Plan to redirect inner-city funds to Tory shires ‘a stitch-up’

Critics hit out at ministers’ proposed changes that claim to simplify grant distribution

Ministers have been accused of a “stitch-up” over proposals to redraw the funding formula for councils in a way critics say will redirect scarce cash from deprived inner cities to affluent Conservative-voting shires.

The proposed changes – which include the recommendation that grant allocations should no longer be weighted to reflect the higher costs of poverty and deprivation – come amid increasing concern over the sustainability of local authority finances.

Related: Labour-run areas suffer Tory cuts the most. It’s an ignored national scandal | Owen Jones

Related: Tory county council runs out of cash to meet obligations

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10 Sunday Morning Reads

My easy like Sunday morning reads: • MacKenzie Bezos and the Myth of the Lone Genius Founder (Wired) see also Who Is MacKenzie Bezos? (New York Times) • Uber Has Bigger Problems to Worry About Than the Shutdown (Bloomberg Businessweek) • The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition (Bronte Capital) • New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists…

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Action not words needed over biggest public health failure of our time: pneumonia | Larry Elliott

Global elite at Davos 2019 must do more than talk about real-world problems

Davos this year will be like Hamlet without the prince. Donald Trump was all set to be the star of the show for the second year running but has decided that giving a keynote address to a hall full of billionaires is politically problematical at a time when the US government is shut down.

Emmanuel Macron is giving the World Economic Forum a miss for similar reasons. If you have been dubbed the president of the rich the last place you want to be seen is at the annual gathering of the 1%. Theresa May has also decided she has better things to do with her time.

Related: Davos 2019: do the global elite have the will to fix the world’s problems?

A child is dying every two minutes from something that could be easily and cheaply treated

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‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

Shoshana Zuboff’s new book is a chilling exposé of the business model that underpins the digital world. Observer tech columnist John Naughton explains the importance of Zuboff’s work and asks the author 10 key questions

We’re living through the most profound transformation in our information environment since Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of printing in circa 1439. And the problem with living through a revolution is that it’s impossible to take the long view of what’s happening. Hindsight is the only exact science in this business, and in that long run we’re all dead. Printing shaped and transformed societies over the next four centuries, but nobody in Mainz (Gutenberg’s home town) in, say, 1495 could have known that his technology would (among other things): fuel the Reformation and undermine the authority of the mighty Catholic church; enable the rise of what we now recognise as modern science; create unheard-of professions and industries; change the shape of our brains; and even recalibrate our conceptions of childhood. And yet printing did all this and more.

Why choose 1495? Because we’re about the same distance into our revolution, the one kicked off by digital technology and networking. And although it’s now gradually dawning on us that this really is a big deal and that epochal social and economic changes are under way, we’re as clueless about where it’s heading and what’s driving it as the citizens of Mainz were in 1495.

Digital technology is separating the citizens in all societies into two groups: the watchers and the watched

Democracy has slept, while surveillance capitalists amassed unprecedented concentrations of knowledge and power

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One thing to be grateful to Brexit for: Britons are buying less on credit

Consumer borrowing is falling, which is no bad thing. But it’s uncertainty, not regulation, that’s acting as the brake

A sharp decline in household spending on the never-never, and especially spending on credit cards, is a trend that must surely be welcomed. The Bank of England said last week in its quarterly credit health check that high street banks were about to witness the biggest decline in such borrowing since records began 12 years ago.

Threadneedle Street said its index of demand for credit card lending over the three months to the end of March had dropped to -20.7 from -7.2.

The shocking element of the story is how much harm a fall in personal lending can cause to the British economy

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The shutdown has exposed Trumponomics for what it is: a disaster | Robert Reich

When the president is proud to close government and proud to slash taxes for the rich, American workers get shafted

One of the least talked-about consequences of the partial shutdown of the US government – courtesy of Donald “I’m proud to shut down the government” Trump – is its negative effect on the US economy.

Related: Republicans’ lack of alarm over the shutdown reveals a disturbing truth | Ross Barkan

The tax-cut steroid wore off within six months of its passage

Trumponomics is an abject failure because its premises are flawed

Related: How Trump has changed America in two years

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good.

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