Thursday 27 August 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, August 27, 2015 with No comments | Labels:

WH Smith and M&S: Cards and flowers almost twice as expensive in hospital shops than on high street
Both companies admit they make mark-ups to account for higher rents and covering staff wages during longer opening hours. But Paula Sherriff, the Labour MP and former NHS manager on the health select committee, accused the retailers of taking advantage of a "captive" clientele. "It's absolutely wrong," she said. "It feels like exploitation." She said the argument that higher costs had to be passed on to patients and their friends and relatives was "laughable". Research by The Times newspaper found WH Smith charged £1.90 for a get well soon card at Bristol Royal Infirmary but only £1 in the city centre. Similarly, a large bunch of flowers in M&S in Falkirk town centre in Scotland was £10, but the same item was £17 in the nearby Forth Valley Hospital. M&S insists the price difference is no more than £2. TELEGRAPH

Sainsbury's to raise staff pay by 4%, the highest increase in more than a decade
Sainsbury's shop workers’ 4% pay rise will take staff wages to just above the average for the sector. 137,000 of its workers will see their pay rise from £7.08 an hour to £7.36 from the end of this month. The new rate will also apply to its 40,000 workers who are under 25. According to the British Retail Consortium the median wages for hourly-paid workers in the retail industry currently stands at £7.30 an hour. Tesco already pays its shop workers £7.39 an hour although staff are facing a pay freeze this year. Morrisons says it pays a minimum of £6.83, outside of London and several other locations. It has yet to set its new annual rate. Asda said its hourly rate of pay is currently £6.89, outside of London, a figure which will increase to £7.00 in October as part of its annual pay review. Under plans announced in the Budget, workers aged over 25 in the UK will be paid a minimum of £7.20 an hour from April next year, rising to £9 by 2020. This compares to a minimum wage of £6.50 at present. Some retailers, pub groups and care home providers have criticised the move, warning it could lead to higher prices, job losses or the closure of some care homes. BBC NEWS

Bailiffs sent in more than 2m times last year, up 16% since 2013
The Money Advice Trust (MAT), which carried out the study, said that sending in bailiffs was likely to make debt problems worse. Joanna Elson, CEO of the MAT, said: "On the front line of debt advice we know that sending the bailiffs in can deepen debt problems, rather than solve them - and it can also have a severe impact on the wellbeing of people who are often already in a vulnerable situation." Local authorities blamed cuts in government funding, and said bailiffs were only ever used as a last resort. Overall authorities have had to cope with a 40% cut in core government funding over the last five years, according to the Local Government Association (LGA). Enforcement agents, as they are officially known, were mainly used to collect Council Tax debts. Such debts are one of the fastest growing issues being handled by National Debtline, which is run by the MAT. BBC NEWS

Regulators launch new rules governing bankers' bonuses
The Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority say they want to "discourage irresponsible risk-taking and short-termism". Under the new rules, senior managers could have their bonuses clawed back for up to 10 years in misconduct cases. FCA boss Martin Wheatley said the rules were part of a wider campaign to "embed an accountable culture in the City". They were "a crucial step to rebuild public trust in financial services", he added. The new rules - which follow a near-year long consultation - apply to banks, building societies and some investment firms. The main rule changes mean: senior managers might not receive incentive bonuses until seven years after the performance measurement period has ended; non-executive directors being banned from receiving bonuses; bonuses could be clawed back for seven years, with an additional three years for senior managers; no bonuses for managers in taxpayer-supported firms; more explicit links between risk and reward. The rules relating to bonus clawbacks and deferrals will not come into effect until 1 January 2016, whereas the other rules will be applied from 1 July 2015. But the Bank of England said buyouts of unpaid bonuses by new employers would not be banned, although managers would not be able to receive the money any sooner than if they had stayed at their former company. BBC NEWS

British Gas is 'short-changing' customers with 5% tariff cut, despite huge 28% drop in wholesale prices
uSwitch consumer policy director Ann Robinson accused British Gas of 'short-changing' its customers and said since it is the biggest energy provider in the country, it should set an example for other suppliers to follow. This is the energy company’s second gas price reduction in six months, bringing the average total saving to £72 a year. The price cuts announced this year by all the 'big six' energy companies have fallen well short of industry estimates, suggesting bills could be reduced by £136 a year if suppliers were to pass on the full drop in wholesale prices. EDF reduced gas bills by a measly 1.3 per cent, E.ON by 3.5 per cent, Scottish Power by 4.8 per cent and Npower by 5.1 per cent. Energy watchdog Ofgem earlier this year warned suppliers were making bigger profits from cash-strapped households, despite the recent price cuts. DAILY MAIL

Shoppers are forking out nearly TEN times more for branded medicines that are identical to shop's own brands
The cost of branded over-the-counter painkillers at high street supermarkets and chemists can be up to 725 per cent more expensive than their no-frills versions. This is even when the products, which in some cases contain exactly the same ingredients as their cheaper alternatives, claim to do the same job. The research found that market-leading painkiller Nurofen costs on average £2.01 per pack of 16 tablets. But generic alternatives at Asda and Tesco can be bought for as little as 30p - a difference of 567 per cent. Both products contain exactly 200mg of ibuprofen and claim to offer the same pain relief.  Supermarket shoppers can get own-label allergy relief from as little as £1, while branded alternatives such as Clarityn, which contains the same active ingredient, loratadine, are typically sold for £4.71 a pack. It's a similar picture with paracetamol, flu remedies and aspirin. When different branded packets have an identical product licence number, it means they look different but contain exactly the same pills. The current value of the over-the-counter market in the UK, which includes painkillers and anti-fungal creams is £2.5 billion. Shoppers spend over £544m annually for pain relief medication like paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin, and £352 million on vitamins and food supplements. DAILY MAIL

A third of 'underperforming' bosses given bonuses, says CMI
The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) reviewed the pay of 70,000 managers. They 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. CMI chief executive Ann Francke said: "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. The CMI said that companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find, recruit and hold on to staff. And it is this skills shortage that could be forcing up wages and bonuses, economists believe. BBC NEWS

Apprenticeships plan outlined by government
The plan is part of the government's commitment to create three million apprenticeships by 2020. Companies bidding for government contracts worth more than £10m must show they have a "reasonable proportion" of apprentices. "The greatest asset any employer has is their workforce," the Prime Minister said. "And by investing in them, they are investing in the success and future of their business." The government also reaffirmed plans for an apprenticeship levy, with large companies investing in a fund that is used to train workers. The government said levy systems already operated in more than 50 countries. The size of the levy has not yet been set, according to a spokesperson from 10 Downing Street. "Skilled people are the lifeblood of a strong economy, but for too long UK businesses have invested too little in developing their employees' skills to meet the demands of a competitive, global market," said Skills Minister Nick Boles. BBC NEWS


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