News stories from Thursday 18 January, 2018
Airline says it complies with UK employment law, despite MPs’ call for cabin crew pay probe
Ryanair has been referred to employment and tax authorities for investigation by two parliamentary committees, citing the airline’s “refusal to cooperate” with inquiries over crew pay and conditions.
Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions committee, and Rachel Reeves, chair of the business select committee, have written to HMRC and the director of labour market enforcement asking them to investigate Ryanair and the agencies that supply its cabin crew.Continue reading...
Lib Dem leader condemns regulator for failing to expose the alleged role of bank’s management in shoddy treatment of small businesses
Vince Cable has attacked the City watchdog for failing to publish a full report into the mistreatment of small businesses by the Royal Bank of Scotland, as MPs lined-up to condemn the bank in parliament.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats expressed “disgust” that passages of a damning report by the Financial Conduct Authority had not been released, four-and-a-half years after he first referred the case to the regulator during his time in the coalition government.Continue reading...
Surge in sales of children’s clothing and makeup put budget chain on track to surpass rival
Low prices, aviator jackets, children’s clothing and new makeup ranges helped Primark outperform rivals – even though it does not sell online, the source of most sales growth in the sector.Continue reading...
Shares plunge at owner of Bairstow Eves and Hamptons brands as number of UK property sales fall
Shares in the UK’s largest estate agent, Countrywide, tumbled 18% as the group warned that profits would fall short of forecasts after a “disappointing” fourth quarter.
The company, whose brands include Hamptons, Bairstow Eves and Taylors and Gascoigne-Pees, warned in November that the house sales market was challenging and would be down from 2016. It now expects full-year income to fall by 8.8%.Continue reading...
Official data on spending reveals stark contrasts – one’s furnishing money is the other’s rent
There is little for the average household to cheer these days as inflation crushes paltry earnings increases. Inflation is running at 3% while wage rises can manage no more than 2.5%. Worse for the average household, the banks are beginning to turn off the lending taps that have allowed them to boost their incomes with cheap debt.
Things were better in the year to April 2017, according to the number crunchers at the Office for National Statistics, who have lifted the lid on Britain’s spending habits in their annual family spending report.
Lloyds, HSBC and RBS all promise to help small businesses, as the government sets up a Carillion task force
- Afternoon summary: Banks offer help; task force begins work
- BEIS department sets up Carillion task force
- Debate on RBS’s Global Restructuring Group
- Lloyds offers £50m help to small firms
- Nationwide to take on Carillion staff
Time for a quick recap of the main points.
That Carillion support so far:-
Lloyds: We'll make £50m available.
RBS: Make it £75m from us.
HSBC: We'll do £100m.
Santander: We're in but won't say how much.
Barclays: We'll "look at" helping on a "case by case basis".
This is turning into a bidding war! HSBC have just told us they are going to provide up to £100m of support for its customers.
Now HSBC is doing £100m of support for businesses hit by Carillion, outgunning RBS (£75m) and Lloyds £50m). This is great. Over to you, Barclays.Continue reading...
Business secretary convenes meeting after unions call for limiting job losses at collapsed firm and supply chain companies
A taskforce of banks, businesses and construction industry trade bodies will meet with the business secretary on Thursday to discuss ways to contain the impact of Carillion’s collapse on jobs and the wider economy.Continue reading...
Inquiry includes subsidiary and employees at weapons and defence systems manufacturer
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has launched a criminal investigation into alleged money laundering, bribery and corruption at the grenade and ammunition manufacturer Chemring, one of its subsidiaries and individuals associated with the businesses.Continue reading...
Falling sales and the lengthening time taken to sell a home is hurting traditional estate agents
Plot the share price of Purple Bricks against Countrywide over the past few years and it tells you all you need to know about where estate agency is heading.
Purple Bricks, the internet upstart offering fixed-price home selling for £849, has seen its share price more than quadruple from 95p at its start of trading on 18 December 2015 to 422p now. On that same day shares in traditional estate agency Countrywide were changing hands at 400p. Today they are 113p after yet another warning about disappointing profits.Continue reading...
Official pay guidance won’t apply beyond 12-miles in UK waters, leaving out most crews dismantling oil and gas rigs
Unions have said it is a “national disgrace” that workers dismantling old North Sea oil and gas rigs will be paid less than the minimum wage, despite new promises by ministers to protect people working in UK waters.
The government issued guidance on Thursday that it said would ensure seafarers, people who are based on vessels as opposed to fixed installations like an oil platform, receive the minimum wage.Continue reading...
Gulf airline to buy 20 planes, with option for 16 more, allaying fears about superjumbo’s future
The A380 superjumbo has been thrown a lifeline after its biggest customer, Emirates, agreed to buy up to 36 more planes from Airbus.
The European airplane manufacturer had warned that without the deal, which had been long in the negotiation, it might have to close down its A380 production line.Continue reading...
Leading UK retailers say information is too ‘commercially sensitive’ to reveal, following Guardian report they make almost 1m tonnes a year
Supermarkets are coming under growing pressure from politicians and campaigners to reveal the amount of plastic they create, and pay more towards its safe disposal, following a Guardian investigation.
Amid mounting concern about the devastating environmental impact of plastic pollution around the globe, the Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the UK’s leading supermarkets create almost 1m tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year.Continue reading...
A while ago I worked for Carillion as a hospital porter. Or at least I worked for an agency that provided labour for Carillion – as these outsourcers always themselves outsource, to cut costs further. I was researching my book Hard Work, but try as I might, in every single public sector job I failed to work for the public sector.
Every minimum-wage-level job was outsourced in the two NHS hospitals where I worked, in a primary school kitchen and in a government nursery. Austerity causes the number of public employees to keep falling. But try to find out how many apparently public employees work for these companies, and no one knows.Continue reading...
World Economic Forum outlines huge increase in all five eco risks since the US president assumed office
The World Economic Forum delivered a strong warning about Donald Trump’s go-it-alone approach to tackling climate change as it highlighted the growing threat of environmental collapse in its annual assessment of the risks facing the international community.
In the run-up to the US president’s speech to its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, next week, the WEF avoided mentioning Trump by name but said “nation-state unilateralism” would make it harder to tackle global warming and ecological damage.Continue reading...
Household expenditure on cars, holidays and pets drives recovery but signs emerge of a slowdown
Spending by British households has returned to its pre-financial crisis levels in real terms, driven by purchases of cars and spending by older consumers on package holidays and pets.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed average weekly spending in the UK rose to £544 in the financial year ending March 2017, an increase from £533 the previous year. Transport and recreation were the two categories where expenditure increased the most, rising by about £5 on average per week.Continue reading...
Only a third of places under government scheme found to be completely free, with fees often charged for meals and nappies
Parents are being forced to subsidise the government’s flagship childcare policy, which offers 30 free hours at nursery for three- and four-year-olds, a survey suggests.
Nurseries have long complained that the hourly rates paid by the government are too low and a poll by the Pre-school Learning Alliance has indicated they are clawing money back by charging for meals, nappies and trips, and in some cases raising fees for younger children.Continue reading...
Information Commissioner’s Office says company failed to identify itself and used ‘added value’ phone numbers
A claims handling company that bombarded consumers with 75m nuisance phone calls in four months has been fined £350,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Miss-sold Products UK made the automated calls promoting its payment protection insurance (PPI) claims service without the recipients’ consent, which is against the law, the ICO said..Continue reading...
Chain warns of subdued consumer demand as shoppers shun high street and artisan rivals perk up
Britain’s biggest coffee shop chain, Costa Coffee, has suffered a fall in sales at its high street stores and warned consumer demand would remain “subdued”.
Costa’s owner, Whitbread, said like-for-like sales at its UK high street outlets had fallen 1.5% in the 13 weeks to 30 November. Costa Express machines, which are mainly in petrol stations, convenience stores, offices and airports, fared better, with 6.7% sales growth.
I took a boat trip along the Thames with City Cruises in November. The boat collided with a bridge wall and the impact broke four windows and there was a smell of burning. The crew put on life jackets but did not give them to terrified passengers. And at no stage was there an apology.
HB, LondonContinue reading...
Scourge of Hogarth’s London has been transformed 260 years later into booming craft industry
Gin parties, gin menus, ginvent calendars and even a Ginstitute hotel: the UK’s renewed passion for all things gin is fast creating a whole new industry.
There are 315 distilleries in Britain – more than double the number operating five years ago. According to figures collected by HM Revenue & Customs, which hands out licences to produce spirits, nearly 50 opened last year, while just a handful shut up shop.Continue reading...
Despite losing 40% in a matter of weeks the cryptocurrency still has further to drop according to experts at Capital Economics
Bitcoin has all the hallmarks of a classic speculative bubble and even after almost halving in value in a matter of weeks it still has further to fall, according to a leading team of economists.
As regulators in South Korea again signalled on Thursday that they were considering a ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, Capital Economics also dismissed claims that bitcoin and its imitators could replace established currencies as “rubbish”.Continue reading...
Activists target Aurizon after Palaszczuk refuses to rule out vetoing freight company’s application for Naif funding to build rail line
The former Queensland state-owned freight rail business Aurizon is the latest target of anti-Adani activists, after the Palaszczuk Labor government refused to rule out vetoing the company’s taxpayer-funded loan to build the Galilee basin rail line.
Opponents of the mine have accused the state government of attempting to break its promise of “no public funds for Adani’ through a “backdoor” by continuing to consider Aurizon’s application for federal government funds to build the central Queensland rail line.Continue reading...
It already has more electric cars than any other country in the world and also has shipping projects underway
All of Norway’s short-haul airliners should be entirely electric by 2040, the country’s airport operator said on Wednesday, cementing the Nordic nation’s role as a pioneer in the field of electric transport.
Avinor, the public operator of Norwegian airports, “aims to be the first in the world” to make the switch to electric air transport, chief executive Dag Falk-Petersen said.Continue reading...
LGA estimates more than 7,500 affordable homes lost in England due to conversions that do not go through planning system
More than half of all new homes in some areas have been created by allowing developers to convert offices without building any affordable homes, an impact study of the policy has revealed.
Since 2015, 30,575 housing units in England have been converted from offices to flats without having to go through the planning system, in a bid by ministers to boost housing supply. It means there has been a potential loss of more than 7,500 affordable homes, according to the study by the Local Government Association.Continue reading...
Cost of privately financing projects ‘can be 40% higher’ than using public money
Taxpayers will be forced to hand over nearly £200bn to contractors under private finance deals for at least 25 years, according to a report by Whitehall’s spending watchdog.
In the wake of the collapse of public service provider Carillion, the National Audit Office found little evidence that government investment in more than 700 existing public-private projects has delivered financial benefits.Continue reading...
Sir Philip Green’s fashion empire to pay suppliers 2% less on existing and future orders
Sir Philip Green’s retail business has told suppliers that Arcadia Group is imposing a discount on all current and existing orders from next month.
The group’s CEO Ian Grabiner, blaming changes in the retail market, told suppliers that it would pay 2% less on both existing and future orders from 1 February, saving the company millions.Continue reading...
News stories from Wednesday 17 January, 2018
It’s easy to scoff but a look at the incomes of golf and tennis players shows that unionisation may not be such a bad idea
Income inequality is not normally an issue that arises much thought during the Australian Open, but this week inequality, as it is in much of the rest of society, has reared its head in tennis, and with it has come talk also of the need for a stronger unionisation of workers.
It is easy to scoff when talk arose this week that Novak Djokovic had reportedly called for a formation of a new players union that would split from the ATP – an organisation that both represents the players and also organises the tournaments – in order to get the players a greater share of the tournament revenue.Continue reading...
- Tech giant says it will repatriate some overseas cash holdings
- Apple has faced sustained criticism for tax evasion policies
Apple said on Wednesday it would make a one-time payment of $38bn to repatriate some of its vast overseas cash holdings.Continue reading...
Festive gift from 2 Sisters Food Group was ‘attempt to impugn’ impartiality, says committee
A parliamentary inquiry into food standards at 2 Sisters Food Group took a bizarre turn on Wednesday when a select committee accused the chicken processor of an “attempt to impugn” its impartiality by sending MPs “unsolicited” biscuits.
Writing to the group’s chief executive Ranjit Singh Boparan, MP Neil Parish, the Conservative chair of the environment, food and rural affairs committee, said: “Several members of my committee have reported the receipt of unsolicited gifts from the 2 Sisters Food Group over the Christmas period.Continue reading...
Thousands of workers stand to lose their jobs as Carillion goes down, with the prospect of many suppliers following suit
Efforts by the government to reassure thousands of staff employed by Carillion to work for private sector clients were called “flimsy”, as the small businesses owed money by the failed company braced for losses.
The prime minister’s spokesman said most of the companies that were using Carillion’s 8,500-strong private sector workforce have agreed to provide funding to continue paying them.Continue reading...