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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, May 14, 2015 with No comments | Labels:

New record: 126 families evicted every day amid rising rents and benefit cuts
County court bailiffs in England and Wales evicted more than 11,000 families in the first three months of 2015, an increase of 8% on the same period last year and 51% higher than five years ago. The increase in the number of tenants losing their homes means 2015 is on course to break last year’s record levels. Nearly 42,000 families were evicted from rental accommodation in 2014, the highest number since records began in 2000. Separate figures also published on Thursday showed almost 59,000 households have had their benefits capped in the past two years. Nearly half of those families were in London, where the the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home is £2,216. Rental prices have soared in many UK cities, but wages failing to keep pace with rising costs and caps to benefits have left many poorer tenants unable to make payments. Furthermore, many housing associations, particularly in London and the south-east, have turned out tenants as they have sought to redevelop generations-old estates to take advantage of the big rise in property values. This has in turn led to an increase in the number of grassroots campaigns to oppose evictions, such as the Focus E15 mothers. In one case of eviction resistance last week, activists from Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth in London answered a call from a 14-year-old girl to successfully resist her family’s eviction from a flat in an estate that Southwark council had marked for demolition. GUARDIAN

Were Bank of England officials complicit in £3.5tn-a-day forex rigging, asks US Department of Justice
The US Department of Justice has secretly requested an interview with a senior Royal Bank of Scotland forex trader. James Pearson, head of RBS’s European forex trading, had been previously questioned as part of the BoE’s own investigation into whether any of its officials knew of or connived in manipulation of forex, one of the world’s biggest financial markets. The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is separately looking at the extent of any BoE officials’ involvement in the alleged manipulation of money-market auctions at the onset of the financial crisis. The BoE’s earlier forex inquiry, led by Lord Grabiner QC, a veteran City litigator, cleared bank officials of any wrongdoing. Questions have already been raised about the thoroughness of the forex report, with the parliamentary Treasury select committee this year raising concerns over whether the terms of the inquiry had been drawn too narrowly. The US investigation is due to be settled imminently with five banks, including RBS, paying a total of $6bn in fines. FINANCIAL TIMES

Facebook orders its suppliers to increase low pay rate to $15 minimum
Facebook plans to require its large US contractors and vendors to pay their workers hourly wages well above the legal minimum and provide them with parental and vacation benefits. The social networking company’s announcement comes after Microsoft told its big US suppliers to give their employees paid holiday or leave. Both moves are part of broader efforts by leading tech companies to show they are taking on the greater social responsibility that comes with their surging wealth and corporate power. The move puts Facebook at the forefront of a national movement to raise minimum wage levels in the US, which has become the focus of White House attempts to tackle rising inequality. San Francisco and Seattle have passed laws that will impose local $15 minimum wage requirements in three years’ time, the highest in the country. Facebook also said its contractors would be told to make a $4,000 payment to new parents who do not already have paid parental leave so that they can afford to take time off. FINANCIAL TIMES

Next fashion: low paid staff to give up Sunday bonus or lose jobs
The fashion and homewares retailer, which employs more than 52,000 people, wants about 800 shop workers to give up the Sunday bonus they are currently entitled to, worth up to £20 a week or £1,000 a year. The workers all joined the company before 2008, when Next stopped offering a Sunday premium to new staff. The company said that all employees are now being moved on to contracts under which they do not receive extra pay for Sundays. Staff members that do not accept are to be made redundant. A spokesman for Next said: “Working on a Sunday, since it was introduced back in the 90s, has become a new normal – so Next feels it is no longer justifiable to pay some of its staff up to 50% more than colleagues doing the same work on the same day.” The GMB union said: “Next claims that it considers Sunday to be a normal working day and uses this opinion to justify cutting pay on Sunday. There can hardly be a better example of a company that has a total disregard for family life.” Next’s chief executive, Lord Wolfson, last month pledged to raise shopfloor wages by at least 5%. The Tory peer, who was paid £4.66m in cash and shares last year, including a £1.1m bonus, said the wage rate would rise from £6.70 an hour to £7.04 in October, or £7.58 including bonuses. GUARDIAN

Outsourcing giant Mitie caught paying homecare workers below the minimum wage. Again
In March, the BBC and Corporate Watch revealed that Mitie's MiHomecare, one of the largest care providers in the UK, was not paying the minimum wage to home care workers in two Welsh branches. MiHomecare, owned by the outsourcing giant Mitie, provides home care services to more than 10,000 elderly and disabled people in the UK. New evidence now suggests the company is not paying the minimum wage to some carers in England. Several former and current MiHomecare employees in Devon and Surrey have told Corporate Watch, the investigative organisation, that they are not being paid for the time it takes to travel between clients and they are encouraged to cut visits short. One Devon care worker told the BBC that her branch expected carers to clip visits, meant to last half an hour, to just 22 minutes "...to give you an extra eight minutes to make up your travelling time to get you to the next call on time." She also said that when elderly clients had a fall, carers were told by staff at the branch office to leave them on the floor. "They've just been told, 'Well, leave them, as long as the door's open, so the ambulance can get in and go on to your next call.'" She said the carers did not have enough time to care and that the pressure was coming from the company's senior management. "I feel the pressure comes from the top to get as much money in, in as short a time as possible. HMRC announced in February that it was investigating six of the UK's biggest providers of social care for elderly and disabled adults. It has promised to name and shame those companies found to be in breach of minimum wage laws. Mitie, MiHomecare's parent company, posted a 21.5% rise in pre-tax profit to £68.4m for the year to 31 March 2014. MiHomecare said: "The quality of the care that we provide and the safety and dignity of our customers is our highest priority." BBC NEWS

Executive pay revolts surface at RSA Insurance and Man Group
The biggest revolt was at Man Group, the world’s largest listed hedge fund firm at its annual meeting in London. Around 42% of investors rejected the company’s remuneration policy, while 34% voted against its remuneration report and a further 2% abstained. Last year, only 3.5% of votes were cast against. At insurer RSA, which trades under the More Than brand in the UK, around 16% of investors protested over its chief executive Stephen Hester’s £5m pay package at its annual meeting. At RSA’s meeting near St Paul’s cathedral, several small investors criticised the company’s financial performance and Hester’s bonus. Shareholder Ralph Eschwege described RSA’s financial performance as “very patchy” and said Hester’s annual bonus of £939,000 was “totally unacceptable”. He added: “If he was an honest man he would decline that offer.” City revolts have been gathering pace in recent days. Bookmaker Ladbrokes, British Gas owner Centrica, satellite operator Inmarsat and broker Tullet Prebon have also witnessed shareholder rebellions over executive pay. GUARDIAN

Barclays braced for £2bn fine for rigging foreign currency rates, with RBS also set for hefty penalty
At least five banks are thought to have reached settlements with the US Department of Justice and other authorities. Barclays is the only bank which still faces a penalty from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. The settlement is likely to total around £3.8bn – exceeding the £2.8bn charge levied last November on six banks, including RBS and HSBC, by the FCA, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority. RBS and Wall Street giants JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup are expected to pay as much as $1bn (£642m) each. Swiss lender UBS is also facing a huge fine. The settlement, expected as soon as Wednesday, will not draw a line under the scandal as the US Department of Justice and the UK’s Serious Fraud Office are both conducting a criminal probe. DAILY MAIL

Direct debit option increases your insurance payments
Nearly half of all households in Britain pay for their insurance in monthly instalments, but many are not told the high cost when buying online. In fact, consumers who pay for car or home insurance in monthly instalments are being charged interest as high as 75%, according to the Financial Conduct Authority in a highly critical report on the £18bn-a-year industry. Monthly payment plans can be hugely profitable for insurers. The FCA tested 43 insurance and broker websites, including the major comparison sites, and found that the 34 companies that did display the APR, 10 charged 26%-30%, and nine 31%-40%. Three companies charged 51%-75% interest, while one took more than 75%. 19 did not tell the buyer in full about the additional cost until they had to enter their payment details. In four cases, the interest charges were not displayed at all. The FCA also found that details of credit agreements were not disclosed adequately. On broker websites, firms frequently failed to disclose the terms of their deal with a credit provider, or that they may charge buyers a separate fee for arranging credit. Some of the insurers now face disciplinary action – including the possibility of large fines – as they have appear to be in breach of price disclosure rules introduced in 2008. GUARDIAN

Airlines ignore court rulings over compensation for passengers whose flights are delayed
Airline passengers hit with long flight delays continue to have compensation claims delayed or turned down despite a court ruling almost a year ago that was meant to have settled these once and for all. Rules state that passengers flying with an EU-based carrier or from an EU airport who reach their destination more than three hours late can claim up to €600 (£448) plus expenses, per person if the delay is within the airline’s control. Airlines can only refuse payment if the delay was the result of an “extraordinary circumstance” beyond their control and, previously, many had been claiming that routine technical problems fell under this definition. Yet a ruling, upheld by the high court last summer, should have changed that. But airlines continue to dig their heels in and ignore or contest the outcome. An “extraordinary circumstance” typically refers to poor weather, industrial action or political unrest. However, some airlines have said technical problems such as general wear and tear and component failure should be considered “extraordinary”. GUARDIAN

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