Saturday Newspaper round up

The Mail

George Osborne will announce plans to freeze pay for public sector workers living in the poorest parts of Britain, in his budget next week. Millions could have their salaries frozen for years under radical plans to end the system of national pay bargaining. Critics have said the move will create an even bigger economic divide between the north and south and plunge parts of the country already struggling financially into an even deeper depression.

North Sea oil and gas firms will be handed a tax break in the upcoming Budget, as the Chancellor looks to unlock £17billion worth of investment in Britain’s dwindling reserves. George Osborne will end months of uncertainty among oil explorers by saying that they will definitely enjoy tax relief on the cost of decommissioning ageing oil facilities. The measure extends an olive branch to an industry that placed some of the blame for last year’s record 18 per cent production decline on a £2.5billion-a-year tax increase in Osborne’s 2011 Budget.

The Daily Telegraph.

British house prices have risen by 50% since 2001, ranking the UK 13th in a Lloyds TSB table of the best-performing international housing markets.India claimed the top spot, rising 284pc between the third quarter of 2001 and the third quarter of 2011. Russia was second in the table, which compared housing markets in 32 separate countries, with a rise of 209pc. South Africa, Lithuania, Hong Kong and Bulgaria also saw triple-digit rises.

The Independent.

A scandal erupted at the City spread betting house WorldSpreads yesterday, when the firm admitted it is “currently unable” to assess its own finances. Shares in the AIM-listed outfit were suspended at 37p after “a review of the firm’s financial position” that uncovered “possible financial irregularities”. The move comes just days after the chief executive and major shareholder Conor Foley abruptly quit for reasons not explained on Wednesday. The chief financial officer Niall O’Kelly also left after an earlier profit warning admitting to “an unusual pattern of client trading”.

The FT.

James Murdoch has written a lengthy letter to a parliamentary committee  expressing deep regret for the  phone hacking scandal reiterating his innocence ahead of a crucial  report that could determine whether he stays chairman of BSkyB. Mr Murdoch’s last-ditch attempt to protect his reputation comes as the culture media and sport select committee prepares to issue a report into phone-hacking following testimony from dozens of witnesses including Mr Murdoch and his father Rupert Murdoch.

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