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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016 Posted by Hari 1 comment Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, October 27, 2016 with 1 comment | Labels:

Theresa May faces Tory backlash over planned cuts to in-work benefits
Conservative backbenchers, including the former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, are preparing to campaign against £3bn of planned cuts to in-work benefits, in a fresh sign of the pressure Theresa May faces from within her own party. Veterans of the backlash against the deep cuts to tax credits George Osborne was forced to withdraw last year are gearing up to put pressure on his successor, Philip Hammond, in the run-up to November’s autumn statement. They would like the chancellor, who has said he will “reset” tax and spending policy in the wake of the Brexit vote, to ease the hardship of families who are set to receive significantly lower handouts under the new universal credit (UC) system. While there is no parliamentary vote planned on the cuts, which have already been legislated for, the spectacle of centrist Tories taking to the airwaves to accuse the government of failing to protect the poorest families will underline the challenge May faces in governing her own party. Conservative MPs are particularly concerned about the low earnings thresholds workers hit before they start to lose some of their benefits; and the steep withdrawal rates, which mean some groups of workers would keep just 24p of every extra pound earned under the new system. David Burrowes, the Enfield Southgate MP who supported the battle against the tax credit cuts, said: “I share the concern that the changes to work allowances will mean that we do not yet have a welfare system where work always pays and too many people will be in work but in poverty.” Analysis by the Resolution Foundation thinktank suggests that families would be £1,000 a year poorer under UC, if the cuts are implemented. GUARDIAN

Number of Brits hospitalised by malnutrition QUADRUPLES
More than 16,000 cases of malnutrition were reported in hospitals in England last year. Malnutrition is described by the NHS as being a serious condition that occurs when a person’s diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients. More than 900 of these malnutrition cases were severe, which means that patients were in danger of starving to death. According to the NHS, there are an estimated three million malnourished people in the UK at any time. Campaigners believe increased food prices, lower wages and benefit cuts are to blame. Professor of public heath at Liverpool University, Simon Capewell, said: “It is a national scandal... The fifth wealthiest country on the planet is now suffering from Victorian diseases such as malnutrition, rickets, scurvy.” Professor Capewell said that for every person admitted to hospital for malnourishment, there will be 50 times that number getting care from their GP. Last year more than a million people accessed food banks because they were not able to afford their own food. The professor also highlighted that between 2007 and 2014 food prices rose 12 per cent, but wages dropped seven per cent. Labour MP Frank Field, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on hunger, said: “The new data on malnutrition, as well as the data we have uncovered on the numbers of children who are underweight and anaemic, paints a grim picture of life at the bottom of the pile.” According to Mr Field, 20 per cent of children arrive hungry each morning to school. Tesco’s UK chief executive Matt Davies has warned that an increase in food prices will be “lethal” for struggling families. He said: “When family budgets are constrained, families end up buying the cheapest possible calories, which are often the least healthy, but become essential for mere survival.” EXPRESS

Economic benefits of expanding Heathrow 'exaggerated by up to £86bn'
Government figures show that the financial benefits of expanding Heathrow may have been overstated by up to £86bn, as rival Gatwick refused to rule out challenging the nod given by ministers to build a third runway at the west London airport. It has emerged that a report by the Department for Transport had more than halved previous estimates of the economic boost of Heathrow over 60 years, suggesting that an extra runway at Gatwick would bring virtually the same benefits. Government analysis suggested that expanding Gatwick would yield £54bn in benefits, less than the £61bn attributed to Heathrow but requiring the destruction of fewer homes and being a cheaper project overall. Government officials warned they disputed figures provided in the airports commission report by Sir Howard Davies that a third runway at Heathrow would boost the economy by up to £147bn, some £86bn more than the government estimate. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES

Hard-up nurses being forced into debt as 35,000 rely on payday loans – almost double 2013's number
Unions have called for an end to the one percent NHS pay rise cap that has left nurses with a 14 per cent cut in real terms and forced them into debt. Payday lender CashFloat.co.uk’s research found that 11 per cent of nurses had applied to them for loans since January 2015, up from just six per cent in 2013. Josie Irwin, of the Royal College of Nursing , said: “It’s no surprise. They put up with the rise in the cost of living because of their commitment to caring for patients, but they can only be stretched so far.” A nurse from Buckinghamshire said: “My salary has been frozen for six years. I always end up needing more money.” And another, a mother of one from Hackney, said she had considered leaving the NHS through stress. She added: “Besides long hours and intense pressure at work, I am forced to take payday loans to pay my bills and support my family.” Danielle Tiplady recently completed her adult nursing course at King’s College, London. She said payday loans, food banks and university hardship funds were all becoming necessities for herself and her cash-strapped colleagues. Danielle, 29, said: “The alarming thing is a large number of nurses and students do use food banks and access hardship funds from universities. I do night shifts, weekends, bank holidays. I work during my actual holidays... I’m happy to do whatever when I’m there and I get stuck in because I know I’m part of the NHS. People who have this passion, I look and I see how upset they all are, and how tired they are, and they’re crying. They feel like they can’t do their job.” MIRROR

Delivery giant Hermes faces HMRC inquiry into low pay allegations
The move follows a Guardian investigation that revealed some self-employed couriers for the company, which delivers for retailers including John Lewis and Next, were taking home less than minimum wage. Some 78 couriers subsequently made complaints to Frank Field, the chairman of the House of Commons work and pensions select committee. They set out how their self-employment meant they received no paid holidays or sick pay. They also said they risked losing work if they were unable to do their rounds because of ill health or for other reasons. Twenty more also claimed they should be considered employees rather than self-employed. Edward Troup, HMRC’s executive chairman, said: “If we find that companies have misclassified individuals as self-employed, we will take all necessary steps to make sure they pay the appropriate tax, national insurance contributions, interest and penalties.” Troup made clear that he could not comment on individual cases, but said: “Individuals cannot be opted out of employment rights and protections, simply by calling them ‘self-employed’. We are committed to tackling false self-employment.” GUARDIAN

HMRC to take over work of tax credits firm Concentrix
Concentrix, the firm accused of incorrectly withdrawing tax credits from hundreds of claimants, is to have its work brought back in-house to HM Revenue and Customs, staff have been told. Work now being done by the US company will be taken on by HMRC immediately, said the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS). Last month HMRC said it would not sign a new contract with the company, whose present contract was due to end in May next year. Concentrix, which was at the centre of a parliamentary debate this week, had handled tax credit claims, having won a multimillion-pound contract to save the UK government money by preventing incorrect or fraudulent claims. MPs heard from one claimant, Sarah Broome, a 40-year-old single mother from West Molesey, Surrey, who claimed she was forced to go six weeks “out of pocket” due to a decision by the company to end her payments. OnThursday, Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said the HMRC move was a victory for those families who had been unfairly targeted by Concentrix. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said: “We’re delighted HMRC has agreed with us this work is best carried out in-house and, crucially, has accepted our argument to protect the jobs of Concentrix staff by transferring them into the department. We will be pushing for these workers to be employed on the same terms as their HMRC colleagues. Sadly, this could all have been avoided. The fiasco is further evidence it is a false economy to hive off important public services.” GUARDIAN

Earnings rise fastest for the low-paid, thanks to higher minimum wage
A 6.2% rise for the lowest paid UK workers meant pay inequality narrowed between April 2015 and early April 2016, the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate. The pay gap between men and women has also shrunk slightly, it said. Pay overall rose at its joint highest rate since the financial crisis, driven by wage rises in the private sector. Weekly earnings for full-time workers were 2.2% higher in April from a year earlier, or by 1.9% after inflation. Despite the increases, the Resolution Foundation think tank points out that typical earnings still remain 6.8% below pre-financial crisis levels. The median average full-time worker was paid £539 a week - or £28,028 a year - before tax in April 2016. Generally, a worker in the highest paid 5% of employees saw a 2.5% rise in earnings in the year to April, but it was the lowest paid who have seen the fastest increase. The National Living Wage (NLW) came into force on 1 April, requiring employers to pay workers aged 25 and over at least £7.20 an hour. This led to an immediate pay rise for 1.8 million workers. Workers aged 21 to 24 have been paid the National Minimum Wage of £6.95 an hour since 1 October. Previously it was £6.70 an hour. Hourly earnings, excluding overtime, for full-time jobs among the lowest-paid increased by 5.9% from £6.86 to £7.26 between 2015 and 2016. Laura Gardiner, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: "The introduction of the National Living Wage has well and truly made its mark on pay across Britain. The new wage floor has contributed to a significant closing of the gender pay gap and a welcome fall in pay inequality. "But while 2016 has been the strongest year for pay in over five years, we may not see this level of growth again this parliament given the outlook for lower earnings growth and higher inflation in the wake of the Brexit vote. Debbie Abrahams, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "The figures are yet more disappointing news for working people, with real earnings still below their pre-recession peak in 2008 and the number of people stuck in low-paid jobs increasing by 66% on last year." BBC NEWS

Bill for PPI mis-selling scandal tops £40bn, as Lloyds pays out another £1bn, Barclays £600m
The costliest mis-selling bill in UK financial services history became even more expensive on Thursday after Barclays set aside a further £600m to handle the cost of claims. Data compiled by the thinkthank New City Agenda shows that this top up for Barclays has pushed the total provisions incurred by the industry to £40.2bn. Lloyds Banking Group makes up £17bn of that total. The size of the payouts have already been cited as a reason for booming car sales and holidays. As one penny off income tax costs about £4bn, it could be regarded as a boost to household income. Not all the money has gone straight into consumers’ pockets. The latest data from the Financial Conduct Authority shows that from January 2011 – when claims started to be made – until the end of July about £25bn had been distributed by the banks and other firms which sold PPI. Claims management companies have, according to the National Audit Office, received up to £5bn of the payouts. The banks have also incurred billions of pounds of costs in handling the claims. They have not used all the money they have set aside, in anticipation of more applications for compensation. More than 50m PPI policies were sold, according to the former City regulator the Financial Services Authority. Banks sold most of them – around 45m policies, worth £40bn. A consultation run by the FCA into setting a deadline for claims closed earlier this month and could result in a cut-off point of June 2019 for remaining customers to make their case. It will also herald an advertising campaign, expected to cost £40m, to encourage customers to come forward and beat the deadline. GUARDIAN

1 comment:

  1. In your top 10 richest/poorest map, I note that the bulk of the rich ones are EU cities whereas the bulk of poorest are UK Counties. Is this a fair comparison? Is it based on approx equality of pop size or some other facftor? otherwise, where is West Somerset with its multiple deprivations or Liechtenstein, same pop as W Soms but not threatened with erasure by serial underfunding and doing rather well?

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