News digest 15 January 2014

News digest 15 January 2014

15 January 2014

Today’s top reads: Stories to keep an eye out for:

·                Red Ed’s claim to be saviour of middle classes is beneath contempt – Dominic Sandbrook

·                Is inflation really falling? Not in my shop – Russell Lynch - Indie

·                Bankers can almost smell those massive bonuses – Chris Blackhurst - Indie

·                Out of touch 1: Splash MPs 90p expenses claim for trip to pool – Daily Mirror

·                Out of touch 2: MPs portrait cost of £250K is chicken feed says Tory MP – Daily Mirror

While there’s quite a lot of coverage of yesterday’s Telegraph article by Ed Miliband in all of the papers – and most of the right wing papers view it as negative so they must be worried - the digest opens with some good economic news for the government. Yesterday its preferred measure of inflation – the consumer prices index – fell to its two per cent target for the first time in four years. A surprise smaller rise in food prices compared with a year earlier offset a rise in petrol prices and the well-publicised hikes in gas and electricity bills. The good news did not last however as the more representative retail prices index showed a rise to 2.7 per cent from 2.6 per cent. Unite said the fall in inflation masked the everyday struggle for millions of working people with prices rising at more than double the rate of wages (which have seen a modest 0.8 per cent increase in the past year). Said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey: “The slight fall in consumer price inflation is to be welcomed, but it masks the grim reality for millions of people who are struggling to meet their everyday bills, as wages are lagging well behind inflation. RPI is still rising and households are still in the grip of Cameron and Osborne’s cost of living crisis, with extortionate rises in energy prices, childcare and rail fares yet to work their way through. Ministers need to commit to raise the minimum wage by £1.50 an hour and the corporate sector, which has a cash mountain, should heed the call of CBI director general John Cridland for workers to share in the new found prosperity.”

The reality is that people are still being paid poverty wages, although the FT and Morning Star both report that the government has announced that bosses that do not pay their workers the national minimum wage could face penalties of up to £20,000, raised from the current £5,000. That’s hardly likely to dent the budget of bad employers, especially as the Mirror yesterday reported that over the last three months not a single prosecution has been made over firms short-changing their employees. Time for proper enforcement. This comes at the same time as research from housing charity Shelter shows that one in five people are borrowing to pay their rent or cover the mortgage, so even more importantly, it’s time to end poverty pay and raise the minimum wage by £1.50 an hour.

And also needing proper enforcement – but definitely no increase in pay - is the cap on bankers’ bonuses. Chancellor George Osborne is coming under pressure to use the government's 81 per cent stake RBS to reduce the level of bonuses. Amid calls for a repeat of the bankers’ bonus tax, Unite national officer Rob MacGregor said: “The chancellor must not rubber stamp the corporate greed at Royal Bank of Scotland. If he looks the other way as the top bankers pat each other on the back and fill their boots, hard working people across the country will be appalled. Thousands of RBS staff are struggling to feed their children and pay their utility bills as they earn so little. They, along with taxpayers, have every right to expect this government to block any attempt to further reward these senior bankers.” Believe it when you see it, especially as Chris Blackhurst puts it in the Indie: “Bankers can almost smell those massive bonuses…”

Edited by Mik Sabiers

  Morning Star

  • Miliband loses his classes (p1)
  • Bosses face £20K fine for illegal low pay (p2)
  • A&Es blow millions on stand-in doctors (p2)
  • Remploy factory reopened (p4)
  • Inflation falls to 2 per cent (p4) – Unite/Len McCluskey cited
  • Why we need to renew our commitment to trade unionism – Bethan Jenkins AM (p9)

  Daily Mirror

  Sun (no links all stories now behind paywall)

  • EU: Reform or die (p2)
  • Inflation drops (p2)
  • [More negative] Benefits Street coverage (p11)
  • House price rises across the country (p39)



  Times (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Osborne’s EU speech (p1)
  • Inflation target hit (p2)
  • Limit on immigration ‘would be harmful to economy’ (p9)
  • Benefits Street is a challenge to the Right – Daniel Finkelstein (p21)
  • Vauxhall shows GM in Europe how it should be done (p34)
  • First time buyers squeezed (p35)
  • FirstGroup chair to be paid in shares (p37)




  • Osborne lectures EU on reform (p1)
  • Wind farm approvals up by two thirds (p6)
  • Why Frank Skinner said no to benefits Street (p10)
  • Miliband should come clean – the rich will have to pay more – Mary Riddell (p18)
  • Miliband to propose limiting size of nation’s banks (b1)
  • Cameron: UK can’t afford blackouts (b1)
  • Inflation hits target (b4)
  • Festive cheer for Sainsbury (b5)

  FT (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Migration report put on hold (p1)
  • Inflation target hit, but watch deflation (p2)
  • RBS bonus pressure (p1/2)
  • Fines to rise for low pay rogues (p2)
  • Miliband tailors policies to win middle class votes (p2)
  • Cameron attacks fracking critics (p5)
  • Banks push app to allow customers to pay by smartphone (p15)
  • Ford seeks answers to transport challenges (p19) 

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