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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, September 11, 2014 with No comments | Labels:

MPs' pay rise of 9% 'should go ahead'
Marcial Boo, chief executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), said MPs did an important job and should not be paid a "miserly amount". Their pay will go up from £67,000 to £74,000 under Ipsa's plan. The PM, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband called the hike unacceptable when it was proposed at the end of last year. The Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour party leaders argued it would be wrong when public sector pay rises were capped at 1%. But speaking to the Sunday Telegraph in his first interview since taking on the job, Mr Boo said a review of evidence had shown that economic forecasts were improving while MPs' salaries had "fallen behind" others working in comparable public sector roles. The proposed £74,000 figure was now seen by some as being "at the low end", he claimed, adding that pay needed to be fair to attract good candidates. The one-off increase is part of a package that will see MPs pay more into their pensions, as well as the end of resettlement payments. Ipsa says that overall the reforms will not cost taxpayers any more than the present scheme. BBC NEWS

Bedroom tax bill splits coalition as Lib-Lab pact forces second reading
David Cameron's authority received a damaging blow on Friday when a Liberal Democrat-sponsored bill aimed at modifying the bedroom tax was voted through to the next stage in parliament after dozens of Tory MPs ignored whips' demands to vote with the government. Labour MPs joined with the Tories' coalition partners to send the affordable homes bill, sponsored by Andrew George MP, through to a second reading vote by 306 to 231. Seventy Conservative MPs ignored a three line whip and stayed away from Westminister. Angie Bray, Tory MP for Ealing Central and Acton, voted against her party. Usually, the government can rely on a majority of more than 60. Social housing tenants judged to have too much living space have had their housing benefit cut since 1 April 2013, under a proposal known as the spare room subsidy by the government, but widely known as the bedroom tax. However, a shortage of smaller available homes has meant large numbers have been unable to move to cheaper accommodation yet still suffered the cut. If passed, the new bill would mean people who cannot be found a smaller home would be exempt from the cut in housing benefit. Disabled people who need a spare bedroom or who have had their homes adapted would be exempt. GUARDIAN

House builder Barratt doubles annual profits on back of Help to Buy scheme
The chief executive, Mark Clare, said: "Following the launch of Help to Buy, sales rates over the summer period last year were exceptionally strong. This year we have seen a return to more normal seasonal trends." The mortgage-subsidy scheme has given housebuilders a huge boost since it was introduced in April 2013. Barratt's profits soared to £390.6m in the year to 30 June. The private average selling price climbed 12.9% to £241,600, partly reflecting Barratt's move away from building flats to larger family homes since the downturn. The company completed 14,838 houses – 8.6% more than in the previous year (13,600). The builder expects to construct 15,700 homes in the current year, a slightly slower rate of increase. The Help to Buy scheme accounted for 30% of Barratt's sales last year, and 35% for Redrow, another major housebuilder. Help to Buy, which was due to end in 2016, has been extended to 2020. GUARDIAN

Sports Direct faces action from zero-hours staff over bonus scheme
Sports Direct, the retailer founded by billionaire Mike Ashley, is facing legal action from 250 workers excluded from a multimillion-pound bonus scheme because they were on zero-hours contracts. Lawyers acting for the part-time staff are preparing to file multiple claims for breach of contract at the high court. The employees were excluded from a bonus scheme that paid out about £160m worth of shares to 2,000 "permanent" workers in 2013. The claims, which have been gathered in partnership with workers' rights group Pay Justice, could amount to a £4m-plus bill for Sports Direct. The retailer has been widely criticised for employing nearly 90% of its staff on zero-hours contracts, which do not guarantee a minimum number of working hours a week and also fail to provide for annual leave and sick pay. Elizabeth George of law firm Leigh Day, which will lead the claims, said: "These are the staff whose hard work over many years has brought about the record profits that funded the bonus awards in the first place. It's plainly unfair that they should have missed out... We believe that they had a contractual right to the bonus because regardless of the zero-hours label that the company has given their contracts, they were all permanent employees of the company for the necessary number of years." Many of those taking part in the action continue to be employed by Sports Direct. Pay Justice is encouraging any other staff who believe they might be eligible to make contact via its website. GUARDIAN


Public may end up paying £11bn for obsolete smart meters that save little, MPs warn
The government's £11bn roll-out of smart gas and electricity meters will cost every home about £215 over the next 15 years. Householders would save an average of just 2% on the typical annual bill of £1,328 until 2020, rising to 3% (£43 a year) by 2030, the influential public accounts select committee said. The new in-home displays are designed to reduce consumer bills, enable faster, easier switching of suppliers, and give households control at the touch of a button. The mass roll-out of smart meters –already delayed – is due to start late next year and suppliers must commit to taking reasonable steps to have them in all UK households and small businesses by the end of 2020. But suppliers, rather than households, will gain most from the programme, as they will no longer have to absorb the costs of inspecting old analogue meters. Households, meanwhile, will see their annual bills rise further to pay for the installation. The Commons committee also warned that technology was advancing so rapidly that some aspects of the smart meter programme could be out of date by the time it is rolled out – so consumers could be receiving the information for free on their smartphones while still having to pay for a redundant meter. GUARDIAN

Energy firms to refund £153m to three million households
On average, customers are owed around £50 each. Typically that money got left behind when they switched supplier. Ofgem warned the companies that unless they make good progress with refunds, they will face enforcement action. Over the last six years the large energy firms have accumulated £153m, which remains to be claimed by customers. Often that is because customers have changed supplier, or moved home, and not left a forwarding address. If the money is unclaimed after two years, it will be used to help vulnerable customers. However, customers have no limit on when they need to claim by. Any valid claim will always be refunded, however old it may be. The regulator warned the firms that they not only have to make progress in getting the money returned, but they must stop such build-ups in the future. The big six are: British Gas, EDF, SSE, Scottish and Southern, E.on and Npower. BBC NEWS

The great Isa rip-off: Prudent savers moving from shares to cash earn pitiful interest and are hit with sky-high fees
Britain’s biggest investment names are behind an Isa rip-off that penalises customers who want to protect their nest eggs by moving them into cash. These careful investors are being offered derisory - or no - interest on their savings, forced to pay fees for cashing in their investment and face sky-high charges to move to another company. At best they get 0.1 per cent - or £5 interest a year on £5,000. On a bog standard easy-access cash Isa on the High Street, you can get more than 15 times extra - earning £77.50. It’s time for big names, which include the banks Barclays and Halifax, broker Hargreaves Lansdown and investment giant Fidelity to do better by their customers. These rip-offs are against the spirit of new Isa rules introduced in July, which allow everyone to save up to £15,000 a year tax-free. The creation of the Super Isa was one of the flagship policies unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne in his last Budget. He also changed the rules so savers could move easily between cash and shares. But the dream that this would become a flexible and simple incentive for people to save is being hampered by the fees and rates being offered. Since they were launched 15 years ago, Isas have become wildly popular - more than 24million people hold money in cash or shares. DAILY MAIL

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