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Economist Group profits up 9%

Publisher of The Economist reports high profits

The profits of the Economist Group, the publisher of the Economist, have increased by 8.7 per cent year on year to 31 March 2012, placing pre-tax profits at £64m.

This rise has come despite a fall of 17 per cent in the UK edition’s print advertising this year and a steady circulation throughout the year of 210,384.

Profits from the UK print edition have increased by 8 per cent, whilst there has been a threefold increase in the revenue collected from online-only users, who now number over 10,000. The increase in online use contributed to the total increase in the firm’s revenue by 4 per cent to £361.8m. 

The increased profits for the Economist Group, which is 50 per cent owned by Pearson, the Financial Times Publisher,  will be distributed amongst shareholders through an 8 per cent increase in the dividend to 156p per share. Chief executive of the Economist Group, Andrew Rashbass has also felt the impact of the increased profits, with his total remuneration package totalling over £1m for the first time. This package includes a bonus of £474,000, which has been paid since his appointment to the role in mid-2008, a basic salary of £393,000 and £171,000 in long-term plan payments. 

Despite the increase in profits, editor-in-chief John Micklethwait has seen his total renumberation fall from £644,000 to £631,000, including a salary of £294,000 and a bonus of £209,000. 

Helen Robb reads PPE at Oxford University where she is deputy editor of ISIS magazine.

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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.