There has been a big rise in the number of agency workers in recent years, reports the Financial Times, and by 2020 there could be a million in the UK. Classed as ‘workers’ rather than employees, they do not get the protections employees receive by law, and on average get paid significantly less.

The Resolution Foundation, which researched the numbers, says agency workers are the forgotten face of today’s workforce.

Advisers warned off tax avoidance

Seven professional bodies in the UK have issued new guidelines to their members following the government’s recent legislative measures against tax avoidance. They say that tax advisers who are involved in tax planning that is contrary to parliament’s clear intentions or that is “highly artificial” are open to disciplinary action. But many advisers are uneasy because there is no clear legal distinction between what is regarded as acceptable tax planning and what  counts as tax avoidance.

Take the money for your pension

FT columnist Merryn Somerset Webb invites readers to imagine they own an investment that has risen by 480% over the past seven years. Moreover, the rise is down to just one factor – the steady decline in  interest rates over that period. Wouldn’t common sense tell you it was time to sell? she asks. The investment she refers to is the ‘transfer value’ of a defined benefit/final salary pension scheme. The example she cites is a reader who’s been offered a transfer value of £300,000 for a pension likely to be £7,000 a year at retirement in 20 years’ time. In 2009 the transfer value was just £63,000. Could you be worse off by taking the £300,000? Only if inflation shoots up to a very high level (the final salary pension is inflation-proofed), she argues, provided you invest it sensibly.

Bank of England’s QE has hurt business

The Bank of England’s Quantitative Easing, which has kept interest rates at near-zero since the financial crisis, has caused business to reduce pay and fire employees, according to a report cited by the Financial Times. This is because businesses have had to put more money into their pension funds, whose future liabilities to pensioners have been substantially increased by lower interest rates.

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