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Flybe’s pensions in doubt; Poorest 20% no better off than before, 1m Virgin customers on unsecured database

Flybe’s pension pot for 1,350 current and former workers is at risk, as the fallout from one of the first casualties of the coronavirus business threat manifests in full. Flybe of course was already embattled before the new Covid-19 virus came along, and was the subject of a controversial bailout by the UK government when it nearly collapsed a few months ago. Ultimately that bailout failed under pressure from other airlines who claimed it was effectively unfair competition. This time the government has not stepped in.

The airline says coronavirus caused a massive slump in flight bookings due to wary travellers deciding not to fly, and combined with its already considerable financial woes, it has had to call it a day. However, the picture is complicated because the pension scheme for as many as 1,350 current and former staff is based on the Isle of Man, and is therefore not covered by the so-called ‘lifeboat’ policy – known as the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) where the government will occasionally step in to take responsibility for failed pension pots. The normal situation under that scheme is that current employees would be eligible for protection of up to 90% of the liability pertaining to them, and former employees 100%.

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The poorest 20% of Brits are no better off than they were in the early 2000s, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The depressing statistic has come about because of the last two years, during which the incomes of the poorest fell by 7%, compared with a rise in median incomes of 0.4% per year for the same period. The median wage now in the UK is £29,600. There were periods of stronger growth in the last decade, around 3% during 2012-2013, and 2016-2017. 

The ONS puts it down to a fairly complex interplay between the employment rate and the working-age benefits. The fact that the latter have been frozen (at least from increasing), and the growing number of people in employment, means that benefits have “stalled” as a major contributory to the incomes of the demographic in question. In fact it is looking like increases in the minimum wage have been offset by a reduction in the amount of benefit available. 

The boss of JP Morgan has gone in for emergency heart surgery, and although he seems to be recovering, it has taken everyone by surprise. The bank said that the CEO, 63, had had a tear in his aorta which surgeons have managed to catch in enough time and treat. Co-presidents and co-chief operating officers Gordon Smith and Daniel Pinto have been drafted in to take over the day to day running of the bank while Dimon convalesces. The information was shared with the banks staff via an email memo. 

It is not the first time the boss has had a health scare during his 10 years at the helm: he went in for throat cancer back in 2014, but was cured. 

And just another data scandal, this time from Virgin Media, which apparently left the details of nearly a million of its customers on a database that has been unsecured since April last year. The company has admitted the mistake, and in doing so conceded that they know of one person so far who was able to access the marketing list from outside the firm itself. They did not say how many more might have accessed it but they do not think any of it has been used illegally. Watch this space…

That’s all for today.

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