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Money digest: today’s need-to-know financial news

26 April 2016

9:18 AM

26 April 2016

9:18 AM

Philip Green comes under scrutiny this morning for continuing to haul in vast pay checks for himself and his family while BHS was left floundering in the waters of bankruptcy. According to the Guardian, Green and his family extracted more than £580 million in dividends, rental payments and interest from the high-street former giant before selling its washed-up corpse for a quid last year. The pensions regulator is currently considering coming after Green for £200-£300 million to help fill ‘the black hole’ in BHS’s pension scheme.

‘An institutional overhaul is required,’ writes shadow chancellor John McDonnell in a letter to the Times. He proposes that under a Labour government companies would operate a system whereby all employees had a say in setting the executive salaries. Dismissing the idea that big pay packets lead to better performances, he says: ‘It’s time to end the remuneration racket… Pay, particularly for the most senior staff, needs to be set in a fair and transparent fashion.’ Quoting a study that showed that the more a CEO was paid, the worse a company did, McDonnell flags up recent shareholder revolts at BP and HSBC as evidence that his method needs adopting.

The Daily Mail cites new research showing that countless homeowners are still in negative equity, with many house prices yet to return to their pre-2007 valuation. The survey told yet another story of North/South divide: while prices in London have soared by 56 percent since 2007, those in the North of England have remained low, leaving many homeowners with mortgages that are larger than the value of their property. Blackpool and Middlesborough are the worst affected: homes in those towns are still worth 30 percent less than they were before 2007, the year that property prices peaked before the financial crisis.

The Daily Telegraph reports that British factory activity has stabilised this month, despite Brexit fears leading to a general lull of -11 percent. This is lower than the -15 percent predicted by economists. The Confederation of British Industry says that order books are higher than last month for 15 percent of the companies it surveys. However the CBI warns that optimism has ‘flatlined’ and that many companies will pass on price rises to customers.

Mothers are famously penalised in the workplace but it seems that fathers are raking in a ‘dad bonus’, earning 21 percent more than their childless peers. And men with two kids earn 9 percent more than those with just one, according to a study of 17,000 workers. It seems that men with children work harder and longer hours than those without, clocking in an extra half an hour in the office every week. They must be desperate not to go home. Women, meanwhile, are still disadvantaged for having children: they tend to earn 11 percent less. This is against a background of widespread gender inequality, according to the BBC. It reports that the Office for National Statistics’s findings show that women are payed on average 9.4 percent less than men.

Yesterday’s big news was that the betting industry has grown to over £19 billion in the last year – up £3 billion from 2015. Five gambling billionaires and 15 multimillionaires appeared on The Sunday Times Rich List; all but two have increased their wealth in the last twelve months. The Coates family, of Bet365, have done particularly well, turning over an extra £1.4 billion. Meanwhile the Betfair and Paddy Power merger saw Ed Wray, co-founder of the former, pocket a cool £68 million. Hurrah for them: perhaps they could help the NHS with the bills for medication that gambling addicts are being prescribed with increasing frequency.

 It’s unlikely, though: philanthropy is on the wane. The Independent calculated that although the UK’s biggest donors gave away a collective £2.66 billion last year (an increase from the previous year’s £2.58 billion) this represents a smaller proportion of their wealth than in previous years.

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