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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, April 18, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

Welfare cuts to hit the north and regions up to five times as hard as the Conservative heartland southern counties
Blackpool, the hardest-hit town, will see an average loss of £914 a year for every working age adult, or 4.65% of household incomes. It is only 0.86% in Surrey. This will also make a Conservative majority at the next election more unlikely, as those are the areas where the Tories must win more seats. FINANCIAL TIMES

Royal Bank of Scotland should stay in public ownership for now, says poll
A YouGov poll reveals only 9% of voters think RBS should see a swift return to the private sector, while 66% call for bailed out bank bosses to return their knighthoods. The government is understood to be keen to kickstart the selloff of part of its 82% stake in the bailed out RBS before the general election in 2015, even though – on current prices – this would involve a loss of around £20bn. GUARDIAN
(66%? What did the other 34% want done to those bank bosses?..)

Big six energy firms accused of 'cold-blooded profiteering'
Official figures showed the big six energy firms had more than doubled their retail (i.e. selling to households and businesses) profit margins over the last 18 months and were now earning an average of £95 profit per household on dual-fuel bills. Ofgem also said average margins in generation (i.e. extracting the oil and gas) across the big six increased from 18.4% in 2010 to 24.4% in 2011. Critics accuse energy firms of acting as a profiteering cartel, forcing poor households to either “heat or eat.” GUARDIAN
(“Hey, we’re also faced with a choice that rhymes. Compete or cheat...” said our energy fat cat insider.)

MP’s outraged that RWE, npower and others have paid little or no corporation tax despite significant profits rise
A spokesman for the energy sector defended them, saying they had spent tax-deductible billions on investment, and in any event paid proportionately more tax than other sectors compared to its contribution to GDP. But they are accused of hiding profits through the complex relationship between different divisions of the same company. Selling energy to consumers – the retail market – is separate from the business of energy generation, and they also have energy trading arms that buy and sell power daily in the "spot" and futures markets. GUARDIAN

Homebuyers overpaying by tens of thousands of pounds because of widespread “errors” by estate agents in measuring floorspace
The FT analysed more than 200 London properties and found more than half have floorplans much larger in square footage compared with another agent selling the same property. The difference varied by as much as 300 sq ft. Several complaints have been made against Foxtons. It can have a big impact in the prime London market where it has become common practice to value property based on floorspace. Some in the industry blame poorly trained staff, and  rules that allow alcoves and stairwells to be included in the measurement.  FINANCIAL TIMES
(NEWS LATEST: A crisis meeting of the entire membership of the Association of Estate Agents, convened to rebut the FT’s findings, was abandoned when the conference room they hired turned out to be Foxton's broom cupboard…)

Staff fraud increases by 43% in 2012
The main reason for the overall increase is the surge in fraudulent attempts to gain employment, given the economic and employment uncertainty. Another common fraud is the theft of cash from either a customer account, or directly from the employer. Frauds where an organisation’s staff stole customer data for personal use have also increased. CIFAS

OFT opens investigation into 'free apps' that allow children to buy in-game content
‘Direct exhortations’ to children - a strong encouragement to make a purchase - are against the law under the Consumer Protection (from unfair trading) Regulations 2008. In one case five-year-old Danny Kitchen from Bristol racked up a bill of £1,700 on the game Zombies vs Ninja, downloaded from iTunes, in which players can purchase weapon upgrades for as much as £69.99 a time. The money was later refunded by Apple. Twice-capped England rugby union player Sam Vesty told BBC Radio 5 Live that his two sons had spent £3,200 in under three hours on the game Tiny Monsters, after 54 purchases of a “mountain of food” at £69.99 a go. INDEPENDENT
(...and it’s that old 99p trick again. ‘Cos no 5 year old would dream of spending £70 on a mountain of non-existent electronic food…)

Tenants and landlords to be given right to challenge rogue letting agents
The new laws require agents to sign up to ombudsman scheme while giving the OFT the power to ban those who act improperly. The changes have already received widespread support from estate agents, letting agents, the British Property Federation, RICS, Which? and Consumer Focus. Although the new rules provide welcome redress procedures, they don’t go so far as to outlaw the unfair practices in the first place, like hidden agents’ fees. GUARDIAN
(One lettings agent called in to congratulate the new legislation, saying it would separate the rogues from the honest agents. Then sent us a bill for cleaning his carpets…) 

Pauper's funerals soar as government refuses to pay
As the country gears up for a lavish funeral for Margaret Thatcher, the number of pauper's funerals has increased dramatically, as the government refuses half of all requests to fund a proper funeral. AOL MONEY/PA

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