BBC to use controversial TV licensing collection firm as outreach officers

He wrote at the time: “The BBC takes very seriously how licence fee collection is managed. We should do everything we can to minimise evasion, but must always ensure that how this is done is fair and proportionate.”Details of the licence fee “outreach team” for over-75s were provided yesterday by Clare Sumner, the BBC’s director of policy, in an appearance before MPs. She did not mention that the job would be outsourced to Capita.Ms Sumner said the people recruited would be “a different cohort to people who enforce the licence fee” and the visits would be carried out “as sympathetically as possible”.But MPs said the doorstep visits could be “traumatic” for elderly people, while Age UK said the plans would be “chaos at best and deeply upsetting for some of our oldest people at worst”.Up to 3.7 million older people who currently receive a free licence will have to pay the £154.50 cost from next June, after the BBC scrapped the universal concession.Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory MP, led condemnation of the BBC’s plan yesterday. “The BBC will send bailiffs round to octogenarians and calls them an ‘outreach team’, Humpty Dumpty would be impressed by such linguistic gymnastics,” he said. The BBC has come under fire over licence fee plans Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The corporation is urging people who are currently eligible for pension credit but do not claim it to sign up for the benefit.The Office for Budgetary Responsibility said this could cause an extra 250,000 claimants to register, at a cost to the Department of Work and Pensioners of £850 million.That significantly outweighs any savings the BBC will make by scrapping the universal concession. “The net effect on the public finances would be to push the budget deficit up not down,” the OBR said. Helen Skelton became the latest BBC presenter to criticise the corporation’s plans for the over-75s. “I say this reluctantly because cut me in the middle and it says ‘BBC’, I think it’s a fantastic organisation that has a deserved and fabulous reputation worldwide, I started at the BBC and I hope to finish at the BBC… but is it time to end the licence fee and do something different?” she said.“Older people are the most loyal people to the BBC. They need to reinstate those free licences otherwise there’s going to be a massive public outcry.”A BBC spokesman said: “As outlined, we are recruiting a specific group of staff as customer support workers to over 75s. Their sole purpose is to help people apply for their licence – including a free licence – and raise awareness of Pension Credit as we recognise that this group may welcome more personal support either through TV Licensing hotline or by a visit.“They will not arrive unannounced – we will always contact people several times by letter first. And they will not be involved in enforcement action.”It emerged yesterday that the BBC’s decision to means-test the licence fee could cost the public purse more than it saves. The BBC said the team will not include bailiffs. Capita suspended two members of staff and conducted an internal review, which led Lord Hall to say he was satisfied that the behaviour was “neither systemic nor representative” of the firm’s field operations. The BBC is to use Capita, the controversial TV Licensing collection firm, to provide the “outreach” officers who will visit the homes of over-75s in pursuit of licence fee payments.Two years ago, the corporation ordered an investigation into reports that Capita employees were using aggressive tactics to target vulnerable people.An area manager for the firm was recorded by an undercover reporter explaining the company’s methods of collection, which included taking payments on the spot with handheld card machines.“Cash, debit, credit card – we’ll take anything. I tell people I’ll take shirt buttons,” the manager said. The company had an incentive scheme in which enforcement officials earned bonuses based on how many licence fees they sold on the doorstep.A former RAF officer suffering from a brain tumour and early onset dementia was taken to court for non-payment after he forgot to renew his licence.It was claimed that a Capita worker, told of the man’s condition, replied that he did not have time to “listen to excuses”. The case was only dropped when his doctor provided written evidence of his condition to magistrates.At the time, the BBC’s director-general, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, expressed “serious concern” about the allegations. Free licences for the over 75s are being scrapped Free licences for the over 75s are being scrapped The BBC has come under fire over licence fee plans read more

IDB says Cbean urgently needs quality leap from declining export competitiveness

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedCaribbean exports increase for the first time in four yearsMay 24, 2017In “latest news”Caribbean News Round-upOctober 18, 2015In “Regional”New IDB study says AI can boost Caribbean economiesAugust 30, 2018In “Regional” BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CMC) — A new report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says Latin America and the Caribbean need a “quality leap” from declining export competitiveness.On Wednesday, the IDB said in the first quarter of 2018, the value of exports from Latin America and the Caribbean grew at a year-on-year rate of 9.7 per cent in comparison with the same period in 2017.But the IDB said this growth has come amid signs that the region is becoming less competitive amid rising economic risks and global trade tensions.The growth in exports was driven by increases in the prices of commodities, such as oil and copper, the IDB said.In contrast, it said the volume of exports slowed to 3.1 per cent during the same period, “which speaks to the region’s loss of market share due to declining competitiveness and the lack of high-quality exports from many countries in the region.”“The Quality Leap: Export Sophistication As a Driver for Growth,” a new report in the IDB’s Trade and Integration Monitor series, launched in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, maps the sophistication of the region’s export supply and the main challenges it faces in securing a firmer position in the more profitable sectors of global trade.Independently of factors, such as the economic difficulties experienced by several countries and dampened external demand, the report says that the competitive lag determined by low productivity and high trade costs affected the export performance of the region.To estimate the loss of competitiveness, the study measures the variation in market share between 2011 and 2016, with an emphasis on intraregional exports.The report says the region’s competitiveness dropped by 7.4 percentage points during the period, which accounts for 22 per cent of the decrease in exports.The IDB said the analysis does not seek to present an exhaustive discussion of the determinants of productivity and competitiveness, which lie in a set of phenomena not exclusively related to the ability to compete in world markets.“In a global context of growing uncertainty and low regional competitiveness, Latin America and the Caribbean urgently need to prioritise a policy agenda that will enable a leap in the quality of their exports,” said Paolo Giordano, principal economist at the IDB’s Integration and Trade Sector, who coordinated the report. “More sophisticated exports will help support the current trade recovery and lay the foundations for greater growth in the future.”Giordano said that the gap between Latin America and the Caribbean and its global competitors is wide and has gone unchanged for decades.He said that although there have been success stories and clear opportunities for improvements to quality, “a sizeable share of the region’s exports are of no more than medium quality.”The report identifies the product lines where there is most room for quality increases, such as food (coffee, cocoa, sugar, cereals, or fish) and raw materials (wood, hides, or skins), among others.For example, it says countries can export higher-quality coffee or cocoa beans, or more processed leathers.An analysis of the differences between intraregional and extra-regional trade reveals that the intraregional export basket is of a higher quality than the extra-regional basket.The report says the export basket is also more diversified, contains a larger share of manufactured products, and has higher technology content.However, since the financial crisis, the report says the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have lost some of their regional market share due to a decline in competitiveness.The report says they have also been unable to leverage the potential for regional integration to develop complex value chains based on trade in intermediate products and production inputs.The report calls for an ambitious multisectoral policy agenda. At the national level, it recommends the construction of “comprehensive, efficient, high-quality infrastructure systems that are clearly oriented toward internationalisation.”At the regional level, it argues in favour of initiatives that aim to complete and rationalise the architecture of trade, along with investments in infrastructure that facilitate greater productive integration.The report says strengthening higher-quality trade flows and regional value chains would not only benefit the export diversification and sophistication of exports, it would also help improve the competitiveness of the region’s economies in the global market. read more