Monthly Archives: August 2008

Jim Pickard

Newsflash: I’ve just been told that Tesco is withdrawing plans for an ecotown at Hanley Grange, near Cambridge.

We ran the story last week that the wheels were falling off the ecotown project, with three having withdrawn, one having been cut from 15,000 homes to 5,000 and another three – including Hanley Grange – running into difficulties. Read more

Jim Pickard

Leave aside the question of whether energy companies are charging too much for power. There is the separate question of the European emissions trading scheme (ETS) windfall, addressed elsewhere on this blog.

Earlier this year, Ofgem said power companies had ended up with a £9bn windfall because of a quirk in the scheme. In its second phase polluting companies must buy on average 7 per cent of the permits they need to pollute. For power companies it’s about 30 per cent. Read more

Jim Pickard

Vince Cable held a press conference this morning to outline various ways to ease the pain in the housing market. I’m not sure any of his suggestions will make a massive difference (they include letting housing associations borrow more to buy up empty homes***).

But credit to the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, who has long been alert on this issue. As he reminds us, Labour MPs were literally laughing at the idea of an imminent housing crash – as recently as the spring. Read more

Jim Pickard

You may or may not have noticed the Conservative silence during the ongoing debate about a windfall tax on energy companies. It’s not hard to imagine the internal debate at the top of the party on this one.

Attacking the idea would be sensible and confirm the party’s pro-business credentials. But supporting it could play well in Lower Middle England.  Saying nothing would give the Tories the benefit of the doubt either way. Read more

Jim Pickard

Rob Marris MP* has just denied that he will quit if the government doesn’t bring in a windfall tax.  

Here are his comments to me over the phone just now: Read more

Jim Pickard

The scene: A newsroom. The date: September 2008

 Read more

Jim Pickard

The typical household in the UK has seen disposable income drop by 15 per cent in the last year as food prices and utility bills soar.

Disposable income now represents 28 per cent of average household income, down from 35 per cent a year ago, according to a survey published on Monday by uSwitch.com, the price comparison website. This is the equivalent of £14,520, down from £17,102. Read more

Jim Pickard

PA Consulting’s website boasts about its appearances in the business and national media. Strange then that it makes no mention of the latest flurry of publicity, such as here, here and there. Should we expect an update?

Here’s another one from this morning for the company to add to their files.

Jim Pickard

Back in February the prime minister said in his monthly press conference that it was “entirely possible” the government could sell Northern Rock at a profit. Eventually.

But now we know that Goldman Sachs was – in the same month – advising the Treasury in private that taxpayers would lose at least £450m from the nationalisation, even under a best-case scenario. Read more

Jim Pickard

That will be the inevitable response within most of the Labour party to the imminent departure of Lord Jones of Birmingham, former head of the CBI.

One of the “goats” (non-partisan ministers in the, ahem, ‘government of all the talents’) hired last summer by Gordon Brown, he was hardly an outright success. Read more

Jim Pickard

George Osborne made an interesting comment this morning:

“In the free-for-all of Russia in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of communism, instead of fair reward for effort we saw the unfair wholesale transfer of state resources to individuals,” said the shadow Chancellor in a speech to Demos. Read more

Jim Pickard

To lose three aides in as many months is embarrassing for Boris Johnson, London mayor.

You may remember the first two, which both made for good reading.  Read more