Thursday 4 February 2016

Thursday, February 04, 2016 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, February 04, 2016 with No comments | Labels:

Wealthy Tory council publicly warns David Cameron his cuts are 'unrealistic'
East Sussex County Council, a Tory stronghold since its creation, said the Government’s fiscal policy would “significantly reduce the quality of life for many people in East Sussex”. The letter to the PM was signed by Councillor Keith Glazier, who leads the council, and the leaders of the other political party groups in East Sussex: Labour, Liberal Democrat and Ukip group leaders on the council, as well as the leader of the area’s independents group. “The fact that leaders of all parties have put their names to this letter shows that this is an issue which transcends politics,” Mr Glazier said. The local authority has cut more than £78 million since 2010 but has to make further savings of up to £90 million by April 2019, including £40 million from its adult social care budget. This is despite a plan to increase council tax by 3.99 per cent raising £4.7m, the maximum allowed by the Government without holding a costly local referendum. Last November Mr Cameron came to blows with his own local Tory council, Oxfordshire County Council. The Prime Minister was accused of not understanding the impact of his own policies on local services when he claimed the council should be making “back-office savings” and protecting frontline services. Both East Sussex and Oxfordshire’s budget situation comes despite being two of the more wealthy county council in the UK. INDEPENDENT

London's black-cab drivers claim 'Four cabbies pay more tax than Uber'
London’s black-cab drivers are considering court action to try to revoke Uber’s licence to operate in the city, citing the fact that the ride-hailing app firm pays no corporation tax in the UK. It emerged last October that Uber paid just £22,134 in UK corporation tax in the most recent financial year despite making an £866,000 profit. The tax paid related to amounts deferred from previous years when Uber’s UK operation made a loss. An Uber spokesperson said: “The comparisons being made with other companies are misplaced. They are profitable and have been for years. Uber is younger and still investing heavily... We make a loss and corporation taxes are paid on profits not revenues.” John Christensen, co-founder of the Tax Justice Network, said there could be some profit-shifting in the case of Uber that had reduced the group’s UK profits. The firm was able to pay such a low sum partly because it legally transfers profits generated within the UK to its sister company in the Netherlands, where it would be liable for a lower rate of tax. GUARDIAN

Think Help to Buy London will get your first home in the capital? You might need to earn £73k a year
The government’s Help to Buy London helps buyers of new-build homes get onto the property ladder with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent. It tops their deposits up with an interest-free loan of up to 40 per cent of the price of a property. It is available for properties costing up to £600,000 but property listing website Zoopla claims that the average London home costs almost £40,000 more than this - leaving hopeful buyers needing large salaries even if they take on the maximum help available. To buy a £600,000 home - the maximum price under the scheme - a buyer would need to be earning a 'substantial' salary of £73,000, according to Zoopla. It is double the average London salary of £35,000. Their 5 per cent deposit of £30,000 would be topped up with a Government interest-free loan for 40 per cent of the price - the equivalent of £240,000. That would leave them needing to borrow a mortgage of £330,000 - and based on an income multiple of four times wages they would need a £73,000 salary to get that. For a lower purchase price of £350,000, buyers would still need a higher than average salary of £43,000 for a mortgage of £192,500, according to Zoopla. Help to Buy London's deposit assistance doubles that of the original Help to Buy, which provides a 20 per cent interest-free loan for new-build properties. The London scheme offers a bigger loan due to the higher price of property in the capital. The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme was first introduced by the Government in April 2013 and has been extended until 2021. DAILY MAIL

Universal Credit leaves working families worse off, IFS says
Universal Credit (UC), which combines six benefits into one monthly payment, was intended to be more generous than the current system but the IFS said cuts to the programme meant this would not be the case. But it said UC would encourage people into work and save £2.7bn a year. According to the IFS research, an estimated 2.1 million families will face an average loss of £1,600 a year, while 1.8 million will gain an average of £1,500. Its figures suggest 1.1 million homes with no-one in paid work will lose out by about £2,300 a year, while 500,000 are expected to gain £1,000. Working single parents are said to face an annual loss of £1,000. The new payments system still only affects a minority of claimants, but it is gradually being rolled out across the country. The government has always said that Universal Credit (UC) would encourage more people to find work. The IFS said that was true for most people, but not all. It said that single parents, for example, had less of an incentive to work under UC than under the old system. Where couples are concerned, UC encourages just one of them to find employment, rather than both, the IFS claimed. The government has always said that no individuals will lose money as a result of the changes. New claimants for UC will also be helped by transitional support. BBC NEWS

Bus services being wiped out in England and Wales by cuts
Councils are reducing expenditure on buses by more than £27m over the coming years as a result of government funding being slashed by £78m since 2010, says a study by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT). The cuts are on a par with the controversial Beeching plans of the 1960s to scale down the rail network, according to the report. People living in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Somerset, Dorset, west Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire and Lancashire would be worse affected, the CBT found. Martin Abrams, CBT’s public transport campaigner, said it was a “bitter irony” that many of the bus routes being cut had originally replaced the thousands of rail services Beeching had marked for the chop, leaving more areas without any public transport. Peter Box, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said councils were finding it impossible to keep making up a funding shortfall for the concessionary fares scheme, which is in place for young, elderly and disabled people. He added: “The way the concessionary travel scheme is funded by Whitehall has long been unfit for purpose and has not kept up with growing demand and cost. Unless the government commits to fully funding concessionary fares, vital bus services that support the most vulnerable in our society will continue to come under pressure.” GUARDIAN

Age UK’s promotion of energy deals with E.On to be examined by regulators
The Sun claimed that Age UK recommended a special rate from E.On which would typically cost pensioners £1,049 for the year - £245 more than its cheapest rate in 2015. It also alleged that Age UK received about £41 from energy supplier E.On for every person signed up. Age UK's accounts indeed show that it received £6.3m in income from energy deals in the year to April 2015. But the charity said the commission was typically only £10 per customer. The charity said its two year fixed tariff was the cheapest deal on offer when it launched in January. It said customers were free to choose the one-year option, but many preferred the reassurance of a two-year tariff. The energy regulator Ofgem and the Charities Commission are to examine the deals. BBC NEWS

EU watchdog considers action against "closet" tracker funds
Investors, both consumers and pension fund managers, have long suspected some of the funds that charge them higher fees to scour the market for the best picks may in reality be "closet" trackers that simply mimic the performance of stock indexes. Actively managed funds charge fees that are multiples of those charged by tracker funds. After calls in 2014 from EU investor lobby group Better Finance, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) studied a sample of 2,600 funds over 2012-2014. The watchdog said it had found that 5 percent to 15 percent of UCITS equity funds could potentially be closet index trackers. It is the latest blow to the asset management sector where regulators are also scrutinising fees at a time cash-strapped governments want people to save more for their retirement. UCITS (Undertakings for the Collective Investment in Transferable Securities) are EU regulated funds touted by Europe as the "gold standard" of mutual funds globally. There are 29,000 UCITS holding 9 trillion euros ($9.8 trillion). Academics have said an actively managed fund should be at least 60 percent different from an index to be genuinely active, and inserting a requirement to disclose the active share metric could be one option for ESMA. REUTERS


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