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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017 Posted by Hari No comments Labels:
Posted by Hari on Thursday, February 16, 2017 with No comments | Labels:

Tesco's rip-off at the tills: Offers on shelves are out of date, but customers aren't told - so pay more
Tesco has been “accidentally” routinely overcharging shoppers at the tills, according to a damning investigation. Most customers do not usually bother to go through their receipt after a shopping trip, assuming supermarket technology will not get prices wrong. But it appears that about two thirds of Tesco’s outlets have not been updating the shelf prices for items regularly enough. And the vast majority of the errors involved overcharging rather than undercharging, the investigation found. The problem involved multi-buy deals that remained advertised on the shelves long after they had ended. Consequently people who were tempted by an offer may have ended up paying full price. For example, packs of Christmas gingerbread were listed at £1.75 each or two for £3, but the saving was not given at the till. Another ‘deal’ involving burgers and bottles of guacamole sauce saw a shopper pay 60 per cent more than the shelf price – an extra £3.30. One store offered two Viennetta ice cream packs for £2, however the till rang up the normal full price of £1.37 each. The findings will raise suspicion that the same thing is happening in other supermarkets and across the high street. A survey of 50 Tesco stores in the West Midlands, Liverpool and Leeds, over a three month period found 33 were regularly short changing customers on offers. When challenged over the discrepancy, Tesco staff honoured the shelf price offer, however trading standards say that was not good enough. Martin Fisher, from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: ‘If customer A has come back and complained and been refunded that doesn’t mean there weren’t 20 other customers who didn’t spot it and didn’t complain.’ One member of staff captured on film said there were not enough people to remove offer labels that are out of date. She said: ‘It’s called short staffed. They’ve cut the department in half.’ In some cases, staff failed to remove out-of-date labels from the shelves even after being warned that the offer prices were wrong. At a Tesco Express in Birmingham, one out-of-date offer price was still on display a month after the error was first pointed out. DAILY MAIL

Businesses are using self-employment laws to avoid tax
The head of Theresa May's inquiry into the way millions of people work has said there is evidence businesses are using self-employment laws to avoid tax. "There is no question - and Phillip Hammond said this in the Autumn Statement - that when self-employment rose that reduces the tax take to the Exchequer," said Matthew Taylor, who is head of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Some were deliberately using so-called gig workers to avoid paying contributions to the Treasury, he said. His comments come on the day a report by the Trades Union Congress says the tax hit from the growth of "insecure work" could be as high as £4bn ($5bn) a year. The TUC said that represented nearly a quarter of the social care budget spent in England. Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed last week that a permanently employed person pays an effective rate of tax of 31% on their income. That falls to 22% for self-employed people, who pay lower levels of national insurance. Businesses also save as they make no national insurance contributions and can avoid maternity and holiday pay entitlements. Because self-employed people tend to be on lower incomes they also receive higher levels of benefits, another cost to the Treasury. BBC NEWS

Nursing degree applications slump after NHS bursaries abolished
Applications by students in England to nursing and midwifery courses at British universities have fallen by 23% after the government abolished NHS bursaries, figures show. Nursing leaders said the sudden slump revealed by the latest university application data was inevitable given that student nurses now faced paying annual tuition fees of more than £9,000. “These figures confirm our worst fears. The nursing workforce is in crisis and if fewer nurses graduate in 2020 it will exacerbate what is already an unsustainable situation,” said Janet Davies, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing. “The outlook is bleak: fewer EU nurses are coming to work in the UK following the Brexit vote, and by 2020 nearly half the workforce will be eligible for retirement. With 24,000 nursing vacancies in the UK, the government needs to take immediate action to encourage more applicants by reinstating student funding and investing in student education. The future of nursing, and the NHS, is in jeopardy.” Universities dismissed talk of a crisis, arguing that undergraduate numbers across other courses fell in 2012 when tuition fees rose to £9,000 a year but later recovered. GUARDIAN

Young men paid less than predecessors, says Resolution Foundation
By the age of 30, young men have earned £12,500 less on average compared to those born between 1966 and 1980, according to the Resolution Foundation. It suggested that men now were more likely to be working in basic service jobs, or part-time, with lower wages. Torsten Bell, executive director at the Foundation, said: "The long-held belief that each generation should do better than the last is under threat. Millennials - those born between 1981 and 2000 - are the first to earn less than their predecessors. "While that in part reflects their misfortune to come of age in the midst of a huge financial crisis, there are wider economic forces that have seen young men in particular slide back." Many found themselves working on reduced hours in shops, bars and restaurants, whereas their predecessors were more likely to have been employed in manufacturing. The proportion of low-paid work carried out by young men has increased by 45% between 1993 and 2015-16, compared with a fall among young women, the report said. This has narrowed the gender pay gap, but for the wrong reasons, it said. "In one sense this is a story of female progress on a massive scale. Women are leaving low paid occupations in their thousands. As public policy has supported female employment, with better maternity and childcare policies, and cultural norms have shifted, more women are finding work that pays a good wage," said report author Daniel Tomlinson. "But, on the flip side, the fact that the UK has a large low-paid service sector economy is something that increasing numbers of young men will now be able to testify to. It's good news that low-paid roles are now more evenly shared between men and women but the way in which this is happening raises serious concerns about what the world of work has to offer some young men... Young women are seeing a lack of generational pay progress and they are only catching-up with their male counterparts because of a deterioration in outcomes for young men.” BBC NEWS

UK tax burden will rise to highest level for 30 years, IFS warns
The amount of tax paid in the UK is poised to reach the highest level in 30 years and will rise even further because of mounting debt and pressure on public services, economic forecasters have said. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that next year more than 37 per cent of Britain's national income will be drawn from tax receipts for the first time since 1986. It said that Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, will have to extend public spending cuts into the 2020s and introduce even higher taxes to tackle a £34billion black hole in his Budget. Britain's national debt has now hit its highest level since 1975, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said, leaving the Government more dependent on taxpayers to balance the books. Households and companies have been hit by an array of tax rises over the past decade including rises in VAT, increases in insurance premium tax and higher levels of stamp duty. Theresa May's Government has increased the "tax burden" further with further increases in insurance premium tax and an apprenticeship levy on big businesses. Hundreds of thousands of people have also been dragged into paying the higher rate of tax because the threshold at which it is paid has failed to keep pace with rising inflation. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that spending on social care dropped by over 6 per cent despite a 16 per cent increase in the population of over 65s in the UK. The report warned spending on adult social care "seems likely to continue falling", largely due to the increased pressure of an elderly population and overstretched health budgets. Spending on law and order and schools has also fallen significantly over the last few years. The report said that higher rates of inflation by the end of 2017 will push down household spending, increasing the Government's need to either increase taxes or cut spending. The Government has already announced for £17billion of tax rises over this Parliament, and the IFS believes that Mr Hammond will have to find an extra £34 billion unless he ditches his target of eliminating the state deficit before 2025. Compared with 1986, the last time the Government was so reliant on tax income to balance its books, companies pay significantly less tax but the amount of VAT has increased significantly. Health spending is rising at the slowest rate for a decade, the IFS said, as it warned the Government is not putting enough money into the NHS to cover the growth and increasing age of the UK's population in the years to come. TELEGRAPH

Government begins plans to sell off billions of pounds worth of student debt to private companies
Graduates who took out loans before the 2012 academic year could find themselves making repayments to private lenders buying up contracts from the Student Loans Company (SLC) – a move the Treasury expects to make £12bn from in return. Universities Minister Jo Johnson said there would be no impact on graduates with loans, but union leaders have attacked the decision - with the National Union of Students (NUS) accusing the Government of pulling an “ugly move” on students. Sorana Vieru, NUS Vice President of Higher Education, said: “Selling the loan book to investors is privatisation through the back door. It is outrageous that bankers will profit off the backs of graduates who took out loans because they had no other option.” First to be sold will be the 2002/06 student loan book, which had a face value of £4bn the end of the 2014/15 financial year. Former City lawyer and Advisory Board member for the Intergenerational Foundation think-tank, Estelle Clarke, said "The loans in question already charge expensive monthly compounding interest and purchasers may well seek to receive more money from borrowers.” While the Government insists there will be no changes made to the terms and conditions of loans undertaken, Ms Clarke warned: "The government has a track record of breaking its promises; its ‘press’ position cannot be relied upon”. INDEPENDENT

Hundreds of companies failing to pay minimum wage
The government has named 360 businesses which have failed to pay either the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW). Among them are well-known names like Debenhams, Subway, Lloyds Pharmacy and St Mirren Football Club. More than 15,500 workers had to be paid back nearly one million pounds. But that may represent just the tip of the iceberg: The Office for National Statistics has calculated that 362,000 jobs did not pay the NMW in April 2016. The biggest offenders were employers in hairdressing, hospitality and retail. One worker at a dental practice in London's Harley Street was refunded nearly £12,000. Excuses used by businesses for not paying the full basic wage included using tips to top up their pay, making reductions to pay for a Christmas party, or making staff pay for their own uniforms. For the first time the list includes firms which failed to pay the National Living Wage, which was introduced on 1 April 2016 for workers over the age of 25. The current rate is £7.20 an hour. Those under 25 receive the NMW, currently £6.95 for 21 to 24 year-olds, and £5.55 for 18 to 20 year-olds. In total the 360 businesses that broke the law were fined £800,000. However the TUC said that was not a big enough deterrent. It called for higher fines, and more prosecutions. "This should be a wake-up call for employers who value their reputation. If you cheat your staff out of the minimum wage you will be named and shamed," said the TUC's general secretary, Frances O'Grady. "But we also need to see prosecutions and higher fines for the most serious offenders, especially those who deliberately flout the law." The ONS has said that 1.3% of employees are not being paid the minimum, amounting to 178,000 full-time workers, and 184,000 part-time workers. But the TUC believes that even that number is an under-estimate, as it does not take into account those working in internships, or those who may be wrongly classified as self-employed. BBC NEWS

Minister denies 'sweetheart' tax deal with Surrey
In January Surrey Council announced a local referendum on whether to raise council tax by 15% to cover what it said were shortfalls in funding to cover the rising costs of social care. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn later claimed leaked text messages showed ministers were prepared to offer a "sweetheart deal" to Surrey council to avoid the embarrassing referendum. But Mr Javid insisted there was "no memorandum of understanding" between the government and the council. And Surrey County Council said "no deal" had been offered. But plans for their referendum - which are triggered if a local authority proposes a council tax rise of 5% or more - were dropped during a full council meeting on Tuesday. Mr Corbyn asked the prime minister: "So how much did the government offer Surrey to kill this off and is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing the social care crisis created by this government?" Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said he was "seeking urgent clarification" about whether Surrey had been "bought off" by the government, adding that cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham had been hit "far harder" by funding cuts. BBC NEWS

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