News digest 4 December 2013

News digest 4 December 2013

04 December 2013

Banking leads today’s digest, but it is not the growth in bankers’ bonuses, rather the rise in food banks that is hitting the headlines. The I splashes with the headline: ‘Food poverty a public health emergency’ say experts and even worse the accusation being levelled is that the government may be covering up the extent to which austerity and welfare cuts are adding to the problem. It comes as Unite has joined forces with food writer and former food bank user Jack Monroe to call for an urgent parliamentary debate into UK hunger and the growing use of food banks, the call is backed by the Mirror and Trussell Trust building on the fundraising appeal to ‘Give our kids a Christmas’ with Unite urging members to come together to help feed kids in their communities. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “This government is turbocharging inequality in Britain. It is a disgrace that in the world’s seventh richest country, food banks will have to feed 60,000 people this Christmas and fed over 345,000 people, between April and September this year. Cabinet ministers have been turning their back on our cost of living crisis. While hundreds of thousands of families go without food, they have been cosying up to bankers, who are set for another year of bumper bonuses. It’s time that the government faced up to the crisis it is causing. That’s why we are calling for a proper debate on the explosion in demand for food banks and followed up with real action … the government is failing in its most basic duty to its citizens and must address food poverty without delay.” Why not join over 72,000 people and back #jackspetition for an urgent debate and if you can, donate to the Unite Christmas appeal plus check out the 10 food bank myths and how to challenge them.

And from food banks to high street banks and the front page of the Guardian reports on the ongoing chaos at the state backed Royal Bank of Scotland over the computer crash that left people unable to access their accounts. The report sees the blame being laid squarely at the feet of cost cutting by senior management after Unite called for a halt to the job cuts – 30,000 to date – and the cost cutting plans in general. Unite national officer Dominic Hook said: "It is unacceptable that the bank's customers are once again facing inconvenience. Unite has grave concerns that staffing challenges are exacerbating the problems facing the bank, challenges that could be further amplified when the chief executive announces the outcomes of his strategic review in February. Serious questions must be asked as to why constant job cuts are being made when there are clearly serious issues which need addressing by management."

And still on bankers, but this time on advice and it seems that the Co-op’s advisers were ‘kept in the dark’ in terms of assessing the Britannia groups’ corporate lending portfolio, which later proved to be the bank’s undoing. The lack of due diligence hides the danger around the corner; more questions must be asked.

And talking of asking questions, there is widespread coverage of the OECD report on schools which has seen the UK tumble down the league tables, despite the multi-billion pound rise in education spending under the last Labour government – making up for the Tory years where comprehensive schools were allowed to effectively crumble – Britain’s children are still falling behind, or as the Express so nicely puts it: ‘UK wears dunce’s hat.’ Education secretary Michael Gove says he stands by his reforms, but then this is the man that wants to bring profit into the classroom, doubt that will do our standards much good.

And finally there are a few more trails for tomorrow’s autumn statement. The government is pushing the infrastructure investment today, although no new money is forthcoming, but perhaps more disconcerting for the Tories’ targeted ‘hardworking families’ the Express and Mail say that tax cuts for the squeezed middle have been ruled out until the end of the decade. So after abandoning those at the bottom, the Tories have given up on cuts for ordinary workers and the only people to have benefited from a tax cut this term will be top rate taxpayers, sums up Con-Dem Britain exactly…

Edited by Mik Sabiers

  Huffington Post

  Morning Star

  Daily Mirror

  Sun (no links all stories now behind paywall)

  • Back of the class (p4)
  • National insurance to be scrapped for under 21s (p8)
  • Open doors UK feature (p10-11)
  • RBS: We failed (p17)(p)
  • 22 million jam A&E (p22) [11 per cent surge]
  • Betfair buoyant (p50)
  • Greene shoots for pub goers (p50) [recovery puff story]



  Times (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • ‘Idle’ Britons are allowing Romanians to take jobs (p1)
  • Anxious UK pupils lag behind in math’s (p12)
  • Osborne to confirm tax break for married couples in autumn statement (p16)
  • Public’s 40 per cent Eurostar holding to be sold off (p16)
  • Capitalism turns greed into prosperity – Daniel Finkelstein (p33)
  • The increasingly confidence, powerful Mr Clegg – Alice Thomson (p35)
  • Downing Street backs BP (p47)
  • Housebuilders lead vital revival in construction (p52)




  FT (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • UK backs BP over Deepwater (p1)
  • Insurers to pledge £25 billion for infrastructure (p2)
  • Lloyds criticism cut from report (p4)
  • Gove’s school model takes caning in test (p4)
  • Britain needs to face up to household debts (p13)
  • Co-op’s advisers kept in dark (p17)
  • Lack of investment blamed for RBS failure (p22) – Unite cited

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