Thursday 1 August 2013

Thursday, August 01, 2013 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, August 01, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

Bamboozling bills, a spineless watchdog and policies that cripple the poorest: MPs slam energy market that fails hard-pressed households 
The damning report by MPs slams the energy giants for lack of transparency around profit margins. It also lays into the regulator, Ofgem, for not forcing suppliers to be more open about profits, and says energy efficiency funding does not go far enough to help vulnerable. It adds that energy bills are set to rise further. DAILY MAIL

Lewisham hospital cuts plan ruled unlawful by judge
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt's plan to reduce A&E and maternity services at Lewisham hospital has been overturned at the high court. Hunt’s proposed changes were part of a wider shakeup of services in the capital after the financial collapse of the neighbouring South London Healthcare NHS trust, which went into administration after it started losing more than £1m a week. The case was won by the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, a community-based group made up of and supported by patients, community groups, GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Their law firm, Leigh Day, said "These difficulties were caused by disastrous PFI contracts entered into by South London, which were costing £60m a year to service. The court found Jeremy Hunt had acted outside his powers by trying to make Lewisham pay for the financial problems of its neighbour." GUARDIAN

Sports Direct: 90% of staff on zero-hour contracts
Retail chain's 20,000 part-time workforce do not know how many hours they will work each week and have no holiday or sick pay. Meanwhile 2,000 full-time staff are about to cash in bonuses of up to £100,000. Bosses at Sports Direct, the UK's biggest sports retailer, were this month hailing their bonus policy for full-time staff as that of a model employer. The four biggest supermarkets in Britain, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, said they do not use zero-hour contracts. Other retailers to confirm that they do not employ staff on these terms include Argos, B&Q, Homebase, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. GUARDIAN

Government attempting to overturn verdict against its employment schemes
In what has come to be known as the Poundland case, the Department for Work and Pensions will argue that the supreme court should overturn the unanimous verdict of three appeal court judges this year that almost all of the coalition government's employment schemes were operating unlawfully. GUARDIAN

Zero-hours contracts under investigation
Nick Clegg has disclosed that the business department is undertaking a review of the breadth and impact of zero-hours contracts. His comments came after the Guardian revealed that the retailer Sports Direct employed 20,000 staff on zero-hours terms, and that Buckingham Palace, the royal family's London residence, along with Cineworld and the Tate galleries catering service, hired workers under the controversial employment practice to keep employment costs at a minimum. Clegg said: "Families have to plan to pay bills – everyone has to plan for what their income is and what they are going to pay out. That can cause very intense insecurity and anxiety indeed." GUARDIAN

15 out of 50 dodgy payday lenders throw in the towel
Fifteen payday lenders have thrown in the towel after being given a deadline by the trading watchdog to prove their business practices were up to scratch. The OFT had compelled them to prove, for example, that firms have removed any misleading advertising, that they are being clear with consumers about the terms of the loan upfront and that they are carrying out proper affordability checks. TELEGRAPH

Car insurers 'encourage fraud and exaggeration' say MPs
MPs on the Transport Select Committee said insurers often paid out without seeing medical evidence, or even where fraud was suspected, as it could be cheaper than fighting a claim in the courts. MPs also accused insurance companies of ignoring a previous recommendation to be more transparent about their links with other parties involved in accident claims, such as claims management companies. BBC NEWS

Ryanair profits drop sharply, but revenues from “extras” rise 25%
Profits after tax fell 21% to £67.3m in the first quarter of the financial year, despite a 5% rise in revenues. The sharpest growth area was in their controversial ancillary revenues - derived from fees for reserved seating, priority boarding and credit card transactions - which jumped 25% in the period to 357m euros. BBC NEWS

NHS Direct's pullout from 111 number leaves helpline on life support
NHS Direct, which had run the predecessor service to the 111 helpline before it was broken up and put out to tender, said its involvement in the new service had become financially unsustainable, and it planned to hand over responsibility for the 11 of the 46 regional contracts for which it was responsible. It said the new contract is 'unsustainable' amid fears that chaos will lead to 'tragic consequences for patients'. Adding to the woes, an undercover investigation by Channel 4's Dispatches programme found staff shortages, long waits for callers to be connected, and in some cases ambulances being called out unnecessarily. GUARDIAN

Former Tory minister Charles Hendry takes job with party donor
The former Conservative minister who signed an energy pact with Iceland's government has taken a second job, less than a year after he left office, working for a Tory donor who plans to import Icelandic electricity. He will now be paid £18,000 a year to advise the Atlantic Supergrid Corporation, which is researching the scope for a transmission cable connecting Iceland to Britain, the register of MPs' interests shows. The firm is controlled by Edmund Truell, the venture capitalist who has donated at least £280,000 to the Tories. GUARDIAN


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