Category Archives: Business

The people want a windfall tax on big firms’ pandemic profits. Why is Keir Starmer getting in the way?

Keir Starmer: yet another own goal.

I bet certain commentators will be doing their best to muddy this issue so let’s make it clear:

There are moves to increase Corporation Tax, forcing companies to pay more when they could be investing that money in (for example) employment of people who desperately need a regular paycheque. This is a bad idea.

There are also moves to levy a windfall tax on firms and individuals who have profited from the Covid-19 pandemic – such as Amazon and all those Tory cronies who won huge Covid-related contracts. This is a good idea and is supported by 70 per cent of the population, according to a Survation poll.

Keir Starmer and his Zombie Labour party oppose any increase in taxation for businesses.

There will be voters who are shocked that anybody claiming to be a Labour Party representative should plead against taxing corporations, and while there are good reasons for leaving Corporation Tax low at the moment, although it is likely that firms will need further incentives to keep them on the straight and narrow, there is no reason at all to back away from a windfall tax.

This decision is spitting in the faces of the voters – at a time when Starmer desperately needs to get them on-side.

Labour is falling increasingly further behind, at a time when – we were told – the party should be at least 20 points ahead of anybody else, having dumped Jeremy Corbyn.

Is it time his supporters’ club admitted that this wasn’t true and Starmer is a non-starter?

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Coca-Cola fox cull halted after campaigners raised the alarm

This article was going to be a call to arms – but now it seems the pressure is off after Coca-Cola announced it has put plans to shoot foxes at its Sidcup factory “on hold”.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the multinational drinks firm won’t kill large numbers of the animal by other means, but at least it signifies that bosses are willing to discuss what can be done.

Residents launched a passionate “Stop the Cull” campaign after they discovered a plan for the mass killing of foxes – to take place today, February 11 – on the Cray Road, Sidcup site.

They pointed out that at this time of year it would mean the targeting of pregnant vixens.

This Writer is not particularly fond of foxes as, in large numbers, they can become pests.

But I have always opposed fox hunting (and any blood sport) and killing animals because they interfere with industry is unacceptable because it ultimately leads to the mass extinctions we are causing across the world.

Coca-Cola has released a statement, quoted in some news outlets as follows:

“Unfortunately foxes can, on occasion, cause damage and we have found the need to keep their numbers under control at our Sidcup site.

“We have taken on board people’s feedback and understand their concerns.

“We have put these control measures on hold at our Sidcup site and we are now reviewing what other options are available.”

Campaigners favour a humane, non-lethal fox management service called Fox-a-gon and it is to be hoped that the firm will take that into account.

Source: Fox culling at Coca Cola’s Sidcup site criticised | News Shopper

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Employers need to plan for the future. Why is the ‘party of business’ denying them this security?

Ditherer: Rishi Sunak doesn’t know how to safeguard businesses and the UK economy, or link its well-being with public health because the neoliberal dogma he learned does not accommodate phenomena like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19-related support packages for businesses are set to end soon, with no extension or replacement announced – signifying a £50 billion loss to the UK’s economy.

According to Tory plans the furlough scheme, rates holidays, tax deferrals, VAT cuts and other support packages will be closed at the end of the financial year.

But businesses are now expecting to be closed well into the spring and possibly beyond.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak is not likely to announce his plans for the future of the economy until he makes his spring Budget statement on March 3 – too late for many firms, whose bosses will have to make decisions based on information currently available to them before that, if they are to be seen to be acting with responsibility to their shareholders, creditors and even employees.

Labour has demanded immediate action and, for once, Keir Starmer’s party is right.

Shadow business minister Lucy Powell also touched a raw nerve when she said Boris Johnson’s Tory government had failed to ensure that business support was integrated with public health measures.

As a result, the UK’s Covid-related recession had been the worst of any major economy.

And the longer Sunak dithers, the worst the situation will become.

Source: Businesses facing £50bn ‘bombshell’ as Covid support withdrawn, warns Labour | The Independent

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Kwarteng to launch post-Brexit ‘review’ of workers’ rights. Shall we make some predictions?

Kwasi Kwarteng: a few years ago he said, “Fracking is over.” Will he soon be saying, “workers’ rights are over” too?

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has admitted he is reviewing protections to UK workers’ rights.

Kwarteng has denied plans to strip us of our entitlement to paid holidays and other protections – but he is infamous for having condemned UK workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”.

When he stated this in the book Britannia Unchained, he was slated as a hypocrite because his own record for attending Parliament was among the worst of all MPs. One can only hope being promoted to a ministerial position has instilled a sense of diligence in him. But I doubt it.

The business secretary has confirmed his department is reviewing how EU employment rights protections could be changed after Brexit, while insisting they will not be watered down.

The Guardian understands a consultation on employment rights was signed off by Kwasi Kwarteng’s predecessor Alok Sharma… Insiders say the consultation is ready to launch and has been circulated among some select business leaders.

If business leaders are being asked to provide input before the consultation even starts, then the aim seems clear: to coerce working people into making more money for their employers and taking home less for themselves.

I’ve been writing about this since before the EU referendum, and I fancy having a stab at predicting how we’ll be attacked.

The rights most at risk would be:
• Working time rules, including limits on working hours and rules on the amount of holiday pay a worker is entitled to;
• Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE), i.e. the EU-derived protections to the terms and conditions of workers at an organisation or service that is transferred or outsourced to a new employer;
• Protections for agency workers and other ‘atypical’ workers, such as part-time workers;
• Current levels of compensation for discrimination of all kinds, including equal pay awards and age discrimination; and
• Rights for workers’ representatives to be consulted if major changes are planned that will change people’s jobs or result in redundancies (as have been used in recent major announcements in the steel industry).

Feel free to add your own predictions to the comment column.

Source: Business secretary confirms post-Brexit review of UK workers’ rights | Brexit | The Guardian

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A week after Brexit, how are the UK and the EU getting on? Not very well, it seems

I was going to leave the headline as a rhetorical question but too many people would have tried to answer without reading the article.

And who can blame them? It all seems a nasty mess at the moment. But are these really only teething problems?

Here comes the list:

The UK and the EU are heading towards a confrontation over financial services after trading in £6 billion worth of euro-dominated shares started moving to European continental stock exchanges in Amsterdam and Paris.

UK financial service providers and banks have lost the so-called passport that gave them the right to operate without restrictions throughout the EU, and now depend on unilateral decisions from European authorities to extend them an “equivalence” based on regulatory convergence, sector by sector.

Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey has said the UK should not become a so-called “rule taker” by mimicking EU regulations just for the sake of obtaining an access to European markets.

To This Writer’s uncultured eye, he seems to be saying we should lose a lot of business. Or is he he suggesting that trade will come back to the UK if businesses see an advantage in trading outside EU regulations?

This is not likely to sort itself out for several years.

Marks & Spencer has discovered holes in the so-called “zero tariff” trade deal with the EU that means its Percy Pig sweets – manufactured in Germany, transported to the UK, and then re-exported to other countries like Ireland – would face taxation and bureaucratic “red tape” costs.

The firm has already dropped hundreds of products, including chocolate fudge pudding and sweet and sour chicken, from its Northern Ireland stores after it saw competitors’ lorries barred from travelling between the mainland and Northern Ireland.

John Lewis has scrapped deliveries of its products to EU countries (although the firm says this is because of a business decision to concentrate on the UK). Debenhams and Fortnum & Masons have also suspended deliveries to Ireland and the EU respectively, blaming uncertainty over post-Brexit trading rules.

Scottish seafood firms are already facing financial difficulty as new post-Brexit rules demand that every single box has to be offloaded from lorries, opened and checked by vets before leaving Scotland – creating five-hour delays per lorry.

And overseas customers are cancelling orders – putting the £1 billion-per-year business in jeopardy.

Expect much more of the same in the future.

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Board members of UK’s biggest finance firms have had nearly 80% pay rise since 2009

Nice work if you can get it!

And, indeed, if you think it actually qualifies as work.

Board members on the UK’s largest financial companies have enjoyed an average pay rise of 79 per cent since 2009.

This means that during the decade of austerity, while you were probably facing a pay freeze – meaning a real-terms drop in income, median pay for the three highest earning non-executive directors (NEDs) in each of the FTSE 100’s 17 financial firms surged from £90,700 in 2009 to £162,000 in 2019.

They received this for attending – just attending, not necessarily contributing to – an average of 26 meetings a year.

The largest increases have been at Lloyds Banking Group, where top NEDs are earning 257% more than in 2009; the London Stock Exchange Group, where there has been a 219% rise; and investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, where fees have jumped 170%.

Remember, these firms don’t actually contribute anything to our lives – they don’t make anything, and such services as they do supply are highly exclusive.

They make money by betting on whether other businesses will do well or badly. That’s what investment is, after all – a wager that providing money to those firms now will bring a profitable return later.

It’s a game for the very rich.

And it depends on keeping the people who do the actual work very poor.

Payroll is always the largest cost to any firm so, if they are to provide an expected return to investors from firms like Lloyds Banking Group, the London Stock Exchange Group, Hargreaves Lansdown, Phoenix, Barclays, Prudential, Aviva, Admira, RSA, NatWest and so on, businesses have to keep pay low.

So these 79 per cent pay increases for finance firms arise from their board members attaching themselves to you like leeches and sucking out all the benefits that you should be enjoying.

Remember that as you endure the hardships you’ll be asked to face in 2021.

Source: UK’s biggest financial firms have given boards near-80% pay rise since 2009 | Business | The Guardian

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£831m ‘recovery fund’ for 72 high streets. But what will they do with £11.5m each?

Lip-chewing Sunak: if I kept wasting money on projects that won’t actually help the economy, I’d be nervous too.

I don’t get it. If high street businesses across the UK have gone to the wall because of the government’s lacklustre response to the economic effects of locking us all away from Covid-19 – how will this cash be spent?

The Tory government has announced that 72 high streets will get a share of £831 million – that’s around £11.5 million each.

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is bitching because Boris Johnson had offered £1 billion previously, but that’s not the point.

The question is: how is it going to help?

Many people – not just conspiracy theorists! – reckon the hardship forced on small-to-medium-sized business people may have been deliberate, in order to concentrate shoppers’ money in the hands of a few very large consumer chains.

I see little actual support for high street businesses in the projects mentioned by the Guardian article:

Among the projects selected for the funding were £17.9m for the renovation of the Scala Theatre and Corn Exchange in Worcester, a scheme to build 186 homes in Birkenhead and a plan to convert empty retail units in Tamworth, Staffordshire, into community spaces.

But according to Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, the money is supposed to be for

projects that level up opportunities and create jobs right across the country.

I don’t see how the latter will be achieved by the former. It’s just throwing cash away.

It should be injected into businesses to ensure they continue to be going concerns.

But then, of course, Sunak’s government is now best-known for spaffing £11 billion on companies owned by Tory cronies, for Covid-19-related supplies that they had no idea how to provide, while experts who had applied for the work were ignored.

That should tell you everything you need to know.

If I had a pound for every time Sunak has messed up someone’s finances, I would be richer than his wife.

Source: Government names 72 high streets in England to share £831m recovery fund | Business | The Guardian

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If this is how Boris Johnsons’s test and trace system works, no wonder he’s self-isolating

Test: wouldn’t it be nice of the Randox operation – if it can be called that – had been found to have been running in a professional way? It wasn’t.

If you still think the Johnson government is doing a good job fighting Covid-19, you need to watch Channel 4’s Lockdown Chaos now.

The programme by the channels Dispatches team went behind the scenes at Randox, one of the private companies selected by Boris Johnson’s privatisation-crazy cronies.

You’d think this place must be the best testing facility in the world, after Johnson’s insistence that his government would have a “world-beating” test-and-trace system, earlier in the year.

Not a bit of it!

According to Channel 4’s report on the programme, its undercover footage includes:

  • The Dispatches reporter being told that used tests sent to to Randox for analysis are sometimes not unpacked properly and accidentally discarded with cardboard packaging waste. An expert who viewed the footage and has run an NHS pathology lab for 10 year said that not only does this mean people not getting their test results, it would present a contamination risk to waste handlers. He added, “We would be shut down if we performed that way.” Randox responded to Dispatches, saying there has “never been an issue of samples being mistakenly disposed of”. Staff are adequately supervised and instructed on the need to ensure “samples are correctly processed”.

  • Evidence that one particular type of red-lidded test sent to Randox frequently leaks and has to be voided meaning no results are available. Randox is aware the red lidded tubes are “more likely to leak” but say they do not manufacture them.  They say they “raised this concern” with the Test and Trace programme coordinators in August. The DHSC told Dispatches on Saturday that they have “started UK-based tube manufacturing with these tubes designed to minimise leakage.” These “will be in place across all Lighthouse labs and will mitigate against void results.”

  • During the undercover operation, the Dispatches reporter discovers that although leaking samples are often spotted whilst still in their plastic bag, this is not always the case. He finds that leaks from  tests can spill over the gloves of employees and is told by one staff member that his gloves aren’t always thrown away but sprayed down with disinfectant. During his time in the lab, he was told to place leaking samples – whether loose or still inside their bags – into a cardboard box.  Randox says a leaking tube “is not removed” from its bagging “under any circumstances,” so claim there is “no cross contamination.” An expert told Dispatches that this way of dealing with leaking tubes shows a “cavalier approach to safety” and could lead to cross contamination and potentially wrong test results. Randox say the boxes are disposed of as “clinical waste” and there is “no cavalier approach to safety.”

    • Once used tests are received by Randox and unpacked, they are wiped with a cloth which is occasionally sprayed with disinfectant. Undercover footage shows the tubes being freely mixed together with other test tubes in a cardboard tray. Experts who have viewed this footage believe this process risks cross-contamination of test samples. Randox denies this, telling Dispatches there is “no cross contamination.” Samples are “not mixed together” but “immediately placed in an upward position on a rack”
    • The Dispatches reporter is told that Randox’s high-paying “VIP” clients, some of whom are from the rugby and travel sectors, are being given “priority” over some other tests. Randox denies VIP tests are given priority, saying it “does not prioritise private clients” under any circumstances and denies that “VIP” tests delay the processing of other tests.
    • Samples from England may take twelve hours or more to arrive at the Randox laboratory in Northern Ireland.  Unpacking of large shipments may take more than a working day, and sometimes more than 24 hours. Randox, which has no control over travel times to the laboratory, says it consistently “meets the agreed turnaround times,” and processes samples mostly within 24 hours from receipt.
    • The Dispatches reporter is told that samples are colour coded according to a traffic light system based on how long it is since the sample was taken. Randox told us green is up to 38 hours, amber up to 77 and red up to 114 hours – nearly five days.

There’s a lot more information in the C4 News article (link below). The effect on the public who use the social media has been galvanising:

This last tweet leads us to ask why the work was outsourced to cowboys.

Ah yes – that will be the answer.

The backlash has been overwhelming, the condemnation universal.

And what is the Tory government doing about it?

Source: Dispatches uncovers serious failings at one of UK’s largest COVID-Testing Labs | Channel 4

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Businesswoman rationed daughter’s food after falling through cracks in government help

Closed: while lockdowns bit into small traders’ funds, government help has been restricted only to those that meet arbitrary criteria – meaning many are going hungry, along with their children.

This is the reality of Covid-19 for millions of self-employed people across the UK.

The government trumpeted huge amounts of funding for scheme to keep businesses open – but failed to mention the small print that means some businesses don’t qualify.

It’s as though the pandemic was being used for political reasons – to clamp down on small enterprises and their owners. Isn’t it?

Jo Hill, of Cardiff, was denied any support because her business had only two years of profit on its books.

She had to rely on food banks and borrowed money to survive.

The money I have earned I have had to use for food for myself and my daughter. She’s growing like a bean pole, I couldn’t afford to buy her shoes over lockdown. At times we were so skint food was rationed, I’ve had to be really careful.

When the Chancellor announced [support for self-employed businesses] I breathed a massive sigh of relief. I was applying and it would say I’m not entitled, I was quite bewildered. The money should have gone to everybody.

“I’m too scared to spend any money at all since I don’t know what will happen in the future and how long that money will last. There have been times I couldn’t afford a food shop, I don’t know if my budget is going to last two weeks, three weeks.

The Welsh government has announced business support worth £1.7 billion to firms across the country.

And a fat lot of good it will do to single traders like Ms Hill if they don’t qualify because of arcane eligibility standards.

Source: Mum-of-two forced to ration 12-year-old daughter’s food after support cut off – Mirror Online

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Locked-down Merseyside pub rebrands as The Three Bellends – after Johnson, Hancock and Cummings

A pub in New Brighton, Merseyside, has re-branded itself after new ‘Tier 3’ rules forced it to close again.

For the time being, the pub formerly known as the James Atherton, after the founder of New Brighton, is now The Three Bellends – after the architects of the area’s misery: Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings.

Anyone who is familiar with vulgar slang will understand exactly how appropriate the title is, as attached to those individuals.

According to the Huffington Post,

Daniel Davies, chief executive of pub owners Rockpoint Leisure, said the new name “really reflects the mood of the nation” and was chosen on Tuesday when he was forced to tell his staff the pub would have to close.

“It really tears the heart up,” he told HuffPost UK. “It just really, really infuriated us and made us think: why are they doing this? All the evidence points against shutting down places like public houses.

“They’re bellends because Boris and co said they would invest a lot in the north when he got in – but they’ve done nothing for the north. They’re not being affected by this lockdown.”

The change has been rung in with huge support:

And it has launched a rallying cry for pubs across the country to rebrand in similar ways – as visual demonstrations of their disgust at Johnson, his government, and their daft policies:

Could this be the only successful initiative to result from the Johnson government and its actions?

Source: Pub Renames Itself ‘The Three Bellends’ In Protest Against Liverpool Lockdown | HuffPost UK

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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