The development charity Oxfam has called for action to tackle the growing gap between rich and poor as it launched a new report showing that 42 people hold as much wealth as the 3. 7 billion who make up the poorest half of the world’s population. In a report published on Monday to coincide with the gathering of some of the world’s richest people at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Oxfam said billionaires had been created at a record rate of one every two days over the past 12 months, at a time when the bottom 50% of the world’s population had seen no increase in wealth.
Britain's lobbying group for business leaders is on a collision course with the government as its chief prepares to call for the UK to remain in “a customs union” with the European Union after Brexit. In a major speech on Monday, Carolyn Fairbairn, the Confederation of British Industry’s director general, is expected to claim that “remaining in a customs union for as long as it serves us to do so” is “consistent” with the Leave vote in the EU referendum and “would be good for EU firms”.
Vince Cable has attacked the City watchdog for failing to publish a full report into the mistreatment of small businesses by the Royal Bank of Scotland, as MPs lined up to condemn the bank in parliament. The leader of the Liberal Democrats expressed “disgust” that passages of a damning report by the Financial Conduct Authority had not been released, four-and-a-half years after he first referred the case to the regulator during his time in the coalition government.
Taxpayers will be forced to hand over nearly £200bn to contractors under private finance deals for at least 25 years, according to a report by Whitehall’s spending watchdog. In the wake of the collapse of public service provider Carillion, the National Audit Office found little evidence that government investment in more than 700 existing public-private projects has delivered financial benefits. – Guardian.
The dramatic collapse of Carillion has started to hit thousands of the firm’s suppliers, as the real world impact of the demise starts to emerge. Subcontractors owed money by the construction and services giant are already being pressurised by their banks and have begun laying off workers, as the threat of contagion afflicting the sector was likened to a near re-run of the banking crisis. - Guardian.
One in four of Britain’s poorest households are falling behind with debt payments or spending more than a quarter of their monthly income on repayments, according to a study. The latest evidence of mounting debt problems for some of the most vulnerable in society is shown in a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, with the poorest tenth of households more likely to be in net debt, owing more on plastic or on overdrafts and loans than they hold in savings.
Ministers are facing questions about why hundreds of millions of pounds of work was awarded to a public contractor even after it issued a string of profit warnings. Last night the fate of the company, an employer of almost 20,000 people in the UK, lay in government hands after lenders indicated they would not rescue it without ministerial help. - The Times.
Bosses at Carillion have appealed for a state-backed rescue, telling ministers that its survival rests on a bail-out of the firm’s most troubled contracts. The crisis-hit construction firm has called on the government to step in to reduce the financial burden of a string of failed projects around the country, with the cry for help understood to centre around three UK public private partnership contracts, and asked Whitehall to pledge to dramatically speed up future outstanding payments.
The former owner of BHS, Dominic Chappell, has been found guilty of three charges of failing to provide vital documents to the pensions watchdog. Chappell, 51, was charged with neglecting or refusing to respond to three section 72 notices demanding he hand over vital documents and information relating to the purchase of the company. – Guardian.
The former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has told a court that workers were seen shredding bin bags of documents prior to his purchase of Sir Philip Green’s doomed high street chain in 2015. Chappell, 51, said the staff tipped the bags into an “industrial-sized” shredder, which was located in a lorry or a van in the car park of the Arcadia-run BHS offices in London. – Guardian.
Financial markets are complacent about the risks of sharply higher interest rates that could be triggered by better than expected growth in the global economy this year, the World Bank has warned. The Washington-based organisation said that much of the rich west was running at full capacity as a result of a broad-based upswing in activity, but were now vulnerable to a period of rising inflation that would prompt action from central banks. – Guardian.
The number of retailers going into administration has risen for the first time in five years as falling consumer confidence and rising costs take their toll on businesses. Figures compiled by Deloitte show that 118 retailers became insolvent last year, a 28 per cent increase on 2016, when 92 firms filed for administration. - The Times.
At least 20 retailers will reveal how they performed over the festive period this week, with Tesco expected to be one of the Christmas winners but Marks & Spencer continuing to struggle. Others due to update investors include Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, John Lewis, House of Fraser and fast-growing discounter B&M. With little sales growth to be found, it is not expected to be a vintage year for any company as consumer confidence and spending power remains weak. – Guardian.
Britons are expecting smaller pay rises this year, according to a new survey, despite widespread optimism that wages are set to accelerate after years of weak growth. The survey of more than 5,000 consumers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) shows that they expect their pay to climb by an average of just 2. 4% in 2018, down from 2. 7% last year. With inflation running at a higher rate, that would mean a real-terms wage cut. - Sunday Times.
Investment banks earned a record of nearly $104bn (£76. 7bn) in fees globally last year from work advising companies on more than $3. 5tn worth of takeovers and mergers. Globally, banks billed their clients for $103. 9bn worth of fees for their work, a 16% increase on 2016 and the highest yearly total since Thomson Reuters began collating data in 2000. – Guardian.
Bosses of top British companies will have made more money by lunchtime on Thursday than the average UK worker will earn in the entire year, according to an independent analysis of the vast gap in pay between chief executives and everyone else. The chief executives of FTSE 100 companies are paid a median average of £3. 45m a year, which works out at 120 times the £28,758 collected by full-time UK workers on average. – Guardian.
Ryanair has applied for a British air operating licence to ensure its domestic UK routes can keep flying after Brexit. The Irish airline has repeatedly warned that flights could be grounded after March 2019 unless a new framework for aviation is agreed between Britain and the EU. – Guardian.
Two people are understood to have been killed after Iranian security forces reportedly opened fire on anti-government demonstrators on Saturday as the largest protests seen in the country since 2009 continued for a third day. Reports of the two deaths were were posted on social media. There was no official confirmation of the fatalities but the posted images appeared to show several bodies being carried away after clashes with police in the western city in Dorud.
Britain is set to have the worst wage growth of any wealthy nation next year, ranking behind Italy, Greece and Hungary, according to analysis by the TUC. The UK is forecast to come bottom from 32 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development wealthy nations for wage performance in 2018, according to the study of OECD figures by the unions’ umbrella group. - Guardian.
The rise of the machine economy risks social disruption by widening the gap between rich and poor in Britain, as automation threatens jobs generating £290bn in wages. Jobs accounting for a third of annual pay in the UK risk being automated, according to the study by the IPPR thinktank. Warning that low-paid roles are in the greatest danger, it urged ministers to head off the prospect of rising inequality by helping people retrain and share in the benefits from advances in technology.