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Thursday's business and politics round-up

23 Mar 2017
Digital news template in front of planet earth

IoD in the news

Bloomberg - Brexit-Era CEOs' Anxiety Rises as Shareholders Scrutinize Pay
Daily Mail - Fury over £700k pay-off for Bovis boss
Evening Standard - FTSE pay consultants step out the shadows as remuneration row heats up
Independent - FTSE 100 bosses get paid 386 times national living wage

'We will all move forward together' 

Standing outside 10 Downing Street last night, the Prime Minister Theresa May, said we will “never give in to terror” and we will “all move forward together”.

Wednesday, usually the highlight of the parliamentary week, took a dark turn yesterday following a terrorist attack in Westminster in the afternoon. The event unfolded at about 14.40 GMT when a single person drove a car along the pavement on Westminster Bridge, hitting several people along the way.

The car then crashed into the railings outside the houses of Parliament. The attacker, who was armed with a knife, ran to into the grounds where the police confronted him. A police officer, who was unarmed, was stabbed and killed. Armed police officers then shot the attacker.

The death toll has now reached five, including the attacker, and at least 40 people were injured, many of them likely to be tourists visiting the historic landmark. The dead officer has been named PC Keith Palmer, 48, a husband and father who had worked for the force for 15 years. The police believe they know the attacker, but he has not yet been named.

A Foreign Office minister, Tobias Ellwood, who was nearby at the time of the attack, attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in the hope of helping PC Palmer.

Following a Cobra meeting, Theresa May took to address to public on the horrific attack in London. The Prime Minister paid tribute to the “exceptional men and women” of the police force who responded so promptly to the attack. She said the “attack was no accident” and is a “target for those who reject” our values of “democracy, freedom, human rights, [and] the rule of law”.

Mrs May added “let me make it clear today… violence and terror is doomed to failure”. She stressed that Londoners will go about their day as normal, “never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart”.

This echoed the message of London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who earlier said that we would not be “cowed by terrorists”. He said his message was clear to those who try to “harm and destroy our way of life: you won’t succeed, you won’t divide us”.

Our thoughts are with the innocent people that died, and our thanks are with the service men and women who risk their lives protecting this country.

Raising retirement age 

Millions of people may have to work longer to qualify for a state pension, two separate reports for the Government have said today.

One was an analysis conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which suggests that workers under the age of 30 may not get a pension until the age of 70.

A second report, by John Cridland, the former Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, proposes that those under the age of 45 may have to work a year longer, to 68.

With the increase in life expectancy and widening ratio of pensions to workers, raising the pension age has always been a possibility. Ministers are under pressure to address the issues and the Government is due to make a decision on both recommendations by May. Under the proposed scenario at least six million people face the prospect of having to work longer.

In the most extreme proposal, experts from the Government Actuary's Department (GAD) said the state pension age could be raised as high as 70 as soon as 2054. This would affect anyone born after 1986, therefore anyone under the age of 31. The former pensions minister Steve Webb has been highly critical of this proposal saying this was not what parliament voted for and is “clearly driven by the Treasury” as a way of raising money.

The second report, however, foresees more modest changes. Mr Cridland recommends bringing the change from 67 to 68 forward by seven years, from 2046 to 2039. This would mean anyone currently under the age of 45 having to work an extra year.

The former CBI chief also suggested that the triple-lock be ended in the next parliament. At present, this guarantees that the state pension rises each year by inflation, earnings or 2.5%, whichever is the highest. Given that inflation is due to rise above 2.5% in no time, this is likely to place an even heavier burden on the Government spending so may give all the more cause to rethink pensions policy.

Boycott spreads like wildfire 

At least four major US firms have pulled millions of dollars in advertising from Google’s platform amid rows over extremist content.

Despite the tech giant’s attempt to contain the dispute, it appears the boycott has now caught on in the US. This has created a huge problem for Google who will seek to reassure major brands that their adverts will not appear alongside extremist content.

Today, the Times reports that telecoms firms AT&T and Verizon, as well as car rental company Enterprise and pharmaceutical giant GSK, have withdrawn all non-search advertising. An investigation by the newspaper found major brands were appearing next to YouTube videos promoting extremist views - generating revenues for the creators.

The company has apologised and promised better tools for advertisers, but they may need to do more to stop this boycott from spreading.

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