Thursday 8 August 2013

Thursday, August 08, 2013 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, August 08, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

Tax evasion prosecutions focus on middle classes, not the rich and corporates
A total of 617 people were prosecuted in the financial year 2012-13, up from 302 the previous year, with more white-collar businessmen and women and landlords being hit. Rather than individuals who owe hundreds of thousands of pounds, HMRC is chasing people like doctors, dentists, lawyers, construction contractors, restaurant owners and buy-to-let investors who have not declared amounts in the tens of thousands. Investigators have been focusing more on middle-class tax-evaders rather than the super-rich, who are harder to prosecute. As part of the 2010 Spending Review, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was given an extra £1billion to tackle tax avoidance. TELEGRAPH

More than a million UK workers are on zero-hours contracts with no guarantees of shifts or work patterns - four times official estimates
The Business Secretary Vince Cable fears zero-hours contracts are being abused after research suggested a million people could be working under them. However, he pointed out that in many cases the level of flexibility offered by the contracts suited employees. "It can work for the worker as well as the employer," he told the BBC. ONS stats also say 21.7m are working full time and 8.1m part time. BBC NEWS

Attack on rip-off 0844 GP phone numbers that can hit patients with unexpected charges of up to 41p per MINUTE
The NHS Choices website, which describes itself as the ‘front door to the NHS’ has been found guilty by the Advertising Standards Authority of promoting these expensive GP numbers without spelling out the cost involved. More than 900 GP practices across the country use 0844 numbers despite official guidance from the Department of Health and the NHS hierarchy that they should not do so. Callers with a mobile can be charged up to 41p a minute to reach these numbers – more than double the figure for a normal geographic number beginning 01 or 02. Many people dialling their local GP from a landline would get the call free under their call package, however dialling an 0844 number can generate a charge of 5p a minute plus a 13p set-up fee. Some of the income from the calls goes direct to the GP surgeries to subsidise the cost of their telephone systems. DAILY MAIL

Workers 'set to lose £6,660 from their wage packets between 2010 and 2015'
Workers will be earning £1,520 a year less by 2015 than in 2010 - amounting to a loss of £6,660 in real terms over five years. The total would be enough to pay for the average family weekly shop for a year and a half or buy a small car, according to the Labour party, which based the figures on analysis of Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts. The figures also reveal a widening north-south income divide, with real wages now 8.1 per cent lower in Yorkshire and the Humber compared with a 5.5 per cent fall in the south east. DAILY MAIL

Millions of payday loan customers could be entitled to refunds or compensation... here's how to check if you are you one of them
Citizens Advice said today that in as many as 76% of cases it has examined, borrowers would have grounds to take their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Complaints include lenders not checking that borrowers can afford to pay back a loan in time, phoning borrowers during the night or at work or using a recurring payment to take cash without giving advance warning. Citizens Advice urged payday loan customers to ‘fight back’ if they have been mistreated by a lender by making an official complaint to the ombudsman. DAILY MAIL

Help to Buy mortgages could damage UK economy, warns ratings agency
Fitch Ratings said the second phase of the scheme – which will see the government guarantee mortgages on homes bought for up to £600,000 from January next year – would probably push up prices and increase taxpayer liabilities without helping to alleviate Britain's chronic housing shortage. Last month the business secretary, Vince Cable, said the second part of the scheme to guarantee mortgages could trigger another housing bubble. Sir Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, and the Institute of Directors, have been among other critics of the scheme. GUARDIAN

Many premium rate customer service phone lines to be banned. But not all
Premium rate customer service phone lines are to be banned in a Government crackdown, but banks, train operators, airlines and government departments have been let off the hook by ministers. Consumer Minister Jo Swinson unveiled draft proposals which will force companies such as PC World, Argos, Royal Mail, Phones4U and energy suppliers to charge "geographic rates", normal landline prices, to customers ringing up to complain. Watchdogs said it spelt the "beginning of the end" for rip-off 084 and 087 numbers. A host of Government departments are charging premium rate, from the Bereavement Service helpine to the Pension Service. The NHS Choices website also fails to spell out the costs of calling its 0844 phone line. Consumers spend nearly £2 billion a year on calls premium rate numbers. In 2009, they accounted for around 12% of the total call traffic volume in the UK, and generated 10% of the total revenue. TELEGRAPH

Britain's compensation culture is out of control, insurance chief warns
Axa chief Paul Evans said: "We are seeing more claims for stress coming through, and deafness or loss of hearing through noise in the workplace, more claims on employer liability. Again like whiplash these are things that at the time are nearly impossible to prove. And he warned the UK was at a risk of turning into the US, with soaring insurance premiums and companies or social groups too worried to stage events where someone could fall over and sue them. "It's a cultural shift, from an era where people thought 'I want to keep my costs down and fix the car' to 'How can I profit from this?'" TELEGRAPH

FCA investigation: how pension companies roll customers into poor pension payout rates at retirement
The FCA added that new rules to stop customers from being duped will be introduced if deemed necessary. Many of the 400,000 people who buy an annuity each year are funnelled into a poor value deal by the company with which they saved for decades. The rates on annuities vary by as much as 20pc between companies. This can add £1,000 a year to the annual payout from a £100,000 pot. The sick and smokers can get up to 40pc extra. TELEGRAPH

Rock bottom interest rates are here to stay until unemployment falls below 7%, Bank of England pledges
The Bank of England's new rule means that rates are likely to remain at 0.5% until the end of 2016 unless inflation rises sharply. But rates will still go up if inflation threatens to rise above key 2.5% level. The new governor, Mark Carney, said: ‘Unemployment is still high. There are one million more people unemployed today than before this financial crisis and many who have jobs would like to work more than they currently can.’ The Bank of England heralded the beginnings of an economic recovery. But it warned ‘the legacy of adjustment and repair left by the financial crisis means that the recovery is likely to be weak by historical standards’. DAILY MAIL

Investors warned as bone idle advisers dump hundreds of millions of pounds in off-the-peg funds
Lazy middlemen are dumping hundreds of millions of pounds of investors’ cash into pricey, off-the-peg investments instead of giving customers an individually tailored savings plan. Analysis of industry figures reveals that many financial advisers are picking ready-made portfolios for investors, who end up paying an average £175 an hour for supposedly specialist expertise. These packaged deals not only have higher charges than standard funds, but their performance also often fails to come up to scratch. DAILY MAIL

Change in regulations to protect consumers from high-pressure selling
Consumers could in future be given 90 days to cancel a contract and receive a full refund if they have been pressured or bullied into buying a product or service, under laws to give protection against misleading and aggressive sales practices. Previous research by Citizens Advice has suggested consumers are losing £3.3bn a year as a result of misleading and aggressive practices, and consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson said "murky" rules were allowing rogue traders to target vulnerable and elderly people. GUARDIAN

US government sues Bank of America
The bank is accused of fraud over $850m worth of securities based on mortgages that the authorities say were riskier than stated. The lawsuits are the latest legal headache for the second-largest US bank, which has already agreed to pay in excess of $45bn to settle disputes stemming from the 2008 financial crisis. GUARDIAN


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