News digest 12 December 2013

News digest 12 December 2013

12 December 2013

Today’s digest opens with coverage of pressure on banking staff that pushed people into a choice of 'a grand in your hand' or the threat of demotion. All the papers cover the story – and it features on the front of both the FT and the Indie, the latter of which  slams it as “a terrible day for British banks as Lloyds and RBS hit with spectacular fines”. The Financial Conduct Authority exposed the latest scandal in the banking industry highlighting the pressure Lloyds staff were under to achieve sales. The report uncovered a so-called "champagne bonus" for Lloyds TSB staff worth 35 per cent of their monthly salary for meeting sales targets, but it was not all incentives and bonuses, with the FCA highlighting one sales adviser who sold financial protection products to himself, his wife and a colleague in an attempt to avoid being demoted. Unite national officer Dominic Hook said: "The £28 million fine imposed by the FCA is another illustration of the overdue changes needed within the banking industry in order to end the culture that caused the credit crunch. The target driven sales culture, where the performance of ordinary bank workers is judged on achieving sales targets, rather than meeting the needs of customers, is unsustainable. Despite the countless reports and investigations into the conduct of the banks, the industry clearly has not learned the lessons of the financial crisis nor heard the concerns of customers and staff."

And from fines to fraud and missing money and a number of the papers report of a warning over losses from the Commons public accounts committee which said that the government is missing out to the tune of some £55 billion a year due to fraud, error and the ‘tax gap’ which sees people squirrelling away funds. Many of the papers stress the fraud angle, but in reality while that is estimated at a whopping £20 billion, the tax gap is believed to be £35 billion. The committee called on the Treasury to develop and publish an action plan to close the gap and deal with fraud, but what’s the bet they just do another attack on small scale benefits…

And talking of small scale benefits, almost all the papers cover what can only be termed as the cost of living crisis. The Mirror reports that the only rise in the economy is due to a debt fuelled bounce, but the Sun takes a gloomier approach with the headline: “All spent out”. The simple message is that hard-up families have slashed spending to the lowest level in a decade as they struggle with rising transport, energy and housing costs. Prime minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne were taken to task by Labour leader Ed Miliband at PMQs as Cameron denied there was a cost of living crisis. The reality is somewhat different As Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said last week: “This chancellor is ‘King Con’. His ‘responsible’ recovery is nothing of the sort. Turbocharged by crippling levels of personal debt, it fills the wallets of the wealthy while food bank use soars.” Welcome to Con-Dem Britain, where the rich get richer and the rest of us are squeezed ever harder as the out of touch Tories drive a wedge between the City and the rest of the country, don’t take my word for it, check out the FT which says Osborne’s planned rebalancing of the economy remains elusive, much like the recovery for ordinary people…

Edited by Mik Sabiers

  Morning Star

  Daily Mirror

  Sun (no links all stories now behind paywall)

  • PM’s pay rise fury (p2)
  • RBS fined £61 million (p2)
  • £55 billion lost due to fraud and unpaid taxes (p2)
  • Record cutbacks to pay energy costs (p25)
  • Lloyds gets lambasted (p52)
  • RBS shares tumble (p52)



  Times (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Blocking pay rises for MPs ‘raises risk of scandal’ (p9)
  • Housing and energy costs put squeeze on families (p10)
  • Johnson furious as independent airports chief ‘plumps for Heathrow’ (p18)
  • Bring back tests at 7, says Ofsted chief (p34)
  • Cameron must shake up the No 10 shambles – John McTernan (p37)
  • RBS fined (p49)
  • Branson to step back from Virgin Trains (p49)
  • Lloyds fined (p51)
  • Brussels may investigate EDF’s ‘generous’ nuclear deal  (p53)




  FT (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • State backed banks fined £90 million (p1)
  • Cameron pressed on need for civil service review (p2)
  • Personal budget pressures (p2)
  • North-south divide widens (p3)
  • Miliband makes U-turn on R3 at Heathrow (p3)
  • Time to reform the civil service – Bernard Jenkin (p13)
  • Lloyds record fine reflects new line on mis-selling (p19) – Unite/Dominic Hook cited
  • GM to end production in Australia (p20)
  • EADS soars (p21)
  • FirstGroup deflects spin-off call (p23)

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