Thursday 16 January 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, January 16, 2014 with No comments | Labels:

Revealed: taxpayer-funded academies paying millions to private firms
Taxpayer-funded academy chains have paid millions of pounds into the private businesses of directors, trustees and their relatives, documents obtained from freedom of information requests show. The payments have been made for a wide range of services including consultancy fees, curriculums, IT advice and equipment, travel, expenses and legal services by at least nine academy chains. Critics fear that the Department for Education (DfE) is not closely monitoring the circulation of public money from academies to private firms. Since 2010 more than 3,444 schools – including more than half of secondary schools – have taken on academy or free school status. GUARDIAN

Lord Browne: fracking will not reduce UK gas prices
Fracking is not going to reduce gas prices in the UK, according to Lord Browne. He is the chairman of leading fracking company Cuadrilla, a leading government adviser, and one of the most powerful energy figures in Britain. He contradicts claims by Cameron and Osborne that shale gas exploration could help curb soaring energy bills. In August, Cameron said: "If we don't back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills … fracking has real potential to drive energy bills down." In July, Osborne said: "This a real chance to get cheaper energy for Britain … a major new energy source that can reduce energy bills." But Browne said: "I don't know what the contribution of shale gas will be to the energy mix of the UK. We need to drill probably 10-12 wells and test them and it needs to be done as quickly as possible... We are part of a well-connected European gas market and, unless it is a gigantic amount of gas, it is not going to have material impact on price." Browne also added to the government's ongoing troubles by labelling nuclear power as "very, very expensive indeed" and observing that giving more state subsidies to oil and gas than to renewable energy is "like running both the heating and the air conditioning at the same time". GUARDIAN

RBS bonuses: Government defends policy
Labour has demanded George Osborne block any attempt by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to pay bonuses of up to double its bankers' annual salary. The government owns 80% of RBS and could block large bonuses. Under EU rules, from 2015 RBS can only pay bonuses up to 200% of annual salary if shareholders approve the decision. David Cameron said he would veto any attempt by RBS to increase its overall pay and bonus bill, but did not say the government would reject individual pay awards. As it is, fewer than 100 RBS investment banking staff would be affected by the bonus decision, as RBS has reduced the size of its investment banking arm by about three-quarters since 2007. BBC NEWS

9m Britons are using credit to cover rent or mortgage payments - and 1m use payday loans
Nearly one million cash-strapped Britons have taken out a payday loan in the last year to help cover the rent or mortgage costs, a new study reveals. In total, nine million have borrowed to cover their rent or mortgage payments in the last 12 months, turning to unauthorised overdrafts, ramping up credit card debt or turning to friends or family for cash. Housing charity Shelter, which conducted the study, said it dealt with just under 9,000 calls to its helpline from people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage last year, a jump of one third on the total for 2012. DAILY MAIL

Big Four banks have paid out just 5% of their £3bn compensation fund for “interest rate swaps” mis-selling to small businesses
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said £158.6m had been paid in compensation by Britain's biggest four banks - Lloyds, RBS, Barclays and HSBC - by the end of December, compared with £81.2m at the end of November. A total of 1,040 offers of compensation had been accepted by customers at the end of last month, up from 547 at the end of November. The extremely complex “swaps” are insurance policies designed to protect against interest rate rises and were widely sold to businesses taking out loans between 2001 and 2008. But when interest rates actually fell, firms had to pay large bills, typically running to tens of thousands of pounds, or face big penalties to get out of deals. Regulators last year ruled that the banks had mis-sold these swaps to about 40,000 firms. DAILY MAIL

Home insurer HomeServe faces £35m regulator fine
In late 2011, the home emergencies and repairs group HomeServe suspended its entire sales workforce amid fears they had been mis-selling its products and retrained 500 call-centre staff, after a whistleblower reported them to the regulator. The company said the regulator was planning to fine it £34.5m for the mis-selling, and admitted the fine was several times higher than it had been expecting. GUARDIAN

Minimum wage underpayers face bigger penalty of £20,000
From next month, the maximum fine for anyone failing to pay the statutory level will increase from £5,000 to £20,000. The national minimum wage for adults is currently set at £6.31 an hour, having risen by 12p an hour in October. The rate for 18-to-20-year-olds is £5.03 an hour, while it is £3.72 an hour for the 16-to-17-year-old age group. BBC NEWS


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