What We Learned Last Week 20/01 – 26/01

kamsandhu —  January 27, 2014 — Leave a comment

1. 85 richest people own nearly half the world’s wealth, say Oxfam

According to new research by the Oxfam charity, the widening wealth gap means that the 85 richest people in the world own as much wealth as the 3.5bn poorest people – half the world’s population.

The report, “Working For The Few”, highlights the growing economic inequality and it’s effect on “human progress.”

The report said:

“Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.”

Source: Oxfam Image: The Independent

Source: Oxfam Image: The Independent

Read the report here.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

2. HSBC forced to retreat on proof policy for customers making withdrawals

HSBC sparked controversy last week as thousands of customers were refused cash withdrawals, fuelling speculation that the bank is in trouble, and another crash may be imminent.

According to a report on the BBC programme Moneybox, customers wanting to withdraw cash sums of over £1,000 were refused or asked for reasons for their withdrawal. One customer, Stephen Cotton, told the programme:

“When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for. They wanted a letter from the person involved.”

Mr Cotton says the staff refused to tell him how much he could have: “So I wrote out a few slips. I said, ‘Can I have £5,000?’ They said no. I said, ‘Can I have £4,000?’ They said no. And then I wrote one out for £3,000 and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you that.’ “

He asked if he could return later that day to withdraw another £3,000, but he was told he could not do the same thing twice in one day.”

HSBC argue that they introduced this new policy for customer security, but the customer backlash has forced the bank to withdraw their policy in a statement released this morning:

“Following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals.” 

Still, speculation over the future of HSBC, which has also been exposed for laundering money, assisting terrorists and having an £80bn capitalisation black hole, remains doubtful, with some warning customers to get their money out now.

3. George Osbourne announces plans to raise the minimum wage

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to raise the minimum wage to £7 an hour for the over 21s, a rate suggested by the Low Pay Commission.
Osborne said the “economy can now afford” to raise the rate, following it’s continuous fall in real terms since 2008, as inflation continues to rise. 

The current minimum wage is set at £6.31 an hour for the over 21s. For 18-20 year olds it is £5.03 and £3.72 for the under 18’s.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

4. Employment figures celebrated by coalition at PMQ’s, but mask the continuing cost of living crisis

Ahead of PMQ’s last Wednesday, the employment figures gave the coalition something to boast about. Unemployment fell from 7.4% to 7.1% – the sharpest drop since 1997, and the lowest level since 2009.
The figures were certainly positive, but were used by the coalition to sound out the continuing problems of underemployment – where people do not have enough hours, and also the problem of low pay:
 
“Average earnings are up by just 0.9 per cent (as people price themselves into work), leaving them 1.1 per cent below inflation. Those Tories who proclaimed the end of the “cost-of-living crisis” when inflation fell to the Bank’s target rate of 2 per cent have been left looking predictably foolish. After five years of declining real wages, there is still no end in sight to the longest fall in living standards since 1870. So long as that remains the case, Cameron will still struggle to rebut Ed Miliband’s attack lines.”
by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

kamsandhu

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kambass@hotmail.co.uk

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