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EU Charges Google With Abusing Market Position

Written By iwan Jundaedi on Kamis, 16 April 2015 | 11.46

The EU has formally charged Google with abusing its search market position in Europe, leaving it open to a fine of more than $6bn (£4bn).

The European Commission has been examining whether Google, which holds about 90% of the search market in Europe, has been illegally rigging its search results to favour its own services.

Tech rivals such as Microsoft, who urged the EU to bring the case, want more competition in areas like online maps, search and shopping.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Google has given "an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service".

Rivals object to the firm placing adverts for its Google Shopping service ahead of other links in relevant searches.

The EU has issued a statement of objections which Google has 10 weeks to respond to before action can be taken.

Ms Vestager said that a separate antitrust investigation has been ordered into Google's mobile operating system Android.

She said: "In the case of Google I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules.

"Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe."

An internal Google memo informed staff that the company believes it has a "strong case". In a blog post the tech giant used a series of graphs to show that competition continues to thrive.

The company has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. It could face an eventual fine of up to 10% of its worldwide turnover, which reached $66bn (£44.7bn) in 2014.

The filing of charges may increase pressure on Google to settle, to avoid a potentially damaging case and massive fine resulting from the allegations.


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Protester Attacks Draghi At News Conference

Protester Attacks Draghi At News Conference

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The president of the European Central Bank has been interrupted at a news conference by a protester shouting "end ECB dictatorship".

Mario Draghi was outlining the bank's latest monetary policy thinking when a lone woman jumped onto the desk above Mr Draghi and showered him with items including what looked like confetti and sheets of paper.

The bank suspended the video feed of the news conference as security officials grabbed her but she flashed a V for victory sign and smiled as two men in grey suits took her away holding her arms and legs.

Mr Draghi, who had held up his hands as protection, looked shocked but was apparently unhurt and continued his presentation shortly afterwards.

The Reuters news agency reported that activist group Femen was claiming responsibility for the incident on Twitter - although some sources suggested the protester was believed to have left the feminist movement.

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  1. Gallery: Protester Disrupts ECB Conference

    A protester jumps on the table in front of the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi during a news conference in Frankfurt, Continue through for more images

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Protester Attacks Draghi At News Conference

We use cookies to give you the best experience. If you do nothing we'll assume that it's ok.

The president of the European Central Bank has been interrupted at a news conference by a protester shouting "end ECB dictatorship".

Mario Draghi was outlining the bank's latest monetary policy thinking when a lone woman jumped onto the desk above Mr Draghi and showered him with items including what looked like confetti and sheets of paper.

The bank suspended the video feed of the news conference as security officials grabbed her but she flashed a V for victory sign and smiled as two men in grey suits took her away holding her arms and legs.

Mr Draghi, who had held up his hands as protection, looked shocked but was apparently unhurt and continued his presentation shortly afterwards.

The Reuters news agency reported that activist group Femen was claiming responsibility for the incident on Twitter - although some sources suggested the protester was believed to have left the feminist movement.

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  1. Gallery: Protester Disrupts ECB Conference

    A protester jumps on the table in front of the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi during a news conference in Frankfurt, Continue through for more images

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Right To Buy: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Written By iwan Jundaedi on Rabu, 15 April 2015 | 11.46

David Cameron has announced a future Tory government would give 1.3 million housing association tenants the chance to buy their homes.

:: So what is Right to Buy?

The existing scheme allows council tenants to buy their home at a discount of up to 70% - a maximum of £102,700 in London and £77,000 across the rest of of the country.

:: Full Coverage Of General Election 2015

The Conservatives have made extending this to 1.3 million housing association tenants a centrepiece of their manifesto for the May election.

:: This all seems familiar?

It is indeed. The scheme was trailblazed by Margaret Thatcher on coming to power in 1979 with the Tories hailing it "the biggest step towards a home-owning democracy ever taken" in their 1983 manifesto.

And in extending the scheme to housing tenants, David Cameron is hoping to recapture that aspirational spirit in the face of criticism of the negative tone of the Tory campaign to date.

Unveiling the plan, the PM echoed the words of the Thatcher-era by talking of "building a property-owning democracy for generations".

:: So that's the background, how will it work?

It will be funded by requiring councils to sell off the most expensive properties when they become empty, and replacing them with more affordable social homes.

:: LIVE BLOG: General Election 2015

Around 15,000 houses and flats are expected to become available in this way each year, but the Conservatives stress no one will be forced out of their home.

It has been claimed the sales would raise an estimated £4.5bn which could then be used to build between 80,000 to 170,000 new properties a year.

:: Do I hear a "but" coming here?

You do indeed. The move, unsurprisingly, is not without its critics and has been branded "deeply unfair" by housing associations.

The National Housing Federation warns it would mean using £5.8bn of taxpayers' cash to "gift" up to £100,000 to people already living in good secure homes, on some of the country's cheapest rents.

Meanwhile, the group argues it would do nothing to help the millions in private rented properties desperate to buy, or those forced to live at home with their parents because they cannot afford to rent or buy.

It points out the £5.8bn would be enough to finance 300,000 new shared ownership homes "open to everyone, not just the lucky few".

Political opponents have also waded in with Labour dismissing it as "yet another uncosted, unfunded and unbelievable announcement".

And the Tories' Lib Dem coalition partners claim the scheme would would result in longer waiting lists for homes and fewer social houses.

:: Click Here To Make Your Own Government With Our Shaker Maker


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PM Promises 'Good Life' For 'Working People'

David Cameron has claimed the Conservatives are the "party of the working people" as he made pledges on homeownership, £5,000 of free childcare and an income tax-free minimum wage.

Launching the Tory manifesto, Mr Cameron repeatedly made offers to voters who worked hard and wanted to get on the "good life".

The manifesto set out measures for families from cradle to grave - identifying measures to help people over six stages of their lives.

Mr Cameron opened his speech by saying: "At the heart of this manifesto is a simple proposition. We are the party of working people, offering you security at every stage of your life."

He promised 30 hours of childcare for three and four-year-olds - five hours more than promised in Labour's manifesto yesterday - to help working parents.

He said if the party is returned to power, it will give 1.3 million families the chance to buy their housing association home at least a 20% discount.

Speaking at a university technical college in Swindon, Mr Cameron laid out his vision for a "property-owning democracy" echoing the phrases used in Margaret Thatcher's 1983 manifesto.

And he said the Conservatives would introduce a tax-free minimum wage, linking the minimum wage to the income tax personal allowance so the lowest paid would never have to pay tax.

He urged voters not to "waste the last five years" and let "Labour drag us back" to the past, and asked to be allowed to "finish the job".

Mr Cameron promised: "This buccaneering, world-beating, can-do country - we can do it all over again."

:: Full Coverage Of General Election 2015

:: All You Need To Know About Party Manifestos

:: Sky's Anushka Asthana On Five Things We've Learned From The Tory Manifesto

Among other measures included in the manifesto, which has the phrase "strong leadership, a clear economic plan, a better more secure future" on the cover, are:

:: Raising the personal allowance for tax to £12,500

:: Increasing the starting salary for the 40p rate to £50,000

:: No increase in income tax, VAT, National Insurance

:: Raising the inheritance tax threshold for family homes to £1m

:: Seven-day access to GP service

:: An annual £8bn boost for NHS funding

:: Repeal the Hunting Act

:: Increase state pension by at least 2.5% with a triple lock

:: 200,000 starter homes built

:: Committed to four-boat Trident nuclear deterrent

Mr Cameron's repeated pledges on a "good life" available to people in the UK prompted a question on whether he saw himself as the impoverished Tom and Barbara characters from the BBC sitcom, played by Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers, or the rich Margot and Jerry characters played by Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington.

To fund Right to Buy, the Conservatives would force councils to sell their most expensive properties when vacant - estimated to raise £4.5bn a year - and replace the properties sold.

However, the Housing Federation claims the cost to the taxpayer would be £5.8bn and 40 years of failure on house-building means the UK still does not have the homes needed.

Since Baroness Thatcher introduced Right to Buy in 1980, 1.88 million council properties have been sold - only 345,000 new social housing properties have been built.

As well as extending Right to Buy at a discount to housing association tenants, the party has promised a £1bn fund for building 400,000 new properties on brownfield sites.

Mr Cameron's claim that the Conservatives are the party for workers comes after Labour said it wanted to be seen as the fiscally responsible option for government.

:: Right To Buy: Your Questions Answered

:: Labour's Manifesto At A Glance

:: Conservative Manifesto At A Glance

Conservative activists gathered for the manifesto launch were shown a video called The Note.

The video refers to the missive left for the coalition by the outgoing Labour treasury minister Liam Byrne after the 2010 election. It said: "There is no money."

But Labour has claimed the Conservatives have failed to explain properly how their measures will be funded.

The Tories say some £1.4bn a year of the funding will come from reducing the tax relief on pensions for those earning more than £150,000. Mr Cameron said their track record showed they could deliver on their pledges.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Conservatives were "trying to fund Right to Buy on a bounced cheque".

:: Click Here To Make Your Own Government With Our Shaker Maker

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said the Right to Buy policy was unaffordable and did not help millions of people trying to get on to the property ladder.


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Labour Retreats On Threat To Break Up Banks

Written By iwan Jundaedi on Selasa, 14 April 2015 | 11.46

By Mark Kleinman, City Editor

Labour has retreated on a threat to carve up Britain's biggest banks less than 15 months after Ed Miliband said lenders would be forced to sell "significant numbers of branches".

Sky News can reveal that Labour has quietly drawn up plans to accept TSB, which has already been operating as an independent entity for more than a year, as one of two new banks that the party has said it wants to challenge the main high street players.

In its General Election manifesto published on Monday, Labour said it would "increase competition on the high street".

"Following the Competition and Market Authorities [sic] inquiry we want a market share test and at least two new challenger banks," it said.

Sources inside Labour and the banking sector said that shadow cabinet ministers had recently indicated that they were prepared to accept TSB and Williams & Glyn - which is in the process of being carved out of Royal Bank of Scotland - as the two designated challengers if they demonstrated the potential to reach a 5% share of key banking markets.

:: Full Coverage Of General Election 2015

:: All You Need To Know About Party Manifestos

TSB currently has a market share of just under 4.5% but is gaining new current account customers at a faster rate than many of its competitors, buoyed by the industry's embryonic seven-day switching service.

It is in the process of being acquired by Spain's Banco Sabadell in a £1.7bn deal.

In a speech in January 2014, Mr Miliband pledged to break up the biggest UK banks, saying that the process would begin immediately after a Labour government came to power.

"On day one of the next Labour government, we will ask the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to report within six months on how to create at least two new sizeable and competitive banks to challenge the existing high street banks," he said.

"I want to be clear about the difference this will mean: this is not about whether we should have new banks, the question this government is still asking, but about how.

"It is not about creating new banks that control some tiny proportion of the market, but new banks that have a substantial proportion and can compete properly with existing banks.

"And we are not asking whether existing banks might have to divest themselves of significant number of branches, we are asking how we make that happen."

Mr Miliband's speech underscored his determination to be seen as a champion of market reform in areas where consumers are widely perceived to have suffered from excess concentration.

In energy, that prompted a pledge to freeze retail prices for 20 months, which was repeated in the manifesto.

:: Live Blog - The Latest From The Campaign Trail

:: Click Here To Make Your Own Government With Our Shaker Maker

However, Mr Miliband's critics are likely to accuse him of watering down the pledge to impose "a day of reckoning" on the banking industry.

Since the Labour leader's intervention last year, the CMA has opened a formal inquiry into the personal current account and SME banking markets, with its recommendations for reform expected later this year.

In a paper on banking reform published earlier this year, Labour repeated its pledge to see the creation of "at least two new challenger banks to address the lack of competition in the sector and a market share test to ensure the market stays competitive for the long term".

Although the paper said the CMA would be asked to advise on "how much the market share of the big banks should be reduced", there was no reference to an enforced branch or market share sell-off by the main high street lenders.

A Labour source insisted that its plans to improve competition in banking had been "consistent" throughout the period since Mr Miliband's January 2014 speech.


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Labour Pledges Better UK But Funding Questioned

Labour's leader has attempted to convince voters he can be trusted with the economy, pledging to cut the deficit every year and saying: "I am ready" to lead the country.

Ed Miliband promised to get the Budget back into surplus "as soon as possible" and said that everything listed in the party's manifesto could be paid for.

He made promises on childcare, tuition fees and the NHS, saying they were fully funded and would not require any additional borrowing.

But political rivals said "nobody will be fooled" by ideas that would take the country back to economic chaos.

And health charity the King's Fund questioned Mr Miliband's funding, saying Labour was the only one of the three main parties not to pledge to find the extra £8bn a year an NHS review said was needed.

Also, experts warned Labour still has unanswered questions about how and where cuts and tax rises would come.

The manifesto, launched by the Labour leader on the set of Coronation Street and titled Britain Can Be Better, promised to "secure the family finances of the working people of Britain".

:: Full Coverage Of General Election 2015

:: All You Need To Know About Party Manifestos

:: Labour Retreats On Threat To Break Up Banks

Mr Miliband said the manifesto was not a "shopping list of proposals"  as he sought to persuade a sceptical public he could be trusted with the nation's finances by introducing a "triple lock" of responsibility.

He said a Labour Government would: cut the deficit every year, that every measure contained in the manifesto was fully funded and Labour would meet fiscal rules with the national debt falling.

Mr Miliband attempted to capitalise on the Conservatives' refusal to spell out how they would find the extra £8bn of funding for the NHS and said David Cameron's party had proposed £20bn of unfunded commitments.

He said: "Nothing is more dangerous to our NHS than pretending you'll be able to protect it without being able to say where the money's coming from. You can't fund the NHS with an IOU and the Conservative Party need to learn that."

But Mr Miliband made some eye-catching pledges in the 84-page Labour Party Manifesto 2015 including:

:: Wrap around childcare - primary schools to provide care from 8am-6pm

:: Raising the minimum wage to £8 an hour

:: Abolishing non-dom rules, abolishing zero-hour contracts

:: £2.5bn Time to Care fund for NHS off back of mansion tax and tobacco firm levy

::  Increase income tax for those earning more than £150,000

:: No increase in income tax, VAT, National Insurance for those on basic and higher rate income tax

:: Scrap winter fuel allowance for pensioners with an income of more than £42,000 a year

:: Freeze energy prices

:: Tighten tax avoidance rules to yield £7.5bn a year

:: Cut tuition fees to £6,000

:: More powers for the Welsh and Scottish Parliament

:: Extend the vote to 16-year-olds

:: Faisal Islam's Take On Ed Miliband's Manifesto Launch

:: Live Blog: General Election 2015

Chancellor George Osborne said the manifesto had provided "no new ideas for Britain" and said the Conservative manifesto, which will be launched on Tuesday, would provide a better future for the country.

He said Labour's plans would see "higher taxes, more debt and a return to the economic chaos of the past".

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "What's striking is, Labour are committed to running a budget deficit forever. So this is not a conversion to responsibility, it is a con trick and more borrowing would mean more taxes.

"So, frankly, it's the same old Labour and the same old mess that they produced the last time they were in government."

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg caused controversy by comparing Labour's pledge on borrowing to a bottle-a-day alcoholic "saying they have no plans to drink more vodka". He added the manifesto was "not worth the paper it's written on".

Chris Ham, chief executive of The King's Fund said: "It is hard to see how Labour's plans to dismantle the Health and Social Care Act could be achieved without disruptive structural changes to the NHS.

"The big question is about funding, with Labour now the only one of the three main parties not to have pledged to find the £8bn a year in additional funding called for in the NHS five year forward view.

"Given this is the minimum requirement if the NHS is to continue to meet patient needs and maintain standards of care, this leaves a significant gap at the heart of its plans."

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said Labour's plans would leave the deficit at £30bn - it currently stands at £90bn - by 2020.

:: Click Here To Make Your Own Government With Our Shaker Maker

Speaking after Mr Miliband's speech, IFS director Paul Johnson told The Daily Politics Labour's manifesto had provided "no additional clarity" on how quickly it wanted to reduce the deficit.

He said: "The Labour party have repeated what they have said over the last several months, which is that they want to get to get to current budget balanced as soon as they can in the next parliament.

"Now, it really, really matters how soon that is. If they want to get there within three years, which is sort of what they might be thought to have signed up to in the fiscal responsibility charter earlier this year, that's a really significant amount of spending cuts or tax rises over the next three years.

"If they are happy to wait until the end of the parliament, which is also sort of consistent with what they signed up to, then actually we don't need any spending cuts over the next five years."

With 24 days to go until the General Election, Mr Miliband said at the manifesto launch: "The reason we can make these commitments is because we will make sure those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burden.

"So we'll reverse David Cameron's tax cut for millionaires to help pay down the deficit.

"We'll crack down on hedge funds who avoid paying their fair share. We'll stop HMRC operating double standards.

"And we'll do something that no government has done for over 200 years - we'll say enough is enough to the people who live here, work here, send their kids to school here but don't want to pay taxes here and we will abolish the non-dom rule."

Polls show that voters trust Labour less with the economy than the Conservatives and Mr Miliband has struggled to play down forgetting to mention the deficit in his conference speech.

Labour says it will have the current Budget in surplus by the end of the next parliament, however, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have said they will do so by 2017/18.

In an answer to recent criticism that Labour is against big business and wealth-creators, Mr Miliband said Labour was "pro business but not pro business as usual".

He said Labour would champion small and medium-sized businesses with a cut in business rates to help them create the jobs, wealth and profits of the future.


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Conservatives Promise To Cut Inheritance Tax

Written By iwan Jundaedi on Senin, 13 April 2015 | 11.46

The Conservatives have said they will take family homes out of inheritance tax by introducing a new allowance which effectively increases the threshold for tax to £1m.

David Cameron said that if his party wins the 7 May election, parents will be offered a new £175,000 allowance to enable them to pass property on to children tax-free after they die.

For properties worth more than £2m, the allowance will be gradually tapered away so that those worth more than £2.35m do not benefit.

Full coverage: General Election 2015

Inheritance tax is currently payable at a rate of 40% on the value of an estate above the £325,000 threshold - or £650,000 if a couple takes advantage of the existing allowance.

It is thought around 22,000 families will benefit from the move by 2020 and Mr Cameron said the costs would be paid for by a £1bn raid on pension tax relief for people earning more than £150,000.

Mr Cameron said: "We will take the family home out of inheritance tax.

"That home that you have worked and saved for belongs to you and your family.

"You should be able to pass it on to your children. And with the Conservatives, the taxman will not get his hands on it."

The Conservatives promised a £1m inheritance tax threshold in the 2010 election, but were blocked by Liberal Democrats from implementing it when in coalition.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told Sky's Murnaghan programme it is the "wrong priority" and "won't affect 90% of estates".

She said: "They are talking about a £140,000 tax cut for properties that are worth around £2m at a time when you've got families still losing their homes because of the bedroom tax, at a time when pensioners and families have had to pay more VAT."

The Institute For Fiscal Studies said the change would "disproportionately" benefit those on higher incomes.

In an observation published on its website after the announcement, the IFS said: "Since the children of those with very large estates are disproportionately towards the top of the income distribution the gains from this (and in fact any) IHT cut will also go disproportionately to those towards the top of the income distribution."

Meanwhile, Labour has revealed its plans to crackdown on tax-dodgers if it wins the election, hoping to cut avoidance and evasion by at least £7.5bn a year by the middle of the next Parliament.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said it would take a Labour government to "call time" on the Tories' "lax approach", adding that Labour would set targets for HMRC to reduce tax avoidance by at least £7.5bn a year.

He said: "We will close the loopholes the Tories won't act on, increase transparency, toughen up penalties and abolish the non-dom rules.

"And our first Budget will make sure that, following an immediate review of HMRC, it has all the powers and resources it needs to come down hard on tax avoidance and evasion."

Conservative Treasury minister David Gauke said: "Ed Miliband and Ed Balls turned a blind eye to aggressive tax avoiding and evading for 13 years when they were in charge - they were the tax avoiders' friends."

The Lib Dems have also set out their tax plans, promising "light at the end of the tunnel" with moves to eliminate Britain's deficit by 2017/18.

Nick Clegg said his plan has "a heart as well as a brain", trying to drive home his claim that his party will cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour.

Spelling out plans for a consolidation totaling £27bn by 2017/18, made up of £12bn in additional tax, £12bn in public spending reductions and £3bn in welfare cuts, Mr Clegg challenged the other parties to spell out in similar detail how they would balance the nation's books.

He said: "We are going to spread the burden of finishing the job of fixing the economy fairly across society.

"Yes that means more cuts, but it also means asking the wealthiest to pay their fare share too."

:: Click here to make your own government with our Shaker Maker


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Buyout Firm Flowers Eyes Bid For Genworth Arm

By Mark Kleinman, City Editor

Genworth Financial, a troubled US insurance company, is in talks with one of the financial services industry's most prolific investors about the sale of a business that includes a range of products sold to UK customers.

Sky News understands that JC Flowers, a private equity firm, is one of several bidders in talks with Genworth about acquiring its lifestyle protection unit, which comprises operations in more than 25 countries, including Britain.

The division had been identified as non-core by Genworth's management as long ago as 2012, but it was only put up for sale late last year, when investment bankers at Barclays were hired to oversee an auction.

Bankers estimate that the division could fetch in the region of $500m (£341m).

In addition to JC Flowers, which owns stakes in UK companies including OneSavings Bank and Cabot Financial, a debt collector, Apollo and Warburg Pincus are said to have expressed an interest in the Genworth business.

Genworth Lifestyle Protection writes both direct and reinsurance business including to large global companies that want access to the wholesale market.

Its products include credit-linked protection for customers when they are unable to meet repayments on specific financial commitments in the event of  illness, accident, unemployment, disability or death.

The division's auction comes as Genworth explores a wider break-up, including through a sale of its Life and Annuity Insurance Company.

In February, it announced a strategic after recording a $1.6bn (£1.1bn) loss in the second half of last year because it did not have suufficient money set aside to cover payouts on long-term care policies.

Speaking at the time, Tom McInerney, Genworth's president and chief executive, said: "I am disappointed by the continued challenges in our older LTC [long-term care] blocks and how it is overshadowing otherwise strong performance and momentum in other businesses, however we have taken steps on many fronts to deal with these challenges in order to strengthen and rebuild the future."


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UK Holidaymakers Being Conned Out Of Millions

Written By iwan Jundaedi on Minggu, 12 April 2015 | 11.46

A warning has been issued to those booking holidays online, as it is revealed that British holidaymakers were conned out of £2.2m last year.

Criminal groups have targeted online booking firms to steal cash from unsuspecting customers and many only find out they have been conned when they arrive at their hotel and find no record of their booking.

A report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau found that in one case a holidaymaker lost £62,000 in a fraud relating to a dodgy timeshare scheme.

But losses are not just financial, with a third of victims saying the fraud has a substantial impact on their health as well as their finances and 167 victims said the impact of the crime was so severe they needed medical treatment.

The scams see a spike in the summer months and in December, which mean that many ruined trips will be for those trying to visit loved ones for Christmas.

The report shows that, during a 12-month period, 1,569 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to the police action fraud team, with most relating to plane tickets, hacking accounts, posting fake adverts online and setting up bogus websites.

Sports and religious trips were an attractive target because of limited availability and higher prices and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and World Cup in Brazil were also targeted, with many people paying for fake tickets or accommodation.

Those aged between 30 and 49 were most often targeted and most victims were defrauded by methods such as bank transfers or cash with no means of getting their money back. Only a small number paid by credit or debit card where some form of redress is available.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: "Holiday fraud is a particularly distressing form of fraud as the loss to the victim is not just financial but it can also have a high emotional impact.

"Many victims are unable to get away on a long-awaited holiday or visit to loved ones and the financial loss is accompanied by a personal loss. 

"We would also encourage anyone who has been the victim of a travel-related fraud to report it so that the police can build up a case, catch the perpetrators and prevent other unsuspecting people from falling victim."

Detective chief superintendent Dave Clark, the City of London Police head of economic crime, said: "Online shoppers must be vigilant and conduct all the necessary checks before booking a break to ensure the conmen are kept at bay."


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Tories Promise To Slash Inheritance Tax

The Conservatives have said they will take family homes out of inheritance tax by introducing a new allowance which effectively increases the threshold for tax to £1m.

David Cameron said that if his party wins the 7 May election, parents will be offered a new £175,000 allowance to enable them to pass property on to children tax-free after they die.

For properties worth more than £2m, the allowance will be gradually tapered away so that those worth more than £2.35m do not benefit.

Inheritance tax is currently payable at a rate of 40% on the value of an estate above the £325,000 threshold - or £650,000 if a couple takes advantage of the existing allowance.

It is thought around 22,000 families will benefit from the move by 2020 and Mr Cameron said the costs would be paid for by a £1bn raid on pension tax relief for people earning more than £150,000.

Mr Cameron will say today: "We will take the family home out of inheritance tax.

"That home that you have worked and saved for belongs to you and your family.

"You should be able to pass it on to your children. And with the Conservatives, the taxman will not get his hands on it."

Conservatives promised a £1m inheritance tax threshold in the 2010 election, but were blocked by Liberal Democrats from implementing it when in coalition.

Labour Treasury spokesman Chris Leslie said the move was a "panicky promise from the Tories".

He added: "The Tories made a promise on inheritance tax before the last election and they broke it.

"At a time when our NHS is in crisis and most working people are paying more under the Tories, it cannot be a priority to spend £1bn on a policy which the Treasury says would not apply to 90% of estates.

"The Tories would choose to give a £140,000 tax cut for a house worth £2m while they have increased VAT on families and pensioners."

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Meanwhile, Labour has revealed its plans to crackdown on tax-dodgers if it wins the election, hoping to cut avoidance and evasion by at least £7.5bn a year by the middle of the next Parliament.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said it would take a Labour government to "call time" on the Tories' "lax approach", adding that Labour would set targets for HMRC to reduce tax avoidance by at least £7.5bn a year.

He said: "We will close the loopholes the Tories won't act on, increase transparency, toughen up penalties and abolish the non-dom rules.

"And our first Budget will make sure that, following an immediate review of HMRC, it has all the powers and resources it needs to come down hard on tax avoidance and evasion."

Conservative Treasury minister David Gauke said: "Ed Miliband and Ed Balls turned a blind eye to aggressive tax avoiding and evading for 13 years when they were in charge - they were the tax avoiders' friends."

The Lib Dems have also set out tax plans, promising "light at the end of the tunnel" with moves to eliminate Britain's deficit by 2017/18.

Click here for full coverage of the General Election campaigns

Nick Clegg said his plan has "a heart as well as a brain", trying to drive home his claim that his party will cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour.

Spelling out plans for a consolidation totaling £27bn by 2017/18, made up of £12bn in additional tax, £12bn in public spending reductions and £3bn in welfare cuts, Mr Clegg will challenge the other parties to spell out in similar detail how they would balance the nation's books.


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