Thursday 16 October 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, October 16, 2014 with No comments | Labels:

MPs seek inquiry into £1m bonus of disability firm boss
MPs have called for an inquiry into why a charitable scheme providing cars for the disabled paid its chief executive more than £1million in bonuses and benefits last year. Mike Betts, head of not-for-profit company Motability Operations, took home bonuses totalling £911,915 in the year to September 2013, as well as a £125,000 payment in lieu of pension. This was on top of his basic salary of £501,900. Contracted by the Motability charity, the company provides 630,000 vehicles for disabled people, including those injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, with customers using their disability benefit payments to pay for the scheme. John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, who has examined the scheme’s finances, branded the situation as “scandalous”. He said there was no reason for Mr Betts, 52, to receive such bonuses because the company had no captive market and no competition. The revelation comes as the government implements reforms meaning tens of thousands of disabled people will lose their entitlement to Motability vehicles. Under new, stricter criteria for eligibility, anybody who can walk more than 20 metres, even if this is with the aid of a prosthetic, crutches or walking stalk, will no longer be entitled to a vehicle. TELEGRAPH

British oil giant BG in pay row as new boss Helge Lund lands 'excessive' £29m
After a run of disappointing candidates, the company insisted it had to pay top whack to get a man suitable to lead the company. It has poached Helge Lund from Norwegian rival Statoil with a package that has been criticised as ‘excessive’. He will be paid £1.5million a year, as well as bonuses worth up to £3million and another share incentive scheme that could pay out up to £9million if he hits performance targets. Additionally, he could get another £12million in shares over the next five years if the pay committee decides he is doing a good job. This particular measure is so controversial that the company shareholders are being asked to vote for it at a special meeting. BG will also generously compensate Lund for the potential share awards he is leaving behind at Statoil to the tune of £3million. He is also being given £480,000 to move his family to Britain, and will have £450,000 a year put into his pension pot. Andrew Gould, BG’s executive chairman, defended the pay deal, saying: ‘The company needs a proven leader from the oil and gas industry to deliver the exceptional opportunities available to it.’ BG shares fell 10p to 1015p. DAILY MAIL

Ireland to close notorious ‘double Irish’ tax loophole
Apple and other multinationals based in Ireland are to be given a four-year window before the phasing out of a scheme that cuts their tax bills. Amid mounting international criticism of the arrangements, which save foreign companies billions of euros, Ireland’s finance minister, Michael Noonan, is expected to announce the end of the “double Irish” scheme when he delivers his budget on Tuesday. The European commission is investigating “sweetheart” tax deals between the Irish state and Apple, and last month Brussels provisionally found that the iPhone maker’s tax arrangements in Ireland were so generous as to amount to state aid. Noonan’s move may pre-empt measures hinted at by the UK chancellor last month, when he announced a crackdown on technology firms’ tax strategies at the Conservative party conference. George Osborne said: “Some of the biggest technology companies in the world … go to extraordinary lengths to pay little or no tax here … We will put a stop to it.” Party officials briefed that he had companies using the double Irish scheme in his sights. On the international stage, the G20 group of powerful economies has commissioned the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to produce a package of tax reforms to rein in multinationals. This work is expected to be completed by summer 2015. GUARDIAN

About time? 2014 Nobel Prize for Economics awarded for “analysis of market power and regulation"
Jean Tirole has been named as 2014's winner of the Economics Nobel prize, for his work on the regulation of large companies. The French professor’s research has been central to the study of regulation in economics, since he began work in the area in the early 1980s. He has helped economists and policymakers to understand how best to regulate large firms, especially where regulators face “asymmetric information” - where they do not have access to the same knowledge as the firms they seek to regulate. Before Mr Tirole’s work, policymakers often favoured blunt tools, such as price caps, while Mr Tirole has advocated more sector specific and tailored approaches - smarter approaches to writing rules. Pierre Moscovici, France’s former finance minister, said that Mr Tirole’s work “informs the paths we need to follow to get out of the crisis”. TELEGRAPH

Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth, says Credit Suisse report
The richest 1% of the world’s population are getting wealthier, owning more than 48% of global wealth, according to a report published on Tuesday which warned growing inequality could be a trigger for recession. The report said: “...abnormally high wealth income ratios have always signaled recession in the past”. The Credit Suisse analysts pointed to the debate that has been sparked by work such as that by Thomas Piketty into long-term trends towards inequality. It pointed out that while inequality had increased in many countries outside the G7, within the group of most developed economies it was only in the UK that inequality had risen since the turn of the century. Globally, a person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens. However, more than $77,000 is required to be a member of the top 10% of global wealth holders, and $798,000 to belong to the top 1%. The findings were seized upon by anti-poverty campaigners Oxfam which published research at the start of the year showing that the richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population. GUARDIAN

More fake debt collectors: Water firms use 'unacceptable' debt collection tactics
The letters appear to be from an external debt agency, but are actually from the water companies themselves. The news follows the revelation of similar practices in banks, energy firms and the payday lender, Wonga. The water companies say they have a duty to tackle bad debt and the letters are sent only as a last resort. Twelve of the UK's largest water suppliers admitted that they had taken part in the practice, while five said they are still doing it or might continue to do so in future. Typically, the name of the debt collection company appears in large print at the top. Often the small print reveals it is linked to the water company, but sometimes no link is made. The energy regulator Ofgem, which has reviewed similar practice by energy suppliers, said that type of layout is still "unacceptable". The water watchdog Ofwat has written to companies saying the same principles should apply to them. As a result, Yorkshire Water says it has "temporarily changed" its approach. But it defended the practice. Other water companies including Northumbrian Water, Affinity Water and Welsh Water stopped sending such letters earlier this year. But the UK's biggest domestic water supplier, Thames Water, is among those continuing with the practice. Its letters, headed County Wide Collections, now state in three places that it is part of Thames Water group. Previously no such link was made. "We try hard to engage with our customers in arrears. This is a long process, but our open and transparent letters do increase in severity," said a Thames Water spokesperson. "When it gets to a final letter, we have found the use of an internally branded debt collection agency approach to be effective and cost-efficient," he added. Ofwat says customers must not be misled or scared into making payments. BBC NEWS

Prison staff shortages approaching tipping point, says top governor
Jails across England and Wales are facing an unprecedented “toxic mix” of increasing prisoner numbers, chronic staff shortages and rising violence that is driving them towards instability, prison governors have warned. Eoin McLennan-Murray, the outgoing president of the Prison Governors’ Association, dismissed claims by the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, that although jails faced pressures they did not amount to a crisis. In his valedictory address on Tuesday, McLennan-Murray said that in his 36 years in the prison service he had never known a situation “as challenging, tough and difficult and as bad as it is now”, in the wake of a 30% reduction in prison staff numbers and much harsher rhetoric from ministers. McLennan-Murray said “desperate measures” were being taken to deal with gaps left by the shortage of prison officers, including shipping people from one part of the country to another on detached duty at a cost of £500 a week for a hotel in the south of England. GUARDIAN

Cheapest tickets across English football rises at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011
The average price of the cheapest match-day ticket from the Premier League to League Two is now £21.49. It has increased 13% since 2011, compared to a 6.8% rise in the cost of living. Year-on-year it is up 4.4%, more than treble the 1.2% rate of inflation. In the Football League, the average cost of the cheapest match-day ticket increased 31.7% in League One and 19% in League Two. In the Championship, the average price fell 3.2%. Critics of the price hikes said clubs had lost touch with fans and argued that the recent £3.1bn windfall from television rights should have resulted in a drop in ticket prices for supporters. But some clubs, particularly those in the Premier League, point to packed-out stadiums as proof they have got pricing right. This summer financial analysts Deloitte said Premier League clubs now spend 71p on wages for every £1 generated, the first time the 70p mark had been broken. Match-day revenue increased by 6% in the Premier League last season to £585m. Arsenal have the most expensive match-day ticket in the Premier League at £97. That's down £29 on last season but still more than double the most expensive match-day ticket at seven other top-flight clubs. The BBC’s “The Price of Football” is in its fourth year and is the largest study of its kind in Britain, covering 176 clubs across 11 division in British football and 31 clubs from 10 different leagues in Europe. As well as ticket prices, information was gathered about the price of replica shirts, pies, programmes and a cup of tea. For the first time this year Price of Football worked out the cost to supporters for each home goal their team scored. BBC NEWS


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