Wednesday newspaper round-up: Consumer dip, merger job losses, pay row

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Wednesday newspaper round-up: Consumer dip, merger job losses, pay row

Wed, 10 May 2017
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Wednesday newspaper round-up: Consumer dip, merger job losses, pay row

(ShareCast News) - Consumer spending will have "effectively stalled" by next year as Britons respond to rising inflation, minimal wage growth and a slowdown in house prices, a leading think tank has warned. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research said that robust growth in consumption in 2016 was coming to an end as the fall in sterling pushed up the cost of imports and filtered through into the prices of everyday goods and services. - The Times
Standard Life and Aberdeen are preparing to lose around 800 jobs if their £11bn tie-up goes ahead, as the pair unveil further details of the blockbuster deal which is expected to close in mid-August. The two investment giants published their merger prospectus on Tuesday evening, confirming that a restructuring following the proposed tie-up will see almost 9pc of the combined 9,000 roles go "to maximise operational efficiencies and cost synergies". - Telegraph

Raising interest rates could have such a destabilising impact on Britain's housing market that the Bank of England would have to abort the policy, a former Bank official has warned. Sushil Wadhwani, a member of the Bank's rate-setting committee from 1999 to 2002, said that the UK, along with many other developed countries, was caught in a debt trap that threatened to paralyse central banks. - The Times

Shareholders in four of Britain's biggest companies have been advised to vote against the pay of their senior executives by a leading investor group, which warned that bonuses had become excessive. BAE, Barclays, ITV and Prudential have been attacked by Pirc for paying their bosses too much, not attaching sufficiently testing performance criteria for long-term awards and failing to provide enough information on how bonuses are determined. - The Times

Insurers should be forced to make it easier for customers to opt out of automatic policy renewals, which can be hundreds of pounds more expensive than switching, it has been claimed. Moneysupermarket, the price comparison website, yesterday urged regulators to prevent insurers demanding that policyholders call them and go through several steps to stop policies rolling over from one year to another. - The Times

Rescued insurer Towergate is to merge with four other businesses in a deal that will form one giant new player in the UK insurance industry. The deal, which has been referred to internally as 'project Kairos' - an ancient Greek word meaning the right moment - will see companies Towergate, Autonet, Chase Templeton, Ryan Direct and Price Forbes merge into one London-based insurance group this autumn. - Telegraph

Common painkillers such as ibuprofen raise your risk of a heart attack by about 50 per cent as soon as you start taking them, the first study of its kind suggests. Even people taking the occasional tablet for backache have been warned to consider alternatives and not assume that drugs are totally safe because they can be bought easily at a supermarket. - The Times

The former chief executive and chairman of Lloyds Banking Group are due to take to the witness box in the autumn when the lender goes to court in a £400m legal battle with shareholders over its ill-fated rescue of HBOS. About 6,000 investors in Lloyds, including City institutions, are pursuing a lawsuit against the bank, claiming its management withheld important information from them about HBOS when it struck its £12bn deal for the struggling lender. - Telegraph

Ten million workers fear that they will be forced to delay their retirements, a study has found. Seventy-three per cent of employees believe that they will have to work beyond 65, up from 67 per cent asked the question in 2016, representing an increase of three million people in a year. The survey for the insurer Canada Life also found that one in ten expected to keep working until they are 85. - The Times

Britain's fastest-growing companies are getting bigger faster, with the pace of expansion accelerating to 70pc, up from an average of 50pc a year ago. The findings come in the London Stock Exchange Group's (LSE) annual round-up of the 1,000 most dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK which is being launched on Wednesday. -

Companies that conduct internal investigations to root out corruption could be forced to assist prosecutors because such inquiries are not necessarily legally privileged. The prospect has been raised by a High Court ruling ordering lawyers for Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation to hand over documents. The lawyers for the London-based mining company described the decision as "unprincipled and illogical" and said that they would appeal against it. - The Times

The BHS pensions scandal highlights the need for big private companies such as the failed retailer to adhere to governance rules similar to listed companies, according to the Institute of Directors. The lobby group has released its election manifesto calling for a tightening of controls on large unlisted businesses to prevent a repeat of the scandal that left tens of thousands current and former BHS workers' retirement payouts in doubt. - Telegraph

Thousands of convictions for crimes including murder, rape and assault may be ruled unsafe after claims that employees of a private firm "manipulated forensic tests", police have warned. More than 6,000 toxicology tests carried out by two workers at Randox Testing Services (RTS) are being repeated after concerns were raised during a drug-driving trial in January. - The Times

Election corner

Theresa May has admitted her policy of capping energy prices may not be "Conservative" but said supporting working people was more important than "ideology". The Prime Minister has faced criticism from the country's biggest energy firms - as well as some within her own party - for pledging to bring in a policy that goes against traditional Tory free market values. - The Times

May also will face a battle within her own party as well as with the energy companies if she decides to go ahead with a cap on gas and electricity prices. A number of Tory MPs favouring free market policies, including some at senior ministerial level, feel the plan is far too interventionist for a Conservative government, and are aiming to water down the proposal in the next parliament. - Guardian

Labour will make multibillion-pound education pledges today, paid for by raising corporation tax by a third, after Jeremy Corbyn said that he would target "tax cheats, rip-off bosses and greedy bankers". Mr Corbyn is due to announce a series of measures for all age groups, including class sizes smaller than 30 for all infant children and free school meals for primary school children. - The Times

A Labour government would raise corporate taxes to fund a £6bn-a-year boost to schools budgets by the end of the next parliament and create a National Education Service to equip Britain's workers for the post-Brexit economy, the party will announce. After Jeremy Corbyn launched Labour's campaign with a rousing speech to activists in Manchester on Tuesday, promising to "transform Britain", Labour hopes the tax-and-spend policy will draw a clear dividing line with the Conservatives, by underlining its determination to relieve the pressure on cash-starved public services. - Guardian

Theresa May promised MPs the chance to repeal the 12-year-old ban on foxhunting yesterday as she voiced her personal support for the practice. The prime minister said that she had "always been in favour of foxhunting" after a Conservative peer claimed that a Tory majority of 50 after the general election, considered by pollsters to be easily within reach, could be enough to overturn the Hunting Act. - The Times

The Conservatives must prove they are the party of low tax by replacing a current "tax lock" with a pledge to keep burden below a third of national income, Thatcherite economists, academics and experts warn today. In a letter to today's Daily Telegraph the economists question Theresa May's commitment to being a party of lower taxes. - Telegraph

Theresa May's husband has let slip that she had wanted to be prime minister for at least seven years since she was an established member of the shadow cabinet. Philip May made the admission during a joint interview with his wife on BBC1's The One Show, in which the pair talked about their life together. - Guardian

Labour faces a historic split after the election with as many as 100 of the party's MPs set to walk out and form their own breakaway group in an attempt to force out Jeremy Corbyn, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Moderate Labour candidates are already in talks with potential donors about a new "Progressives" group forming in Parliament if Mr Corbyn stays on as leader after a Tory landslide. - Telegraph