Thursday 1 May 2014

Thursday, May 01, 2014 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, May 01, 2014 with 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

Barclays AGM - shareholders large and small protest over pay and bonuses
One in three shareholders failed to support the bank's remuneration report, which showed that bonuses rose 10% despite a 32% fall in profits. The Barclays chairman, Sir David Walker, had promised a year ago to restrain top pay. One private investor, who expressed his irritation at the bank's dividend payments, poor performance and £5.8bn cash call to bolster its finances last year, told the packed AGM: "We're paying for Manchester United but we are getting Colchester United." Annual investor meetings are usually dominated by private shareholders who hold small amounts of votes. But one major City investor, Standard Life Investments, which owns almost 2% of Barclays, spoke out to say it had voted against the pay deals. Alison Kennedy, a director at Standard Life Investments, told the board: "We are unconvinced that the amount of the 2013 bonus pool was in the best interests of shareholders. Walker tried repeatedly to defend the bonus payouts, which resulted in 481 Barclays' bankers being paid more than £1m last year. GUARDIAN

Energy companies 'to reap £2bn windfall' from lowering of green ECO target and taxes
The Prime Minister approved an overhaul of the 'Energy Company Obligation’ (ECO) home insulation scheme in December, watering down targets as part of a deal to cut £50 from bills by reducing green levies. The lowered ECO targets were estimated to save energy companies up to £35 per household, a saving they should pass straight back to their customers. But in a joint open letter to the Prime Minister, Inca, the trade association for the solid wall insulation industry, and other energy efficiency groups, say: “The actual savings to the 'Big Six’ go far beyond the £35 you have persuaded them to give back to customers, representing a £1bn-£2bn windfall to energy suppliers over the next three years." This equates to an extra £15-£23 per household per year that they should either use to accelerate the home insulation scheme or give back to their customers. TELEGRAPH

Parking meter rip-off 'costs drivers £38m': Motorists are losing millions in machines that do not give change
Motorists are being short-changed by millions of pounds as council chiefs profit from pay-and-display parking machines that don’t give change, the RAC Foundation has warned. Local authorities could be coining it in by up to £38million a year by swallowing overpayments, analysis of new figures reveals. Campaigners are demanding that councils upgrade machines either to give change or enable other methods of payment such as by phone or by card. The British Parking Association, which represents councils and parking firms contracted to issue penalties, said parking charges would have to increase further to cover the cost of keeping machines stocked with change. A BPA spokesman said; ‘Dispensing and recycling coins to give change would mean bigger machines and more staff to replenish and maintain them, which would in turn add to costs and increase parking charges. The more cash they hold, the more vulnerable they are to vandalism and thieves. This type of equipment is often targeted by opportunists and organised crime gangs.’ RAC Foundation research reveals that councils in England earn a total of £1.4billion from on street parking bays and car parks - a £594million profit after costs are deducted. DAILY MAIL

Invesco Perpetual fined £18m for 'failures' which left small investors at risk
Asset management group Invesco Perpetual has been fined £18.6m after City regulators uncovered a string of failures at the firm which left small investors at risk of significant losses. The FCA was investigating the period between May 2008 and November 2012. The FCA found £1bn-worth of leveraged trades were carried out by Invesco fund managers, using complex derivatives, without disclosing the risk to small investors. GUARDIAN


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