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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, May 15, 2014 with 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


Vince Cable urges right for zero-hours staff to request fixed hours
The business secretary, Vince Cable, argued that there were now signs that the UK labour market had become "too flexible", leading to depressed wages and entrenched low productivity. His remarks, in a speech to the Resolution Foundation, are the most serious acknowledgement yet by a senior government figure that structural flaws in the UK labour market could be holding back living standards despite economic growth. Cable said: "The recession has brought to light problems that we need to resolve. We have to confront the possibility that labour markets may be becoming too flexible. Too much flexibility, and we undermine the incentive to be more productive… We do not want to reproduce the American experience, where, over a decade, wages have stagnated, even in a period of economic growth." He conceded that government policy had played a role in creating a flexible labour market, leading to a flood of labour with people willing to work for very low wages: "The combination of benefits reforms, our cutting taxes on labour through raising the threshold, and other reforms, like abolishing the default retirement age, means that the incentives to work, particularly in low-skilled jobs, have never been sharper. But when this coincides with firms not yet investing strongly, the outcome could be an entrenchment of low-productivity jobs." Cable also expressed concern over the trend for self-employment. He said: "Self-employment accounts for 80% of the remarkable increase in employment since 2007.” GUARDIAN

Letting agents charging 'hidden fees' to renters will be fined under plans being drawn up by the Government
Currently, agents are required to list charges to the prospective tenants up front in their advertisements, but the only punishment for those who add hidden fees is being named and shamed by the Advertising Standards Authority. Under new rules being drawn up by the Government, letting agents who fail to clearly display their fees on their websites and in their offices will be hit with fines. But the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg stopped short of Labour's proposal to ban agents from charging fees to tenants, arguing that a fee ban would lead to increased rents. George Spencer, of online lettings service Rentify, said: 'The industry should adapt to and welcome the openness called for by the government in regards to displaying full details of their fees: sharkish behaviour, confusing language, and a lack of transparency mean that there is a natural suspicion in every landlord and tenant, which can only damage their business in the long run… Charging tenants £200 or more for a credit check and putting their names onto a contract gives agents an agent an 80 to 90 per cent margin, which is unjustifiable.” DAILY MAIL

UK's second-biggest High Street payday lender exits the market, following pressure from the regulator
Cheque Centre had been accused of poor practice in the way it treated customers in debt. The lender is based in Edinburgh, and has 451 branches across the UK. It said it would now concentrate on other business like foreign currency, longer-term loans and pawn-broking. It has also agreed to suspend all telephone calls to customers who owe money, following an agreement with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Tougher rules on payday loans were introduced by the FCA when it took over as the regulator of the payday industry last month. "This is an early victory for people that use payday lenders," said Martin Wheatley, the FCA's chief executive. When it took over as the regulator, the FCA said it expected that up to a quarter of payday lenders might leave the market. BBC NEWS

'Free retirement advice' promised in the Budget will NOT be free and savers must be told, MPs warn
As part of the overhaul, the Chancellor pledged that all pension savers would have access to free and independent advice from qualified financial professionals. However a report on the Budget from the Treasury Select Committee revealed today that the advice would be ‘free at the point of use’. This means that although pensions companies and the industry will not charge savers upfront for advice, the costs will ultimately be passed on to savers. Since the advice will be mandatory, it means any savers who choose to seek advice from an independent financial advisor as well will end up paying for advice twice. DAILY MAIL

Banks say bonus clawback rules may be unenforceable
Britain's banking lobby has warned that proposals to claw back bonuses up to 11 years after they have been awarded would be unfair and potentially unenforceable. In a response to proposals from the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) said some of the suggestions violated “fundamental and long-standing” tenets of British law, and were “going beyond what could be considered as fair and reasonable”. In March, the PRA launched a consultation on tough new pay rules that could see banks clawing back bonuses six years after they have been paid if bankers misbehave or if their company enters a “material downturn” in financial performance. With regulators also looking at bonuses not vesting until five years after they have been awarded, this would mean they could be clawed back as much as 11 years later. TELEGRAPH

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