The UK losing its AAA credit rating, David Beckham’s tax status in France and an app that tests your urine all made the headlines this week. Steven Perryman on this week’s news
Motorway services could be the answer to UK losing its AAA rating
The timing was far from perfect. Under a week on from the 4G auction debacle, and in the same week that marked three weeks until this year’s Budget, it was announced that the UK has lost its AAA credit rating.
You could hear the red briefcase hitting the floor at Number 11 from a mile away. How will it affect consumers? Well, it is bad news for the cash in your pocket, if you save money or if you are planning a holiday this year. In short, not good at all.
But people planning a ‘staycation’ this year can comfort themselves that by stopping at motorway services on the way to their rainy week in a caravan they will be helping the UK economy. This week BBC News reported that motorway services could actually drive an economic recovery, which will really warm the heart as you hand over £10 for a sandwich and a bag of crisps, eh?
Competition Commission challenges Big Four audit domination
Over in the heady world of the Big Four, the Competition Commission has finally released its finding into the big firms’ domination of the audit market. The recommendations could see companies forced to switch auditors every seven, ten or 14 years in order to break the dominance of the market. Not good news for the behemoths of the accountancy world.
With that news still ringing in its ears, PwC’s week went from bad to worse with reports that it has lost its number one status as a ‘superbrand’ for the first time in 12 years. The company that beat it? Only its big rival – and fellow Big Four firm – Ernst & Young. The harmonious united front the companies showed the Public Accounts Committee in January, it would appear, is well and truly over.
David Beckham’s Paris Saint-Germain transfer under tax scrutiny
Over in France, meanwhile, the French tax authorities have announced they are to scrutinise the deal which saw David Beckham join super-rich Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain. Worrying times for Goldenballs: expect to see him following Gérard Depardieu’s lead and claiming Russian citizenship any time soon.
Speaking of tabloid celebrities being cynically used for commercial gain, this week also saw news that Pippa Middleton is to join Waitrose Kitchen magazine to write a column called ‘Pippa’s Friday night feasts’. One can only hope it is more of a success than her flop party book, Celebrate, and that the role doesn’t involve driving around Paris with the roof down.
Getting celebrity darlings on board is far from Tesco’s agenda right now. Following the horsemeat scandal and Clubcard security breach, this week it announced it is to cut 2,000 jobs. Its cause was not helped by an email sent to all customers bestowing the virtues of using British farmers – only to spell the word ‘farmers’ as ‘famers’. Worrying times for the under-fire retailer in need of a spellcheck.
Working from home? Not at Yahoo, you’re not
Over in HR, the debate over allowing employees to work from home blew up with an internal memo sent by Yahoo, which showed the company introducing a ban on working from home for its employees, leaked to the press.
Not that having employees working in the office works for HMRC all the time. This week it was reported that an official at the government department has been jailed for siphoning £12,000 from taxpayers’ accounts in a ‘flagrant breach of trust’. Although that is peanuts compared to the accountant who reportedly stole more than £540,000 from investors and his employers to fuel his chronic gambling addiction.
Not that criminal activity with money is restricted to office life, with the BBC reporting this week that students are being warned not to get involved in money laundering. The temptation of all that beer money could prove the deciding factor in that one, right? Not that you need criminal activity to get on in life, as shown by AAT’s career coach, Aimee Bateman, who offered CV tips for school leavers on Inside Careers this week.
Jennifer Lawrence’s star turn at the Oscars
It’s been a good week for the more mature amongst us. It didn’t start so well at the Oscars last Sunday with Emmanuelle Riva – the 86-year-old Best Actress nominee – tipped to become the oldest recipient of the prize. And on her birthday too.
The Academy, it seems, didn’t read the script, instead giving the award to 22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence. It was a decision fully vindicated by her performance. No, not in Silver Linings Playbook – but in collecting her award. She started things off by tripping up the stairs on her way to collect her award, before flipping the bird to the waiting press and finishing with her very own coup de grace – putting a letchy Jack Nicholson in his place live on American TV. A star is well and truly born.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for those ‘of a certain age’. Firstly, the BBC reported that the US private sector is planning to send an older couple to Mars. The demographic has been selected because ‘their health and fertility would be less affected by the radiation they would be exposed to during such a long space mission’. Form an oderly queue, guys.
How technology is helping us as we grow older
Technology, meanwhile, has been offering up some solutions to help us as we get older. How many online passwords do you have? Do you have them saved in a Word document (like me) that is also password protected? Annoying, isn’t it? It could all be a thing of the past with news this week that the online industry is looking to ditch passwords, and is turning to a variety of solutions, such as voice recognition, key stroke analysis and finger print identification. It can’t come soon enough.
We’ve all been there. You wait on the phone, finally book a doctor’s appointment (for three weeks’ time) – only to be better by the time you actually see the doctor. It was only a matter of time before technology tried to speed things up a bit for us. Last year we had reports of Skype doctor’s appointments (I’m blaming Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies Live for that innovation) and now we have an app too.
This week a new app was unveiled at the Technology, Education and Design (TED) conference in Los Angeles that uses a phones camera to analyse urine and check for a range of medical conditions. The app works by taking a picture of a urine sample before testing for 10 elements – including glucose, proteins and nitrites.
‘I wanted to get medical health checks into users’ hands,’ developer Myshkin Ingawale commented at the launch.
Steven Perryman is AAT’s Editorial Manager
Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.