Paper Summary: 19th December 2013

In Thursday’s papers:

Economy
Britain’s tax authorities are accused by Parliament today of not being “on the side” of individuals and small firms who pay their fair share of money to the Government. In a highly critical report, Westminster’s spending watchdog claims officials are “holding back” from using legal sanctions to recover money from large companies that use aggressive schemes to minimise their tax bills. As a result the public at large is being forced to shoulder more of the burden of paying for public services while it has become “easier” for companies to avoid paying their way.
The Independent, p.1 (and everywhere)

Personal Finance
Tory MPs have been lambasted for laughing and jeering as they were told how hard-up shoppers were so desperate they fought to snap up discounted items in supermarkets. All the Government ministers from the responsible departments – including Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith – sneaked out after just an hour of the Commons debate designed to highlight the current hunger crisis. The Trussell Trust – the nation’s largest provider of food banks – has found that 60,000 people, including 20,000 children, face Christmas without enough food.
The Mirror, p.6-7

A savvy teenager who collected hundreds of coupons bought nearly £600 worth of groceries for just 4p – then gave the lot to needy families. Jordon Cox, 16, paid for three trollies of food at Tesco with 470 money-off vouchers from magazines and websites. Meanwhile, fellow coupon queen Emma Mumford is looking forward to a luxurious family Christmas for just £99.89 – including gifts. The retail worker saved £540.22 on goods including jewellery, perfume and a camera as well as food for a slap-up turkey lunch for her family. Some of her goodies were free from manufacturers after she wrote to them praising their products.
Daily Express, p.3

Recruitment
A new fall in unemployment and a rise in record levels in the number of people with jobs were hailed yesterday by David Cameron as proof that his Government’s economic plan is working. The jobless total was down by 99,000 in the three months to October to 2.39 million – the biggest drop in more than 10 years. Those in work increased by 250,000 over the quarter and by nearly half a million since last year to a record 30.09 million, the Office for National Statistics revealed.
Daily Express, p.2

Bosses may be banned from tying staff to zero hours contracts that offer no guarantee of work, Vince Cable will announce today. The Business Secretary wants laws to end abuse of the exclusive deals. These will include outlawing the practice of forcing staff to be available a set number of hours per week without getting work – while barred by the contracts from jobs elsewhere.
The Mirror, p.2

Property
More than half of councils are planning to build on green belt land, casting doubt on Government claims that protected areas would only be developed in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Research for the National Trust has found that 51 per cent of English authorities with green belt land were ‘likely or very likely’ to allocate it for development within the next five years.
Daily Mail, p.2, The Times, p.1 and The Daily Telegraph p.1

House prices will soar next year to take the average home past £250,000, experts said yesterday. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors predicted that values will rise by eight per cent due to the shortage of homes coming on to the market. This will lead to a £20,000 increase – with the average home worth a record £266,760.
Daily Express, p.2

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