Tag Archives: finance

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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Did Johnson force Brexit on us just to maintain London’s status as the world’s financial crime centre?

Silent: did Boris Johnson force Brexit on us all, just to protect crooks in the City of London? If so, he’ll never admit it.

Beastrabban found this in conspiracist magazine Lobster, so take it as you like.

The claim is that Boris Johnson set his mind to return to the House of Commons after his term as London Mayor ended, purely to stop the European Union clamping down on the City and its role in money laundering and financial crime across the globe.

By taking the UK out of the EU, the theory states, he was preserving the City of London as the financial crime centre of the world’s economy.

The Beast points out that such a desire to protect the Tories’ city backers (as well, no doubt, as any financial criminals that might happen to be hanging around) “is going to wreck our manufacturing industry and agriculture, raise food prices, and create shortages of food, medicines and other goods”.

When you consider the kind of people with whom Johnson has been spending his free time recently, one has to wonder whether there might be a smidgen of fact to this…

Source: Did Boris Become PM and Back Brexit Just to Protect the City of London from EU Regulation? | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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It’s a Tory total collapse as they are forced to accept every Labour amendment to the Budget

Labour could have moved that the Treasury be re-named “Philip Hammond is a dunce” and the government would probably have agreed to it.

Too harsh? Well, let’s be satisfied with the amendments to the Finance Bill on tax evasion, gaming duty and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – and with the promise that there is worse to follow for Theresa May and her cronies.

She had to capitulate because, if a vote had been taken and she lost, it would have been considered proof that her government does not have the confidence of the Commons. By convention, any government in such a position should resign and allow the main Opposition party a chance to form an administration.

Instead, Mrs May is now the head of a minority government, critically vulnerable to collapse if the Opposition parties demand a vote of “no confidence”, because the Democratic Unionist Party has withdrawn its support over her disastrous Brexit agreement with the EU.

As Mrs May is determined to have her deal or no deal, and the DUP’s MPs believe neither will support what they consider to be good for Northern Ireland, it seems unlikely that they will restore their support for her government.

I predict that if the current Brexit deal goes to a vote, Mrs May will lose badly. Labour may then demand a vote of “no confidence” in the Conservative Party’s ability to govern – and such a vote seems certain to topple the government.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was quick to capitalise on the situation. He said: “It’s absolutely staggering that the Government has accepted all Labour amendments to the Finance Bill because it couldn’t rely upon the DUP’s support. The Tories are in office but not in power. We’re watching a government falling apart in front of us.”

Mrs May is currently in Brussels, where she is probably begging the Eurocrats for latitude to resolve the impossible situation into which she has put herself – because we should all remember that this is a crisis entirely of the Conservative government’s own making.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond are both set to appear at the DUP’s conference over the weekend. If they think they can bully the Irish into backing them again, they’ll be in for a shock.

It has been great fun watching the drama play out on Twitter:

So the current situation can be summed up as follows:

https://twitter.com/MsParaDoxy/status/1064673997974065152

Of course we now know that Mrs May’s strings are being pulled by the Opposition parties – and any opportunity available (to mention the backdrop sign at the Tory conference) will be theirs.

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POLL: Are John McDonnell’s plans to revolutionise the economy feasible?

The shadow chancellor is planning to revolutionise the financial sector.

Take a look at the video in John McDonnell’s tweet, below:

Mr McDonnell rightly states that the finance sector should be the servant of the nation’s economy, not its master – that its responsibility is to generate the wealth we need to pay for the advances we want – and I hope nobody reading this would disagree.

He goes on to make several suggestions about how to make this happen – a financial transactions (“Robin Hood”) tax and tackling tax evasion are top of the list.

But will his ideas work? Let’s have a poll.

I would appreciate your detailed opinions as well – please send them in as comments.

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After Carillion – Interserve. Will it go under – and if it does, who’s next?

It seems Interserve is about to go the same way as Carillion.

If it does, the Conservative government will force the public to pay the costs again, even though they’re the ones who stupidly employed greedy private contractors who put our money in their bank accounts rather than investing it in the public services they are supposed to be providing (at least, that’s the Carillion model).

I hope that Interserve doesn’t go under, but it occurs to me that any private firm with a contract to provide public services will be in breach of that contract if it ends up in receivership due to poor financial management.

So it should be the government’s responsibility to get our money back from these people, rather than charging the public.

It might be easy to force the poor to cough up for the mistakes of the rich, but it isn’t justice.

Let’s have some justice for a change.

It appears the Tory Government could once again be stretching its pan-palms out to catch the overspill from the potential collapse of another favoured private contractor, Interserve.

Interserve’s debt almost doubled from £274m in 2016 to £513m at the end of 2017. An underestimation of the costs involved in a public-private partnership contract to provide waste-to-energy services, which saw the corporation raise its provision on one such project in Glasgow from £70m to £195m, has badly affected it.

And in further deeply worrying news, the corporation’s share price has plummeted from 717p in 2014 to just 63p in December, leading to serious discussions with its lenders over the firm’s remaining financial options.

Although the corporation issued profit warnings in September and October 2017, it has announced that it reportedly expects that its 2017 performance was in line with expectations. This, along with the partial recovery in its share price might be due to the fact that the corporation’s new chief executive announced cost cutting measures: £15m in 2018 to £50m by 2020.

With the corporation employing 80,000 people worldwide – 25,000 in the UK – and when it is responsible for public contracts including cleaning, healthcare, security, probation and construction, one wonders what cost-cutting measures will actually involve and how these might impact the provision of essential public services.

Source: Another major government contractor on the brink after 90% share price collapse and debt doubling | Evolve Politics


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Ashworth: Presumption that government contracts should go to private firms is wrong

[Image: We Own It.]

Carillion’s collapse really has changed political thinking.

Here’s Labour’s Jon Ashworth explaining that outsourcing of government contracts, whether tied to Private Finance Initiative deals or not, leads to firms making their profit by cutting staff wages and conditions – which ultimately leads to a poorer service.

He’s absolutely right. This Writer has been saying for years that poor treatment of workers leads to a poor product.

Therefore it follows that, if private business cuts corners in order to make a profit, the only way to provide a decent service is to eliminate the profit motive and for the government to nationalise its work contracts.

The arguments against this are disproved by the facts. All the privatisation-loving Tories can do with future private contracts is confirm Mr Ashworth’s conclusion.

It will be painful to watch, but necessary – to ensure that everybody gets the message.


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Carillion: Prophetic words from 2004 claimed the UK would be ruined by PFI debt

Allyson Pollock in 2003 [Image from Ian Fraser’s blog site].

Is Allyson Pollock’s prophecy coming true?

Ian Fraser, author of the following words, seems to think so.

He tweeted: “Increasingly obvious was right about PFI/PPP. Even RBS chair Howard Davies admits it’s a fraud. Here’s my interview with her from 2003.”

Of course, Carillion – the engineering firm with no less than 450 government contracts, that went into liquidation last week – is a beneficiary of PFI – that’s what makes these words topical now.

From the Sunday Herald, December 19, 2004:

Widespread use of the private finance initiative (PFI) to fund public sector projects is eroding government accountability and means the UK will lose its status as a first world economy, according to a leading academic.

Allyson Pollock, professor of public health at University College London, believes the funding method leads to the back-door privatisation of state-run services and spells a return to a patchy provision of health and education.

Pollock, due to speak on PFI to the cross-party group on the Scottish economy at the Holyrood parliament this Tuesday, told the Sunday Herald: “As the economy starts to slide, the government and communities will find it increasingly difficult to the pay costs associated with PFI.

“I fear that decay will set in and Britain will struggle to remain a mature economy if private sector asset stripping of public services continues. There is plenty of talk of risk being transferred to the private sector, but when things go wrong the public sector invariably ends up bailing out the private sector.

“The idea that PFI is a partnership between government and business looks a hollow joke, as private finance gets repaid while the public sector carries the extra cost of keeping services going and communities suffer, ” she said.

Read the rest of the article: Dire warning the UK will be ruined by Private Finance Initiative (PFI) debt | Ian Fraser


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Will PFI campaign be derailed by MP’s spat with blogger?

Stella Creasy [Image: Nicola Tree/ Getty Images].

This is all a little silly.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has launched a campaign to stop companies that have signed Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals with the government from benefiting from falls in the rate of Corporation Tax.

Ms Creasy says it is important because, when these deals are signed, the rate of tax companies will pay is directly part of deciding if they represent value for money.

On her Facebook page, she explained: “If I buy a toaster and then its on offer a week later I don’t get the difference back so why should these companies get such a windfall – either they come to the table to renegotiate these contracts and the cost of them to the public sector or we should be willing to legislate. Help us secure support from more MPs for this.”

She linked to a Guardian article which elaborated:

Companies that built and run NHS hospitals under private finance initiative (PFI) contracts will have made about £190m in unexpected windfall profits by 2020 because of George Osborne and Philip Hammond’s cuts to corporation tax, research suggests.

Analysis by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest found that more than 100 PFI operators in the NHS collectively saved an estimated £84m between 2008 and 2015 and are due to gain another £106m between 2016 and 2020 because of the falling corporate tax rate.

The PFI companies are making bonus profits because the corporation tax rate has fallen from 30% when the majority of their contracts were negotiated to 19% now and is due to drop as low as 17% by 2020. Some companies may be deferring their tax liabilities to later in their contracts when the rates will be lower.

She also discusses the matter in a Twitter thread:

For many of us – especially those who never like the idea of PFI in the first place – this is a worthwhile cause. These companies are already making a fortune at the taxpayer’s long-term expense; why should they receive millions more – apparently in breach of their contracts – because of Tory tax changes?

But there’s a snag.

Ms Creasy’s campaign seems to have been overshadowed by her inability to answer a simple question: Whether she thinks it is acceptable for Labour MPs to be friends with – and socialise with – Conservative MPs.

Our fellow leftie blog, the Skwawkbox, raised this issue a couple of days ago after discovering that Ms Creasy had attended a gig with Tory MP Therese Coffey on December 16.

In light of Ms Creasy’s fellow Labour MP Laura Pidcock’s well-publicised belief that Labour MPs should not “hang out with Tory women” who are “no friends of mine” and “an enemy to lots of women”, Skwawkbox blogger Steve Walker asked for Ms Creasy to comment.

In response, he received a torrent of evasion – and, to be honest, abuse. See for yourself, here and here.

Her bizarre attitude has been bolstered by an article in the Huffington Post that supports her attitude of indignation that a blogger should call her out on this matter.

Isn’t this hypocritical of the HuffPost, which was quite happy to quote the Skwawkbox interview with Ms Pidcock, where she first made her comments about Labour MPs fraternising with the Tories? This Writer thinks so.

It seems the aim is to divert attention. Ms Creasy seems so desperate to avoid telling us whether she thinks it’s okay to hang out with her political enemies, she’ll try to point us at anything else.

So she has claimed Skwawkbox was attacking her taste in music, then that the blog is misogynist, and finally that the blog was trying to undermine her PFI campaign.

I’m sorry, but it seems Ms Creasy has managed that, all by herself.

And it seems she has succeeded in hoodwinking people. Look at the following tweet, from another respected blogger, Tom Pride:

The issue isn’t musical taste, Tom.

It’s whether this particular person on the Left actually has any interest in opposing the Tories.

From my point of view, there is a simple way out, of course.

It is for Ms Creasy to swallow her pride, apologise for making a mountain out of a molehill, answer the question she was askedand clarify exactly whose side she’s on.

Then, perhaps we can all get behind her worthwhile campaign.


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#Brexit means #Brexit – for some. Theresa May exempts her own husband | Pride’s Purge

161207-theresa-may-husband

Theresa May’s government is planning to spend huge amounts of taxpayers’ our money exempting people who work in the city from Brexit.

Coincidentally, Theresa May’s husband works in the city.

So when she says Brexit means Brexit — she means for us, not for them.

Obviously …

Pictures at: Brexit means Brexit – for some. Theresa May exempts her own husband from Brexit. | Pride’s Purge

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Council finance chief to investigate ‘workhouse’ scheme

Workhouse: A former bus depot in Blackburn which is set to become a workhouse for up to 10 inmates.

Workhouse: A former bus depot in Blackburn which is set to become a workhouse for up to 10 inmates.

The finance chief at Blackburn with Darwen Council is to consider more deeply the plan to turn a former bus depot into what could be a 21st-century workhouse, it seems, after a Vox Political commenter raised concerns.

Andy Kay said he did not disagree that, although a few people could be taken off the street by the scheme, it could be setting a precedent for the government to say anyone who claims housing, unemployment or sickness benefit must work in a workhouse or be homeless, in conversation with commenter Helen Pay.

“With what the government is doing already, this idea isn’t far-fetched,” she told This Blog.

“Andy didn’t know if the homeless people were going to be paid wages – but the minimum wage for a young person he looked up and is something crazy like £4. Would many people choose to sort recycling for £4 an hour?

“He also said about accomodation being paid for at housing benefit rates. So when I asked if these homeless people could then be paid the minimum wage and be topped up by the council paying housing benefit – which would be paid to the charity – to live on a recycling site, his attitude completely changed. He hadn’t considered this.”

She told us she had also found it useful, when Mr Kay said the bottom line was to help homeless people, to quote an idea she had submitted to the Royal British Legion: “To supply accommodation to homeless people that involved zero profit being made and was purely about helping people.”

She pointed out: “The ‘charity’ website of Recycling Lives even talks about these homeless people being farmed out to other companies and those companies paying the wages they would have paid – to Recycling Lives.”

Ms Pay added: “I also mentioned personal responsibility for future events – which he seemed to take on board.

“I said I hoped that if he investigated and found Recycling Lives was taking advantage of people that I would read in a newspaper article that Andy Kay had been a whistle blower and put a halt to this scheme.”

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