Private water company bosses have pocketed £175 million in last 5 years

From Morning Star: Bosses of England’s nine private water companies have pocketed £175 million in pay and benefits in the last five years, general union GMB disclosed today.

GMB, which has thousands of members working in the water industry, revealed the pay packages as part of its “Take Back the Tap” campaign, calling for the water industry to be returned to public ownership.

Since water privatisation in 1989, customers’ bills have increased by 40 per cent in real terms.

The union says the industry’s top 54 executives pocketed an enormous £40.3 million in 2017 alone. Executive directors and senior management received an average of £746,296 each in salaries, pension contributions, bonuses and benefits.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

CBI cuts forecast for UK economic growth

From The Guardian: Britain’s leading employers’ organisation, the Confederation of British Industry, has warned the UK economy will shift down a gear this year and risks remaining in the slow lane.

Cutting its growth forecasts for the year, owing to heavy snowfall in the opening months of 2018 and lingering fears over Brexit, the CBI said it expected the growth rate for the British economy to slow to 1.4%, from 1.8% last year.

The rate of GDP growth is then forecast to fall further still, to 1.3% next year, as the UK leaves the EU.

The downgrade comes as business groups become increasingly worried about the lack of progress being made by ministers in talks with Brussels, amid divisions between senior cabinet members. Business leaders fear there will be little progress made before parliament breaks for its summer recess next month.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

UK economy posts worst quarterly GDP figures for five years

From The Guardian: The weakest household spending for three years and falling levels of business investment dragged the economy to the worst quarter for five years, official statisticians have said.

The Office for National Statistics confirmed its previous estimate that GDP growth slumped to 0.1% in the first quarter, while sticking to its view that the “beast from the east” had little impact.

The latest figures will further stoke concerns over the strength of the UK economy, amid increasing signals for deteriorating growth as Britain prepares to leave the EU next year. Some economists, including officials at the Bank of England, thought the growth rate would be revised higher as more data became available.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Theresa May Revives Grammar Schools Plan With £50m Boost

From HuffPost UK: Theresa May has prompted anger after reviving her flagship policy to expand grammar schools by handing them £50 million to increase places.

Lifting the ban on creating new grammar schools was a key part of last year’s Conservative manifesto – but the proposals were dropped in the wake of May’s election humiliation.

Under fresh plans by Education Secretary Damian Hinds, however, tens of millions of pounds are to be pumped into creating more places at selective state schools.

The controversial move comes just days after the Office for Budget Responsibility said the cost for a planned 1% pay rise for teachers could only be met by heads “squeezing non-pay spending and by reducing the workforce”.

A poll by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in March also showed more than a third of school heads have already cut teachers or teaching hours due to the Tories’ funding squeeze.

School leaders, unions and the Labour Party have lined up to slam the decision to resurrect “the grammar school corpse” with “scarce” new money, claiming the model stoked inequality.

[Read full article on HuffPost UK…]

One in 12 young people are working in zero-hours jobs

From Morning Star: Zero-hours contracts have risen to nearly two million in Britain, with one in 12 young people working uncertain hours.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the figures, published today, increased from 1.7m to 1.8m in the year to last November and represents 6 per cent of all contracts.

Of these, the ONS has reported, 901,000 workers are on zero-hours contracts as some are forced to work more than one.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Most people are not on zero-hours contracts by choice. They want the same rights, security and guaranteed hours as other employees.

“More than half of zero-hours contract workers have had jobs cancelled with less than a day’s notice. Zero-hours contracts are a licence to treat people like disposable labour and the government should ban them.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Number of zero-hours contracts in UK rose by 100,000 in 2017 – ONS

From The Guardian: The number of zero-hours contracts in use across the UK rose by about 100,000 last year, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics, said the number of employment contracts without a minimum number of guaranteed hours increased to 1.8m in the year to November, up from 1.7m in 2016.

People on zero hours contracts are more likely to be young, women, students or those in part-time employment. Although some like the potential flexibility, about a quarter of people want to work more hours, compared with only 7.3% of people in other forms of employment.

A survey from the TUC found more than half of workers on zero-hours contracts have had shifts cancelled less than 24 hours before they were due to begin.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Young Britons have never been unhappier, research suggests

From The Guardian: Young people’s happiness across every single area of their lives has never been lower, research by the Prince’s Trust has found.

The charity said the results of its annual UK Youth Index, which gauges young people’s happiness and confidence across a range of areas, from working life to mental and physical health, should “ring alarm bells”.

The national survey shows young people’s wellbeing has fallen over the last 12 months and is at its lowest level since the study was first commissioned in 2009. 

The research, based on a survey of 2,194 respondents aged 16 to 25, revealed that three out of five young people regularly feel stressed amid concerns over jobs and money, while one in four felt “hopeless”, and half had experienced a mental health problem.

Almost half said they did not feel they could cope well with setbacks in life, but despite this more than one quarter said they would not ask for help if they were feeling overwhelmed.

The index shows that young people are particularly disillusioned with the job market and are concerned about money and future prospects. One in ten said they had lost a job through redundancy or having a contract terminated or not renewed, or being fired, while 54% said they were worried about their finances.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Failing private probation firms given £277m public bailout

From Private Eye: The Ministry of Justice gave a huge £277m bailout to the eight firms running Britain’s failing private probation companies in late July, without announcing the massive deal to either MPs or the public. This big reward for failure is over ten times the £22m bailout already given to the firms in May.

Inspectors have found poor services at the private firms, which have slashed staff and provision. In many cases ex-offenders are interviewed by probation staff over the phone rather than in person.

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