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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, March 26, 2015 with No comments | Labels:

Britain's in love with borrowing again: Household debt hits record £9,000 and is growing at the fastest rate in a decade
The figure, which does not include mortgages, soared by £20billion or nine per cent last year to hit £239billion, a report from PwC found. The situation will only get worse as interest rates start to rise, which will mean Britons will have to fork out an increasing proportion of their incomes on servicing their debts. What's more PwC projects unsecured borrowing will grow over the next two years between four per cent and six per cent annually, it said in its report Precious Plastic: How Britons Fell Back In Love With Borrowing. This would bring average household non-mortgage borrowing just shy of £10,000 by the end of next year – unchartered territory in terms of borrowing levels. The average credit card balance rose to £1,021 by the end of the year, which is just £39 off the all-time high seen at the beginning of 2010. Nearly half of the increase in borrowing last year came from students, PwC said, warning that graduates who started university after 2012 could leave with an average debt of £40,000 to £50,000. The total household debt to income ratio, including mortgage debt, is projected to reach around 172 per cent by 2020 – surpassing its previous peak in the run-up to the financial crisis. Already some households are depending on credit for essential items, particularly 35 to 44 year-olds, with close to 20 per cent borrowing simply to make ends meet. DAILY MAIL

MPs denounce government TTIP plans amid fears for NHS and public services
A future government must be allowed to expand the NHS without facing legal challenge under a proposed new EU-US trade deal, according to a sharply critical report from an all-party committee of MPs. The Business, Innovation and Skills committee said the government needed stronger evidence to back up its claim that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would bring a boost of £100bn a year to the UK. It also said the case had not been made for the highly controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), the provision that would allow private investors to sue governments for the loss of future profits caused by decisions made by national parliaments. The committee reserved its strongest criticism for the government, which has been firm in its support for TTIP and wants the European commission to conclude negotiations as swiftly as possible. “Whilst TTIP has the potential to deliver economic benefits to the United Kingdom, it is impossible at this stage to quantify those benefits in any meaningful way. Rather than continue to use the £100bn figure, the government must come up with a comprehensive assessment which includes the estimated economic yield of a variety of levels of agreement.” The report added that MPs were “deeply concerned” about the government’s intention not to submit a formal response to the EC’s consultation on ISDS provisions. GUARDIAN

More high street chains named and shamed over failure to pay minimum wage
The government has named almost 50 employers for failing to pay their workers the national minimum wage, including childcare nurseries, restaurants and a 99p store. The 48 employers, who owed £162,000 in arrears, were in sectors ranging from fashion and publishing, to health and fitness and retail, with penalties totalling more than £67,000. More than 200 employers have now been “named and shamed” since a new regime came into force in October 2013, with total arrears of £635,000 and penalties of almost £250,000. The latest cases included: French Connection in London, which the business department said had neglected to pay £16,400 to 367 workers; Toni & Guy in Wilmslow, Cheshire, alleged to owe £1,031 to one worker; Call & Deliver, trading as Pizza Hut in Heckmondwike, Yorkshire, said to owe £163 to nine workers; and 99p Stores in Northampton, apparently owing £633 to 11 workers. The cases were all investigated by HM Revenue and Customs. Toni & Guy said: “As a company with over 400 salons globally under its brand umbrella, we do not condone any kind of mishandling of staff wages. Once made aware, the franchisee resolved the issue swiftly.” But Newham council in east London called on the government to allow local authorities to tackle businesses failing to pay the minimum wage. A report by the council and the GMB union said more than £500m was lost to workers across the country because firms paid below the statutory minimum rate. Almost a fifth of residents in Newham are paid below the minimum wage, at an average of more than £2,200 per worker, it was estimated. GUARDIAN

Businesses, running on Diesel, are being ripped off by retailers who are looking to offset losses from low petrol prices
Fuel retailers are ripping off the public and businesses on diesel charges, according to the RAC. Companies, which more often run on diesel, are hit hard by the fuel rip-off. The wholesale price of diesel is 1p a litre more than for petrol, yet diesel is almost 6p more at the pumps, it said. There is scope for a diesel price cut of around 4p a litre to restore some parity to the market, the RAC added. The RAC’s comments came as it highlighted Government figures which showed total fuel sales were up 3.5 per cent in February compared with the same month last year. Diesel sales last month, at 2.42billion litres, represented the fifth highest monthly total since 1990. But petrol sales are among their lowest for 25 years. Because companies traditionally run on diesel, they are particularly hard hit by the fuel rip-off. RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘It’s hard not to think that business is being taken for a ride. 'With sales of diesel at an all-time high the retailers have maintained a higher margin on diesel, perhaps to subsidise petrol sales.’ DAILY MAIL


Controversial former tax chief at HMRC says more people should have been prosecuted for having Swiss bank accounts with HSBC
Last month it emerged that HSBC had helped 7,000 wealthy Britons avoid tax through its Swiss division. Dave Hartnett – who has been criticised for taking a job at HSBC within months of leaving his HMRC civil service post – said that it was a ‘miserable result’ for taxpayers that only one person has been brought to trial over the scandal. From as early as April 2010, HMRC had access to the tax dodge files after a whistleblower handed over a list of 30,000 names to the French government. Despite this, there has only been a single prosecution from the entire UK list. Investigation of the HSBC list was handled by a specially-created task force called ‘Operation Solace’, which had around 300 people working in it. But Hartnett blamed a ‘lack of resources’ for the single prosecution – despite telling MPs back in 2011, when he was at HMRC, that the list was ‘ripe for investigation’. Hartnett denied that it was his responsibility for the failure while head of tax there. But MPs said that it was ‘hard to believe’ that Hartnett knew nothing of the huge list of British account holders while occupying such a senior position inside the revenue. The former civil servant was accused of ‘hiding behind weasely words’ by members of the powerful Public Accounts Committee during an intense two-hour grilling yesterday. Labour MP Austin Mitchell said it ‘stinks’ that Hartnett accepted a position at HSBC so soon after leaving the revenue. Hartnett’s tenure at HMRC was controversial. He was accused of striking ‘sweetheart deals’ with multinationals including Vodafone and Goldman Sachs that saved them billions in taxes, and was once described as being Britain’s most ‘wined and dined’ civil servant. Yesterday he admitted to MPs that he had been ‘approached by many people with offers of work’ after retiring in 2012, but that he had chosen to take a role at HSBC because he ‘believed [Stuart] Gulliver’s vision’ to clean up HSBC and make it the best bank in the world. DAILY MAIL

House of Lords: Government has 'no convincing case' for £50bn HS2 rail line
The government has no convincing case for spending £50bn building the HS2 rail link between London and the North, a report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee says. The government's main arguments in favour of HS2 - increasing railway capacity and rebalancing the economy - were still to be proven, peers said. There are less-expensive options than HS2, they said. Lord Hollick, chairman of the Lords' committee, said: "The Government have not carried out a proper assessment of whether alternative ways of increasing capacity are more cost-effective than HS2... In terms of rebalancing, London is likely to be the main beneficiary from HS2. Investment in improving rail links in the North of England might deliver much greater economic benefit at a fraction of the cost." The Lords report echoed a similar report published by the Commons Public Accounts Committee in January. The MPs said that ministers lacked a "clear strategic plan for the rail network" and were "sceptical" about whether HS2 would deliver value for money. The first phase of HS2 will be between London and Birmingham opening in 2026, followed by a V-shaped section to Manchester and Yorkshire. It promises to reduce journey times between Birmingham and London from 81 minutes to 49 minutes, and slash the trip to Manchester by an hour to just 68 minutes. BBC NEWS

HSBC moving headquarters of its retail bank - and 1,000 jobs - from London to Birmingham
The lender yesterday revealed its plans to adapt to regulations which will force it to ‘ring-fence’ – or insulate – its retail operations from its more risky investment banking arm. The upheaval will begin in the middle of 2017, with management, IT, admin, and human resources moved from Canary Wharf to Birmingham by January 1, 2019, when the ring-fencing rules are enforced. The big lenders have been forced to create separate legal entities for their retail and investment banking operations, including separate management teams and boards. The new rules, introduced in the wake of the financial crisis, are meant to insulate ordinary customers from the operations of the investment bank, which are perceived as riskier. HSBC said it looked at other areas for its new head office but decided Birmingham was the best option given its spread of customers across the UK. DAILY MAIL

Jet2 and Wizz Air STILL refuse to pay up for delays caused by technical faults despite landmark £3.89bn compensation ruling
Last year, a landmark court ruling stated airlines must compensate passengers who put in claims for delays caused by technical faults that date from as long as six years ago. It means the industry faces a compensation bill of £3.89 billion. But the watchdog says Jet2 and Wizz Air are failing to pay up and are limiting the time passengers have to take claims to court to two years. The watchdog says the airlines must change their stance or face legal action. A Jet2 spokesman says the airline has played by the rules when paying out compensation and is entitled to limit the timespan on claims for two years. Wizz Air said it was reassessing claims and said that complaints were limited to two years. DAILY MAIL

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