- The recent run of good news on the economy came to an unexpected halt yesterday after data on the public finances showed Treasury coffers were drained last month for the first July in three years. The Daily Mirror called it an “unmitigated failure”. Once again, George Osborne has failed his own test; “if broken promises were a crime in politics, Mr Osborne would be incarcerated, with the key thrown away.” But in its business leader, The Daily Telegraph says the Chancellor may yet have the last laugh on public finances. Tax revenues in the four months of the current year have outperformed official forecasts with higher onshore corporation and income tax receipts providing concrete evidence of economic improvement. Economists are not too alarmed, says Ruth Sunderland in The Daily Mail Comment column, Government spending has risen more quickly than expected, but that may be down to the timing of payments, and come out in the wash later in the year. It is worth noting, too, Sunderland adds, that the figures are early estimates, and could look decidedly better after revisions. The Guardian’s Business Analysis column is equally positive, pointing out that the markets focused on good news from the CBI that the country’s manufacturers are feeling their most chirpy since August 2011.
Recruitment & Employment
- The Business Commentary column in The Times says insurance workers are Britain’s proudest employees, with nine out of ten declaring themselves chuffed to be in the profession; “so the man from the Pru goes to work with smile on his face”. The runners-up, according to a study by recruiter Randstad are property workers, of whom 83 per cent are “proud”, with media types third, at 81 per cent. Lower down, banker-bashing has taken its toll with only 59 per cent of financial services employees expressing pride in their jobs. Among accountants, “who know they’re viewed as boring”, only 44 per cent are chipper. Rock-bottom, though, are railway staff, of whom only 32 per cent are proud of their jobs: “perhaps we should be patient with the hapless folk who get the blame whenever we’re late for work.” That story is also running on Sky News and this morning’s Today Programme on Radio 4.
- Millions of pensioners are missing out on bumper retirement pay-days because of an industry rip-off according to the front page of Daily Express. Giles Sheldrick says official data shows how some of the UK’s biggest insurers are short-changing pensioners by offering annuity rates up to 30 per cent below the best deals on the market. The Association of British Insurers published rates offered by its members to customers looking to convert their pension into an annuity to guarantee a regular income exposing the disparity between providers. A 65-year-old with average pension savings of £24,000, and in good health, can get £1,099 a year from Reliance Mutual but just £839 with Scottish Widows.
- The Financial Times puts the news that Kensington council has asked a hedge fund manager told to dig deep for luxury London basement on its front page. The council has demanded a fee of more than £800,000 from a man seeking to build a 900 sq m subterranean extension underneath two adjacent west London properties (including a swimming pool and spa). The sheer scale of the extension prompted the council to ask for the one off fee when it granted planning permission which will go towards affordable housing elsewhere in the borough. Such payments, known as “Section 106 agreements” are normally confined to large-scale commercial developments or housing estates.