The UK has pledged a further 15bn dollars to the IMF, after Christine Lagarde revealed that member states had promised a total of 456bn dollars for its new crisis fund. China will contribute 43bn dollars, state news agency Xinhua confirmed on Tuesday morning. “With today’s announcements by an additional 12 countries, a total of 37 IMF member countries (…) have joined this collective effort, demonstrating the broad commitment of the membership to ensure the IMF has access to adequate resources to carry out its mandate in the interests of global financial stability,” Ms Lagarde, the IMF chief, said, according to The Telegraph.
The SNP’S flagship plans for a “sterling zone” currency union after independence are likely to be rejected by the remaining UK countries, former Chancellor Alistair Darling will argue today. But he will be accused of peddling “myths” about independence by finance secretary John Swinney, who will say the last Labour government presided over an “unsustainable boom” which benefited the few, not the many. Mr Darling, who will lead the pro-union campaign in the referendum campaign, says the fear of a Eurozone-style meltdown will thwart any hopes of a currency union with London built around the pound after Scottish independence. The alternative of Scotland simply using the pound would be more like “serfdom, than freedom”, Mr Darling will say, The Scotsman reports.
Thousands of wealthy people in Britain pay as little as 1% income tax using “below the radar” accounting methods, part of a tax avoidance industry that costs the country billions of pounds. An investigation by The Times into tax avoidance begins today with the exposure of a single Jersey-based scheme that shelters £168m a year from the taxman. Jimmy Carr, the comedian who performed for the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations this month, is understood to be the largest beneficiary of the K2 tax scheme. Mr Carr shelters £3.3m a year through K2, which is used by 1,100 tax avoiders, according to an accountant selling the scheme, The Times says.
The prospect of new nuclear power stations being built in the UK for the first time in 20 years has moved a significant step forward after EDF Energy awarded a £2bn contract to build a plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. French company Bouygues and private British construction group Laing O’Rourke have been named as preferred bidders for a construction contract that is estimated to create 4,000 jobs. EDF said the contract is subject to securing planning consent for the power station and the company making a “final investment decision” on whether to press ahead with the power station by the end of this year, The Telegraph writes.
Microsoft will go head-to-head with Apple in the booming tablet computer market after the software company revealed plans to introduce a new product, the Surface. The device, which was unveiled at a much-hyped event in Los Angeles last night, has a 10.6in display and is under half an inch thick. It was designed specifically for Microsoft’s operating systems and features a case that turns into a keyboard, a built-in stand and USB port. Its price will be announced closer to the launch date, which will be later this year. Microsoft has already made a move into the tablet sector having spent $300m to take a stake in the digital operations of Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest physical bookstore. B&N’s Nook tablet is expected to continue to be sold separately, with the retailer providing Microsoft’s e-book products, according to The Times.
The number of young people out of work for at least a year has grown eightfold in the last decade, a grim analysis shows ahead of Wednesday’s official unemployment figures. The report by the TUC reveals an “enormous” increase in long-term youth unemployment over the past 12 years, with the number of 18 to 24 year-olds out of work for a year or more rising by 874%, from 6,260 in 2000 to 60,955 in 2012. In the last year alone, youth joblessness lasting 12 months or more has gone up by 264%, the research found, The Telegraph writes.
Clarks Shoes, one of Britain’s biggest family-owned companies, has been hit by “work-to-rule” industrial action over pay. The dispute involves 230 workers at its distribution centre in Street, Somerset. Members of the Community union voted by four to one to take action, which began on Monday. The union said its members were angry at plans to impose a 3.5% pay award, linked to changes to working arrangements, which it said reduced the value of the rise to 2.6%, The Telegraph reports.