Thursday 30 April 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, April 30, 2015 with No comments | Labels:

Network Rail's own staff 'choose to fly within the UK because it is cheaper than the train'
Network Rail bosses travelling on business spent £1.3million on UK flights in the last year because it was cheaper than taking the train. Employees of the public sector body took 8,353 flights from April 2013 to March 2015. The figures, revealed following a Freedom of Information Request submitted by The Sun, show around 90 per cent of the domestic flights were to Scotland. The data revealed Robin Gisby, former operations managing director of NR, spent the most on domestic flights during the time period. He travelled on 15 flights between January 2013 and September 2014, which cost £2,250. A spokesman for NR said if staff have to attend a meeting in Scotland it is “cheaper to fly than take the train” and spend money on accommodation. He said: “For the majority of staff travel, rail is much the better way to go. A total of £1.3 million was spent on flights in 2013/14 and 2104/15 but £32 million was spent on rail travel during that period... Network Rail's 35,000 people have to pay the going rate for all travel, be it air, rail or car. Our people are also obliged to use the cheapest method available, sometimes that means by air but mostly we travel by rail." A spokeswoman for the rail passenger watchdog Transport Focus (formerly Passenger Focus) said: “It is no surprise that so many longer-distance journeys were made by air. Unless passengers can book weeks in advance, rail can be prohibitively expensive for many people”. GUARDIAN

200,000 "revenge" evictions by landlords: UK in breach of its own UN human rights commitment
The report by Just Fair suggested that so called “Revenge evictions”, where tenants lose their homes when they complain about standards, are so widespread that as many as 200,000 happening in 2013. That, Just Fair argued, amounted to a breach of the UN covenant’s prohibition against arbitrary eviction. Just Fair’s members include Crisis, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Save the Children and Unicef UK. They warn of “profound issues of lack of supply, increasing housing costs, lack of security of tenure and homes of such poor quality that they are unfit for habitation”. In a 40-page report, Just Fair concluded: Private rents are at double the level of council properties, at £163 a week, and a quarter of those renting rely on housing benefit to meet the cost; A third of homes in the private rented sector do not meet basic standards of health, safety and habitability; Rough sleeping in London increased by more than a third between autumn 2013 and autumn 2014, while funding for shelters fell; Last December there were almost 62,000 households in England living in temporary accommodation, the highest number for five years, and 280,000 households are at risk of homelessness; The number of families living in bed and breakfasts more than tripled from 630 in 2010 to 2,040 last year. GUARDIAN

Poundland is NOT such a bargain: you often end up paying more because you are getting less product
Once the preserve of the poor, nowadays the shop — founded 25 years ago by Dave Dodd and Stephen Smith — is a magnet for the middle classes. Almost every item is sold for £1 in each of its 575 stores in Britain and Ireland. But a report claims Poundland charged up to 50 per cent more than other stores and that while its goods may have the lowest price, they are often sold in smaller amounts. Here are some typical examples: Poundland’s Heinz Beanz cost £1 for 150g, but Tesco’s costs £1.25 for 200g. You get more Beanz for your money at Tesco. It's a common ploy, so you should always check how many kilos or grams you're getting for your money. Poundland’s Quaker Oats cost £1 for 500g, but Iceland sell 1kg for £1.50. Same product, but slightly different packaging, so you can be assured the taste is the same. If you're looking for a bargain, Iceland's pack is twice the size of Poundland's. Poundland’s Bernard Matthews Wafer Thin Turkey Ham costs £1 for 200g, but Asda sells 400g for £1.48. Poundland's packaging claims there's 42 per cent extra free. But buy the Asda pack that's double the size for just 50p more and you'll find it a much better bargain. DAILY MAIL

Britain's biggest banks face further £19bn of fines and charges to pay for financial scandals
The UK’s ‘big four’ banks – HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland – have already racked up a £42billion bill over the last five years. This represents 88 per cent of the industry wide total of £48billion in charges faced by 13 banks and building societies in Britain. S&P said it now expects the UK’s four biggest lenders to face further penalties in 2015 and 2016 of £19billion – taking the total for the big four to £61billion. The bill has been driven by the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) as well as interest rate hedging products to small and medium-sized businesses. ‘We think that conduct and litigation charges are now a way of life for the UK banking industry,’ said S&P in the report. DAILY MAIL

Deutsche Bank in record $2.5bn fine over interest rate manipulation
The German bank has been fined $2.1bn by US regulators, and £227m by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority. The fine relates to manipulation of the Libor and Euribor inter-bank rates. It is a record penalty for such misconduct because Deutsche tried to mislead regulators and could have hampered investigators. The FCA said that in one instance, Deutsche in error destroyed 482 tapes of telephone calls that should have been kept. "Deutsche Bank also provided inaccurate information to the regulator about whether other records existed," the FCA said. The misconduct involved at least 29 Deutsche Bank individuals, including managers and traders, mainly based in London but also in Frankfurt, Tokyo and New York. It took place between 2005 and 2009. Deutsche said in a statement that it had "disciplined or dismissed individuals" involved and tightened governance controls. However, US regulators have demanded the dismissal of a further seven senior individuals still employed. Last year, six banks were fined £2.6bn over their traders' attempted manipulation of foreign exchange rates. A report this month by accountants KPMG estimated that the UK's largest banks have paid 60% of their profits since 2011 in fines and repayments to customers. BBC NEWS

Centrica (British Gas) shareholders revolt over executive pay plans
Some 34 per cent of the group’s investors refused to back its pay plans because of a controversial share award handed to boss Iain Conn when he joined at the start of the year. And Centrica’s board had cut the annual dividend to investors by a third on the back of falling energy costs, which has seen the price of oil halve since last summer. One investor said: ‘You have cut our dividend by 30 per cent. I can understand that. But has the board taken a reduction in their salary?’ This question was met with rapturous applause. Centrica plunged to a £1billion loss amid a £1.6billion writedown of its businesses. Influential advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services had told shareholders to vote against a joining share bonus for Conn, worth up to £2.7million. At the meeting, shareholders said they were worried about the prospect of a Labour victory in the General Election. Analysts have previously warned that Centrica’s share price – which yesterday rose 4.6p to 269.1p – could fall by up to a third if Ed Miliband wins power. The Labour leader has pledged to freeze bills if he becomes Prime Minister. Speaking afterwards, Conn refused to comment on specific party policies, but admitted that investors are ‘worried’. He also said that there is a ‘big difference’ between what politicians say when they are campaigning and what they do once in power. DAILY MAIL

Transport for London boss attacks commuter trains into the capital as 's***', like the 'wild west' and with Gestapo-like inspectors
Transport for London boss Sir Peter Hendy, who is in charge of London's tube, bus and overground rail network, picked out Southeastern and South West Trains for special treatment in a rant that will be music to many commuters' ears. Hendy said: 'People hate the suburban rail service, they hate it. If you make a mistake on your Oyster card on the tube, we'll refund it. On South West Trains, they'll fine you. That's a big philosophical difference.' Passengers have long bemoaned the conditions they suffer on London's packed commuter lines, with high ticket prices, a lack of seats and delays among the chief complaints. But some travellers may feel the comments are a bit rich coming from a man who oversees London's tube service, which often comes in for criticism. Hendy and the mayor, Boris Johnson, have ambitions to run more of the national rail services into the capital. TfL already runs some suburban rail services under the London Overground banner. At the end of May, TfL takes over the suburban services of the Greater Anglia rail franchise, and is seeking to run more of the capital's southern rail lines, building on the success of London Overground. TfL also faces an uphill task improving the quality of services currently run by Abellio Greater Anglia, inheriting old, unreliable trains and crumbling stations. DAILY MAIL

Annuity firms slash rates to worst level EVER as new “pension freedom” law causes slump in purchases of retirement income product
The average annual income from a standard single life annuity for a 65-year-old with a £10,000 pension pot, that does not rise with inflation, has fallen 5.9 per cent to £476 since the beginning of the year, according to comparison website And the income the same person can get from a £50,000 pot has dropped by 6.4 per cent to £2,550. Someone with this annuity would have to wait almost 20 years just to get the original cash value of their pension pot back as income. Annuity rates have been hacked back even more on joint life products, which include death benefits for spouses, over the same four-month period. For a 65-year-old with a £10,000 pot, annual income was 6.7 per cent lower at £399. On a £50,000 pot, income was down 6.8 per cent to £2,185. This shows annuity rates have collapsed to all-time lows within weeks of pension freedom reforms which removed the need to buy the unpopular products to provide an income for life. Pension freedom reforms launched on April 6 have allowed over-55s to take control of their own retirement pots and spend, save or invest them as they wish - meaning they can avoid buying annuities, which are out of favour due to their poor value. This reduced customer demand has led to providers charging more to compensate for the loss. These drastic cuts are also being driven by a sharp drop in the yield from gilts (UK Government bonds that are used to produce annuity income). DAILY MAIL


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