Saturday, 31 May 2014

The 2014 European election result was shaped by the anger of ordinary people who have been misused to pay the price of the banking crisis. In the UK the Tories threw them out of the basket, the LibDems assisted with a sheepish smile, and Labour promised that if they were in power they would be doing the same thing in any case

The banking sector continues to be caught up in scandal after scandal, with no sign of reform or retribution beyond piffling fines. Other sectors, such as the energy industry, chase the banks’ scandalous profit levels by inflicting excessive prices on consumers. 

According to the Sunday Times Rich List the richest 1,000 people have doubled their fortunes since the financial crash. While in the name of ‘Austerity’ the incomes of the 90% have been frozen or cut, and the prospect of retirement has been pushed further into the distance with less money.

Actually, it isn't just the 90% who have been screwed. Figures from the Paris School of Economics, giving the share of national income going to different groups, do show that the top 10% did very well in the 5 years leading to the 2008 crash. But dig a little deeper and you find some surprising figures.
The enrichment of the top 10% masks 
  • how exceedingly well the top 0.05% have done, 
  • how really well the top 0.1% to 0.05% have done, 
  • how rather well the top 0.5% to 0.1% have done.
  • how really badly the top 10% to 5% did.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , ,
Including the Royal British Legion! KJ learns more from his mate, a British Gas salesman...

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Back to the drawing board: Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit redefined as 'new project' after successive delays
Universal credit, the government's recasting of the welfare benefits system, has had to be reorganised so fundamentally that the government watchdog responsible for grading its implementation has judged that it is now an entirely new project. In its annual assessment of the implementation of nearly 200 major infrastructure projects, the Major Projects Authority (MPA) has listed universal credit as "reset", the only one to be listed as going back to the drawing board. The scheme has been dogged with IT design faults, leading to successive delays. Universal credit is the flagship project of Iain Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Ministers started implementing it three years ago, and have been criticised by successive watchdogs for failing to come clean about the problems the DWP has experienced with the technology. GUARDIAN

British Gas salesmen who double your bills 'were treated like celebrities and given free helicopter rides for ripping off customers'
British Gas paid staff bonuses for inflating business customers’ bills – and churches and charities were targeted because they had fewer resources to shop around. Employees who made the highest profits by ensuring customers were sold the most expensive deals possible were sent on holidays to places such as Monaco, Rome and Iceland. Employees selling gas at base price for a one-year contract earn £18, but if they double costs to 5.5p per unit over three years they earn £435. Their food and drink was paid for and often they were given spending money. Other rewards included vouchers, 3D TVs, laptops, theatre tickets and PlayStations. A whistleblower who won a holiday said: ‘You were treated as if you were a celebrity. They spent thousands on each person for these trips... We are encouraged to charge as much as we can. If the customer is a charity, or someone who doesn’t speak English, they are so easy to mislead, it’s gold dust to us. British Legion is great because the volunteers are elderly.” DAILY MAIL

Bank of England governor: capitalism doomed if ethics vanish
Capitalism is at risk of destroying itself unless bankers realise they have an obligation to create a fairer society, the Bank of England governor has warned. Mark Carney said bankers had operated a "heads-I-win-tails-you-lose" system. He questioned whether traders met ethical standards and said that those who failed to meet high professional standards should face ostracism. Speaking at a City conference, the Bank's governor warned that there was a growing sense that the basic social contract at the heart of capitalism was breaking down amid rising inequality. "We simply cannot take the capitalist system, which produces such plenty and so many solutions, for granted. Prosperity requires not just investment in economic capital, but investment in social capital." In a strongly worded critique of City behaviour in the run-up to the financial crisis, Carney said market radicalism and light-touch regulation had eroded fair capitalism, while scandals such as the rigging of Libor markets had undermined trust in the financial system. "Just as any revolution eats its children, unchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself. To counteract this tendency, individuals and their firms must have a sense of their responsibilities for the broader system." GUARDIAN

80% of small firms think they get 'poor deal' from big six energy suppliers
Only a quarter of FSB members thought there was enough competition in the energy market, echoing concerns of many British households. The FSB has presented its findings in a response to a consultation by regulator Ofgem, which ends on Friday, on whether the energy market should be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority. "It's clear from our research that many small businesses don't trust the big energy suppliers to deliver a smarter, fairer and more transparent billing process as four in five of our members say that energy companies don't care about them," said John Allan, FSB chairman. GUARDIAN

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , , , , ,
In April 2011 the US Senate held a hearing on "The Role of the Accounting Profession in Preventing Another Financial Crisis". Kicking off the hearing the chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Jack Reed, commented:

"Prior to the collapse or rescue of nine major financial institutions in 2007 and 2008, they each received unqualified audit reports within months of their demise from various major accounting firms. So this hearing is not about one company or one auditor. This is about systemic weaknesses in the audit process that may continue to impair investor confidence and provide inadequate information to the investing public and to directors of public companies and to the markets in general.

The costs of these problems are staggering. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission estimated that nearly $11 trillion in household wealth was lost through retirement accounts and life savings being diminished in the crisis. Auditors who have the responsibility for examining and reporting on the companies' books and records in the cases I have cited sounded no distinctive and helpful alarms prior to the demise of these companies.

As such, serious questions have been raised about the quality of financial reporting practices and about the quality of audits that should have revealed key financial irregularities or the poor status of these companies."

In May 2014 The UK's Financial Reporting Council (FRC), "the UK’s independent regulator responsible for promoting high quality corporate governance and reporting", produced a report stating only 2% of Bank and Insurance Company audits were "good".

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014 Posted by Jake 4 comments Labels: , , ,

Trust isn’t about knowing someone will do the right thing. It is about knowing what someone will do. UKIP seems trustworthy because what the party says is such a mix of keen insight as well as crass stupidity that they can’t be making it up. 
If UKIP were crafty and untrustworthy they wouldn’t be quite so crass. Whether we agree with them or not we trust them to mean what they say. Which means we know whether or not to vote for them. 

On the other hand we don’t trust the Tories because of the things they do. And we don’t trust Labour because of the things they don’t do.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014 Posted by Jake No comments Labels: , , , ,
As we move from election to election we offer you this useful guide, published in 1899, to dealing with [public] servants. 

Pay particular attention to the sections warning what happens when you select someone without well checked references! Truly awful!

For those of you with no eyes to see, the book has an audio function - i.e. it will read itself to you (go to the full screen mode to hear this, it is very clever!).

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
The rich get richer: Britain's wealthiest DOUBLE their fortunes since the financial crash and are now worth £519billion
The fortunes of the 1,000 richest men and women in the UK rose by 15.4% in the last year. It also means that total wealth has doubled since 2009, when the top 1,000 were worth a measly £258billion. The figures were revealed in the Sunday Times Rich List. The list is based on 'identifiable wealth' - including land, property, other assets such as art and racehorses, or significant shares in publicly quoted companies. It excludes bank accounts, which the Sunday Times has no access to. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week revealed that there is a monumental gap between the rich and the poor in the UK, with the wealthiest 1 per cent owning the same amount as the 55 per cent poorest in the UK. DAILY MAIL

Revealed: Why millions WON'T get the £155 new state pension they're expecting
A major pledge of the new pension was that everyone who had paid all their National Insurance contributions would be guaranteed to get £155 a week. But a Money Mail investigation into the small print of the new flat-rate pension reveals as many as four in five older workers could miss out on the full flat-rate state pension of £155 a week when it is introduced in 2016. And millions face losing thousands of pounds in inflation-linked increases on company pensions. Disturbingly, not even the Government has calculated how much less than the promised amount people will end up getting. DAILY MAIL

Miliband sets out Labour's minimum wage plans. Tories and LibDems promise a rise too
The party will announce an exact figure - covering the years 2015 to 2020 - nearer the general election. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have already said they want a rise in the minimum wage. However any major increase is likely to be criticised by business groups worried that it would drive up costs and damage competitiveness. Mr Miliband said it was a "scandal" that there were five million people in work who "can't make ends meet". The Prime Minister's official spokesman said Downing Street believed that as a result of economic growth there could be a real terms increase in the level of the minimum wage, but that it should remain a matter for the Low Pay Commission to recommend its level. BBC NEWS

New RBS finance chief handed £1.9m 'golden hello' reigniting controversy over bankers' 'fat cat' pay
Ewen Stevenson was awarded 584,506 shares on his first day in the job on Monday to compensate him for payments he forfeited at his previous employer Credit Suisse. RBS shares are currently worth 326p each, up 2.3p on the day. Stevenson will enjoy an annual package of £1.9million a year, including a £800,000 salary, £280,000 in pension contributions, and £26,250 in benefits. He will also receive a controversial £800,000 fixed shares ‘allowance’, used by banks including RBS to swerve the EU bonus cap. Stevenson was recruited after Nathan Bostock resigned in December to join Santander UK after just ten weeks in the role. The revelations turn up the heat on the state backed bank, which is still 81 per cent owned by the taxpayer and slumped to a £8.2billion loss last year. RBS was accused of wasting taxpayers’ money after handing a £3.2million ‘golden hello’ to current chief executive Ross McEwan when he joined as retail boss of the bank in August 2012. The Government last month blocked RBS from paying bonuses twice the size of salaries - but approved the new pay measure at Lloyds. DAILY MAIL

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , ,

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014 Posted by Jake 1 comment Labels: , , , , , , ,

In May 2014 the energy regulator OFGEM boasted about its latest ‘record fine’: £12 million inflicted on E.on. OFGEM’s press release stated:
  • E.ON’s large scale mis-selling results in biggest supplier payout to consumers 

  • Ofgem found management arrangements were insufficient to protect against mis-selling

OFGEM has the power to fine upto 10% of revenue. E.ON’s UK revenue in 2013 was £9.9 billion. The £12million fine, about 0.1% of revenue, is not even a drop in that ocean of cash.

Money is the one thing that is not in short supply for Energy companies. They are awash with it. Fraudulent behaviour by our Energy and Financial sectors have been ‘punished’ by taking from them that which they have most of: money taken from their customers. Like fining Billy Bunter a doughnut – he may not like it, but he has plenty more. The loss of a doughnut will not reform him.

Fraud is directed by people, not companies. Directors don’t fear fines – after all it is almost inevitably the company that pays them. But while they have more than enough money to brush off fines, they have about the same amount of time as anyone else. A year in jail is a year in jail, whoever you are.

The Sentencing Council, appointed by the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor of the UK, provides guidance to the British Justice System. Here is the guidance when it comes to frauds by ordinary citizens:
  • "Confidence Fraud" (not unlike doorstep selling by energy companies) for sums of £500,000 or more: 5-8 years custody 

Friday, 16 May 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014 Posted by Hari 1 comment Labels: , , , ,
Chris and Fee cautiously celebrate the record employment figures...

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014 Posted by Jake 1 comment Labels: , , , , ,

File:Tortoise and Scorpion.jpg
Pfizer’s pursuit of AstraZeneca brings to mind the old Persian fable of the Scorpion and the Turtle. The Scorpion wanted to cross a lake and asked the Turtle to carry it. The Scorpion promised the Turtle it wouldn’t sting it to death during the voyage because they would both die – Turtle by sting, and Scorpion by drowning. Half way across the Scorpion stung the turtle. As they were both dying, the Turtle asked the Scorpion why it had doomed them both. The Scorpion responded, “I couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature”. Now, there is a difference between Pfizer and the drowning Scorpion: Pfizer can swim.

Appearing before Parliament’s “Business, Innovation and Skills Committee” in May 2014, the Pfizer bosses were pretty open that a key interest in AstraZeneca was the tax advantages. However they, like the Scorpion, promised not to kill off AstraZeneca’s research & development (R&D) in the UK because to do so would harm Pfizer's tax avoidance interests. 

[For your convenience the time of the statement in the video is given in brackets before the quote: see bottom right hand corner of the video for the time] Ian Read, Pfizer CEO, said he would be

(10:49:30) “bringing in manufacturing [to the UK] that wouldn’t have come here without the Patent Box”.
Thursday, May 15, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
London has more billionaires than any other city in the world while Britons’ use of food banks rises 163%
The survey of Britain’s superrich compiled annually for the Sunday Times newspaper is likely to prompt debate in a country where many still struggle financially and where food banks are a fact of life despite economic growth recently returning to levels not seen since the 2008 financial crash. London is home to 72 of Britain’s 104 billionaires, well ahead of Moscow in second place with 48 people. New York is in third place with 43. Britain also has more billionaires per head of population than any other country. The Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest food bank network, said the number of people who they had served had risen 163% in the last year to just over 913,000 people. The group labeled the figure “shocking,” particularly as it does not include those helped by other food providers or the large number of people too ashamed to seek help and who cope by eating less food. JAPAN TIMES

Insult to injury! How a call to a loved one in hospital could end up costing you 50p-a-minute
Relatives who call loved ones in hospital are being hit with phone charges of up to 50p a minute. Hospedia runs phone and TV packages for hospital patients, including free outgoing calls. However, customers who ring in are hit with much higher charges because they must call a costly 070 number. These numbers can cost between 4p and 52p a minute from a landline. One person said they had to listen to an automated message for a minute-and-a-half every time they called their cancer-stricken partner in hospital and were being charged 50p-a-minute even during this message. Hosepedia initially said that the reason they use the 070 numbers is that the telecoms regulator Ofcom obliges them to have a follow-me numbering system, so a patient keeps the same number as they move around the hospital. However, Ofcom denied this claim, said it had not approved of time-consuming taped messages and that it had also expressed concern about the cost of making calls to and from hospitals. DAILY MAIL

Pfizer boss admits Astra takeover would cost jobs and cut R&D spending
After Pfizer's three previous big acquisitions – US firms Wyeth and Warner-Lambert and Sweden's Pharmacia – there were laboratory closures and more than 60,000 job losses. Pfizer's CEO, Ian Read, who was facing questions from MPs, said that "there will be some job cuts" despite repeated assurances that the takeover would be "win-win" for the UK. Labour's Adrian Bailey, chairman of the business select committee, told him that Pfizer was known as a "praying mantis" and "a shark that needs feeding". Leading scientists have warned of laboratory closures. David Cameron has made it clear he wants to see better guarantees from Pfizer, and the business secretary, Vince Cable, has refused to rule out intervention in the bid, while admitting it would be "tricky". Mr Read, however, said Britain should welcome the opportunity to have the world's largest pharmaceutical company relocate its tax base to the UK. He said it would be very beneficial to the Exchequer, even though the substantial tax benefits would come at the expense of US taxpayers. GUARDIAN

Unemployment drops to lowest level for over 5 years as number of people in work boosted by rise of self-employed
Unemployment fell by 133,000 to 2.2million in the three months to March, the lowest level since January 2009, giving a jobless rate of 6.8 per cent, down from 6.9 per cent in the three months to February, in line with economists' forecasts, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Meanwhile, pay growth rose more than inflation for the first time since 2010 but was below forecasts. More than 30.4million people are now in work - the highest since records began in 1971 - while self-employment has also reached a record high of 4.5million. The number of people working for themselves jumped by 183,000 in the quarter to March, compared with a rise of 375,000 over the past year. DAILY MAIL

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , ,

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014 Posted by Jake 7 comments Labels: , , , , , ,
Why have the wages of the 90% stagnated in Britain in recent decades? Is it because employment taxes make it too expensive for employers to pay us better?

An interesting graph from the "New Direction" foundation (founded by former prime-minister Baroness Thatcher) sheds some light. The graph from a 2014 report shows the cost to an employer of putting £1 into an employee's pocket - after income tax and National Insurance (employee's and employer's contributions) have been paid - is close to the lowest in Europe. Only Malta, Ireland and Cyprus are lower.

Perhaps the problem is we are already paid too much? Eurostat provides figures on this, showing that of the five largest EU nations, the UK's labour cost is at the bottom together with Spain.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Friday, May 09, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , , , ,
Fee, KJ and Chris wonder whether we're open for business, or just funny business..

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Thursday, May 08, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Self-employment surge across UK hides real story behind upbeat job figures
Coalition claims that "more people are in work than ever before" have been undermined by a report that shows the number of traditional employee jobs is falling or flatlining across the country – a phenomenon masked by an explosion in recorded self-employment which one economist describes as "the last refuge of the desperate". Only London has shown a marked rise in employee jobs in the last six years, according to new analysis by the independent thinktank the Resolution Foundation. The labour market economist and former Bank of England rate-setter David Blanchflower, who has studied trends in self-employment for many years, said: "Particularly after a prolonged downturn, there is a well-documented pattern of people failing as jobseekers and then moving into self-employment status, often out of desperation rather than anything more positive." GUARDIAN

Given £184 million by the Treasury... but US predator Pfizer paid just £118 million in tax in three years
US drugs giant Pfizer took £67million more from the UK Government than it paid in tax over a three-year period. The firm shelled out £118million in corporation tax between 2010 and 2012 – but received a whopping £184million in tax credits. The rebate comes despite it making almost £5billion in sales from its British operations over the period. The figures, revealed in documents filed at Companies House, come as the multinational was criticised for building up £43billion in tax havens across the world. The US company has already admitted that moving its tax base out of the US is 'one of the key drivers' of its £63billion plans to buy British drugs giant AstraZeneca. The group has almost 200 offices registered in tax havens across the world where it has an estimated £43billion nestled away. Some 40 per cent of its subsidiaries are based in offshore shelters or low tax regimes such as the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands, Jersey and the US state of Delaware – a highly controversial tax shelter. Tax expert Richard Murphy said: 'At a time when the world needs new antibiotics, Pfizer is investing in tax avoidance.' DAILY MAIL

'This is a movie we've seen before': House price boom poses greatest threat to financial stability, warns Bank of England deputy
Soaring house prices pose the greatest threat to Britain’s financial stability, the deputy governor of the Bank of England has warned. It would be ‘dangerous’ to ignore the momentum building up in the UK housing market, Sir Jon Cunliffe cautioned, predicting that it is not out the question the market could be heading for a crash. The Bank of England will have to decide in coming months whether to cool the recovery, he said, in the sternest warning from the Bank of England to date about surging British house prices. His comments came on the same day that new figures revealed house prices jumped another 10.9 per cent year on year in April, marking the first time since April 2010 that annual growth has reached double figures. DAILY MAIL

Legal aid cuts: Prime Minister's lawyer brother criticises reforms
The brother of David Cameron claimed a major fraud trial should be thrown out of court because of a lack of competent barristers, caused by the legal aid reforms introduced by his sibling's government. The lawyer Alex Cameron QC said the issue was part of a far wider problem, with a "finite resource" of Queen's counsel, outweighed by high demand, and many independent barristers unwilling to work under current legal aid rates. Controversial government-imposed cuts to legal aid – as high as 30 percent in standard fees in the most serious cases - have prompted demonstrations and walk outs by barristers and solicitors. Mr Cameron, who is representing seven defendants free of charge in a fraud case, argues that his legally aided clients could not find barristers "of sufficient competence". He accused the state of knowing but doing nothing about the problem and said this forced him to ask for the case to be halted. TELEGRAPH

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Saturday, May 03, 2014 Posted by Jake 3 comments Labels: , , , , , ,
Does the Government have a policy of killing off bodies that hold government accountable? What do you think?

It's not just the badgers. All
independent monitoring panels are endangered species, when it is government that is being monitored.

October 2012: The "Badger Culling Pilots" panel was created by DEFRA "to help Ministers evaluate the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of controlled shooting".

February 2014: The panel reports that the badger culls were 'cruel' and 'ineffective'.

April 2014: Government announces the committee will not report on the next cull.

Added July 2014: University of Warwick study contradicts basis of Government badger culling policy. The Guardian reports:

A mass cull of cattle, not badgers, is the only large-scale action that can end the scourge of tuberculosis in England’s livestock, according to new scientific research that represents a heavy blow to the government’s current policy.”

The Government has prior form, killing off those who would keep an eye on it. In August 2010, soon after winning the General Election that year, the Government announced that it would cut back the independent Audit Commission. The Audit Commission stated:

In August 2010 the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced plans to put in place new arrangements for auditing England’s local public bodies. Eventually our responsibilities for overseeing and commissioning local audit will stop, as will our other statutory functions, including those relating to studies into financial management and value for money. At this point the Audit Commission will be disbanded”

Friday, 2 May 2014

Friday, May 02, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels: , ,
Chris talks to a free-market fundamentalist...

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Thursday, May 01, 2014 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Buy-to-let landlords got an annual return of 16.3% since 1996, dwarfing other investments
Buy-to-let investors have made £12,000 profit on every £1,000 they put into property since mortgages for landlords were first launched in 1996. This annual return of 16.3%, buoyed by fast-rising house prices and rents, far outstripped every other type of investment. Over the same period shares would have earned investors 6.8% a year, bonds 6.5% and savings in the bank 4%. Critics say landlords have elbowed first-time buyers aside, pointing to the fall in home-ownership levels in the UK since their peak a decade ago. The proportion of homes lived in by owner-occupiers had fallen to 65.2%, down from 71% in 2003 and at its lowest level since 1987. Alex Hilton, director of Generation Rent, set up to represent Britain's 9 million renters, said: "While a 16.3% annual profit makes the UK buy-to-let market a hugely lucrative investment for landlords, it's time to count the cost to their captive tenants. It drives up rents and kills the dream of home ownership for millions of tenants, but worse than that, our ComRes poll in March showed that a third of tenants are cutting back on food and two fifths are cutting back on heating – just so they can pay their rents. If retailers hoarded food as a limited resource and profiteered from the consequent price rises, there would be riots on the streets. The buy-to-let market is doing to tenants is having the same effect. People are going hungry so that other people can get rich quick." GUARDIAN

How energy switching sites are keeping small suppliers out of the market by 'hiding' deals that won't make them money
Switching sites make their money through commission payments. Every time a household switches supplier through a switching website, the new supplier will pay out – sometimes as much as £70 for every new customer. But not every energy supplier will have this type of commercial arrangement with switching sites. Smaller suppliers who are just launching or who feel they cannot pay the fees charged by energy companies, for example, may not pay commission. As a result, some switching websites are keeping new, smaller energy suppliers from competing in the energy market by obscuring some available deals. The default settings on the Compare the Market energy switching site mean that visitors to the website only see the deals that pay commission. In order to see the full market range, users must click on a tab that says ‘refine your search’, then on another tab that says ‘other options’, then a tick box that says ‘show tariffs I can’t switch to now’ and then click ‘update results’. It is only then that all deals are shown. As a result, Compare the Market admits that just 0.05 per cent of overall monthly website traffic sees all available deals. DAILY MAIL

1.4m UK employees are on zero-hours contracts, have no guarantee of work, and don't earn a living wage
According to a report from the Office for National Statistics, non-guaranteed hours contracts are most common in the tourism, catering and food sectors, where they make up more than half of all contracts, while they are unusual for workers in the financial, manufacturing and energy industries. In total, some 13 per cent of employers said they adopted this type of contracts, the ONS said, and one in five employers in health and social work reported using them. Zero hours contracts were more common among larger employers, the ONS said, and under-25s and those over 65 were more likely to be employed on such contracts. The TUC said: 'Zero hours contracts have always been around but they were once confined to tiny areas of the labour market, and seen as a way to keep staff on even when work dried up. But casualised work is becoming more popular, even as the economy recovers. Employers like to argue that zero hours contracts offer flexibility but for many workers they mean poverty pay and no way of knowing how often they'll be working from one week to the next. Replacing vulnerable zero hours contracts with more secure employment will be a key test of whether this recovery is reaching hard-pressed workers.’ DAILY MAIL

Osborne blocks taxpayer-owned RBS from doubling bonuses (but staff will still get payouts worth a YEAR'S salary)
Royal Bank of Scotland has been banned from paying bankers bonuses worth twice their salaries by the government. The Treasury said the huge payouts could not be made while the troubled lender was still part-owned by the taxpayer. But staff at RBS will still receive bonuses worth an entire year’s pay, and 77 people will be paid more than £1million. The troubled bank reignited the row over pay in February when it revealed plans for huge bonuses, including £237million for its investment bankers, despite slumping into the red with an £8.2billion loss. DAILY MAIL

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