Rishi Sunak laid the ground for tax rises today as he said it was time to “level with people” about the problems facing the economy. The chancellor confirmed he will extend coronavirus support in Wednesday’s budget but warned that the pandemic had an “enormous hold” on the economy. Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday he said: “We do have a challenge in our public finances and if we don’t do anything, borrowing will continue to be at very high levels — even after we’ve recovered from Covid, debt will continue to rise indefinitely and that’s not a good situation.
The owner of Vauxhall has claimed it is considering the closure of its Ellesmere Port factory unless the UK government offers financial support after extended negotiations. An executive of Stellantis, the carmaker, on Thursday said it hoped to reach a binding agreement with the government on aid. - Guardian.
Keir Starmer is under pressure to back future rises in corporation tax after a backlash when the Labour leader said he would oppose any new tax on business in next week’s budget. Treasury officials are believed to be looking at increasing the tax on company profits from the current rate of 19% to up to 25% as the government tries to recoup some of the massive debts incurred during the pandemic, though the rise may be delayed until later in the parliament. - Guardian.
London has overtaken New York as home to the highest concentration of dollar millionaires in the world, according to a report that reveals how much money the very richest people in the world have made during the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 875,000 Londoners are dollar millionaires (denoting assets worth more than £720,000), according to an annual study of the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest people by the property consultants Knight Frank. - Guardian.
Business leaders have told Boris Johnson that his roadmap for exiting the third Covid lockdown in England remains incomplete without fresh financial support for companies and workers hardest hit by the pandemic. The prime minister promised the government would “not pull the rug out” from under struggling firms and workers while restrictions remain in place during the phased relaxation of lockdown, but to the disappointment of company bosses and trade unions he deferred details of future economic support to the budget in 10 days’ time.
Orders for new aircraft all but dried up in January as the airline industry continued to be buffeted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Just four commercial aircraft orders were placed last month, according to ADS, the UK trade organisation. That’s the worst January on record for orders, down from 296 in January 2020. - Guardian.
Lloyds chief Antonio Horta-Osorio will this week preside over his final set of annual results before leaving the saddle at the Black Horse bank. [. ] Lloyds surprised the City in October by setting aside less cash than expected to cover bad loans. But analysts reckon the bank is likely to have become more cautious amid the two subsequent lockdowns. With bank dividends back on the agenda, a 1p a share payout for 2020 is expected, which could reach 2p but remains well short of the 3.
The government has been accused of dragging its heels on promised reforms to zero-hours contracts and the gig economy as legislation to protect workers faces serious delays. New legislation intended to bolster protections for Britain’s most vulnerable workers will not be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, raising fresh questions about the government’s promise to protect workers’ rights after Brexit. - Guardian.
Almost 2 million people in Britain have not worked for more than six months during the coronavirus pandemic, amid growing risk to workers from long-term economic damage caused by the crisis. The Resolution Foundation said up to 1. 9 million people in January had either been out of a job or on full furlough for more than six months, revealing the lasting impact on employment caused by Covid and multiple lockdowns. - Guardian.
Millions of British Gas customers will be asked to pay almost £100 a year more for their gas and electricity after the regulator lifted its cap on energy bills. The UK’s biggest energy supplier confirmed that it would raise the price of its standard variable energy tariff by £97 a year, less than a fortnight after Ofgem said it would lift the cap to an annual average of £1,138 for a dual fuel bill. - Guardian.
The government should force banks to let customers block all betting transactions, according to proposals led by the online lender Monzo, which wants gambling firms to hand over data to make sure the system is watertight. In a letter to the sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, who is leading a landmark review of gambling law, Monzo, campaigners and addiction experts called on the government to use the opportunity to remove obstacles for people who want to stop betting.
An influential group of MPs has urged the government to spell out the impact its lockdown-easing measures would have on economic growth and the number of coronavirus infections. Calling for evidence to be published alongside the government’s reopening road map to be announced on 22 February, the Treasury select committee said it would help the public to better understand the implications of restrictions and the costs and benefits of making changes. - Guardian.
Neil Woodford has broken his silence on the collapse of his investment firm and revealed he plans to start all over again in a tearful and defiant interview. Speaking publicly for the first time since his business imploded in October 2019, exclusively to The Telegraph, the fund manager said he was “very sorry for what I did wrong”. But he lashed out at the administrator of Woodford Investment Management, Link Fund Solutions, and rejected widespread criticisms of his operating style.
Huawei’s battle to prevent the extradition of its chief financial officer from Canada to the US will open a new front at the British high court on Friday when the Chinese telecoms giant seeks an application to access records from inside HSBC in a bid to prove that she did not mislead the bank. The future of Meng Wanzhou has become a major three-way point of diplomatic and legal tension between China, Canada and the US since she was arrested at Vancouver airport in December 2018.
The governor of the Bank of England has called EU demands for City banks to comply with Brussels regulations unacceptable, in a combative speech backing the government’s hardline stance in the next round of Brexit talks. Andrew Bailey said the UK should refuse to allow Brussels to restrict how the UK industry develops and look instead to global financial regulators as the main rule makers. - Guardian.
Hundreds of former Arcadia staff are lining up to claim compensation after being made redundant following the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s fashion empire. Two no-win no-fee legal firms say they have already gathered almost 200 potential claimants who they say may not have been properly consulted before losing their jobs. - Guardian.
Britain’s tough new lockdown measures have dented consumer confidence and reduced spending to levels not seen since last spring, according to two separate surveys. Both the British Retail Consortium and Barclaycard said spending in January was at its weakest since May as booming online activity failed to compensate fully for the closure of stores. - Guardian.
The government has sought to defend its record over Brexit after freight industry leaders claimed exports to the EU had nosedived since the transition period ended on 31 December. When Boris Johnson announced on Christmas Eve that he had secured a last-minute Brexit deal he insisted there would be “no non-tariff barriers” to trade with the EU. - Guardian.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi today said AstraZeneca is 'confident' its jab prevents serious illness caused by the South African coronavirus variant after early data from a small study suggested the vaccine was less effective against the strain. Mr Zahawi said he had spoken to England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam this morning about the study as he insisted the vaccine 'does protect against severe disease'. He said that through its own trials AstraZeneca is 'confident that it does effectively deal with serious illness, serious disease and hospitalisation'.
Johnson & Johnson has asked US regulators to approve the world’s first single-dose Covid-19 vaccine, an easier-to-use option that could boost scarce supplies. The drugmaker’s application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) follows its 29 January report in which it said the vaccine had a 66% rate of preventing infections in its large global trial. - Guardian.