Unsurprisingly, all the newspapers lead with reports about yesterday's global stockmarkets falls, in...
Unsurprisingly, all the newspapers lead with reports about yesterday's global stockmarkets falls, in the light of Worldcom's admittance to fraud. But there are some other interesting stories popping up this morning.
Firstly, the FT reports that university and college students from low-income families could be paid an allowance to help them avoid debt under radical plans being considered by the government.
The allowances would provide a single system of support for all students, whether they were at an elite university or a further education college.
Means-testing of parental income would meet government concerns that any new system of student support must be directed towards those who deserve it. Students might be asked to report to tutors or mentors regularly in return for the payments, helping to stem the higher drop-out rate among the disadvantaged.
Ministers have been impressed by the success of pilot schemes in which £40-a-week means-tested allowances have encouraged teenagers to continue school or college studies from 16 to 18 or 19.
Gordon Brown stamped his personal authority on Britain's decision on a euro referendum on Wednesday night, unveiling a Treasury research programme to back a "decisive" assessment of his five economic tests, continues the FT.
The chancellor said in his Mansion House address to the City that the nation faced its "biggest peacetime economic decision". The assessment would be "the most robust, rigorous and comprehensive work the Treasury has ever done".
The decision on whether to call a referendum next year is supposed to be taken jointly with Tony Blair but Mr Brown left little doubt about who he thought was in charge. "If the tests are met then I believe we should join. If the tests are not met, we should not. The tests are decisive," he said. He had no "hidden agenda" but warned he would take no risks with the economy.
10 studies will be conducted to look at potential problem areas ranging from the housing market to labour mobility, the sustainable real exchange rate, national business cycles, the impact on manufacturing and service sectors, and experience of monetary union in the US.
The government was accused yesterday of turning a blind eye to Britain's mounting pensions crisis by the Conservatives who are holding a listening and learning summit today on how to tackle it, adds the FT.
David Willetts, the Conservative pensions spokesman, said the government was "still in a state of denial about the scale of the problem" as final salary schemes close, stakeholder pensions have "fallen short of the government's ambitions", fewer workers are contributing to a pension and millions face poverty in retirement.
"After years of progress in pension saving, we are going backwards," he said. He shared the government's ambition to shift the balance of income in retirement so that 60 per cent comes from funded schemes and only 40 per cent from the state. "But far from achieving that we seem to be moving further and further away from it."
Today's meeting is due to debate everything from raising the state pension age to ending the second state pension, measures to simplify pension regulation, the introduction of more compulsion, and possible changes to FRS17, the accounting rule that companies have blamed for their decision to close final salary schemes.
And Steve Webb MP has told the Daily Telegraph that more than 100,000 divorced women are heading for "poverty in retirement" because they are failing to exercise their legal right to share their former husband's pension.
Since December 2000, when English law was brought into line with existing practice in Scotland, divorcees have been able to make an immediate claim on their partner's private pension.
However, while there are 140,000 divorces a year, official figures show that only 367 couples have opted for pension splitting.
Other financial settlements - such as one partner keeping the family home and the other taking the pension - may go some way to explain the fact that less than 0.3% of divorcees are making use of the new "pensions splitting" legislation.
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