CARIBBEAN tax havens, including the Cayman Islands, are being threatened with UK legislation if they...
CARIBBEAN tax havens, including the Cayman Islands, are being threatened with UK legislation if they fail to open their books to the UK taxman in line with a proposed EU directive on savings taxes, says this morning's Times newspaper.
The threat of legislation came from Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, as a European Council meeting on the directive broke up in discord yesterday. In an effort to save the directive, the Chancellor retreated from his insistence that Switzerland comply. However, Luxembourg, Belgium and Austria renewed their attack on the Swiss.
The Chancellor gave the Council his "unequivocal assurance" that automatic exchange of information would be introduced in Britain's Caribbean territories. "If necessary, we will legislate directly," he said.
AMP, the Australian insurer, is to cut 1,900 jobs from its UK subsidiary Pearl Assurance, double the expected number, adds the Times.
The latest jobs cull brings the total number of redundancies at Pearl to 3,400. Earlier this year AMP was forced to inject £500 million into Pearl to ensure it meets regulatory solvency rules.
Pearl is to wind up its door-to-door life insurance salesforce of 1,000, while 750 support staff will lose their jobs.
A CABINET rebellion over Tony Blair's support for plans to introduce top-up fees for university students gathered force last night, continues the Times.
The arch-loyalist Helen Liddell, Scottish secretary, added her name to a lengthening list of ministerial opponents of the idea, which would allow top universities to charge extra fees.
She signalled her opposition to top-up fees in a speech at Aberdeen University last night, appearing to echo Gordon Brown's fears that such a scheme would discourage poorer students from going to the best universities.
The chancellor favours a graduate tax, a form of which exists in Scotland. His difference of opinion with the prime minister over top-up fees has triggered a serious debate at the heart of government.
THE TRUSTEES of a retirement scheme plundered by Robert Maxwell hit back yesterday at government accusations that they are responsible for a £40m black hole that will halve members' pensions, adds the Times.
Baroness Hollis of Heigh-am, the Work and Pensions Minister, claimed the shortfall was caused by investment decisions taken by Law Debenture, trustees of the Maxwell Communications Pension Plan (MCPP), one of the funds from which the late media tycoon stole £460m. However, Law Debenture told McPP members yesterday that the cuts were primarily because of a government demand for payment of £30.5m owed to the national insurance fund by another Maxwell scheme.
Law Debenture asked the Government three-and-a-half years ago for a distribution of funds from overfunded Maxwell schemes to the ailing ones. It says the government delay on reaching a decision to reject a deal caused the shortfall in the fund to escalate from £10m to £40m since 1999.
Prosperous areas of south-east England are likely to suffer steep rises in council tax next year as a result of a government shake-up of local authority finances. Local government experts predicted that a new system for assessing the needs of council areas, to be announced tomorrow, would trigger increases in government spending in poor parts of the north and Midlands, says the FT.
Rises in expenditure for well-heeled southern areas would be relatively low, they said, putting pressure on local authorities to compensate with above-average council tax increases.
The initial effect of the assessment reforms will be apparent in how the government shares out its budget of £39.5bn for local authorities for 2003-04, also to be announced tomorrow.
The Institute of Directors leapt to the defence of its members today after a leading centre-left think-tank criticised the environmental and social policies of many IoD companies as tokenistic.
The report by the Institute for Public Policy Research began as a joint project with the IoD, using data from an NOP Business survey of 500 member companies that the business lobby group commissioned. But the IoD objected to IPPR interpretation of the data and asked for publication to be delayed until it produced its own report, also published today.
Ruth Lea, head of the IoD policy unit, said the IPPR had put a negative slant on the data. "We paid for it. It cost £16,000 and they're having all the benefits of our survey. It's our membership, for crying out loud. It's only right that I get something into the public domain that our members would be happy with and I don't think our members would be happy with the IPPR report."
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