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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, February 25, 2016 with No comments | Labels:

Help-To-Buy helps Barratt Homes profits rise 40%
Barratt Homes predicted continuing demand for its houses as it announced soaring first-half profits, fuelled by a shortage of homes and the government’s help-to-buy scheme. The government recently extended help-to-buy until 2021 and introduced it for buyers in London. Some critics have said the move will simply push up prices in the capital, making houses less affordable. Pre-tax profits at Barratt Homes, Britain’s biggest housebuilder, rose 40% to £295m in the six months to the end of December as revenues rose 19% to £1.88bn. Almost a third of Barratt’s sales were made under the government’s help-to-buy programme, which underwrites a portion of a purchaser’s mortgage for a newly built home. The government is trying to encourage private housebuilders such as Barratt to build more homes to deal with a housing crisis caused by decades of supply failing to meet the demands of a growing population. Shortage of supply lies behind soaring house prices, particularly in London, and fears are growing that the market is heading for a crash after overseas buyers snapped up property for investment or speculation purposes. GUARDIAN

Millions of workers still £900 worse off than before 2007 crash
The data from the Office for National Statistics raised fears of a “lost decade” for many families who had expected the trend in rising living standards to continue. Their figures showed that median disposable income for non-retired households rose to £28,300 on average in 2014/15 but this was still £900 below the £29,200 in 2007/08. However, many pensioners have fared far better than workers during the economic turmoil, benefiting from the Government’s “triple lock” for rises in the level of the State pension. The average disposable income of retired households grew by £1,500, or 7.7 per cent, between 2007/08 and 2014/15. It also highlighted that the average disposable income of the richest fifth of households fell the most during the downturn, by 7.9 per cent between 2007/08 and 2012/13. Since then it has increased but was still £2,000 below its previous peak. The poorest fifth of households were the only group whose average income did not fall between 2007/08 and 2012/13 and in 2014/15 the average income of this group was £700, or 5.8 per cent, above its level before the crash. EVENING STANDARD

Iain Duncan Smith refuses to set up freephone for families claiming benefits
Struggling families will be charged up to 45p a minute to claim benefits over the phone on government helplines. The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, is refusing to set up a freephone number for the estimated eight million people who are set to claim the new universal credit over the next four years. The decision contradicts the Department for Work and Pensions’ pledge, made back in 2013, to make calls for all major benefit claim lines free. The universal credit system is being phased in to replace all main in-work and out-of-work benefits, and anyone trying to make a claim over the phone must call an 0345 number, which can be charged at up to 45p a minute from a mobile or 12p a minute from a landline. A DWP spokeswoman said: “People who are unable to claim online and need to use the telephone service can request a call back to avoid call charges. Most vacancies are now advertised over the internet, and claimants are encouraged to apply online to help them prepare for the world of work.” Applying online is free. But almost six million adults have never been online, according to the Office for National Statistics. GUARDIAN

New energy bill row after British Gas reveals bumper profits
The simmering row over high energy prices has been reignited after British Gas’s residential supply business reported a 31% leap in annual profits to £574m. The soaring profit comes amid growing calls for the big six suppliers to cut energy bills for customers in line with falling wholesale prices. “It is absolutely sickening that British Gas has made bumper profits in a year when there were more winter deaths than at any time this century,” said Fuel Poverty Action’s Ruth London. British Gas, which holds about 40% of UK gas accounts, has announced three price cuts in the last 12 months, which it claims could lower a dual fuel bill by almost £100 a year. However, critics have always argued that the cuts have been small compared with the savings made from tumbling wholesale costs, partly caused by the collapse in the global price of oil and gas. GUARDIAN

Privately educated elite continues to take top jobs, finds survey
The Sutton Trust educational charity has been carrying out similar surveys for more than a decade, and though it reports “small signs” of progress, this year’s results confirm what has long been known – that if you have a private education, you are considerably more likely to get to the top of British public life. Just 7% of the population attend independent fee-paying schools, while comprehensive schools currently educate 88% of the population. Yet the survey reveals that almost three quarters (71%) of top military officers were educated privately, with 12% having been taught in comprehensive schools. In the field of law, 74% of top judges working in the high court and appeals court were privately educated, while in journalism, more than half (51%) of leading print journalists went to independent schools, with one in five having attended comprehensive schools. In medicine, meanwhile, Sutton Trust research says 61% of the country’s top doctors were educated at independent schools; nearly a quarter (22%) went to grammar school and the remainder to comprehensives. In politics, the picture is a little better, with under a third (32%) of MPs having been privately educated, though that figure goes up to half of the cabinet, compared with 13% of the shadow cabinet. Graduates of Oxford and Cambridge universities also continue to dominate the field, though they educate less than 1% of the population. In law, nearly three quarters (74%) of the top judiciary went to Oxbridge; 54% of the country’s leading journalists went to Oxbridge, and just under half (47%) of the cabinet attended Oxbridge, compared with 32% of the shadow cabinet. It reveals that award-winning British actors are more than twice as likely to have had a private education than award-winning pop stars. While 42% of British Bafta winners went to an independent school, just 19% of British winners at the Brit music awards were educated privately. While Eddie Redmayne, star of The Danish Girl; Homeland actor Damian Lewis; and Tom Hiddleston, now starring in the BBC series The Night Manager, famously went to Eton College, the Sutton Trust points out that British music stars like Adele, Imogen Heap and Jessie J found success after attending the state-funded Brit School in Croydon. GUARDIAN

Sacked “London Whale” trader claims he was just following JP Morgan strategy
Bruno Iksil was at the centre of trades that created $6.2 billion of dollars’ worth of losses for JP Morgan, resulted in $920 million (£657 million) in fines for the bank and cost him his job. He said: ‘Publicity surrounding the losses sustained by the CIO of JP Morgan typically refers to "the London Whale” in terms that imply that one person was responsible for the trades at issue. ‘In fact the losses suffered by the CIO were not the actions of one person acting in an unauthorised manner. My role was to execute a trading strategy that had been initiated, approved, mandated and monitored by the CIO’s senior management.’ Iksil and two of his supervisors lost their jobs as a result of the trades. Iksil was granted immunity from prosecution by US authorities in 2013 as it continued its investigation. In the letter Iksil claimed he had warned his bosses repeatedly in 2011 and 2012 about the risk involved in his trades. However he said they pressured him to continue. CITY WIRE

“Misleading “ Nurofen Express TV advert withdrawn by Reckitt Benckiser
The advert implied that the Nurofen Express capsules directly targeted muscles in the head. Viewers were shown a huge head, that highlighted the muscles which tended to come under strain and caused headaches. They were told that Nurofen Express "targets these muscles and gives you faster headache relief". The company now says it will not re-broadcast it following complaints that the ad was misleading. The product maker, Reckitt Benckiser, has now promised the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority it will not imply the product has a mechanism that makes it especially effective for headache pain. An earlier court ruling in Australia said although they were marketed to treat specific pains, such as migraine and period pain, they were actually identical to other products. The advert was launched in February last year and has not been aired since June. BBC NEWS

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