DIRECTORY INQUIRY services will be deregulated from today, giving consumers access to a range of new...
DIRECTORY INQUIRY services will be deregulated from today, giving consumers access to a range of new telephone information services run by rivals to BT Group, which currently dominates the market, says this morning's FT.
The "192" service will be superseded by August next year by six-digit numbers starting with "118". In the meantime, the new telephone numbers will run alongside 192.
BT's alternative to 192 today becomes 118 500. As part of the change, BT will be offering new services such as classified listings and film and television information. BT intends to further beef up its offering by adding weather forecasts, lottery results, and sports and share price information. The ramp up of its offering reflects the fact that it will come under greater pressure to retain its customers in the face of growing competition.
Rival companies are expected to offer a range of new services, from locating nearby restaurants and cash machines to sports results.
THE INLAND REVENUE paid up to £53m in employee tax credits to people who did not qualify for them last year, the National Audit Office has told the Financial Times.
The public spending watchdog also said the Revenue failed to pay up to £43m to people who did merit the tax credits, introduced by Gordon Brown to encourage the unemployed to take low-paid jobs.
Overall, the tax credit error rate rose more than 40%. The NAO blamed the complexity of administering the system, poor information from corporate tax returns and inadequate information technology.
Its criticisms will provide ammunition for those who claim that the tax breaks are too complicated to work efficiently.
THE RISING COST of employers' liability insurance could be driven even higher by plans to introduce reviewable payments in personal injury cases, the Association of British Insurers warned yesterday, according to the FT.
The courts bill, which had its second reading in the House of Lords yesterday, would introduce periodical payments - instead of immediate lump sums - for damages in personal injury cases.
It would also allow "variation of periodical payments orders . . . where there is a significant medical deterioration or improvement in the claimant's condition which can be foreseen at the time of the original order". The government said the move was designed to give claimants appropriate damages for their injuries.
WARNINGS by the Bank of England that the house price boom increasingly risks a painful bust in an overheated market were reinforced yesterday by an external member of its Monetary Policy Committee, says the Times.
Marian Bell said that house prices have been climbing at an "extraordinarily rapid rate". The longer that this continued, the greater the dangers of severe fallout for homeowners and a sudden slowdown in consumer spending, she argued.
"The recent rate of increase in house prices is not sustainable . . . The longer the recent exceptional rate of house price price inflation continues, the more abrupt the ultimate slowdown of house prices and consumption might be," Ms Bell told a CBI meeting in Crawley.
THE STOCK EXCHANGES of London and Stockholm, bitter rivals in a hostile bid battle two years ago, are getting together to build a new equity derivatives market, says the Daily Telegraph.
The London Stock Exchange is paying £18.2m to buy 76% of the London equity derivatives business of OM Group, operator of the Stockholm Stock Exchange. OM will retain a 24% stake and work with the LSE to grow the business.
OM London Exchange, the business being acquired, was set up in London by OM in 1989. It trades 60,000 contracts a day in equity derivatives of Scandinavian companies. Under the deal, the market will be renamed EDX London and will broaden its product range to include equity derivatives of British companies.
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