News stories from Saturday 24 February, 2018
Congratulations to Lloyds Bank for launching a timely mental health awareness campaign this month. In the Channel 4 adverts, famous people (including Jeremy Paxman and Victoria Pendleton) and members of the public, wear sticky notes on their heads featuring words and phrases such as bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, depression and anxiety. The voiceover tells us: “Mental health problems affect one in four of our customers, of our staff, of everyone. Let’s get it out in the open. Lloyds Bank – by your side.”
Of course we should get it out in the open. So let’s start with Lloyds Bank, and how it has contributed to my mental health problems by relying too heavily on algorithms and too little on human staff.Continue reading...
Former recruitment consultant Rob Anderson on how he organises his finances – and why he isn’t keen on bucket lists
I live in the East End of London and own my flat. I have a brain tumour. I’m dying – it’s inoperable, and I’m halfway through my third round of chemo.
I try to live my life to the full, in four-week sprints, with a round of chemo coming up every month.Continue reading...
Metro bank is one of the fastest-expanding new banks in Britain, aiming for 100 branches. But what if your account falls victim to fraud? One customer says he is outraged after Metro refused to refund £20,000 stolen from his account, despite accepting he did not authorise the payments.
Paul Graham*, a Kent-based businessman, lost £20,000 after fraudsters were able to go into the Brixton, south London branch of mobile phone company EE and take over his phone account, which they used to set up a series of new online payments, that subsequently emptied his Metro account.Continue reading...
Will pricey brands such as Dyson really pick up the dirt, or should I stick with a conventional one?
Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.
This week’s question:Continue reading...
His business empire spans everything from low-cost flights, hotels and buses to coffee shops, dog-walking and groceries. Now Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is moving into the world of savings and investment with an Isa paying a headline-grabbing 4.05%. But this is far from a risk-free investment.
The billionaire founder of easyJet is launching (or rather, relaunching) a financial services arm called – what else? – easyMoney, and the Isa being unveiled on Saturday is the first of many planned products.Continue reading...
A logistics problem left the firm’s UK supplies sat in a warehouse. What went wrong and how will KFC and DHL recover?
At lunchtime on Friday, George Cheah, or George Junior as he is known, doesn’t really have the time to talk. “Honestly we are so busy, it’s gone absolutely mad. People have gone chicken crazy,” he says over the phone, while people shout orders in the background. Cheah’s family-run fried chicken joint, Chicken George in Luton, won best takeaway at the British Takeaway Awards in 2016 so they are never short of custom, but since the great fried chicken crisis of 2018 began more than a week ago they have been inundated.
“I reckon our business has doubled in the past week,” said Cheah. “We’ve been really, really busy, like packed. With KFC being shut, lots of people are tagging us on social media saying they’d rather have a George anyway.”
Cash Isas are falling out of favour – but there are deals to be found if you can lock money away
It’s tough for savers: the best-paying easy-access cash Isas – from Virgin Money and Leeds building society – pay just 1.21% interest. Meanwhile, official data earlier this month showed that inflation remained high at 3% in January – meaning savers are losing money in real terms.
That may help explain why cash Isas have collapsed in popularity, with government data showing a £20bn fall in the amount invested in the space of 12 months.Continue reading...
News stories from Friday 23 February, 2018
Ministers and airline boss Alan Joyce talk up the need for cuts. But if corporate profits keep rising while wages stagnate, voters will know who to blame
Having just managed to rid itself of one Joyce, the government has been keen to embrace another member of the clan. At Sydney airport on Friday, Mathias Cormann, the acting prime minister, and treasurer Scott Morrison enlisted Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce to promote their plan to cut corporate tax rates from 30% to 25%.
What better embodiment of Australian corporate success than the airline’s boss? After plumbing the depths four years ago with losses of $2.8bn, the national carrier is now soaring into the wide blue yonder of profitability this week with half-yearly earnings of $976m.Continue reading...
He finally gave up a small fraction of his ‘preposterous’ bonus but too late in the game
Jeff Fairburn didn’t buckle when his chairman, as well as the head of Persimmon’s remuneration committee, resigned in December over his insistence on taking his £100m bonus in full.
Nor did he waver in the media storm that followed. He’d make a donation to charity, he eventually conceded, but never got round to defining what he meant by a “very meaningful” sum.Continue reading...
Troubled retailer has been struggling to find a buyer before £15m VAT bill falls due
Toys R Us is expected to tumble into administration next week after last ditch talks to find a buyer faltered.
The move will put 3,200 jobs at risk and follows the recent decision by its bankrupt American parent to try to sell the loss-making UK business as well its other European stores.Continue reading...
He says he is broke and can’t pay, after court rules he failed to give information to regulator
The former owner of BHS, Dominic Chappell, has been ordered to pay a £50,000 fine and £37,000 court costs for failing to disclose vital details to the pensions watchdog as part of its investigation into the collapse of the high street chain.
The fine – which Chappell said he could not pay because he had “no funds” – comes on top of a demand from the Pensions Regulator (TPR) for £10m to help plug the hole in BHS’s pension fund.Continue reading...
Philip Day is the opposite of the brash entrepreneur, yet he’s quietly showing his retail rivals the way
The turnover of shops on Britain’s high streets chart the rise and fall of retail empires as once popular brands and their owners fall out of fashion.
The 2016 collapse of BHS shocked the foundations of Sir Philip Green’s retail empire and the mooted sale of his Topshop to Burton group Arcadia would bring the final curtain down on a near 20-year reign as king of the high street. But as one billionaire Philip fades into the background, another is hoving into view.Continue reading...
Analysis for the Guardian shows most companies charging customers the same after switching them to ‘cheaper’ tariffs
The UK’s big six energy companies have been accused of dirty tricks after analysis for the Guardian revealed that they are routinely charging customers almost exactly the same amount after switching them off controversial default tariffs.
In the face of Theresa May’s plans to impose a price cap on standard variable tariffs (SVTs), which more than half of energy customers are on despite their steep prices, companies such as British Gas, E.ON and SSE have pledged to phase out such tariffs and shift billpayers onto better value fixed deals.Continue reading...
Boss of taxpayer-owned bank hails profit as ‘symbolic moment’ despite looming litigation
Royal Bank of Scotland has posted its first annual profit in a decade, but admitted it is braced for a multibillion-pound hit from US regulators.
The bank, which is still 71%-owned by the government, made a profit of £752m in 2017, following a £7bn loss in 2016. Its chief executive, Ross McEwan, declared it a symbolic moment and an indication RBS had moved on. The bank, however, would still have been in the red if a long-anticipated fine from the US Department of Justice (DoJ) had arrived during the financial year.Continue reading...
If the roots of its liberal and creative image are a mystery, its appeal is obvious
What’s going for it? Nobody knows why Hebden Bridge became “Hebden Bridge”, officially the quirkiest/kookiest/koolest/most LGBTQ-friendly/least chain-store-y etc small town in the universe. I have asked. I asked the people in the herb shop on the narrowboat, at the market, on the towpath, at the Trades Club. I asked Urban Boffins in the university faculty I teach in. Nobody knows. It looks like other northern, post-industrial former mill towns: canal, steep valley, Methodist chapels, chimneys... It feels, though, utterly different, a little rain-soaked paradise. You’d never have guessed it from Hebden Bridge’s starring role in Happy Valley’s grimfest; nor from local boy Ted Hughes’ poem Stubbing Wharfe: “the hopeless old stone trap”. Two decades after he wrote that in the 1950s, though, others saw what he couldn’t – artists, hippies and conservationists doing up its cheap, knackered buildings. Today the town feels festive even on a wet winter Tuesday: all co-ops, carrot cake and bunting – blunt Yorkshire wit, though, perfectly tempering the earnestness.
The case against… Such is the demand to live here, and such is the shortage of space, you’ll pay a premium to move in. Floods: though how well it bounced back from the last, in 2016. Cosmopolitan it may be, but it’s still a very small town. Occasionally tends towards over-kookiness.Continue reading...
Show your true colours with these visually stunning properties, from Devon to NorfolkContinue reading...
Airlines back cheaper rival bid, warning projected spend could increase passenger costs
The chances of a smooth take off for Heathrow’s expansion plans were always slim, but an unexpected obstacle has arisen in the path of a third runway. Some of Britain’s biggest airlines have lent their voices to a rival proposal to develop Heathrow for some £5bn less than the airport itself declares necessary, fuelling a row over costs and throwing fresh uncertainty on the scheme.
A crucial vote on the government’s approval to expand the London hub is due this summer, but MPs were left confused after being told by the airport’s main customers this week not to trust Heathrow with its £14.3bn budget for a new runway. Airline executives warned the cost estimate could prove “grossly off target” and make the airport unaffordable as the overspends are passed on to carriers – and then passengers – via higher landing charges.Continue reading...
- Royal Bank of Scotland is back in the black, but litigation problems remain
- Perismmon bosses cut share awards after controversy
- British Airways owner IAG shares fall but Pearson gains ground
- Eurozone inflation slips in January
Royal Bank of Scotland has moved back into profit after nine years of losses, prompting chief executive Ross McEwan to hail “a symbolic moment”. But the bank has not included provisions for potential fines from the US Department of Justice, which are likely to knock results in the coming months.
In other big UK results, there were positive reactions to Pearson but less so for British Airways owner International Airlines.
US markets have followed up Thursday’s gains with a strong opening on the last trading day of the week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently up 186 points or 0.75%, while the S&P 500 opened up 0.57% and the Nasdaq Composite is 0.7% better. A dip in bond yields, which eased from recent highs after Federal Reserve member James Bullard seemed to warn against too many interest rate rises this year, helped lift share prices.Continue reading...
In-house yoga, comfy sofas, film nights: is a new breed of women-only members’ clubs the way to get ahead at work?
It’s a drizzly, cold evening in January. The steps outside 11 Rathbone Place, a five-storey Georgian townhouse just off London’s Oxford Street, are covered in brick dust and the door – nondescript, black, chipped – has electrical tape stuck to it. A slogan plastered across the huge front windows paraphrases Virginia Woolf: “A woman must have money and a room of her own.” I press the bell, which looks broken; there’s silence followed by laughter and a clatter. The door flies open, and there stands Debbie Wosskow clad head to toe in red sequins. “Come in!” she grins, a human glitterball in the midst of a building site. “And welcome to the AllBright Club!” This “hard hat tour” is obviously a far more glamorous affair than I’ve dressed for.
Wosskow (a 42-year-old entrepreneur who sold her company, Love Home Swap, last summer for £40m) and her business partner Anna Jones (41-year-old ex-CEO of the magazine publisher Hearst) have been furiously busy since late last year, when they announced plans to open a women-only private members’ club. Tonight they will host a party for 150 of the 400 founder members – Wosskow calls them women “of all ages and all stages” – who were chosen by a panel to ensure a diversity of professions, ages, ethnicities and experience. Seventy per cent of applicants said their reason for wanting to join was “building their network of other women”. The AllBright has already attracted actors Naomie Harris and Ruth Wilson, Mobo awards founder Kanya King, Martha Lane Fox, Sarah Brown and women from business, politics, media, business and fashion; Wosskow and Jones’s goal is a total membership of 1,000, paying £50 a month.Continue reading...