Today’s digest opens with a focus on growth in the economy, or the severe lack of any. Outgoing Bank of England governor Mervyn King blamed chancellor George Osborne for the rise in inflation and said that Britain will suffer low growth for at least another two years signalling the economy will remain weak until the next election. Coming on top of figures from the Office of National statistics which showed that the real value of wages has fallen back to 2003 levels while the Resolution Foundation put forward analyses that said middle income households will be no better off in 2017/2018 than they were in 1997/1998, Unite general secretary compared the situation in the UK and US. Said Len McCluskey: “Britain isn’t just being squeezed, our country is going backwards. The nation is now characterised by falling wages, insecure employment and cuts to welfare. Across the Atlantic, President Obama is talking about raising living standards, boosting the minimum wage and pushing for greater equality. It is a stark contrast to the hopeless message from David Cameron and George Osborne.”
And the news on the economy is not good, with not only rising energy prices, fuel bills, rail fares, food costs – expected to be made worse by the horse meat scandal – and more, ordinary workers are being squeezed ever harder. Prime minister David Cameron did try to throw a crumb from the table saying he would like to reintroduce the 10p tax rate, but sidestepped questions about who is benefiting from the top rate tax cut – he is obviously. Labour leader Ed Miliband is to outline his plans for the next election later today laying down the groundwork to make it a ‘living standards’ election.
Let’s hope there’s also a focus on jobs as yesterday was another bad day with 800 cuts at Santander, 2,500 jobs at risk at Republic which is now in administration and 1,400 more jobs axed at Blockbuster and even 324 jobs are to go at John Lewis, one of the strongest players on the high street.
And quality jobs are what’s needed and there’s a long way to go, Zoe Williams in the Guardian asks “When did being lowly paid become a criminal offence?” and the Indie has a piece on Tesco which is now using electronic armbands – effectively tags – to monitor and grade its staff, so much for worker’s dignity and rights.
(no links all stories behind paywall)
- US and EU set deadline for trade pact (p1)
- BoE willing to tolerate high inflation (p2)
- King adopts Carney tone on tackling price rises (p2)
- Gove challenged on claim of bullying (p2)
- Poundland case revives debate on slave labour (p3)
- Scant hope for job boost (p3)
- Horse meat trader convicted last year (p4)
- Vodafone weighs bid for German cable group (p15)
- Britvic’s tie up thwarted (p16)
- Finmeccanica replaces chief (p18)
Edited by Mik Sabiers