Monday is jobs' day. By that, I mean that the day has been set aside in my diary as time to discuss, commission and edit features and news articles to appear in the work section of Jobs & Money.
It is not personal finance although it has lots of cross-over with the money section and we often tackle money issues that send workers into a blind panic. I am thinking here of pensions.
Lunch arrives and breaks my train of thought. A meeting with an actuary, which is never quite as dull as I expect.
We chew over the Govern-ment's proposals for a compensation fund and the likelihood that most of the 60,000 workers affected will be given the equivalent of their occupational pension from the Treasury's coffers.
Some of the stories are tragic – people forced to join their company scheme as a condition of employment, only to find that all the money has been flushed away (or milked by the bosses as pension holidays).
The actuary emphasises that it would be unfair not to use the pension protection fund as a model, which only provides insurance up to 90 per cent. But only 90 per cent will look pretty good to former employees of steel-maker ASW which, in some cases, was looking at annuities worth 14 per cent of the pension they expected.
Later in the week, the same actuary phoned to ask if I had noticed that Lawrence Churchill of NatWest Life and Zurich fame had turned up as the new chairman of the pension protection fund. No, I hadn't. What's the deal, I ask. Oh, really, two days a week for £80,000. That is more than the new head of the Inland Revenue and Customs will be paid. David Varney of MM02 will pocket a mere £130,000. He rejected £250,000 to muffle the cries of fat-cattery.
So Lawrence has landed on his feet. Is he a fat cat? My vote says yes. And his pension? I don't suppose he is facing a crisis on that front either.
Tuesday and Wednesday involve talks with tax credit victims who suffer at the hands of the Inland Revenue – single mothers mainly, who found themselves to be overpaid last year – through no fault of their own – and now suffer from a clawback clause in the tax credit contract.
Tax is one of my main interests. It's that old journalistic maxim – follow the money – that draws me into debates about who has got the money and how do they keep hold of it. Financial advisers obviously play their part. But it is usually tax accountants and lawyers who are involved in stretching the law to breaking point. They are also richer than IFAs and buy better lunches, making them much better contacts all round.
The Revenue does not always play it straight and can get heavy handed with taxpayers when they think their victim is Mr Moneybags and not the lowly struggling employee I know them to be.
One long-running case involves a film stagehand who was picked out of the crowd and bankrupted after he refused to pay ludicrous sums of unpaid tax invented by his local inspector. For 10 years, he has been fighting to get his house back to no avail. A former tax inspector meets me to discuss the case and gives some important pointers.
Thursday and Friday bring the week full circle. Pensions again and the compensation fund is announced. Frantic calls with MPs, trade unions, business leaders and pensioner groups fills in many of the gaps left by the Minister of State's announcement.
Actuaries point out that very little money is on the table, given how much pensions cost these days. Bus-iness leaders are shocked at the minister's comment that he might come after them for some cash if the £400m he is committed to spending (over 20 years) proves to be inadequate. More final-salary scheme closures they say if they are forced to cough up more.
One of the points raised centres on the possibility of compensation for other groups. Immediately, the Equitable Life campaigners are on the blower demanding that compensation should include them.
I think to myself, if the minister thought for a mom-ent that they might vote Labour, Equitable victims might stand a chance. Steel workers vote Labour, Equit-able Life victims vote ? Who knows. But if they do vote Labour, there won't be many and Labour needs to buy as many votes as it can at the moment. The £20m a year deal must seem cheap at the price.
Phillip Inman is deputy editor of Jobs & Money at The Guardian ”I'm the Gordon Ramsay of PR.” – Former MM news editor turned Aegon PR Adrian Cammidge reveals that on occasion he finds it hard to keep his temper.