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Industry pleads with Bank of England not to raise rates this week – papers

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Industry is urging the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to leave rates on hold at Thursday’s decision-making meeting.

EEF, which represents employers in manufacturing, points to falling consumer confidence and “wage growth remaining remain subdued” as reasons for the bank to exercise caution, the Independent reports.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF, says: “The full extent of fiscal tightening has yet to make its mark and growth is dependent on a pick-up in private sector contributions from trade and investment.

“Interest rates must remain on hold until much stronger evidence emerges of a healthier economy.”

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Green paper proposes £155 a week universal pension 

Ministers are to outline plans for a universal state pension which they say will help people currently working prepare for a “different sort of world” in retirement.

Pensions minister Steve Webb says today’s green paper on pension reform outlining a single flat rate pension worth £155 a week would simplify a complex system and provide more incentive for people to save, the Guardian reports.

The beneficiaries of the flat rate pension, due to come into force in five years, would be women, the low paid, carers and the self-employed.

The paper will also canvass views on plans for a mechanism to automatically increase the state pension age in line with average life expectancy, rather than the system of pensionable age being set by ministers.

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IDS claims most want to work beyond 65

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has claimed most workers want to work on when they reach 65.

With proposed reforms potentially upping the retirement age beyond 70, the minister says higher life expectancy means working longer should be expected, the Daily Mail reports.

He says: “Because we are living longer, most people don’t feel like retiring at 65. We have many, many thousands now choosing to work beyond 65 and that’s why we lifted that thing called the default retirement age, where you could be forced into retirement.”

However, the suggestion has been attacked by opposition MPs and Saga’s Ros Altmann says: “There are terrible consequences for many people if you increase the state pension age too quickly.”

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Paris looking to woo HSBC

French officials are trying to persuade HSBC to move its headquarters to Paris as rival financial centres pounce on the opportunity to encourage the bank to move out of the UK.

Meetings instigated by the French are understood to have taken place in recent weeks with HSBC representatives, as the bank looks at its domicile arrangements as part of a triennial review process, the Telegraph reports.

Details of what the French authorities could offer HSBC to entice it to Paris are not known, but the move will put pressure on the Government ahead of the publication next week of an interim report by the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB).

Speaking last week, Douglas Flint, chairman of HSBC, told an audience of top City analysts and investors that the bank worried “a lot” about the direction of British financial regulation in his bluntest assessment yet of Government policy.

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