Here are this week’s headlines:
- Ombudsman to withdraw from complaints handling in the property sector
Reported by Anna Flaherty
Ombudsman Services, the largest multi-sector Ombudsman in the UK, have stated that they will no longer offer “a broken solution to a broken market”. The Ombudsman Services provide redress in arguments between individuals and property agents. It will withdraw from complaints handling in the property sector by 6th August 2018.
Redress in the housing market is confusing, with The Property Ombudsman, The Property Redress Scheme and the Housing Ombudsman being other services that operate within the housing market. Such a range of services creates much complexity and confusion for for consumers.
As a result, the government is now considering the creation of one single ombudsman to provide an avenue of redress for the entirety of the housing market. Ombudsman Services have said that they will work with charities, consumer groups, property professionals and the public on a major report to provide plans for this single entity. The plan is to abandon the currently “broken” system, and “to listen to what consumers actually want”. They intend to follow the example that Financial Services use, as this sector already has a singular Ombudsman.
Considering the crisis that the housing market is in, with the government having described it as “broken” in their recent Housing White Paper, this new approach may be a step in the right direction.
- Government responds to Taylor Report
Reported by Sarah Mullane
Last year an independent review conducted by Matthew Taylor submitted a series of recommendations for reform to the government concerning employee and worker rights in UK labour law. In response to this ‘good work’ review, the government has promised to overhaul the current state of employment rights so as to improve the conditions of millions of UK workers.
In its ‘good work plan’, the government’s main recommendation has been for the implementation of ‘day one’ rights’ for workers in the ‘gig-economy’. Such rights will include sick-pay and holiday entitlement for those currently operating in insecure work environments, with proposals recommending stricter enforcement of such rights. Business Secretary Greg Clark has addressed the issue of workers being unable to challenge companies who mistreat their staff, stating that “we will be enforcing the rights that people have and are entitled to.” It is suggested that this will take the form of higher fines.
In addition, the government has also committed to providing a right for workers, including those engaging in zero-hour contracts and agency work, to request stable contracts, and for all workers to have a right to a payslip. In total, the government has said it will act on 52 of the 53 recommendations made in the Taylor Review. The only recommendation not being followed concerns a proposal for a reduction in the difference of National Insurance contributions being made by employees and the self-employed.
Despite many welcoming the announcement, unions have claimed that there will still remain 1.8 million workers without key rights. Joe Egan, president of the Law Society, has warned that the government must take action in order to implement these recommendations, so as to ensure that workers are no longer “vulnerable to harm.”
- This week’s volatile market
Reported by Spencer Yap
On Monday, The Down dropped by 1597 points at its lowest before investors rushed in and soften the drop to 1175 points at closing. As a percentage, the drop was the biggest for the Dow since August 2011. This triggered loss in Asia and Europe, with the FSTE 100 seeing a 2.6% drop, translating to £50bn disappearing from the markets. Asian markets, however, bounced back on Wednesday after American stocks recovered from Monday’s crash. The fall began in the US when it was announced that wage growth was ahead of initial predictions, accompanied with new tax cuts, trade tensions and a weakening dollar, fuelled fear that the risk of inflation would force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates quicker than expected.
The American central bank would have to raise interest rates, but at the right pace so as to not curb economic activity. Michael Bapis, from The Bapis Group, says that the volatility we see now is because of the uncertainty of what the Federal Reserve would do. Other commentators have also said that computer-driven trading, which follows algorithms which generally buys or sells according to the rise and fall of the market index, is thought to have intensify the drop in share prices.
Yet many are saying that the freefall is not to be seen as a crash, but a correction in the markets. Analysts has predicted that the stock prices were set for a correction after prolonged period of soring prices. JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist over at TD Ameritrade, said what we see today is the market saying “‘hold on. This got overdone’ The fundamentals of the companies haven’t changed since Friday.”
This week’s fall in stock prices would not only affect investors, but also the common folk. If an individual works for a company, odds are that their pension would be invested in shares and bonds. In the UK more than 9 million people have auto enrolment pensions. This means that the pound value of your pension return would be tied to the rise and fall of the market. Luckily however, if this is to be a correction and not a crash, Tom Kenny from ANZ said ‘the correction is probably a health development and is not reflective of a souring macroeconomic outlook.’ Furthermore, stock market in the long run are reliable in generating growth, so your pension (if invested in the stock market) should consider the stock market as a ‘friend’, says Laith Khalaf from Hargreaves Lansdown.
- Gangster Refuses to Pass His Bowels for 3 Weeks After Swallowing Class A Drugs
Reported by Paige Waters
A suspected drug dealer from Essex has refused to pass his bowels for three weeks in an attempt to prevent the police from finding class A’s which he swallowed; although he has been charged with two counts of possessing class A’s with the intent to supply.
The suspect is being kept in custody until he passes his bowels and re-apply for custody extensions until the man finally passes the suspected drugs, although he refuses to eat.
The police officers have taken to twitter to give live updates on the situation, with day 22 stating “male has still not used the toilet”. In order to ensure the defendant does not have health problems, the man has been seen daily by doctors to ensure his health is intact but it has been stated that “this is his own choice and so far his health is fine”.
Chief Superintendent Paul Wells has commented on the situation stating “drug dealing and a gang lifestyle is not glamorous. You’ll be exploited, be the victim or perpetrator of violence, you’ll spend your days wondering whether a rival dealer or police officer will find you first.
You’ll be expected to courier and deliver drugs and that might involve you swallowing or carrying them inside you, which is particularly dangerous. If you are arrested and suspected of having drugs inside you, we can and will keep you in custody until you produce them.”