Thursday 21 November 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, November 21, 2013 with No comments | Labels:

Government admits fiddling figures to hide failings of fit for work test
Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore MP has today revealed that the number of sick and disabled people wrongly declared ‘Fit for Work’ by a Government benefits test could be far higher than previously thought. This followed a letter from Tory Work and Pensions Minister Esther McVey in which she admitted figures are ‘not clear’ and promised to ‘ensure greater clarity in future’. Gilmore said: “Up to now we thought that the assessment was getting about one in ten fit for work decisions wrong – far too many in most people’s eyes – but now we know the Government have been fiddling the figures, the reality could be much much worse.” SHEILA GILMORE MP

Top Executive pay rises by 14% as awards linked to shares soar
FTSE 100 executive pay increased by 14% last year to £2.1m.  Companies are accused deflecting public scrutiny of directors' spiralling pay by moderating rises in the well known and more widely quoted salary and bonus figures, but quietly increasing share-based awards. While basic salaries rose 4.1% and annual bonuses fell by 8.8%, the total pay package for an average FTSE 100 director rose sharply by 14% through a 58% surge in the value of long-term incentive plan (LTIP) awards being cashed in. Latest labour market statistics show average UK annual wage increases of 0.7%. Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary, responded: "The time has come for legislation to put ordinary workers on the pay committees of companies. This is the only way to bring some sanity to the way in which directors are paid." GUARDIAN

Boris Johnson says super-rich are ‘put-upon minority’ like homeless people and Irish travellers
Mr Johnson accused “everyone from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Nick Clegg” of bullying the group he defined as “zillionaires” – and said the most rich of all should receive “automatic knighthoods”. INDEPENDENT TELEGRAPH

JP Morgan Chase agrees record $13bn settlement in the US over toxic mortgages, and opens door to criminal prosecutions
The fine in the US, the biggest civil settlement with any single company, ends several investigations and lawsuits brought by the US authorities related to the sale of home loan bonds between 2005 and 2008. Crucially, and unlike settlements and fines in the UK, the bank’s admission of wrongdoing is a major victory for the US Justice Department. Banks have fought shy of such statements fearing yet more legal actions from investors. The settlement leaves open the possibility of potential criminal charges. While this agreement ends a troubled chapter for the bank, other issues remain. A criminal investigation of the bank over mortgages will continue. The bank is also under scrutiny for its hiring practices in China, its massive “London Whale” trading losses and its relationship with Bernie Madoff, the Ponzi scheme fraudster. GUARDIAN

Which? report exposes the big banks using premium rate customer service lines
They included HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Nationwide and TSB Bank, credit card providers American Express, Capital One and Tesco Bank and insurers Aviva, Churchill and Direct Line. Which? called on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to act to stop banks using them. The EU Consumer Rights Directive will ban the use of expensive numbers for customer helplines from next year but financial companies are excluded. A British Bankers Association spokesman responded: "All banks are actively looking at how they can reduce costs for customers. We expect to see many banks changing to use local numbers for complaints in the near future.” BBC NEWS

Half of recent UK graduates stuck in non-graduate jobs, says ONS
The percentage of recent graduates working in jobs which do not require a degree has risen sharply to 47% from 39% before the 2007/8 financial crisis. John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist consultancy, added a further warning: "The public sector is by far our biggest employer of graduate skills but is currently in the process of major job downsizing. College students expecting investment in higher education to pay them a decent career dividend must therefore hope that our private sector businesses become far more skills intensive in the coming years." GUARDIAN

Ministers reject G4S offer to pay back £24.1m in “phantom billing” prisoner tagging scandal
The Ministry of Justice has rejected an offer of £24.1m from G4S which the security firm says it owes after over-charging for the tagging of offenders. It comes after an audit suggested the firm had been charging to tag criminals who were either dead or already in jail. In July, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed that G4S and a second security company, Serco, had overcharged the government by "tens of millions of pounds" on their electronic tagging contracts. The investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into G4S and Serco continues, and both firms have said they are "co-operating fully". G4S CEO Ashley Almanza told MPs on the Public Accounts Committee: "It was a judgment that was flawed. It was just a flawed judgment... I don't think we did correctly tell the difference between right and wrong. We got it wrong." BBC NEWS

A FIFTH of UK households feel the pinch as numbers struggling to make ends meet soars 30% in a year
The number of households that they are struggling to make ends meet each month has risen by more than 800,000 compared to a year ago, research shows. The soaring cost of living has left an estimated 3.5m households without enough income to cover all their bills every month - a rise of 30% from 2.7m last year, according to a report from Legal & General. The figure is now equivalent to almost a fifth (18%) of all households compared to one in 8 just a year ago, adding weight to claims that Britain is facing a cost of living crisis despite the recovery in economic growth. A report yesterday from financial information firm Markit claimed four times as many families, 29%, said their finances had deteriorated during November compared with the seven per cent who have seen an improvement. DAILY MAIL

Two inquiries launched into Co-op Bank and ex-chairman Paul Flowers
The prime minister described Flowers as the "man who has broken a bank" following questions about his financial competence, drug-taking and resignation as a Bradford councillor over adult material on his computer. Effectively, the inquiry will be another look into a discredited supervisory system headed by the now defunct Financial Services Authority (FSA). The Co-op Bank's merger with Britannia in 2009 and taking on its bad property loans was blamed in part for the £1.5bn capital shortfall revealed at the bank earlier this year. GUARDIAN

Royal Mail float: paying bankers “success” fees would be 'mad', MP says
The government would be "mad" to pay more than £4m of deferred fees to the banks (including Goldman Sachs and UBS) that advised on Royal Mail's privatisation because they undervalued the company, said Adrian Bailey, who chairs the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee. He added that paying the fees, on top of more than £12m already handed over, would reward highly paid bankers who set the float price too low at the expense of the taxpayer. The government sold 60% of Royal Mail at 330p a share last month, valuing the company at £3.3bn. But the shares leapt 38% on their first day of trading and closed on Wednesday at 550p, giving Royal Mail a market value of £5.5bn. GUARDIAN


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