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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, March 14, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

Government’s Treasury expert says Cameron is wrong over austerity “success” 
The PM insisted that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had concluded that the austerity cuts had not reduced growth. But Robert Chote, head of the OBR, responded by writing an open letter to the PM saying his report had concluded exactly the opposite: cutting public spending reduces economic growth in the short term. He added that most other economists agree with him. TELEGRAPH

(Cameron’s phone rings off the hook following his latest speech: “The Pope is not Catholic. That’s what he told me, anyway…”)

Saga criticised over excessive home insurance cost
Saga promotes itself as a champion of the aged. But they have been caught charging existing customers far more than their new customers, and far more than competitors. The BBC's Money Box programme featured a woman who had been with Saga for 10 years, who said: "My last quote was for £1,214 but it wasn't until this year that my family said you're paying much too much...” She finally got comparable, alternative home insurance from her bank for £236. She felt the discrepancy between the two quotes was unjustifiable: "You think of Saga looking after the over-60s. I couldn't believe they would treat elderly pensioners like that." BBC NEWS

(Saga shares its name with the ancient Norse word for stories of heroic deeds of fantastical make believe. It now shares its meaning as well.)

Archbishop of Canterbury backs campaign attacking Government welfare reforms
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has backed a letter to The Sunday Telegraph written by 43 bishops who say the benefits cuts will have a “deeply disproportionate” effect on children. They say the cuts could push 200,000 children into poverty. The Government’s reforms will limit the annual rises in benefits to just 1% for the next three years, well below predicted inflation. The archbishop said "As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.” TELEGRAPH

(“People joke that the Church of England is the Conservative Party at prayer. So we thought we’d bring the UK economy to its knees while we’re at it,” said our family-loving government insider...)

Bitter taste for drinkers as beer is watered down to save money
John Smith’s Extra Smooth will be reduced from 3.8% alcohol to 3.6% - and the price per pint is set to rise. The change is not just because of the rising costs of production, and reduced beer sales in Austerity Britain, but in response to high tax rates. The government’s attempt to tackle problem drinking includes a lower rate of duty on beers with lower alcohol content. The change should save Dutch brewers Heineken, who own the brand, £6.6m in duty per year. A third of every pint now goes to the tax man. TELEGRAPH

(“Errr... couldn’t they just dodge tax like everyone else?” slurred our finance correspondent, weeping through his sixth pint of beer...)

Bupa condemns rising fees at private hospitals
The private medical insurance giant warned that lack of competition among private hospitals was driving up the cost of insurance. Bupa believes its private customers will be forced to turn to the NHS unless the sector is reformed. This will add £5bn to the NHS bill. Bupa CEO Stuart Fletcher blamed the ‘excessive’ price inflation for denting Bupa’s annual profits in the UK and criticised the Government for a ‘chronic underfunding of social care’. DAILY MAIL

(A sober reminder that lack of competition doesn’t just hurt consumers and public services, but also private businesses!)

Google chairman Eric Schmidt nets $6m cash bonus, despite company’s tax dodging
The company reported record revenues of $50bn but came under fire for UK tax arrangements. Google lawfully used the tax haven of Bermuda for £6bn of transactions, while paying just £6m in corporation tax in the UK, in 2012. In January, Schmidt said Google would abide by any tax changes imposed by the UK: "Our tax strategy is that whatever the tax regime, we would pay that." GUARDIAN

(Ah, the Bermuda Triangle: a region of sea infamous for the tragic disappearance of aircraft and ships under mysterious circumstances... and countless billions of unpaid taxes without any mystery whatsoever.)

428 Barclays employees and 93 at RBS earned more than £1m last year
Among the top earners, 50 people were paid between £2.5m and £5m last year, while a further 373 were paid between £1m and £2.5m. BBC NEWS

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