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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, April 17, 2014 with No comments | Labels:

Pay rises scrape ahead of inflation - but only if you work in the private sector AND get an annual bonus
Wages including bonuses were on average 1.9% higher in February compared to the same month in 2013, said the Office for National Statistics, while the consumer price inflation rate for that period was 1.7%. But pay including bonuses was only 1.7% higher when you look at the three months to February and compare it to the same three months of the previous year, suggesting on this measure that real incomes actually flatlined. Furthermore, public sector workers saw pay increases of only 0.9% and the average wage excluding bonuses was only 1.3% higher in February. GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: 'The recovery under way is welcome but we have a very long way to go to climb out of the hole caused by the recession.' Part of the growth is simply because the UK population has increased. Kenny added: 'Given the increase in population, GDP per head is still 5.8% below 2007 levels. This is the root cause of average earnings being down 13.8% in real terms since then. The pay of the bottom 50 per cent of the workforce is still being squeezed.' The news comes as millions of health and local government workers gear up for possible strikes in protest at pay increases of 1%. DAILY MAIL

Hospital bed shortage exposed: UK now has second lowest number per capita in Europe
A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that among 23 European countries, the UK now has the second lowest number of hospital beds per capita. As a result, countries such as France and Germany now have more than twice as many beds per head as Britain. Only Sweden — which has invested heavily in community care — has fewer beds for its population. Meanwhile levels of overcrowding in hospitals have repeatedly breached recommended safety limits, causing longer waiting times, cancelled operations and a raised the risk of the spread of superbugs. Official figures show that since 2001, more than 50,000 NHS hospital beds have been lost in England alone. TELEGRAPH

Landlords' 'substantial' interest-free mortgage advantage is denied to first-time buyers
More first-time buyers would be able to own property if interest-only mortgages were made available to them, a study by the Institute of Housing has concluded. Interest-only mortgages – where monthly payments cover just the interest part of the bill, and do not go toward reducing the debt – were widely popular before the banking crisis. But since then they have been all but banned under new, tougher rules. Landlords are exempt from the rules, as buy-to-let lending is not regulated as tightly. The difference creates a "substantial advantage" for landlords. The Institute of Housing figures showed that renting was more expensive, in all regions, than the cost of meeting interest-only mortgage payments. So if someone renting were able to borrow an interest-only loan, not only would they become property owners but they would see a cut in their monthly outgoings. TELEGRAPH

Starbucks HQ relocation to UK 'will generate negligible tax revenue
Starbucks claimed that the head office move would "mean we pay more tax in the UK", but the amount is expected to be negligible based on an analysis of head office operations in Amsterdam. Accounts filed in the Netherlands show the existing head office has been loss-making since 2010, and paid just €342,000 (£281,500) in tax last year. Starbucks was heavily criticised by MPs and tax campaigners in 2012 after it emerged that the business had paid just £8.3m in tax since coming to the UK in 1998, despite sales of more than £3bn. Accountant and campaigner Richard Murphy said the coffee chain's small head office operation, currently in Amsterdam, was little more than a "conduit or moneybox" used by Starbucks to collect "royalty payments" and move them on to other parts of the group. Starbucks' European head office was at the centre of criticisms 18 months ago that it had been artificially depressing the group's tax bills around Europe by charging sister companies heavy royalty fees. Moving these headquarter operations to London is the latest example of a wave of multinationals arriving in Britain after a series of controversial tax reforms pushed through by George Osborne to woo international firms. GUARDIAN

Food banks see 'shocking' rise in number of users
The leading food bank charity, the Trussell Trust, says it has handed out 913,000 food parcels in the last year, up from 347,000 the year before. The Trussell Trust said a third were given to repeat visitors but that there was a "shocking" 51% rise in clients to food banks. It said benefit payment delays were the main cause. The second biggest reason, given by 20% of food bank users, was low income. In a letter to ministers, more than 500 clergy say the increase is "terrible". The government said there was no evidence of a link between welfare reforms and the use of food banks. BBC NEWS

Graduate starting salaries 'drop 11% over five years'
Research for the Complete University Guide says graduate starting salaries in professional posts dropped 11%, to £21,702 in real terms, in 2007-12. The research shows that this decline is continuing and perhaps increasing, given that graduate starting salaries fell by the smaller amount of 4% in real terms in the five years between 2005-10. Even medicine and dentistry - which had the highest starting salaries in 2007 - experienced reductions of 15% and 9% respectively. BBC NEWS

Train operators hand £200m to shareholders despite £4bn in taxpayer subsidies
The planned reprivatisation of the east coast rail line is under fresh scrutiny after figures showed that train operators paid more than £200m in dividends to their shareholders last year, when taxpayers ploughed £4bn into the railways.  Three train operators – Virgin, Northern Rail and Transpennine – handed almost £100m to shareholders after receiving more than £1bn in government subsidies, including their portion of the grant to Network Rail. The ORR's report also showed that despite the £4bn subsidy, passengers are shouldering an ever-increasing proportion of industry costs in fares – now 59.2%, compared with 55.6% in 2010-11. Last week three transport unions launched a legal challenge to the franchising of the east coast mainline. Aslef, RMT and TSSA are seeking a judicial review claiming a new timetable drawn up by the Department for Transport risks the interests of staff, passengers and taxpayers. GUARDIAN

Cameron accused of using public funds for Tory spin
David Cameron is facing an investigation into whether he used an estimated £2m of taxpayers’ money to promote Conservative Party "propaganda", in breach of government rules. The Prime Minister wrote to nearly two million businesses and charities earlier this month to urge them to check whether they are entitled to a £2,000 National Insurance tax break. It is not the job of the PM to alert people to such changes. The letter was sent on the eve of the campaign for the European Parliament elections and council elections in England. Separately, Mr Cameron was criticised after it emerged that the letters were also wrongly sent to parents who hired nannies and other domestic workers. Such employers are not in fact eligible for the new allowance. TELEGRAPH

ONS to change its methodology, instantly turning UK into nation of savers and adding 5% to growth
The Office for National Statistics is to shake up the way it measures the economy.The changes could add up to 5% to economic growth, or £75bn of the total. The new accounting standards, which will take effect from September, follow similar changes in the US, Canada and Australia. The ONS will look at research and development spending to calculate its estimate of gross domestic product, rather than viewing it as a cost of production. The construction of aircraft carriers and other weapons will also add to GDP. The ONS will also count future pension rights as if they were present income. With Britain boasting a large funded defined-benefit pension scheme, the move will raise measured household incomes and the savings ratio. TELEGRAPH

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