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Thursday, 4 June 2015

Thursday, June 04, 2015 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, June 04, 2015 with No comments | Labels:

Child benefit STAYS while I'm PM: Cameron slaps down Iain Duncan Smith plan to limit hand-out to two children
Number 10 said the Prime Minister would stick to his pre-election pledge to protect the child benefit entitlement for the next five years. Welfare Minister Duncan Smith’s proposals had included limiting payments to the first two children, as well as cutting benefit for the first child from £20.70 a week to £13.70, the amount paid for subsequent children. These measures have the potential to save more than £3.5billion from the welfare bill, reducing the need for deep cuts in other areas such as disability benefits and working tax credits. Cameron’s previous coalition government axed child benefit for wealthier parents as one of its first austerity measures. The latest ruling is a blow to Mr Duncan Smith, who argues he is forced to make deep cuts with one hand tied behind his back. Mr Cameron has already ruled out reducing pensions or cutting the winter fuel allowance and free TV licences for wealthier pensioners. These account for £95billion of the £220billion welfare budget, leaving Mr Duncan Smith to find cuts of around 10 per cent from the £125billion spent on working age benefits. This means the focus will now turn to areas such as tax credits, housing benefit and disability allowance. Ministers have already agreed a two-year benefit freeze in order to save £1.5billion, including a freeze in child benefit payments. DAILY MAIL

Private nursing "temp" agencies are charging the NHS billions and bleeding it dry
Official figures show that NHS spending on temporary workers has reached a record £3.3 billion high, and “catastrophic” levels of debt are being blamed on last year’s rise in agency bills. NHS reports last month revealed an £822 million deficit across the health service, blamed entirely on spiralling agency spending. Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, has promised to tackle the high cost of agency spending. He said: “We will have to clamp down on some of these staffing agencies, who are frankly ripping off the NHS.” Analysis of the accounts of 10 of the biggest agencies profiting from the NHS show that their collective turnover rose 39 per cent between 2010 and 2013, to £1.93 billion. Overall, companies involved in sourcing short-term doctors and nurses for the NHS posted revenues of £7.7 billion between 2009 and 2013, with recorded profits amounting to £84.5 million. Hospitals blame their reliance on temporary staff on a lack of qualified nurses. Many have tried to employ more nurses in the wake of the Mid Staffs scandal, but struggled to find permanent workers, causing the agency bill to spiral. Critics say the problem has been caused by underinvestment in training, a lack of any effective cap on the rates that agencies charge and a failure to recruit enough staff. TELEGRAPH

A third of 'underperforming' bosses still get bonuses worth tens of thousands
The Chartered Management Institute's National Salary Survey found that the average bonus for under-performing company directors was £45,000. The average bonus for below-par senior managers was almost £9,000. The research looked into the pay of 70,000 managers. CMI chief executive Ann Francke said: "Too many managers are reaping the rich rewards of their positions despite being poor performers... Unfortunately, it seems to be a lot easier to reward poor performance than to face the awkwardness of having difficult conversations with underperforming staff." Ms Francke explained that bonuses may now be considered a part of normal pay, rather than a reward for hard work. BBC NEWS

Energy Secretary warns 'Big Six' providers they MUST pass on 20% fall in gas and electricity costs
Before the election the firms insisted they could not make large cuts in case a Labour government crippled them with a price freeze. Despite the Tory victory removing this risk, the ‘Big Six’ suppliers are still refusing to slash bills. Analysts say there is scope to ease the burden on families by more than £100 a year. Yet just last week SSE, the UK’s second biggest supplier, reported a 50 per cent rise in profits to £369million. Similarly bumper results are expected from British Gas, Npower, EDF, E.on and Scottish Power. Suppliers did offer reductions a few weeks ago but these were well short of the fall in wholesale costs and came after the end of winter, when consumption drops. The industry regulator, Ofgem, estimates that the average profit margin made by the big suppliers has soared 32 per cent over the past year, to an average £120 per household. Regulators are already investigating allegations of profiteering. DAILY MAIL


Are energy firms hiding their cheapest tariffs by selling their energy through supermarket brands?
Energy suppliers, selling under their own name, must already tell customers of their cheapest deal, under regulations set by regulator Ofgem to encourage competition. But this rule does not apply when their energy is sold under someone else’s brand. From October, they must extend this service to include all brands under their umbrella. Ofgem said the move was aimed at "regaining the trust" of consumers. The move will affect licensed energy firms that provide gas and electricity to other retailers and brands, known as white labels, who then sell it to their customers. Suppliers who operate such arrangements are British Gas with Sainsbury's Energy, and SSE with M&S Energy and Ebico. "It is important that consumers are given the complete picture about all their supplier's tariffs," said Rachel Fletcher, senior partner at Ofgem. BBC NEWS

Belgium to recover €540m in unpaid tax from account holders using HSBC in Switzerland
Belgium is seeking to retrieve about €540m (£390, $600m) in unpaid tax after its probe into 829 accounts in HSBC Private Suisse Bank in Geneva. The people, who were found to be holding cash illegally in Swiss accounts, include diamond merchants, lawyers, aristocrats, company heads and sports personalities, according to local media reports. The Belgian justice ministry, which charged HSBC's Swiss unit for serious organised tax fraud, is carrying out a separate investigation into the illegal accounts and may prosecute the wrongdoers. An international collaboration of news outlets, including the Guardian, the French daily Le Monde, BBC Panorama and the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, citing leaked secret bank account files, revealed that the bank's Swiss arm helped wealthy customers across the globe dodge taxes and hide millions of dollars worth of assets. The news outlets obtained the data from Herve Falciani, a former IT employee of HSBC's Swiss private bank, who was charged in Switzerland with industrial espionage and breaching the country's secrecy laws. France, Argentina and Switzerland have indicted HSBC, in addition to probing its account holders. So far, the UK has recovered £135m from HSBC clients and France £188m. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES

IMF says living with high debt may be the "optimal policy" for countries such as the UK, Germany and the US
The IMF paper, which was authorised by Olivier Blanchard, the Fund's chief economist, showed that while countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Japan had a pressing need to reduce their debt ratios because of the risk that a financial shock could leave them shut out of the market, others such as Norway, Germany and the UK were deemed to be in the "safe zone", where fiscal space was ample and borrowing costs were low. In countries such as the UK and Norway which controlled their own monetary policy, the advantages were even bigger, the authors said. While the Fund said this was far from ideal, it was preferable to introducing "policies to deliberately pay down the debt" because the costs were likely to outweigh the benefits. In saying this, the IMF criticises George Osborne's obsession with reducing Britain's debt mountain to create a budget surplus may do more harm than good. Jonathan Ostry, co-author of the report, explains: "When a country runs a budget surplus to pay down its debt, there is no free lunch, the money has to come from somewhere... Either through higher taxes, which undercuts the productivity of labour and capital, or lower spending which - unless that spending is completely wasteful - has a similar effect. “ The IMF said that those countries with ample fiscal space should focus on beefing-up infrastructure, where the rewards could be big. "For countries with low debt and big infrastructure needs (and with idle resources and facing low interest rates), building infrastructure should be the greater priority," the report said. TELEGRAPH

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