Thursday 18 July 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, July 18, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

Iain Duncan Smith defends himself against ONS claim he mis-uses statistics over success of benefits cap
Duncan Smith has already been criticised by the Office for National Statistics for claiming the cap had led to 8,000 people finding work. He was told by the ONS it was not possible to find any causal link between the cap and those finding work, as thousands of unemployed find work anyway. An unrepentant Duncan Smith said: "You cannot absolutely prove those two things are connected – you cannot disprove what I said. I believe this to be right.” Duncan Smith denied he was punishing people, saying it was "no life to lead to accept the fact that you languish on benefits, trying to avoid ways of getting back to work". But polls show many say their chief barrier to work was the lack of opportunities. GUARDIAN

Poll: the average person thinks 24% of benefits budget is spent on fraudulent claims. It's actually 0.7%
An Ipsos MORI poll exposes gross misconceptions around key political and economic issues. On average the public also thinks: that 31% of the population are immigrants, when the actual figure is 13%; that one in four people are Muslims when it is actually 5%; that 15% of girls under 16 get pregnant each year, instead of the actual 0.6%. More people think capping benefits at £26k will save more money (it actually saves £290m) than stopping child benefits for those earning over £50k (saves £1.7bn) or raising the retirement age to 66 (saves £5bn). TELEGRAPH Ipsos MORI

Serious Fraud Office called in after G4S 'overcharges' by tens of millions for tagging of prisoners
The “phantom” billing is estimated to have cost tens of millions of pounds. Both G4S and Serco have been billing for tracking the movements of people who had moved abroad, already returned to prison and had their tags removed, and even people who had died. Serco has agreed to a forensic audit, but G4S has not, hence the SFO investigation. Cases date back to at least 2005 and possibly as long ago as 1999. GUARDIAN

Drug overcharging ‘scam’ costs NHS £100m a year
Drug companies are exploiting a loophole in the law to hike prices by as much as 2,000 per cent. Big-pharma firms sell on medicines to businesses acting outside the Government’s price-regulation scheme. The purchasing firms are then free to mark up the prices they charge the NHS. The British Medical Association has warned that vital treatments risk being denied to patients if costs rise so much that the NHS can no longer afford them. In one example, Pfizer sold the rights to its epilepsy drug Epanutin to another business, Flynn Pharma. The medication, which is used by around 100,000 people across Britain, originally cost about 67p per 50mg. But after the sale this price shot up to almost £16 for the same amount. INDEPENDENT

Over 2,400 UK bankers paid €1m-plus, more than three times as many as in the rest of the EU put together
Almost three-quarters of the 2,436 who received more than 1m in 2011 were classified as working in high-risk investment banking – some 1,809 – while 85 work in retail banking, 182 in asset management and 360 in other business areas. The European Banking Authority will now publish the data on high earners annually as regulators attempt to analyse the way pay deals are structured, particularly as a new bonus cap is introduced across the EU. GUARDIAN

MPs' pay: watchdog recommends 9% salary rise from £66k to £74k
Politicians are facing a public backlash after the body responsible for setting MPs' pay and perks recommended a deal that would result in their salary increasing by more than £8,000. The raise will be offset it with a crackdown on expenses. Meanwhile the rest of the country is suffering austerity measures, and public sector workers' pay has been held down to a 1% increase. Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg said they would personally shun the extra money – although David Cameron stopped short of committing himself to doing the same as he comes under pressure from Tory backbenchers who want a pay hike. GUARDIAN

Pricing scandal sees NHS pay £89 for accessible cod-liver oil capsules
The NHS is currently paying up to £89.50 for cod-liver oil capsules — identical versions of which can be bought on the high street for about £3.50. Taxpayers are also being hit with inflated costs for vitamin E, evening primrose oil and other over-the-counter products. Despite being freely available without prescription, the products are regularly being prescribed by GPs and NHS doctors — a situation which now appears to be being exploited for commercial gain. TELEGRAPH

Profits soar at Scottish Power following price hike and cold winter
Utility company Scottish Power has reported a doubling of profits while charging customers more for their energy. The group made a pre-tax profit for 2012 of £712m - up from £350m in 2011. The Glasgow-based company also paid its Spanish parent, Iberdrola, a dividend payment of £890m. In October last year, Scottish Power announced energy bills were going up by 7%, with the average annual dual fuel bill increasing to £1,271. BBC NEWS

Chancellor dismisses IFS warning that further tax rises are inevitable after 2015 general election
The Institute of Fiscal Studies warned last week that Osborne would have to raise taxes by £6bn after the election if he was to keep to his existing rule of financing 80% of the government's deficit reduction from cuts and 20% from tax rises. But Osborne told the Treasury select committee that the 80/20 split was only ever a "guide", and that further cuts were possible. The chancellor came under pressure over whether he understood the pain his welfare reforms might have on ordinary people. In reply to a question, he said: "No, I have not visited a food bank." GUARDIAN

Barclays' $453m fine for energy market-rigging upheld by US regulator
Last year US regulators fined Barclays for manipulating energy markets in California and other states from November 2006 to December 2008. Barclays must pay the full fine within 30 days, while one trader must pay $15m and three others $1m each. Barclays must also forgo $34.9m in profits, which will be distributed to low-income aid programmes in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington. BBC NEWS


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