Thursday 6 February 2014

Thursday, February 06, 2014 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, February 06, 2014 with No comments | Labels:

Office for National Statistics confirms that wage slump since 2010 is the greatest since records began in 1964
Average wages have fallen by 2.2 per cent a year since the start of 2010, after inflation is taken into account - meaning that the standard of living has been consistently falling. Household finances have been squeezed by subdued wage rises or even pay freezes at a time when the cost of essentials such as food and fuel has soared. Living standards look set to be a key political battleground between now and the general election in May 2015 with ministers hoping that the worst may now be over. But the ONS said it is ‘difficult to conclude that there has yet been a break from the trend of falling real wage growth’ following a drop of 1.5 per cent between the third quarter of 2012 and the same period of 2013. It followed a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showing the average family has an income today which is lower than it was 13 years ago. DAILY MAIL

Financial Ombudsman Service “Consumer Champion” Natalie Ceeney swaps sides to work for HSBC bank
The former boss of the Financial Ombudsman Service who made her name slamming the banks for mis-selling payment protection insurance has joined one of her main antagonists, HSBC. Her move, along with other top civil servants, will raise questions over whether enough is being done to ensure public officials do not abuse sensitive knowledge in their private sector jobs. Last year HSBC recruited chief spook Jonathan Evans, previous head of domestic security service MI5, to help tackle fraud after its billion pound fine for laundering cash for Mexican drug cartels. Rival Barclays hired Hector Sants, the head of the Financial Services Authority, as head of compliance. The most astonishing appointment was when Dave Hartnett, the former head of HM Revenue and Customs, agreed to work for accountancy giant Deloitte, which specialises in tax avoidance. The former taxman, whose ‘sweetheart deals’ allowed Starbucks and Vodafone to avoid billions in payments, sparked fury by switching sides to work for the  firms’ accountants. DAILY MAIL

New inquiry into bank rigging of foreign exchange: allegations 'as bad as Libor', says regulator
The Libor interest rate scandal led to banks paying $6bn in fines. Martin Wheatley, the head of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), told MPs that 10 banks were now helping with its investigation into the rigging of the foreign exchange markets. Traders are alleged to have colluded in setting certain key exchange rates in the £3bn-a-day forex market. Wheatley revealed that the FCA's probe had now widened, and "a number of other benchmarks that operate in London" were being investigated "because of concerns that are being raised with us". Other regulators around the world are also investigating possible manipulation of foreign exchange rates, but London's position at the centre of the market makes the FCA's investigation particularly significant. Several banks, including RBS and Barclays in the UK, have launched their own internal investigations and already suspended foreign exchange traders. Mr Wheatley told the committee of MPs that it was unlikely that the FCA's investigation would reach any conclusions this year. "I hope that we will next year... We are still in the investigation phase." BBC NEWS

Labour says spending cuts hit most-deprived areas hardest
According to Labour, between 2010/11 and 2015/16 the percentage cut in spending will be 10 times greater in the most deprived areas than in those least deprived. But the government says the most-deprived councils still have £1,000 more per household to spend than those where deprivation is lowest. The 10 most deprived areas, which include Liverpool, Hackney, Manchester and Middlesbrough, face an average reduction in spending power of 25.3%, according to Labour. The party says the 10 least deprived areas, which include St Albans, Elmbridge, Waverley and Wokingham, are dealing with an average cut of just 2.54%. Deprivation is measured using indices previously published by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The measure includes income, employment and health deprivation, as well as disability, crime, education and barriers to housing and services. BBC NEWS

MPs say cash payers are being 'ripped off' by energy firms
Energy companies have been accused of "ripping off" consumers who do not pay their bills by direct debit. Government figures show that those paying by cash or cheque typically pay £114 a year more than those who make an automatic payment. Nearly 200 MPs have signed a House of Commons motion calling for an enquiry by the regulator, Ofgem. Energy companies responded by saying that the charges reflect the higher costs of processing the payments. But Robert Halfon, a backbench Conservative MP, said they amounted to a tax on some of the poorest in society. "Energy companies have been ripping the consumer off - have been fleecing the consumer- particularly the poor and pensioners, with their stealth tax for some time," he told BBC Radio's Five Live. He wants to see a cap of £24 a year on charges, or £2 a month, similar to the amount charged by BT on phone and broadband bills. BBC NEWS

Corruption in EU nations is 'breathtaking' says EU Commission
The extent of corruption in Europe is "breathtaking" and it costs the EU economy at least 120bn euros (£99bn) annually. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem has presented a full report on the problem, which interviewed EU citizens. She said the true cost of corruption was "probably much higher" than 120bn. Three-quarters of Europeans surveyed said that corruption was widespread, and more than half said the level had increased. The UK came out relatively well: only five people out of 1,115 - less than 1% - said they had been expected to pay a bribe. It was "the best result in all Europe", the report said. In Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, between 6% and 29% of respondents said they had been asked for a bribe, or had been expected to pay one, in the past 12 months. There were also high levels of bribery in Poland (15%), Slovakia (14%) and Hungary (13%), where the most prevalent instances were in healthcare. But 64% of British respondents said they believed corruption to be widespread in the UK, while the EU average was 74% on that question. BBC NEWS

Gove gives green light to teachers to use tough sanctions to tackle bad behaviour
Updated government guidelines were sent to all schools in England this week, making clear that tough but proportionate punishments, ranging from writing lines to asking pupils to report at the school gates early in the morning, are just as crucial to an effective education as praising and rewarding good behaviour. Almost 1 in 3 secondary teachers - tens of thousands of teachers in hundreds of schools across the country - don’t feel confident using the powers they have to discipline pupils. GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE

...and just for fun here’s Speaker John Bercow telling education secretary Michael Gove off for shouting during Prime Minister's Questions, adding the "very over excitable individual" should write out 1,000 times that he will behave at the weekly session... BBC NEWS VIDEO

Lloyds Banking Group 'April share sale likely'
Lloyds has confirmed it plans to return more of the government's 32.7% stake to private investors. But the news came as it made yet another hefty provision of £1.8bn for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI) taking its total to £10bn. For all banks the bill is approaching £20bn, a compensation payout so large it has noticeably helped stimulate high street spending and growth. Lloyds has a market value of about £57bn, so at the current share price of 79.66p, selling 10% would raise £5.7bn. This share price is more than 56% up over the last 52-week period. The government paid 73.6p for its stake. BBC NEWS


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