Category Archives: Business

Tesco loses £2bn in value as investigation of profit overstatement begins

Shares tumble as Britains biggest supermarket chain suspends four executives after profits were inflated by £250m

Tesco has been plunged deeper into crisis after it was forced to suspend four senior executives and call in investigators following the discovery that its profits had been artificially inflated by £250m.

More than £2bn was wiped off the value of Britains biggest retailer on Monday after its new chief executive told the City that forensic accountants and lawyers had been drafted in to scrutinise its books in the wake of a warning from a whistleblower that payments from suppliers were being misbooked and business costs were being glossed over. Tesco said the changes had misleadingly boosted profits by £250m in the first six months of the year.

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Posted in Business, FTSE, Investments, Money, Retail industry, Shares, Stock markets, Supermarkets, Tesco, UK news, World news | Comments Off

Charge capital gains tax on main residences, says property expert

Kate Barker, formerly of Bank of England monetary policy committee, says controversial charge would tackle housing shortageOne of Britains leading housing experts called on Monday for capital gains tax to be charged on main residences as a way of curbi…
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Labour conference: Ed Balls’ speech and reaction – Politics live blog

1.19pm BST

Snap summary: Ed Balls seems to have toughened Labours austerity line. It was hard to spot anything new in the speech – the announcements about freezing child benefit and cutting ministerial pay were briefed to all news outlets overnight – but Balls did include this line in his passage about the fiscal rules Labour would follow.

And we will legislate for these tough fiscal rules in the first year after the election and they will be independently monitored by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

So in our manifesto there will be no proposals for any new spending paid for by additional borrowing.

12.49pm BST

And heres Ballss peroration.

Conference, this is what our first Labour Budget will do:

A British Investment Bank set up.

12.47pm BST

And he mentions his stammer, and its impact on his politics.

Because as someone who has grown up with a stammer, I have worked all my political life to break down barriers so that all children can succeed, and to get extra help and support to those children who need it. Because I dont want to live in a society where children are held back by their special need or disability, by their parents income or by the colour of their skin.

Thats why Im Labour.

12.46pm BST

Balls explains what his priorities are.

People rightly want to know who we are, what drives us on, what makes us tick.

So let me say this.

12.45pm BST

Walking away from Europe would be a disaster for jobs and investment, Balls says.

12.44pm BST

Balls says Labour will devolve powers to cities and set up a national infrastructure commission.

12.43pm BST

Balls confirms that Labour will set up a British investment bank, and give the green investment bank more powers.

And Graham Cole, Chair of AgustaWestland UK is being asked to review for Labour what more can be done to back British exports, he says.

12.42pm BST

Balls confirms that the national minimum wage will rise to £8 an hour.

But whats the Tory plan for the next Parliament? They want to spend £3 billion on a tax break for a minority of married couples.

People who are separated, widowed or divorced wont get it.

12.41pm BST

Labour will transform vocational education, Balls says.

And it will have a compulsory jobs guarantee, ending the scourge of long-term unemployment.

12.39pm BST

Balls says technological change is altering the economy.

The result is a hollowing out of our labour market: medium-wage, skilled jobs on the slide. Low-wage, insecure employment on the rise.

Conference in this new world, we know we cannot succeed the Tory way through a race to the bottom – with British companies simply trying to compete on cost as people see their job security eroded and living standards decline.

12.38pm BST

And he turns to the mansion tax.

We will levy a tax on the highest value properties – a mansion tax on houses worth over £2 million.

But we will do it in a fair, sensible and proportionate way. Raising the limit each year in line with average rises in house prices. Putting in place protections for those who are asset rich but cash poor. And ensuring those with properties worth tens of millions of pounds make a significantly bigger contribution than those in houses just above the limit.

12.37pm BST

Labour will not undermine pay review bodies by rejecting their advice out of hand, he says.

12.36pm BST

And Labour will reintroduce the 50p top rate of tax, he says.

That is why, with the deficit still high and working people already paying more, we opposed David Cameron cutting the 50p top rate of tax. Now cannot be the right time to give the richest 1 per cent of people in the country a £3 billion tax cut.

So as we get the deficit down in the next parliament, the next Labour government will reverse this Tory tax cut for millionaires.

12.35pm BST

Balls confirms the propose child benefit cap, announced overnight.

12.35pm BST

All money from the sale of the government stake in Lloyds and RBS will be used not for a frivolous pre-election giveaway, but instead on repaying the national debt, he says.

12.33pm BST

Police and crime commissioners will be abolished, he confirms.

12.33pm BST

He confirms that Labour would cut ministerial pay by 5%.

So I can announce today that if we win the election, on day one of the next Labour government, the pay of every government Minister will immediately be cut by five per cent.

Ministerial pay will then be frozen each year until we have achieved our promise to balance the nations books

12.32pm BST

He repeats his call for the Office for Budget Responsibility to be allowed to audit the plans of Labour and the other parties.

12.32pm BST

Balls reaffirms his commitment to tough fiscal rules.

So Labour will balance the books in the next parliament.

These will be our tough fiscal rules. We will get the current budget into surplus and the national debt falling as soon as possible in the next parliament.

12.31pm BST

Balls says Labour will face a hugely difficult task.

But three years of lost growth at the start of this parliament means we will have to deal with a deficit of £75 billion not the balanced budget George Osborne promised by 2015.

And that will make the task of governing hugely difficult.

12.30pm BST

Balls turns to what Labour will do.

We also need to put right the mistakes this Government has made.

So we wont pay for new free schools in areas where there are excess school places.

12.29pm BST

Balls says Labour should also have regulated the banks more effectively.

It should have done more to tackle underlying poverty.

12.28pm BST

He turns to Labours mistakes.

Where we made mistakes like all governments do we should be grown up about it.

We should put our hands up, learn from the past and explain how we will do things differently in the future.

Conference, we should have had tougher rules on immigration from Eastern Europe it was a mistake not to have transitional controls in 2004.

And we must change the rules in the future.

12.27pm BST

In 2015 Labour will have to save the NHS again. It will do whatever it takes. You can never trust the Tories on the NHS, he says.

12.26pm BST

Labour has to show it will take the tough decisions we need to get the deficit down, and that we can change our economy and make it work for working people, he says.

So Conference its more important than ever that we the Labour Party are honest with the country about what the last Labour government got right and what we got wrong.

12.24pm BST

Balls recalls the story about Michael Gove telling Rupert Murdoch that only George Osborne was fit to lead the Conservatives after Cameron. Gove later said he was tipsy. Tipsy – he must have been legless, says Balls.

12.23pm BST

Balls says nine Tories from the 2010 intake are leaving.

Another scurrying off to Ukip.

And Boris scrambling back to Westminster, preparing to elbow David Cameron out of the way.

But today, perhaps the less said about elbows, the better.

12.22pm BST

Balls includes Nick Clegg with David Cameron and George Osborne in a list of the same old Tories.

12.21pm BST

Balls turns to the Tories.

We know what the Tories really mean when they say theyve fixed the economy.

The millionaires who got a massive tax cut.

12.20pm BST

Balls says Labour has a great responsibility. It is fired up to get Ed Miliband into Downing Street. He has led the party, got more women into the shadow cabinet, got more black and ethnic minority candidates than ever before, stood up for the victims of phone hacking and led the movement.

Ed Miliband has shown courage, strength, principle and vision, Balls says. He is our leader, and the next prime minister.

12.18pm BST

Balls recalls meeting a constituent whose son is on a zero-hours contract. He has to ring in at 7am every morning. If no work is available then, he has to stay in in case something comes up.

Millions of people are not getting a benefit from the recovery, he says. They are relying on Labour to make things better, he says.

12.16pm BST

Balls thanks the Labour figures who campaigned in Scotland.

But the decision was made by the people of Scotland. They did not vote for the status quo. They voted for change.

12.14pm BST

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, is speaking now.

He says 20 years ago Labour decided to reform its constitution. That led to the new clause 4.

12.07pm BST

Douglas Alexander may be shadow foreign secretary, but his speech was just as short as all the other shadow cabinet speeches weve had so are. (Most of them barely cover three pages of text.)

Here are the key points.

In the face of such events, the next Labour governments foreign policy will reject two fallacies; the hubris that somehow as the United Kingdom we can re-order the world, or alternatively that we should simply settle for strategic shrinkage and decline.

Because for Britain to now retreat from the world would be as foolish as it would be futile.

As the problems we face become more complex and challenging, peoples confidence in the power of politics is declining. But what I saw in Scotland this summer in town halls and village halls, in school halls and church halls, from the Highlands and the Hebrides, to the Borders and to our great cities, taught me that we can win back that confidence.

11.52am BST

Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, is speaking now. After a morning of perfectly good, but relatively low-key speeches, hes firing up the audience with a full-on socialist barnstormer.

11.25am BST

Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, has just introduced Robin Southwell, head of Airbus, as Labours surprise business speaker.

11.23am BST

Heres the speech from Vernon Coaker, the shadow defence secretary. His main announcement was a proposal for a system of statutory defence reviews.

The common theme across our evolving role in Afghanistan, in tackling the threat from [Islamic State] at home and abroad and in meeting the changed security environment in Europe, is, of course, the need for clear strategic direction about the UKs role in the world, how we work multilaterally within NATO, the EU and the UN, and how our Armed Forces are equipped to meet that.

Thats what Britain has been missing. And thats where Labour will lead.

Vernon Coaker offers reviews & processes on defence. No alternative understanding of security threats; little new stress multilaterlaism

11.06am BST

Ocado socialism – that seems to be what Stewart Wood, Ed Milibands key policy adviser, was advocating at a fringe meeting at the conference last night. My colleague Rowena Mason was there, and shes sent me this.

Every single worker should get shares in their employer as a potential way of reducing wealth inequality, one of Ed Milibands closest advisers has suggested.

Stewart Wood (Lord Wood of Anfield), an academic and shadow cabinet minister, said companies could be offered bigger incentives to follow the Ocado model of business, where staff all have a stake in the grocery delivery company for which they work.

10.58am BST

Jim Murphy, the shadow international development secretary, had an announcement about the abuse of migrant workers in Qatar working on the World Cup infrastructure in his speech. Delegates are debating global affairs, and composite 1, on global human rights, and that urges Labour to expose the companies benefiting from labour exploitation in Qatar.

In his speech Murphy did not address that specific point, but he made another, related announcement.

I met some of those we want to help when I travelled to Qatar home of the 2022 World Cup to see how the kafala system works.

We went unannounced to one of the workers camps in the dead of night. Proud men trapped in sub-human conditions. One Kenyan father I met had been unable to see his son for five years because his employer had seized his passport and left the country leaving him stranded – unable to work or go home and trapped stateless. Others told of abuse and degradation, with as many as eight men shared a filthy room no bigger than a childs bedroom.

The Tory Party are against prioritising universal health coverage abroad. The nation that gave the world the civilising force of the NHS should champion health care around the world. We are inspired by the NHS. So I can announce today that my very first act as Secretary of State on the morning after the election will be to instruct the UKs negotiating team at the United Nations to put universal health coverage at the heart of the worlds ambition for the next 15 years.

Now being debated Composite 1 @GMB_union @UCATTunion – Global Human Rights – focus on Colombia and Qatar #Lab14

10.37am BST

Glenis Willmott, the leader of Labour MEPs, devoted almost as much of her speech to attacking Ukip as to attacking the Tories. Here are the key points.

In fact we secured our best result on the European stage for 20 years and that was despite Nigel Farage managing to convince many voters he was the one who would stand up for working families.

Yes, the same Nigel Farage who wants to charge you to see your GP.

10.24am BST

Carwyn Jones was onstage with Owen Smith, the shadow Welsh secretary. The highlight of Smiths speech was his response to David Camerons English votes for English laws proposals.

So instead of some tawdry trick to buy off backbench critics with the back of a fag packet, back room Balkanisation of Parliament and a purge of Welsh, Scottish and Irish influence.

David Cameron should heed the words of Carwyn Jones & Ed Miliband and call a Constitutional Convention to forge a new Union for Britain.

The scene at the Labour conference in Manchester. Owen Smith and Carwyn Jones are on stage this morning.

10.16am BST

On Friday Ed Miliband announced that Labour was backing a full constitutional convention. It is an idea that Carwyn Jones, Waless Labour first minister, has been proposing for two years, as he reminded delegates in his speech.

Here are the main points.

As Gordon Brown has said, the old days of Westminster sovereignty are over. And I want to pay tribute today to Gordons vital contribution in the final days of the Scotland campaign.

We can deliver a fair, better Britain together with a modern structure of government.

Only Labour, with its representation in Wales and Scotland can do this.

Because lets face it, Whitehall has had a dead hand around the throat of enterprise, innovation, and radicalism for long enough.

And thats as true in Sunderland as it is in Swansea, or Stirling. We dont need independence to fix that, we need a devolution settlement that works.

These causes and parties [nationalists and Ukip] are finding support because too many people are simply fed up of what they see as the status quo. Too many people think things – and politics in particular – cannot get any worse.

Those people, to recall Archie Macphersons great speech in the campaign, who said you know, I think I will try a yes.

I dont want to see anymore panicky responses from David Cameron to placate the ranting right in his own party, and the narrow nationalism of Nigel Farage.

The Union has suffered a serious injury and a sticking plaster wont do.

Pre-devolution, two year waiting lists in the NHS were not uncommon. Now the standard wait is ten weeks.

Half of our students got 5 good GCSEs; last year it was more than three quarters.

9.48am BST

Weve got a surprise in store, according to the New Statesmans George Eaton.

Worth looking out for special guest business speaker before Chuka Umunna speaks at 11am. #lab14

9.45am BST

Digby Jones (Lord Jones), the former CBI director general, was a trade minister in the last Labour government (but not a party member). On the Today programme this morning, he complained that the party was now failing to do enough to win over business leaders.

I would like to see them actually standing up and saying: we get it. Id like to hear Ed Miliband make a speech that says without a thriving business community in the UK, there will be no tax receipt and therefore you will have no public sector and no jobs. We get that, we understand it, we would like business to meet us halfway with better behaviour but we do understand that [business] is important. And therefore we will stimulate investment by lower taxation.

9.24am BST

While were back on the subject of the West Lothian question, and the voting rights of Scottish MPs in parliament, this is a good spot. The Economists Jeremy Cliffe points out that last year the government was arguing that it would be a mistake to look for a solution quickly – as David Cameron is now doing.

Ha! Govt statement from Nov warns against rushed answer to English question, says it shld be “thorough & rigorous”:

The McKay Commission [which studied the West Lothian question] has published its report, which included a menu of recommendations. The government is giving serious consideration to this report. Given the significance of the recommendations for both England and the UK as a whole, it is right to take the time required for a thorough and rigorous assessment.

9.07am BST

Here are the main points from Ed Balls morning interviews

You cant play political games with our constitution … The danger is that the Conservatives are now going to completely destabilise the fairness and the accountability and the stability of that union by suddenly trying to play an English nationalist card, which I understand the political reason for doing, because Nigel Farage is taking Tory votes. But actually its playing fast and loose with the union and our constitutional settlement.

I do think this is possibly the most un-prime ministerial thing Ive seen David Cameron do in the last few years.

Here’s @Sarah_Montague about to speak to @edballsmp and @bbcnickrobinson at #labourconference #r4today

8.28am BST

Weve now getting Nick Robinsons post-match analysis. He says the £400m child benefit freeze is a symbol that Labour would take tough choices.

The most interesting thing is what Labour has to say about the NHS. It will be the centre of Ed Milibands speech tomorrow. Robinson says Labour has ruled out extra tax rises on normal workers. But, he suggests, Labour could propose a tax rise on high earners to fund the NHS. (See 7.54am.)

8.22am BST

Q: The child benefit cut will target the squeezed middle. Are you hitting the right people?

Balls says there is no doubt Labour stands up for hard-working people. He wants child poverty to go down. And he would like to see child benefit rise towards the end of the next parliament.

8.20am BST

Q: The IFS says you would be borrowing £28bn more than the Tories.

Balls says George Osborne is borrowing billions more than he expected.

8.18am BST

Q: Why freeze child benefit for another year? It does not save a of money.

Balls says it will save £400m.

8.16am BST

Balls says he wants things to be fairer.

Even Boris Johnson today is saying there is no easy solution.

8.14am BST

Sarah Montague is interviewing Ed Balls.

Q: Scottish MPs can vote on English-only laws. Are you comfortable with that?

7.54am BST

For years Monday at Labour conference has been economy day and the highlight will be the speech from Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor. There are eight other members of the shadow cabinet giving speeches, but, if yesterdays short and rather cursory shadow cabinet speeches are anything to go by, they are unlikely to say anything that will knock Balls off the top of the news schedules.

As usual, some elements from the speech have been briefed in advance. Heres the Guardian preview, and heres how it starts.

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, will underscore his willingness to take tough fiscal decisions when he reveals he will cap child benefit increases at 1% for the first two years of the next parliament, and force all government ministers to take a symbolic 5% pay cut.

Balls, battling to improve Labours economic credibility in the polls, will defend his decision to back a fiscal stimulus in 2010, but will recommit himself to balancing the books in the next parliament, including by keeping child benefit rises below the rate of inflation and slashing ministers pay by £6,708 a year.

Theres always a bit of rivalry between the journalists and members of parliament on the football pitch. But actually, we all get on really well and none of us realised it had happened because it was two of us coming together and colliding, the game carried on. We then saw that the journalist from the Northern Echo had taken a knock to his eye. Look, it was a complete accident and we both agreed that it could have happened to any of us and Im really sorry that he had that cut, but were good friends and no hard feelings.

Shadow Chancellor @edballsmp speaking to @BBCBreakfast about Labour’s Plan for Britain’s Future #Lab14

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The battle between capital and labour is still raging on film

Billy Elliott, Brassed Off and now Pride. Its art outdoing politics in grasping workers strugglesIm trying to figure out why I loved Pride so much (the film, not the event). I dont want to get too cultural studies about this its mainly becaus…
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G20 worried about the ‘stumbling block’ of Europe’s slow growth

Group claims progress on fireproofing world financial system, but there is concern that Europe risks pulling others downThe G20 group of leading nations have said they are tantalisingly close to adding an extra $2tn (£1.2tn) to the global economy…
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Innovators: a lightbulb moment for Dyson and son

Innovation runs in the Dyson family, with Jake refining a last-a-lifetime LED light that can illuminate a whole kitchenFrom spending his summer as a teenager constructing vacuum cleaners to witnessing the frustrations of his father working in their bas…
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Peter Thiel: We attribute too much to luck. Luck is an atheistic word for God

Entrepreneur and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel suggests his success comes from skill rather than luck. Here, he talks about university, investing in people and mortalityIn 1998, Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal and four years later sold up for $1.5bn. He …
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Alibaba valued at $231bn after frenzied debut as public company

Shares in the Chinese internet giant reach a high of $100 as founder Jack Ma says We want to be bigger than WalmartFollow all the latest on the Alibaba IPOAlibaba, the Chinese internet giant, made a frenzied debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Frid…
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Alibaba IPO: Trading opens at $92.70 per share as stock surges out of the gate  live

Biggest US stock market floatation everMarket values Chinese e-commerce giant at near $229bn Instantly among biggest US companiesGraphic: How much is Jack Ma worth?Alibaba and the 40 factsRead the latest blog summary Continue reading…
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GlaxoSmithKline to pay £297m fine over China bribery network

Mark Reilly and executives face up to four years in jail over claims that sales team bribed doctors to prescribe company medicine

GlaxoSmithKline has been found guilty of bribery by a Chinese court and has agreed to pay a fine of 3bn yuan (£297m) to the government in Beijing.

At the same time, the former head of its China division, Mark Reilly, and other GSK executives are facing two- to four-year jail terms, according to the state news agency, Xinhua. Reilly was accused of running a “massive bribery network”.

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