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Wednesday newspaper round-up: Local authorities, long-term sickness, HSBC

(Sharecast News) - Energy suppliers have been accused of profiteering by charging "horrendous and financially crippling rates" to care homes facing huge bills this winter. The chief executive of Care England, the largest body representing independent providers of adult care, has accused gas suppliers of being "unduly onerous" in their practices. - Guardian Local authorities have warned they face an "existential crisis" caused by massive funding shortfalls and any attempt by ministers to patch up budgets by allowing increased council tax is doomed to failure. The multibillion "black hole" in England's municipal finances - which has pushed a number of councils to the brink of bankruptcy - could not be fixed by local ratepayers alone, who would face unrealistic council tax increases of up to 20%, the Local Government Association (LGA) said. - Guardian

Jeremy Hunt is preparing to announce measures to help the long-term sick back into jobs on Thursday, as figures showed that a record 2.5million people are now unable to work because of persistent illness. The Chancellor is expected to use Thursday's Autumn Statement to warn that labour shortages are fuelling spiralling inflation by reducing the workforce and pushing up wages. - Telegraph

Shadow banking firms should draw up contingency plans so that they can be safely wound down if they collapse, the boss of the City regulator has told peers scrutinising the recent turmoil that gripped pension schemes. Nikhil Rathi, the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, said an "important point" that had emerged from the pension crisis was the extent to which retirement schemes and other non-bank firms should have "resolution regimes". - The Times

A second senior executive at HSBC is leaving the bank in a potential setback to the FTSE 100 lender as it seeks to fend off an activist campaign by its biggest shareholder. Chirantan Barua, who is HSBC's global head of strategy, is to join Lloyds Banking Group as the head of its Scottish Widows division, it was announced yesterday. This comes only three weeks after HSBC surprised its shareholders by disclosing the exit of Ewen Stevenson, its highly regarded finance chief, who will leave next year. - The Times

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(Sharecast News) - A development company that sells off land no longer needed by Thames Water has paid out a £14m dividend despite warnings that it could become engulfed by the water group's financial woes. Accounts filed at Companies House show Kennet Properties paid out a £14.5m dividend in the year to 31 March 2023 despite the difficulties faced by the wider group, which is facing going into administration. - Guardian
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(Sharecast News) - Asset manager Redwheel told regulators they should reduce the UK postal service's legal obligations. The move followed a failed buyout attempt by Daniel Kretinsky for International Distributions Services, its parent company. The billionaire investor was said to be evaluating a possible improved bid. The company meanwhile has petitioned Ofcom to let it cut the number of days per week during which it must deliver second-class mail from six to two or three. That would save the company £300m and see it shrink its workforce by 1,000. According to Redwheel, as first reported by the Sunday Times, the enforced costs of its legal obligations left the company "vulnerable to corporate predators". - Guardian
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(Sharecast News) - "Misleading" and "inconsistent" labels make it hard for shoppers to know where their food comes from, the consumer champion Which? has said, as it found supermarket chains were selling products with "meaningless" statements on their packaging. Retailers must supply the "country of origin" for specific foods including fresh fruit and vegetables, unprocessed meats, fish, wine and olive oil but the rules do not generally apply to processed meat or frozen or processed fruit and vegetables. - Guardian

Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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