News digest 29 January 2014

News digest 29 January 2014

29 January 2014

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

·                Labour bursts Tories’ bubble – Morning Star

·                Austerity Labour is on its way and Balls is leading the charge – Mary Riddell - Telegraph

·                Economy grows at fastest pace since 2007 - Express

·                What the GDP lift really means – Hamish McRae [scroll down] - Indie

·                Big banks swing axe on jobs - Mirror

·                Quarter of Barclays branches could close – Mail

·                Atos boss says ‘we are liked’ – Mirror

·                'Psychometric tests' landed Co-op job for Paul Flowers - Indie

Today’s digest opens with mixed coverage on the economy. Although the government yesterday hailed the fastest rise in GDP since 2007, underlying figures continue to have cause for concern. Interestingly the rate of quarterly growth actually dropped to 0.7 per cent and commentators cautioned about the strength and the breadth of the recovery, the Guardian headline sums it up: ’Why George Osborne won't be cheering too loudly about the latest GDP figures’ arguing that if Osborne wants to keep selling austerity (and he does) then he needs to say that the economy is still healing, and more cuts are still needed. What seems to be ignored is that some three quarters of the cuts have yet to hit, we may be seeing the calm before the storm…

And a storm is definitely brewing in the financial sector, notwithstanding the imminent arrival of the bonus season for senior bankers, the impact of the financial maelstrom on ordinary banking staff continues. Lloyds yesterday confirmed it was to axe or outsource almost 1,400 jobs, this morning Barclays has announced that it plans to close a quarter of its bank branches, some 400 in total as part of a £1.3 billion cost efficiency drive, on top of this the Co-op has also announced that it plans to close 15 per cent of its branches, at this rate the high street will be bereft of any branches in the not too distant future, but then again we’re all doing online banking now aren’t we? Actually we’re not, as just earlier this week Unite research showed that people value branches and contact with people, with tens of thousands of jobs lost and branches closing left right and centre that looks rather unlikely, once again out of touch senior management with no understanding of their customers just a focus on cutting costs so they can pay out bumper bonuses to their buddies…

And talking of being out of touch, the Mirror reports that the boss of hated benefit assessor Atos, one Joe Hemming, was yesterday accused of living in a parallel universe after claiming that the public was “satisfied” with the work his firm was doing. Someone needs a reality check…

And talking of reality there’s one story in a couple of papers that could debunk the wonders of psychometric testing, namely the former deputy chair of the Co-op bank said that the now disgraced – and troubled – former chair of the bank, Paul Flowers, was selected for his role because he did well in psychometric tests, rather than having any banking experience, the test showed Flowers was the clear winner, which either makes you wonder what the other candidates were like, sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Edited by Mik Sabiers

  Morning Star

  Daily Mirror

Sun  (no links all stories now behind paywall)

  • Public doubt Labour on economy (p2)
  • Lloyds to cut 1,400 positions – Unite/Rob MacGregor cited (p38)





·         Huge swath of GCHQ mass surveillance is illegal, says top lawyer (p1)

·         Pete Seeger: folk activist who believed music could make a difference (p1)

·         Coulson planned to conceal origin of Sienna Miller's voicemail, court hears (p1)

·         GDP figures serve up an ace for George Osborne amid calls for 'new Balls' (p2)

·         Why George Osborne won't be cheering too loudly about the latest GDP figures (p4)

·         Economic growth: glass more than half full for bottle maker (p4)

·         UK economy grew 1.9% in 2013 – the fastest growth since 2007 (p4)

·         Labour calls on government to apologise over miners' strike (p6) – Unite cited

·         Ukip donor pays for Telegraph advert to claim 'sodomy has always been a crime' (p6)

·         Rivals to follow Tesco in revealing amount of food wasted (p7)

·         Three charged with stealing food from skip behind Iceland supermarket (p7)

·         Bar Council chairman: further legal aid cuts would be false economy (p8)

·         Concern over record numbers detained for mental health treatment (p8)

·         Jamie Oliver closes all Union Jacks restaurants bar one (p9)

·         European traffic controllers' strike prompts delay fears (p10)

·         Use of ambulances by over-90s to go to A&E rises by 81% (p10)

·         Labour to help government defeat Tory rebels over EU work restrictions (p12)

·         Mark Thompson to face MPs again over failed £99m Digital Media Initiative (p12)

·         Vodafone shareholders vote for £51bn Verizon cash and shares bonanza (p18)

·         Vodafone payout: investors are unlikely to go on a spending spree (p18)

·         Barclays considering closure of a quarter of its high street branches (p19)

·         Ex-Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers aced psychometric tests – deputy (p19)

·         RBS payouts to UK staff expected to total £500m (p19)

·         Rail minister casts doubt on future of UK manufacturing (p19)

·         Help to Buy helps almost 13,000 homebuyers (p19)

·         Lloyds axes half of its small business managers with 1,000 job cuts (p19) – Unite cited

·         The joke's not on Nigel Farage and Ukip. It's on the rest of us – Ian Birrel (p26)

·         Our workplaces are about as family-friendly as a 19th-century mill – Zoe Williams (p26)

·         RBS is the people's bank. So let's stop this annual festival of bribery – Simon Jenkins (p27)

·         The coalition's benefits cuts are stoking divisions in our society – Peter Beresford (p31)

·         Food banks: an inconvenient truth for the government – Patrick Butler (p31)


  FT (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Barclays chief ready to wield axe (p1)
  • MoD to hand over estate management to private sector (p2)
  • Poor productivity takes shine off GDP figures for 2013 (p3)
  • Co-op chose Flowers over psychometric tests (p4)
  • RBS reins in forex fixings (p13)
  • Ford delivers record earnings (p16)
  • Siemens’ stability drive pays off (p17)

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