Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
PICTURE the scene. Your lucky sibling has just won a whopping £9.3million on the Lottery. Then, you hear it, the tantalizing sound of a letter dropping through the letter-box. How much will your brother or sister have given you? Half-a-million at least, surely?
Well, for poor old Len Powell, that cheque, from sister Irene, was for just £1,000, a measly 0.010638 of his Lottery millionaire sibling’s enormous winnings. To add insult to injury, the offending cheque came with a hand written note which read, “Hope it will help you out with the struggle with money.”
Len’s son, 37-year-old Mark, who actually opened the letter, framed it with a copy of the cheque and placed it on his parents’ mantelpiece.
At the time of their massive win, Irene, 69, and her husband Ron promised to look after their close relatives. Says Irene: “We are wondering how to spend the money but one thing’s for sure – we’re going to take our time and ensure that all are loved ones are taken care of”.
When questioned yesterday about the grand slap in the face to her brother, Irene said, “I’m not going to say anything about money because it only stirs things up.”
Indeed it does.
THE working classes rarely seem to be at the forefront of New Labour’s thinking, except of course when it comes to ASBO’s and childhood obesity. And once again, according to the National Housing Federation, the Government is ignoring poor families, this time by failing to properly regulate money-lenders.
According to the NHF, doorstep lenders are raking in a £1million a week by charging ridiculously high interest rates to desperate borrowers turned away by banks.
Says NHF boss David Orr: “It is absolutely disgraceful that home credit companies can name their price when lending to the most desperate people. The Competition Commission was supposed to change all this.”
Indeed, the Competition Commission had promised to crack down on loan sharks almost seven months ago, but as yet, nothing has been done. A spokesman for the Commission, Rory Taylor, said, “I understand why people are frustrated but the plan will come on board in a couple of weeks. We’re slightly behind schedule but these changes are going to be for the long term, so it’s important we get them right.”
One imagines things would’ve moved a lot faster if those loan sharks were door-stepping the residents of Kensington or Hampstead.
According to the women’s rights group, the Fawcett Society, no-mug Gordon Brown needs to act on narrowing the gender pay gap.
Despite the fact that equal pay legislation has been in force for over 30 years, women working full-time are still paid, on average, 17 per cent less than their male counterparts, while women who work part-time, are paid an incredible 38 per cent less.
The Fawcett society’s Dr Katherine Rake, who enjoys a clunky metaphor or two, says, “Women tennis players are finally enjoying equal pay at Wimbledon – it’s time for Gordon Brown to give all women a sporting chance and finally end the pay gap. The ball is in his court.”
The mother of three had suffering six months of harassment at the café where she worked over the colour of her hair, which is red.
The night manager of the Rendezvous Café, a Turkish man apparently known only as Zia, had made a series of lewd and embarrassing comments to Prinner, including enquiring about the colour of her pubic hair.
Prinner was dismissed from the job last October after a legitimate sick note was not accepted by her employer, and in the months following, she spent £90 every three months keeping her hair straight and blonde.
At the tribunal, Prinner tells us: “I was teased about my red hair at school and called coppernob and Duracell, but no-one had mentioned the colour of my hair to me for years. I have been in lots of jobs and no-one had mentioned the colour of my hair. When I complained I was told I was racist.”
FORGET the inner-city ghetto or the lawless council estate, if you’re looking for a crime wave then look no further than the leafy streets of middle-class Britain, where men carry sawn-off shotguns under their copy of the Guardian and women conduct drug deals in Waitrose’s less salubrious aisles.
According to research by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, two-thirds of middle-class people are wantonly breaking the law.
The researchers point to an “unrestrained pursuit of self-interest and profit” while Richard Gartside of the CCJS says, “This research demonstrates that volume crime is far more widespread, with the middle class being responsible for a wide range of illegal activities. The reasons for this are complex, and relate to the fundamental social changes in British society over the past 30 years.”
Tax evasion tops the rankings with 34 per cent of those surveyed admitting to striking “cash-in-hand” deals with builders and other tradesmen; 32 per cent said they keep the money when given extra change; 18 per cent admitted to stealing from work, usually stationary items.
In terms of the more serious offences, 11 per cent fail to pay their TV licence while seven per cent inflate insurance claims.
Still, it’s hardly Scarface, is it? Don’t expect Guy Richie’s new gangster flick (if he ever makes anything again) to be set in ‘Hell’s Bells’ Tunbridge Wells.
IT’S been a decade since New Labour’s election victory threatened to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. However, with wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, and people drowning in a sea of debt, incumbent PM Gordon Brown still has a lot of work to do.
According to figures published by the Lib Dems today, the average British family now spends 9 per cent of its income on interest charges, the highest amount in ten years and a fifth more than in 1997.
The figures, based on answers to parliamentary questions tabled by Lib Dem shadow Chancellor Vince Cable, also show that the average family’s total personal debt now accounts for an incredible 164 per cent of their annual income, the highest figure in the developed world.
Cable says:, “Mr Brown will move house this week while thousands of homeowners face severe financial difficulties because of the expected interest rate rises this summer and later this year.”
So much for Gordie’s much-celebrated fiscal talents.
DESPITE dramatic predictions of societal breakdown and nationwide anarchy, the introduction of all-night opening-hours for pubs and clubs has not had a catastrophic effect on our nation.
But for people who do wish to object, particularly neighbours who live nearby the venues, things have been made even more difficult.
The Government is set to massively increase the cost of appealing against pubs and clubs with late opening-hours from £25 to £400, in a move viewed by critics as an attempt to stamp out opposition to round-the-clock drinking once and for all.
While Labour had initially promised to “tilt the rules” in favour of neighbours who do complain, pub chains and clubs are now threatening to claim huge legal costs from anyone who opposes them.
The Lib Dem culture spokesman, Don Foster, says: “This dramatic increase effectively leaves the least well-off in our society without access to justice and the right of appeal. Anybody looking to appeal against a nightclub in their street getting a late licence could be priced out of the system.”
Of course, they could just create their own club: charge £5 for water, turn the stereo up to ‘11’ and cover the toilet in vomit…
YOU have to hand it to paranormal investigator Ross Hemsworth. While most people will put a few quid on the horse or bet on who’ll get to shag first in Big Brother, Hemsworth has aimed rather higher, placing a £100 wager on the existence of the afterlife.
Interestingly, he got quite generous odds of 10,000/1 and now the 49-year-old claims to be on the verge of winning the £1million bet.
Says Hemsworth: “There is something out there trying to make contact. With the evidence we have got we are not a million miles away from proving it. The whole point of the project is to prove that there is something there.”
However, if Hemsworth is to pocket his winnings, bookmakers William Hill will have to receive and verify the evidence before the end of the year.
Graham Sharpe of the bookmakers opines: “We are used to taking bets on matters as bizarre as the existence of the Loch Ness Monster; whether Elvis Presley is still alive and when UFOs may land, even on whether ghosts exist. But this is the first time we have ever taken a bet that conclusive proof of the existence of the after-life will be forthcoming.”
I think I’ll stick to big Brother. So should you. Click here for details…
With their loud parties, overuse of irony and non-existent hygiene, not to mention their precious youth and the fact that they have most of their lives still ahead of them. What’s not to dislike? Or at least be jealous of?
Well HSBC have decided to wipe that smug and sarcastic smile off students’ spotty faces (that’s enough – ed) by announcing the scrapping of free overdrafts for students fresh out of university.
Banks have, traditionally, allowed new graduates time to clear their debts by offering a gradual reduction in the free overdraft facility over the first three years after college.
But now graduates who bank with HSBC will be forced to pay almost 10 per cent interest on their overdraft from this August onwards.
HSBC spokeswoman Karen Garner says: “The new service is put together to create a more level playing field, we wanted them to distinguish between being a student and graduate, because as the latter you are in a position to earn money. It softens the blow of realising the costs associated with borrowing, and graduates will be more inclined to take action if they realise they are paying for something.”
So the bank is only doing it to teach the new graduates some valuable financial lessons and not simply to make even more money?
How very thgouhtful…
IF you’re planning to pop across the Atlantic to make the most of the strong pound, maybe you should consider going to Zimbabwe.In terms of how much Zimbabwean dollar you can get for your pound, there has never been a better time to go to the African country.
Under Robert Mugabe’s handling of the economy, the country’s dollar has lost half its value in three days, according to black market dealers. Indeed, while the Harare Government claims that the US dollar is currently worth 250 Zimbabwean dollars, the free market rate yesterday reached more than a staggering Z$300,000 to one US dollar.
John Makumbe, a lecturer in political science at the University of Zimbabwe feels that the dismal economy could lead to Mugabe’s downfall.
He tells us: “It is the economy that is going to bring the regime down. I don’t think it’s very sustainable. Right now the transport sector is grinding to a halt. A lot of people are now in abject poverty. With a million dollars you will be lucky to buy two or three items.”
A six-mile ride on public transport into the centre of Harare can cost up to a tenth of someone’s monthly wages.
Book now to ensure disappointment…
FREEDOM may be about to cost a little bit more as the US Government ponders whether or not to slap a $10 tourist tax on Britons entering the self-styled home of the brave.
The proposals were drawn up by the Discover America Partnership which represents a number of tourist groups and are set to be debated by the US congress.
Governor Tom Ridge, a former secretary of Homeland Security, who unveiled the new plans says: “Securing our nation’s borders and facilitating travel are not mutually exclusive. Our borders are the intersection of security and prosperity. We must have the will to eliminate inefficiencies and build the most secure and traveller friendly entry process possible.”
The money would be used to improve security at US ports as well as helping to fund an information campaign for tourists visiting the country.
However, the US tourist industry has become increasingly concerned at the impact the new security regime is having on visitor numbers. Indeed, visits by Britons to the States fell from 4,703,000 in 2001 to 4,345,000 in 2005, despite the extremely favourable exchange rate.
Jonathan Lhowe, of Visit New England.com, is worried. “People complain that they are not made to feel very welcome when they arrive and making them pay for the privilege is not going to help. If you are trying to bring in a family, you could be paying $40 or $50. Nobody loves a tax, but for legislators at least tourists don’t have a vote,” says he.
Although £5 for freedom sounds reasonable…
AS the debate over the miniscule amount of tax paid by private equity firms rumbles on, one of the nation’s richest men has warned that violence could engulf Britain unless the gap between rich and poor is closed.
Sir Ronald Cohen, who founded private equity giant Apax, was speaking to the Treasury Select Committee when he revealed his concerns.
Says he: “It is something we should be concerned about. Entrepreneurial economies which have high rates of growth and high rates of job creation do lead to great divergences in wealth. When economic situations get bad, it takes a spark to ignite a violent reaction.”
However, Cohen, who is said to be worth £260million, came under fire for his comments with Tory MP Brooks Newmark who tells us: “Having retired and benefited from the tax benefits that have been in the economy for the past ten years, it’s a bit hypocritical of him to suddenly say we have to change the tax laws.”
But are the Great British public about to rise up on masse? One fears they are too busy watching Big Brother.
ATM machines can be a pain, particularly when they won’t let you have any money.
Almost as frustrating is their habit of only discharging £20 notes. The fiver has become rather elusive. But the Bank of England is keen to keep the humble fiver alive.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King is concerned by UK banks’ penchant for only stocking larger bills. Says he: “The problem is not at the production end – we have an ample supply of new £5 notes waiting to be used. There is a need for an adequate supply of low denomination notes that can be used for small transactions.”
Over the past 15 years the value of £5 notes in circulation has stayed static at £1billion while the lifetime of the average fiver has doubled. Not surprisingly this has lead to a huge amount of crumpled notes which often clog up Banks’ sorting machines.
In response to King’s comments, Angela Knight, chief executive of the British Bankers Association, says that with £100 being the average amount taken out of ATMs at a single visit, it was “safer” to stock higher denominations, therefore cutting the number of trips needed to fill up the machines.
They could always just hand out free fivers if they really wanted to increase the circulation.
I’VE never quite understood why so many adults read Harry Potter. It’s a children’s book! Grow up and read a book byJudy Blume or someone.
Anyway, one man still young enough to legitimately enjoy the over-rated adventure books is 19-year-old Toby Rundle, whose first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is set to fetch up to £15,000 at auction.
Rundle, from Williton in Somerset, was sent the then unknown book by his mother while at boarding school but now he wants cash in on it and put the funds raised towards a classics and English degree at Oxford University.
Book specialist Chris Albury said of Toby’s first edition copy, “There are so few books worth that kind of money – it’s like having a winning lottery ticket”.
£15,000? I’d want a lot more money if I had a winning lottery ticket.
I CAN see it now – a long line of people queuing to have their tarot cards read. As well as pocketing their £1.6million Lotto jackpot, nouveau millionaires Janette and Stephen Wright have fattened tarot card readers’ purses.
Mrs Wright, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, claims that a tarot card reader predicted her good fortune.
Mrs Wright, glass of bubbly in hand, says: “I had a tarot card reading about seven or eight years ago and the tarot reader told me one day I would win ‘a substantial amount of money which will be shared’.”
He husband Stephen, who has decided to jack in his job as a painter and decorator, adds: “I never really believed in stuff like that — but I’ll never giggle at it again”.
The couple plan to buy a Lexus car as well as houses for their grown-up children. While Mrs Wright continues to wait for that tall, dark and handsome stranger she was promised.
Although now she has more of chance of getting one…
For great Lottery joke, click here…
In the case of Beryl Pearce, who is refusing to pay her council tax bill on principle, the fact that she spent the Second World War working as an RAF nursing orderly, gives her story even more pinch.
The 85-year-old Mrs Pearce, who lives in Band D-rated sheltered accommodation in Andover, Hampshire, tells a preliminary hearing: “With the prisons being full – there’s a lot of us doing this – they have a problem and will have to think about what they’re doing. It’s a case of heat or eat – where’s the justice in that? I have worked since I was 14 and I have served my country. I have nursed in old people’s homes since the war.”
Pearce now owes £71 plus legal fees of £15 but despite being well able to pay the charge, she is determined to continue her stand, saying: “I’m not worried about prison. I have been through worse things in my life”.
After the magistrate’s hearing, a Test Valley Borough Council spokesman groans: “If the bill is not paid we may have to take further action. A custodial sentence is a last resort and we would hope to resolve it before it got to that stage.”
If they do send her down, expect a media storm. Beryl Pearce – the British Paris Hilton…
ANYONE expecting Gordon Brown to steer New Labour a little more to the left – once the arch-Thatcherite Tony Blair leaves No. 10 – will be sorely disappointed.
According to the Work and Pensions Secretary, John Hutton, the incumbent PM will go ahead with plans to put private companies and voluntary groups in charge of getting people off sickness benefits and back to work.
In a leaked copy of a speech to be given in Birmingham, Hutton will say: “I know there are some who hope the coming political transition will mean the Government goes cool on the prospect of further radical welfare reform to benefit the hardest to help. They will be disappointed.”
The Government is also pondering whether or not to allow private firms and the voluntary sector to run the ‘Pathways To Work’ scheme which offers incapacity benefit claimants help and advice on getting a job.
Not surprisingly, New Labour’s few remaining left-wing MPs aren’t happy. Nottingham South’s Alan Simpson says: “Simply shoveling public services into private pockets will not deliver any improvements to the public. Sooner or later, ministers will have to face the reality that they cannot run the welfare system like a car boot sale.”
What, are they planning to put David Dickinson in charge of it? At least he’s cheap as chips…
AHEAD of their predicted takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro, Barclays are pondering whether or not to remove their famous eagle logo. The reason? Apparently it could offend Dutch people as it somewhat resembles an eagle emblem used by the Nazis.
The Barclays’ bird dates back to 1728 when two of its founders moved to new premises in London, above which was the sign of the Black Spread Eagle. The German bird, on the other hand, is an old national symbol which was used by kings and emperors of the region before being adopted by the Nazis.
The Nazis went on to occupy the Netherlands during the Second World War and with a £45billion deal in the balance, Barclays don’t want to irk any customers of ABN Amro.
A source close to the bank says: “It is rather a Teutonic-looking eagle and has unfortunate connotations.”
Surely the magpie, a bird that is prone to dealing in other people’s treasures, would be a better representation of Barclays? Or some other bird of prey…
THE time may well have come for a major new house building programme as new figures reveal the shocking extent of the current housing crisis.
With the number of families joining the waiting list for a council house rising by an incredible 119,000 every year, the size of the queue could top two million by 2010.
Housing charity Shelter is extremely concerned and is calling on the Government to start building more homes. Chief Executive Adam Sampson tells us: “This new analysis is shocking. It shows since Labour took power 10 years ago it simply has not done enough to tackle the chronic shortage of social homes. It means more and more ordinary families waiting years, sometimes as long as 20, for a proper home to bring up their children.”
Forty years ago, there were almost 200,000 council houses being built a year but that figure has dwindled to just hundreds; since Labour came to power, the waiting list for council properties has actually risen by more than 600,000.
A senior Government “source” tells the Mirror: “We know we have to build more and recognise it’s a major issue for families. We’re working on ways to achieve that”.
One doubts just how interested the Government is in the working classes. Unless they’re slapping Asbo’s on them.
TONY Blair and his cronies have never been afraid to look for outside help. (Pic: The Spine)
Indeed, even when there is absolutely no need to, the Government will pick up the phone and call on the services of a private consultant. Just for the sheer hell of it. And it’s costing us rather a lot – £7.2billion over the past three years, to be exact.
A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee has revealed the sheer scale of the profligacy, with £2.8billion frittered away by the public sector on private consultants last year alone.
Even more worryingly is the fact that many Government departments are apparently not even sure how much they have spent on outside advisors, with two out of five departments also admitting they had used consultants when it wasn’t even necessary.
MPs on the committee claim that at least £500million a year could be saved by the Government if it curbed its addiction to consultants and adopted recommendations proposed by the National Audit Office.
Edward Leigh, the committee’s Conservative chairman says: “It is impossible to believe that the public are receiving anything like full value for money from this expenditure. In fact, a good proportion of it looks like sheer profligacy.”
But how do we know what value for money is? And who consults the consultants?
News that Queen Elizabeth II is to be turned into a floating hotel may distress, anger and cause monarchists up and down the country to clack their marmalade-coated tongues and harrumph.
However, the nation’s royalists needn’t worry as it’s only the QE2 cruise ship that is set for gutting. Her Majesty remains un-filleted, land-based and ready to serve.
The 70,000-tonne vessel is being bought by the Dubai firm Carnival, the world’s largest cruise operator. They plan to turn the famous ship into a floating hotel off the Gulf emirate’s man-made islands.
Offering locals in the tower blocks’ lower floors a handy escape route when global warming causes the waters to rise…
The company, which came out worst in the rankings for fare rises, crowding and delays advertised a new direct line between Falmouth and Redruth, sending out thousands of leaflets.
However, as Cornwall locals rejoiced at the new service, FGW announced that it had in fact, made a “small mistake” and that there was no new service at all.
You couldn’t make it up. Actually, First great Western did, didn’t they?
THE pressure is no longer on Tiger Tim (HRT) this summer or indeed Andy Murray (injured). We have a new sporting hero and – get this – he actually wins things. His name is Lewis Hamilton and he’s selling his go-kart on eBay.
After his US Grand Prix victory, bids for the customised McClaren Mercedes kart increased to £16,000 and with the successful bidder also winning the chance to collect the vehicle from Hamilton himself, the price looks set to rise even higher.
“It is brand new with only one careful owner and this kart was customised for me,” says the 22-year-old whiz-kid. “It is pretty fast, just how I like it. For anyone who aspires to be a Formula 1 driver, this is for you.”
Proceeds from the sale of the kart, which is worth about £2,000, will go to baby charity Tommy’s.
Is Hamilton the new Beckham? If so, will he bag himself a Spice Girl? And would he want to? Geri Halliwell is still single, though. So too Sporty…
In order to mark the lottery’s 10,000th jackpot winner, Camelot have released a profile, including a police-style photo-fit, of their average jackpot winners, with a middle-aged builder apparently the most likely to win big
According to Camelot, the average winners win £2.1million, live in a four or five bedroom house, choose to drive either a BMW, Land Rover or Range Rover and holiday in either the USA and Spain. Most winners also give a share of their prize money to family, friends and charity.
A spokesman from Camelot stated the obvious by saying, “The range of different careers really proves that people from all walks of life have won the jackpot.”
Topping the list of the luckiest professions is construction work, followed by administration, management, driving and catering. Funeral directors come bottom of the list, just one place ahead of bookmakers while estate agents and those who work in advertising and PR also rarely hit the jackpot.
Apparently there is a god after all.
ROYAL Mail’s dodgy reputation can come in handy sometimes. Birthday cards that you forget to send or cheques that you have yet to post can all be explained away by claiming that they’ve been “lost in the post”.
And now you can buy them back. The Royal Mail is auctioning off a huge number of items that really do go missing in transit.
The contents of an estimated 75,000 packages which failed to reach their destination are finding their way onto internet auction sites each year with even customers who have paid for the Royal Mails ‘secure’ postal services discovering that their goods are ending up on eBay.
One such customer, retired teacher John Beattie, discovered the issue after stumbling across a set of rare bagpipes on eBay, the exact same bagpipes he had posted a few months previously.
The 55-year-old Beattie received £500 in compensation, the maximum on offer, but has still been left £1,000 out of pocket. Says he: “I did everything I should have. I clearly addressed the box containing the bagpipes and Royal Mail labelled it with its own stickers too. It even had an online tracking tag attached to it, and this was supposed to enable the Royal Mail to follow the package’s progress.”
A Royal Mail spokesman admitted that around 15 per cent of ‘lost items’ were sold off. Says he: “Each year 500,000 parcels are undeliverable because they are either incorrectly addressed or have no address or the intended recipient has moved. We do all we can to reunite them with their owners at a cost of £10 million a year.”
You see, it’s all your fault. You can’t buy information like that…