Thursday 3 January 2013

Thursday, January 03, 2013 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, January 03, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

MPs are paid thousands of pounds from lobby groups 
Arms manufacturers, pharmaceutical firms and foreign governments have reportedly been paying MPs and peers in parliamentary special interest groups. In one case the Associate Parliamentary Health Group was allegedly paid over £190k from GSK, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and others. In exchange, the firms were permitted to send representatives to meetings held by the group. Also, the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group was said to have received £60k last year from brewers and other industry figures and organisations. TELEGRAPH
(Spot the difference: Party + beer = drunk and incapable. All-Party + beer lobby = sober and incapable.)

Universal credit plan 'is a disaster in the making', says minister just months ahead of launch
New system will replace list of unemployment handouts. But senior figures, including Chancellor George Osborne, are concerned about whether the computer software needed for the £2bn project is on schedule. Also, although Osborne supports the scheme in principle he is worried about such a high profile scheme affecting so many people in the run-up to the next election. It doesn't make sense to pay people not to work, in the government's opinion. DAILY MAIL
(...unless that person is Iain Duncan Smith, in our opinion.)

Hector Sants, City watchdog boss accused of being 'asleep at the wheel' during the financial crash, gets knighthood
Hector Sants spent five years as head of the Financial Services Authority. He receives the honour despite widespread criticism that the regulator had failed during the banking crisis. After he left the FSA he secured a £3m job at Barclays, one of the worst offenders. DAILY MAIL
(Very British, our honours system. It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. And Sants has played his better than anyone.)

Crackdown on doctors who prescribe expensive branded drugs when cheaper alternatives are available, wasting £1bn a year
The NHS must reduce its annual £8bn family medicine bill. The cost of an individual prescription item can vary from as little as 81p for a generic drug, to over £20 for branded drugs. Part of the problem lay with GP practices with on-site pharmacies, which make money for the doctors working in the practice. Because the profit margins on branded drugs are substantially higher, they have an incentive to prescribe more expensive drugs. INDEPENDENT
(On-site pharmacies that profit the doctors? Is there a Ministry of Conflicts of Interest they're not telling us about?)

England has the priciest train tickets in Europe 
Rail passengers face New Year fare hikes of up to 10%, as an analysis shows England has the dearest train tickets in Europe. Despite the rise, commuters continue to complain about cancelled trains, poor service and packed carriages. INDEPENDENT
(“This is all a disaster. The day will surely come when having a seat will be an extravagant luxury,” said the Transport minister, commenting on his re-election prospects.)

The elderly may have to double the amount they pay out of their savings for their care before the state steps in
Under coalition plans, the PM’s promised £35k elderly care bill cap may rise to £75k per person. The £35k cap was suggested by last year’s independent Dilnot review into England’s care funding system. The Dilnot review was commissioned by the government, which it now intends to ignore. DAILY MAIL
(They won't be able to ignore the "independent review" by 44 million voters in 2015. Or sooner...)

Three years on, FSA fails to enforce its new remuneration code on bankers' pay
The Financial Services Authority has not launched a single enforcement action for failing to comply with its remuneration code since the rules were introduced three years ago. There is disbelief in the City that the FSA was not enforcing the code as there was widespread evidence of breaches of the rules. The financial crisis is blamed in part on the way bankers were incentivised. TELEGRAPH
("And if the incentives are wrong, you will get failure," said the recently knighted former boss of the utterly useless FSA, Sir Hector Sants.)

The Government is paying staff from powerful firms including energy giants and a leading bank to work at the heart of Whitehall
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that employees from the "big six" energy firms have been seconded to work at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Staff come from Centrica (British Gas), Barclays, Rolls-Royce, National Grid, Shell, ConocoPhillips and RWE (nPower).Some are working for free, implying that these companies get a benefit from supplying them. A DECC spokesman said the secondments were "standard practice" in government and that the secondees brought knowledge and expertise that was "vital" in helping the DECC to do its primary job. INDEPENDENT
(...of doing us over.)

Big companies now pay less tax than they did 12 years ago despite a big jump in profits
The economy has grown by 55% over the same period. The trend may be the clearest signal yet that tax avoidance has blossomed under a more business-friendly strategy at HMRC. In contrast, receipts of both personal income tax and small companies' income tax are higher. TELEGRAPH

Facebook hid £440m in Cayman Islands tax haven
Filings show last year Facebook moved money to Ireland and then the Caymans to avoid paying tax in Britain and its other main markets. TELEGRAPH

Advertising giant WPP boss Martin Sorrell says tax 'a question of judgement'
Sir Martin argues that companies such as Google and Starbucks pay tax more out of a sense of corporate social responsibility, than because the law forces them to. BBC NEWS
(...where 'corporate social responsibility' = avoid catastrophic bad publicity and lost sales.)

Banks are 'too big to prosecute', says next bank regulator boss
Andrew Bailey, chief executive designate of the Prudential Regulation Authority, said the largest banks have become too big to prosecute because of the impact criminal charges would have on confidence in them. Banks accused of fraud include HSBC (money laundering), Barclays and RBS (rigging markets). TELEGRAPH

Paying a living wage could save the government £2bn a year
According to two think tanks, paying staff at least £7.45 per hour outside London, and £8.55 within the capital, would boost the nationwide income by £6.5bn a year. Low income workers spend, rather than save, so the benefits would be immediate. The government would collect more income tax and pay out less in benefits and tax credits. BBC NEWS

Banks at risk of 'perpetual' cycle of bankruptcy
Alix Partners, the influential advisers to senior bank executives, says large banks risk getting caught in "perpetual" cycle of bankruptcy like aerospace companies and carmakers unless they radically alter the way they do business. Investment banks still pay their staff far too much, and the "overpayment effect" last year was $18bn (£11bn), or close to 30pc of the world's top 15 banks' combined pre-tax profits. TELEGRAPH
("...and that's the last time we listen to Alix Partners," said all Alix Partners' clients in one voice.)


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