Morning papers: Chancellor backs gas to fire up Britain
Chancellor George Osborne is to approve up to 30 gas-fired power stations as part of an Autumn Statement intended to boost private sector infrastructure investment and underpin long-term growth, reports the Financial Times.
Mr Osborne (pictured) will also announce a relaunch of the discredited private finance initiative to lure private investors into building schools, hospitals and other public projects; new rules are intended to improve transparency and risk sharing and remove excess profits.
Eurozone finance ministers discuss new bailouts
A week after settling on a debt-relief plan for Greece, eurozone finance ministers met again on Monday to discuss two other bailouts in the works, one for Cyprus and another for Spanish banks, and review progress on a key piece of the Greek plan, a debt buyback the Greek government launched Monday morning, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The buyback is the most important part of last week’s plan for cutting Greece’s debt. But it is unclear how many of Greece’s bondholders, many of which are non-Greek investment funds, will agree to sell their bonds back to the Greek government at sharply discounted prices.
VAT loophole on digital sales ‘costs UK more than Olympics’
Britain could have financed the Olympic Games out of the VAT it is losing on the sales of digital services, new research shows, heaping more pressure on George Osborne to close tax loopholes enjoyed by multinational companies in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, reports the Guardian.
As Britons splashed out millions on Christmas gifts on the busiest online shopping day of the year, a report by a leading telecoms and digital consultancy suggests the UK is losing over €2bn (£1.6bn) a year in VAT on digital services bought by British consumers from suppliers such as Amazon, which are based overseas. Greenwich Consulting estimates the UK will lose £10bn between 2008 and 2014. Ministers say the London Games cost taxpayers £9bn.
Loss of income caused by banks as bad as a ‘world war’, says BoE’s Andrew Haldane
The financial crisis has been as economically devastating as a world war and may still be a burden on “our grandchildren”, a top Bank of England official has said, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Andy Haldane, the Bank’s executive director for financial stability, added that public anger at the banks was fully justified and that pay in the industry remained too high.
Small business left high and dry as banks hold on to cash
A flagship lending scheme devised by George Osborne and Sir Mervyn King misfired in its first three months as top banks drew on the cheap funding but failed to pass the benefits on to their customers, reports The Times.
Six banks borrowed £4.4bn of low-cost money from the Bank of England in the three months to September, yet the loan books of three of them, including the state-controlled Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, shrank in the same period.