The minimum wage for adults in the UK increases today to £6.50 an hour, from £6.31 an hour. The 19p rise represents the first real-terms increase in the minimum wage since the financial crisis in 2008. The change means firms who fail to pay staff the minimum wage from today will face tougher sanctions from HM Revenue and Customs. From today, the increase will affect each age group as follows:
- £6.50 an hour for over 21-year olds
- £5.03 an hour for 18- to 20-year-olds
- £3.79 an hour for under 18-year-olds
- £2.73 an hour for apprentices
The main political parties all agree that the wage is still too low, but disagree on how much it should increase by or how quickly. In January, the Conservative Chancellor George Osborne suggested that the wage would increase to £7 an hour by 2015. Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to increase it to £8.00 by 2020 while the Liberal Democrats promised workers on the minimum wage that they would be exempt from paying tax if the party wins next year's general election.
A new charity advice service is to be launched in Newcastle to help people with fuel debts.
Newcastle CAB Fuel Debt Advice will be provided by the charity from October thanks to £35,000 funding from Northern Powergrid.
The company, which manages and invests in the North of England’s electricity network, is funding the project for two years, enabling Newcastle CAB to provide free, confidential and independent advice to local people who are struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills.
The service is based at Newcastle CAB, but will be available to residents throughout Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, via their local CAB. A specialist debt advisor will help people who are in arrears with their gas or electricity supplier, and are unable to pay the debt. They will also provide expert assistance to help local people find the best energy deal for them, and help them access energy saving measures including better insulation and new boilers.
Shona Alexander, Chief Executive of Newcastle CAB, said: “We see people struggling with fuel bills every day here at the bureau. Many people are very confused about their bills and find it very difficult to manage them. This new project will really help us to help them.”
Controversial plans for the world's biggest potash mine to be sunk in the North York Moors National Park are to be submitted today.
The firm behind the £1bn scheme near Whitby, says it would create 1,000 jobs, but critics say it would blight one of the region's finest landscapes and pave the way for other large scale developments in Britain's national parks.
The mine would target the world's largest untapped reserve of polyhalite - a mineral which is used as fertiliser to boost crop yields.
North York Moors National Park officials said today the mine is believed to be the largest ever major development proposal submitted to a National Park Authority in England.
If operating today at full capacity of 13 million tonnes of polyhalite ore per year, it is understood that the mine would be the world’s largest potash mine in terms of the amount of potash extracted.
The plan involves the construction of two 1,500 metre deep mine shafts on land at Dove’s Nest Farm, near Sneaton, four miles south of Whitby.
Also planned is a 250 metre deep tunnel running 23 miles from the mine site to Wilton on Teesside where the extracted mineral would be granulated for export.
The tunnel would have an access shaft at Dove’s Nest Farm and three intermediate access points on the route to Wilton, one within the national park, near Egton, the second just outside the park boundaries near Lockwood Beck Reservoir and the third near Guisborough.
The Authority understands the significance of the proposals and will carefully assess the planning considerations of the development which will include the environmental impacts and economic benefits. We will approach the new application with an open mind and the proposed development will be determined in the context of our local plan policies and government policy which is that major development should not take place in National Parks unless there are exceptional circumstances of public interest. I want to assure people that we will take all relevant considerations into account before reaching any decision.
We believe we have a compelling planning case that clearly demonstrates that the York Potash Project can deliver exceptional economic benefits, not only locally here in North Yorkshire and in Teesside but also for the wider UK economy.
We have planned the project with a very high regard for the environment and where possible minimising associated impacts. However, it is now for each authority to determine the applications according to the relevant policies and we keenly await their decisions.
A decision on whether to grant the mine permission is expected next year.
Final plans are being submitted to create Europe's largest potash mine. York Potash hope to build the £2bn mine on the North York Moors National Park. Campaigners argue it could ruin the environment but supporters say it would bring jobs.
Last year, the controversial plans were deferred till now. York Potash asked for more time to submit further details on the application - deferring the decision for a third time.
TV star Robson Green has hit out at tax-dodging celebrities, saying that they should "hang their heads in shame".
The actor and presenter, 49, singled out particular criticism for comedian Jimmy Carr, who previously admitted making a "terrible error of judgment" after his arrangements - he was said to be using an aggressive but legal tax-avoidance scheme - came to light.
Earlier this year, multi-millionaire Take That star Gary Barlow was also accused of being involved in a tax avoidance scheme and later broke his silence to "apologise" on Twitter.
Green, whose father was a miner, told the magazine that he was "very proud" to be a 50% tax-payer.
Do you know what, anybody who tells me they're not going to pay tax... we've got an NHS system on its knees....I tell you what, my son was in real trouble when he was young and we took him to the hospital, there were four specialists waiting for him. That's why you pay your taxes. We've got a police system who protect us, we've got firemen who put out fires. We've got defence, man. That's what tax is for.
Why don't you want to invest in that? I don't get it. These f*****s who try to avoid it should hang their heads in shame.
That comedian... What's his name? Carr? W****r. I mean, just w****r. No, he's not getting away with it for me.
Sorry, there are people dying because we don't pay our taxes. I'm proud to be a 50% tax-payer, very proud of it. Sorry, you're not getting away with it. Shame on you... because you didn't pay your tax.
A decision is expected this morning on the latest phase of the development of South Shields' historic market square.
Councillors are recommended to approve the proposals for a new library, digital media centre and rooftop restaurant.
Up to 30 thousand people are expected at a special event aimed at sharing money saving tips and skills from the past.
There has been a vintage feel around Darlington's Lingfield Point as it hosts the town's second Festival of Thrift.
Designer, Wayne Hemingway, is one of the team who came up with the idea and he hopes it will resurrect some traditional values.
He said: "We've been through a pretty significant downturn that was brought on by excessive credit and by excessive borrowing and by kind of losing a lot of human values. Here we are kind of celebrating what human values are all about. That's about sharing and making things last and about all the things that I learned from my Nan and my Pop."
Activities include mat-making, hat-making and tips on how to grow your own vegetables. Craftsmen and women have also been sharing their skills and hobbies with the younger generation and teaching people how to make do and mend.
Even the cardboard boxes that would have been disposed of have been "up-cycled" and transformed into art to entertain the crowds.
Responding to news that the Northern Rock Foundation will close its current grant programmes at the end of 2014 and begin to prepare for the Foundation’s now likely eventual closure, Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, has spoken to ITV Tyne Tees.
She says Northern Rock's investment in local projects and charities was a "great example for the country".
Responding to news that the Northern Rock Foundation will close its current grant programmes at the end of 2014 and begin to prepare for the Foundation’s now likely eventual closure, Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central said:
I’m very sad to see the demise of Northern Rock as a grant giving organisation. It has made a remarkable contribution to the North East for many years now and has been a caring, innovative, inclusive and supportive friend to the North East, rooted in our region and working in our region.
I do however welcome Virgin Money’s commitment to investment in the region. Youth services have been devastated by central government funding cuts and housing is consistently the number one issue in my surgeries and post bag, so their support for North East Youth Zones and bringing empty housing back into use is very welcome.
I am concerned however that the work the Foundation undertook on hard to reach communities, inclusion and refugees will not be replaced and will leave a gap in the region.
The Northern Rock Foundation is a charity and company limited by an independent Board of Trustees that makes all decisions on governance, finance and policy.
The Foundation aims to tackle disadvantage and improve quality of life in the North East of England and Cumbria.
The Foundation’s work is delivered by a professional staff team of 10 based in Newcastle uponTyne.
Sadly, after 17 years it will close its programmes at the end of this year and prepare for "now likely eventual closure".