I will be reviewing the papers this morning with Jon Gaunt on FUBAR Radio at 11.30am (remember you can listen on line or download the app for free, and there is no subscription charge).
I am not sure which stories we will be discussing, but below are a number which have caught the eye during the week:
Story and headline, of the week for me was in the Mail Online: Woman who stole more than £55,000 in benefits by hiding her Spanish property empire walks free from court. It is hard not to look at the story and think of the hypocrisy that is still ripe across Spain. The disenchanted Expat, fed up with the UK ‘going to the dogs’ with all the scrounging immigrants abusing the benefits system – yet hands up any expat who doesn’t know any Expat living in Spain ‘proud’ of the fact that they are still getting their benefits from the UK. The same ones that are sitting in the current heat wave moaning that they may not get their heating allowance sent over from the UK no doubt!
With respect to the case above it certainly seems weird when you have an ex husband that you never lived with!
With respect to the UK my first headline was on the Mail Online who reported that Children born today will pay £3.4million for their first home if house prices continue to increase at their current rate of 8.6% a year.
My parents paid £2,750 for their first home (3 Bed, 1 Bath Semi) in Yorkshire in 1961,and £25,000 for their second house (4 Bed, 2 Bath Detached) in Staffordshire in 1976.
I paid £42,500 for my first home (1.5 Bedroom Terrace Cottage) in Bedfordshire in 1987, and Sands and I paid £110,000 for our two bedroom, two bathroom apartment in Surrey in 1993.
Interestingly we paid £50,000 for our three bedroom, two bathroom, penthouse apartment with private roof in Spain in 2001.
When I bought my cottage I had recently graduated with a BA (Hons) and was working at ICL (International Computers Limited) on their Graduate Scheme (I think my salary was £18,000) so I was able to get a £40,000 mortgage based on 3.5 times my salary (the ratio they used at the time) and with my father acting a guarantor. Even then I was left with a 45 mile commute down the M1 every day to work!
For me it was never going to be any different: start work, start a pension, and buy a house as soon as I could. It was what you did then (and I have to say it worked out perfectly well for me).
So reading the article in the Mail I am left wondering what todays generation will do? The pension system is broken, and it looks like property ownership is only going to be for the investors and rich. Moving to a rental dominated economy makes sense IF people create capital/wealth elsewhere, but where? Pensions? Stock Market? It is hard to see an answer. Especially as this week we are told our kids can’t read, write or add up (see below) but they will need £3.4 million for their first house!
On a similar note, and great news for those with properties in London that they are planning to sell in 5 years, The Times reported that House prices expected to rise by more than 25% in five years
Last week I talked about obesity and the impact it was having on the economy, especially the health service, but no apologies for returning to it this week with another Mail Online article: Why being fat could cost you a job: Obese people are seen as ‘undesirable’ and less hard working by employers.
Tempting to trot out the flip, stereotypical comment that I doubt fat people care that much as they so lazy they happy to sit on the sofa all day eating and counting their benefit money. I know that is incorrect (both politically and factually) but it is a fair impression that I have no doubt any had, and which it seems is a view held by HR Professionals as a survey found more than half of HR and recruitment professionals admitted they saw obesity as marker of personality and predicted work ethic and more than half would choose a ‘normal’ candidate over an obese candidate if they were equally qualified.
For those interested a couple of associated stories caught the eye with the Mail Online reporting that We eat THREE times more at a barbecue than at a normal dinner: Burgers, sausages and potato salad mean average meal adds up to 1,800 calories and The Guardian with a great article Robert Lustig: the man who believes sugar is poison and has long argued that sugar is as harmful as cocaine or tobacco – and that the food industry has been adding too much of it to our meals for too long to get us addicted.
Hard to decide on my third story this week, as two ‘old favourites’ caught the eye: the Mail Online reported that Charities may have to reveal campaign costs over fears they are becoming too political primarily because of the statement that RSCPA donations dropped by £7m after the prosecuted members of hunt. The general thrust of the article is that Government funding to the charities are being used to subsidise politically driven campaigns.
A recent study by the Institute of Economic Affairs found many well-known charities had used taxpayers’ cash to push for causes ‘which are not priorities for the electorate and are often unpopular’.
Current rules allow charities to campaign provided they do not back individual political parties or candidates, but MPs have raised concerns that some recent campaigns have been politically driven.
The Charity Commission is considering a complaint from Conservative MP Conor Burns that Oxfam’s recent anti-poverty campaign was ‘overtly political’.
A mock film poster produced by the charity carried the slogan: ‘The perfect storm… starring zero hours contracts, high prices, benefits cuts, unemployment, childcare costs.’
The aid charity spent £18million on ‘campaigning and advocacy’ in the 2012-3 financial year – seven per cent of its annual expenditure, according to its most recent accounts. It received £34million in funding from the Government in the same period.
Sharing third spot is the EU with The Times reporting that Hairdryers may be next on hit list in EU power game. The EU could ban popular hairdryers, kettles and smartphones to try to slow climate change, it has been revealed. It follows the outlawing of vacuum cleaners with motors above 1,600 watts. The new EU energy rules being discussed in Brussels, referred to as the “Ecodesign” directive, could ban up to 30 home appliances. The power of hairdryers could be reduced by as much as 30 per cent. Günther Oettinger, the German EU energy commissioner, said that stopping people from buying household appliances with exceptionally high wattage was necessary. EU legislation at present covers televisions, washing machines, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners.
Which of course adds fuel to the EU Referendum In/Out debate. On the subject of which the Mail Online reports that Cameron set to threaten Brussels that he is prepared to leave the EU if Britain does not get its way which sounds a little like a school ground squabble, and reminds me of the old advice to not make empty threats. I can’t see the EU responding any other way than asking him if he needs any help packing.
Also of interest:
Mail Online: Walking a mile each day ‘cuts cancer death risk by half’: Physical activity described as ‘wonder drug’ for breast and prostate patients
The Times: No charges for gun range where girl, 9, killed instructor
Mail Online: One in five pupils still failing the three Rs: More than 100,000 children leave primary school having not reached basic standard