lidl becomes first supermarket to offer Living Wage and vows not to increase cost of goods to fund it
It's already known for its low prices – now Lidl says it’s going to pay the highest supermarket wages. The discount chain will be the first grocer to adopt the so-called Living Wage for its staff. And it has vowed not to push up the cost of goods to fund the £9million cost of the increase. Lidl will give workers at least £8.20 per hour across Britain – some £1 more than the minimum announced by George Osborne in the summer. The firm, which has 620 stores and a 4.1 per cent share of the UK grocery market, will pay £9.35 per hour in London. It represents an average wage increase of £1,200 per year, with more than half of the grocer’s 17,000 workforce of all ages benefiting from the rise. In July, the Chancellor stunned firms by revealing plans to introduce what he dubbed a ‘National Living Wage’. From April 2016, firms will have to pay all workers over 25 at least £7.20 an hour, up from the current national minimum wage of £6.50. It will rise to £9 by 2020. However, the move has been controversial. Last week, Costa Coffee faced a backlash for threatening to hike the price of a cappuccino to pay for the cost of higher wages. Pub chain JD Wetherspoon said the National Living Wage would put ‘financial pressure’ on the already-strained sector. And clothes retailer Next claimed they will have to increase prices to pay for the rise in staff costs. But German-owned Lidl, which made record sales of £4billion last year, said it would absorb the wage increase itself. It’s UK boss Ronny Gottschlich said employees will be amongst the best paid in the supermarket sector. DAILY MAIL

New NHS contract will worsen shortage of junior doctors
The warning comes from the trainee doctors group (ATDG) of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which represents the professional interests of all the UK’s 240,000 doctors. It puts extra pressure on Hunt to reconsider his decision to impose new terms and conditions on the NHS’s 53,000 junior doctors in England, which has sparked angry protests. The new contract will extend the normal working week in which doctors can be told to work their 48 hours from 7am-7pm Monday to Friday to 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday. Many will also see their pay cut because they will no longer be paid overtime for working evenings and Saturdays. The ATGD claim the new contract will deepen existing shortages in areas which already require doctors to work a lot out of hours, such as A&E units, acute medicine, children’s services and general practice. Recent official NHS figures, covering the arrival of the latest round of new junior doctors in August, show that acute medicine was still short of 48% of the new recuits it needed, as was renal medicine (48%) and geriatrics (14%). The proposed changes have already raised fears of an exodus of expensively trained medics to other countries, such as Australia, after figures showed 1,644 young doctors had already began the process of applying for the certification needed in just three days last week. GUARDIAN

Tory MP Andrew Tyrie demands proof that taxpayer is getting value for money in RBS sale
Treasury Select Committee (TSC) chairman Andrew Tyrie MP is demanding to see what advice the government received from UK Financial Investments (UKFI) - the agency that manages the public stake in bailed-out banks - before it started to sell off shares in Royal Bank of Scotland last month. UKFI sold around 600m shares, reducing the government's 79 per cent stake in the lender. The shares went on sale at a £13bn loss. Tyrie, who has been chairman of the TSC since 2010, noted that Osborne has since commissioned "an independent report from Rothschild to verify the work of its own advisers", saying this "could be taken to cast doubt on the quality of this advice". Tyrie said: "UKFI exists to develop and execute an investment strategy for disposing of the government’s shares in RBS and Lloyds in a way that protects value for the taxpayer. This is its overarching objective, set out in its framework document." It follows concerns about why UKFI had paid Goldman Sachs and UBS just £1 for services that otherwise would have brought in millions for the investment banks, a fact revealed earlier this month. CITY AM

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , ,
KJ, Fee and Chris desperately seek diversion from the nation's never-ending property nightmare...

SOURCE BBC NEWS: 'Million' new homes by 2020 target declared by minister Brandon Lewis
Housing minister Brandon Lewis said the government aimed to see one million new homes in England over this Parliament. But the National Housing Federation (NHF) said about 245,000 new homes were needed each year in England. Figures from 326 councils showed only 457,490 were built between 2011 and 2014. The NHF estimated 974,000 homes were needed during that period. Gill Payne, NHF director of policy and external affairs, said: "Skyrocketing rents and ballooning house prices are eating up more and more of people's wages and forcing people out of their local communities or into smaller, lower quality housing... We haven't built enough homes in this country for decades.” In 2012, the government introduced changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, aimed at making the planning process simpler and quicker. But numerous other factors have also been blamed. A shortage of land has also been cited by homelessness charity Shelter, while criticism has been levelled at developers who build slowly rather than progressing quickly. By keeping the number of new homes available at any one time low, the price of those houses can be kept high, said Matthew Pointon, property economist at Capital Economics. A shortage of skilled labour, a big drop in the number of councils building new homes and regulations restricting housing associations have also been blamed. Shelter's chief executive Campbell Robb added: "We are past the time for another grand statement of ambition. To give ordinary families back the hope of a stable home, we need to see investment and a comprehensive plan that can actually get these homes built."
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

The Conservative victory in the 2015 General Election has rightly been described by just about everyone as "stunning". However with the continuous repetition of this accurate assessment it is gradually being forgotten why it was stunning. And it has been forgotten what the immediate result of being stunned is.

The victory was stunning not because of its size, but because it happened at all. In fact Cameron's victory was smaller than any in recent decades except for his own performance in 2010, which forced him into coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

A report in September 2015 by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) throws some light on what caused this stunning event. In terms of changes in voter support, the report finds:

a) About the same number of voters shifted from Labour to Conservative as shifted from Conservative to Labour. Effectively cancelling each other out.

b) About the same number of voters shifted from Conservative to UKIP as shifted from the LibDems to the Conservatives. Effectively cancelling each other out in terms of number of votes, though not in terms of number of MPs.

c) Labour gained far more votes from the LibDems than the Tories did. But the Tories gained far more MPs from them. [Of the 49 seats the LibDems lost in 2015: Tories took 27; Labour took 12; SNP took 10].

David Cameron could well have quoted Henry V's not so famous speech in the Shakespeare play of that name. Not "Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more..", but the one at the end of the Battle of Agincourt:

"O God, thy arm was here;
And not to us, but to thy arm alone,
Ascribe we all! When, without stratagem,
But in plain shock and even play of battle,
Was ever known so great and little loss
On one part and on the other? Take it, God,
For it is none but thine!"

Though instead of "God", the credit would go to the "Electoral Arithmetic". The vast migration of voters (pictured in the IPPR graph below) crossing political borders to find a better life resulted in gifting the election to the Tories. The large number of votes the Tories lost to UKIP did not cost them any seats, nor gain UKIP any. While the small number of votes the Tories gained from the LibDems won them 27 additional MPs.

Many have forgotten what "stunning" and "being stunned" actually mean. The thing about stunned people is they tend not to see clearly. Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of the Labour Party elicited terror from the Left and glee from the Right. Both were convinced that the Conservative's stunning victory proved the Labour Party needed to move Right in pursuit of electoral success. Both concluded a Leftier Corbyn-led party would hand the Tories power for a decade.

In stark contradiction to this belief, the IPPR report showed Labour would actually be noticeably less attractive to voters if it moved to the Right. Moving further to the Left would apparently make Labour marginally more popular.

What about the great tide of voters when the angry wind for UKIP and against the LibDems changes? Will it recede, and where will it recede to? The graphs below relate only to constituencies lost by the LibDems in the 2015 General Election:

a) Tories to UKIP:
Traditional Tory voters who moved to UKIP will be faced with months of derision from their former party. They will be told insisting on leaving the EU is a task for fools and buffoons. Will they return in the 2020 general election to the Tory party having been treated so scornfully by it? 

b) Lib-Dems to Tories:
The Liberal-Democrat party conference hall, in September 2015, echoed with promises of a great come-backThis is not so impossible. Now traditional Lib-Dem voters know that not voting Lib-Dem to punish the party for being too Tory, they ended up with actual Tories as their MPs. Perhaps next time they will be more careful what they vote for. With Labour a distant third in many of these lost seats, the voters would have to return to the Lib-Dem fold to eject their Tory MP. The Lib-Dems are not without consolation in their 2015 desolation, and have 20,000 extra shepherds to herd their lost sheep back into their fold:
The Conservative victory in 2015 was stunningly narrow. The 2020 election is for the Tories to lose as much as it is for Labour to win. Something the Tories are more likely to do if they continue to repel voters with their "Nasty Party" tendencies.

If the Tories truly believe Corbyn will be a disaster for Britain, then they owe it to save Britain by being less repellent even if it goes against the instincts of their current leadership. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Revenue & Customs 'winding down' inquiries into HSBC Swiss tax evaders
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reopened its investigation into British customers of HSBC Suisse in February, but has failed to add to the single prosecution of a tax cheat from the bank. The disclosures have dismayed MPs who had pressed for further action over the HSBC files, which were first handed to HMRC five years ago. The tax office has been criticised for offering an amnesty to hundreds of the 3,600 UK customers it identified as potentially hiding money in Switzerland. Jennie Grainger, HMRC’s director general (enforcement and compliance), said: “We have collected more revenue, we now have £142m, but we have just about exhausted what we have from the data.” Conservative MP Stephen Phillips, a member of the public accounts committee, said: “HMRC’s view that it’s OK for people who illegally hid their money in Swiss bank accounts just to pay the back tax and a small percentage penalty without being prosecuted sends an appalling message. Rightly, it makes everyone who abides by the law and pays all their taxes very angry.” GUARDIAN

G4S and Serco, caught and banned for overcharging, are still being paid for prisoner tagging
G4S and Serco were referred to the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging the Ministry of Justice for tagging offenders, some of whom were back in prison or who had already died. Following the scandal, Capita won the contract — worth £400m over six years — to manage the electronic tagging of offenders in 2014. But the secondary contract to supply the new generation of GPS satellite tags has so far failed to deliver, forcing the government to rely on tags supplied by G4S and Serco anyway. As a result, G4S was paid a total of £8.7m between March 2014 — when it lost the tagging contract — and February 2015. Serco was paid £4.5m during the same period. Michael Gove, the justice secretary, told a recent select committee that the procurement had “been deeply unsatisfactory.” According to the think-tank Reform, prison places are nearly five to six times more expensive than tagging, costing £73 per prisoner a day compared with the new GPS tags, which will cost £8 to £16 a day. It also pointed to US research indicating that the use of tags could reduce reoffending rates. FINANCIAL TIMES

Trade Union Bill: Recruiters warn against new strike laws that allow their agency workers to step in
As part of its Trade Union Bill, the government wants to end the ban on using agency workers to replace striking staff. The government says its reforms will end unjustified disruption to working people's lives. There has been a ban on using agency workers in strike action since the 1970s. But Kate Shoesmith, head of policy at the REC, said: "We are not convinced that putting agencies and temporary workers into the middle of difficult industrial relations situations is a good idea for agencies, workers or their clients." The big recruitment agencies work in countries around the world. Most have signed up to the International Labour Organisation's convention on private employment agencies. It states that "private employment agencies should not make workers available to a user enterprise to replace workers of that enterprise who are on strike". The UK has not signed up to the convention. But it is understood that many employment firms are keen to ensure that they are not seen to be sidestepping their international obligations. TUC boss, Frances O'Grady, said: "Everyone knows that if you can just replace strikers overnight, that undermines all the power that workers have to bring their employers to the table... Imagine the impact on the safety of whole workplaces run by untrained, inexperienced temporary staff. Think about what that would mean in education, energy or border control." BBC NEWS

Berlin to push for bank financial transactions tax to cover all of EU
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble will push for a planned European tax on stock and bond trading to apply in all EU countries in spite of firm UK opposition to the scheme and warnings from banks it would hurt their business. While only 11 nations — including Germany and France — are planning to participate in the financial transactions tax, Mr Schäuble said that this should be seen only as a first stage, and that efforts should then be made to convince other nations to join. The European Commission first proposed the tax in 2011, as politicians sought to quell public anger over massive bank bailouts. Advocates of the measure — which has been strongly pushed by France — argue that it would force banks and other financial firms to make a fair contribution to the public purse. Another motivation is to discourage speculative trading that is not linked to the real economy. But the mooted tax has become a bogeyman for Britain, which has warned that the original blueprint for the measure would see UK-based traders hit even though the country has ruled out participating. FINANCIAL TIMES

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , ,

SOURCE GUARDIANWhat's the catch? MPs warn UKFI over banks' £1 privatisation fees
UK Financial Investments (UKFI) is the company established by the Treasury to hold the taxpayers’ stakes in RBS and Lloyds. It has been warned to remain “ultra-vigilant” after it was revealed some of the City’s biggest investment banks – including Goldman Sachs and UBS – are charging the government as little as a £1 fee for work that would normally cost tens of millions of pounds. Representatives of UKFI told the Treasury select committee it had paid just £15 for help and advice related to the sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group and RBS which would normally have cost around £38m. Oliver Holbourn, head of market investments at UKFI, said some City firms had even offered to pay the government to work on its privatisations. The banks, however, eventually concluded that such arrangements could be an offence under the US foreign corrupt practices act. James Leigh-Pemberton, the boss of UKFI, said he assumed the banks worked for £1 because of the caché associated with such high-profile work. But Conservative MP, Chris Philp, warned UKFI to proceed with caution: “I’ve never encountered an outfit like Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley acting in a charitable manner,” he said. Steve Baker, another Conservative MP on the committee, said UKFI needed to give clear answers about where the investment banking advisers are making money, given the low fees. “I feel sure that many of my constituents would join me in regarding in the utmost astonishment that the same organisations that have been fined for repeat rapacious misconduct are now the jolly good chaps we imagine from the past and now charging just £1 for their services”.

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