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Allied Irish Banks to pay €40m in bonuses

Bonuses awarded despite bank on the verge of receiving another emergency bailout from the Irish gove

Dublin-based Allied Irish Banks (AIB) is planning to give out €40m (£34m), to 2,400 bankers in bonuses - payouts for deals drawn up in 2008 -next week, even as the group is on the verge of receiving another emergency bailout from the Irish government.

The bank which is currently 19 per cent owned by the Irish government, having received a bailout of €3.5bn from tax payers when it came close to collapsing in 2008 following the global recession, had been blocked from awarding bonuses under bailout stipulations.

However, following legal action by several employees over the bonus deferral, AIB has decided to honour the old agreements and pay bonuses to most employees, "as per the contractual entitlements arising from the business's performance in 2008."

The bank has however; put a hold on what are called "discretionary bonuses."

AIB's shares have lost 60 per cent of their value over the year.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.