Books, stationery, phone chargers, toys and exam study guides are the latest items to be ferried to customers on fast-track delivery bikes via a partnership between WH Smith and Deliveroo. The high street retailer will offer 600 products for delivery in as little as 20 minutes, joining similar services offered by supermarkets, pharmacies and takeaways. - Guardian.
Competition investigators raided the offices of outsourcer Mitie and are examining the emails of senior staff, after the Home Office raised concerns about suspected anti-competitive behaviour, the Guardian understands. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is examining the relationship between Mitie and US firm PAE, who operate a joint venture for the Ministry of Defence but were also competing to run Home Office immigration removal centres, at Derwentside, in Coutry Durham, and Heathrow.
Almost 500 “ghost flights” a month departed from the UK between October and December 2021, data has revealed. The information, obtained through a freedom of information request by the Guardian, shows Heathrow, Aberdeen, Manchester, Stansted and Norwich were the top five airports for such flights during the period. - Guardian.
Grant Shapps is writing to the chief executive of P&O Ferries urging him to announce a U-turn on the decision to sack 800 workers without notice, as unions pledged to “ratchet up the fight” after a weekend of protests. The transport secretary is expected to present a package of legislation on Wednesday to close loopholes and ensure ferry companies running regular services to and from the British Isles pay their crew the UK minimum wage. - Guardian.
Boris Johnson has told nuclear industry bosses that the government wants the UK to get 25% of its electricity from nuclear power, in a move that would signal a significant shift in the country’s energy mix. Johnson on Monday met executives from major nuclear utilities and technology companies including the UK’s Rolls-Royce, France’s EDF, and the US’s Westinghouse and Bechtel to discuss ways of helping to speed up the development of new nuclear power stations.
Rishi Sunak will promise “security” to cash-strapped families as he announces a fresh package of measures to tackle the cost of living crisis on Wednesday, but will continue to underline the importance of fixing the public finances. The chancellor has been under intense pressure to take action to help households with the rocketing cost of fuel and other essentials. The financial expert Martin Lewis told MPs on Tuesday that many households are facing a “fiscal punch in the face” when the energy price cap rises next month.
Some food bank users are declining items such as potatoes as they cannot afford the energy to boil them, the boss of the supermarket Iceland has said, as the soaring cost of living pushes vulnerable groups to the financial brink. Richard Walker, who says the 1,000-stores in the budget chain are in the “poorest communities in the UK”, also called on the government to help businesses that are being forced to increase prices significantly as their own costs dramatically increase.
The UK government has set a new target to increase the number of electric car chargers more than ten times to 300,000 by 2030 after heavy criticism that the rollout of public infrastructure is too slow to match rapid growth in sales. The Department for Transport (DfT) said it would invest an extra £450m to do so, alongside hefty sums of private capital. Sales of new cars and vans with petrol and diesel engines will be banned from 2030. - Guardian .
The average price tag on a home in Great Britain has topped £350,000 for the first time, according to Rightmove. Typical asking prices hit £354,564 in March, up 1. 7% or £5,760 compared with February, the property website said. It was the biggest monthly rise for this time of year in 18 years, and pushed the annual rate of growth in asking prices to 10. 4%. - Guardian.
Petrol could soar to £2. 50 a litre, while diesel could hit £3 and may even be rationed, experts told MPs on Monday, as they warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spells worsening pain for consumers. In testimony to the Treasury select committee, leading economics and energy analysts also called on the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to subsidise lower-income households to cope with soaring home energy bills, amid a broader cost of living crisis. - Guardian.
HSBC is to shut a further 69 branches, on top of the 82 it axed last year, claiming the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital banking. It is the latest in a line of banks to announce it is reducing its network in response to changing customer habits. Consumer organisation Which? said the number of closures during the last few years was “alarming” and that millions of people were not yet ready or able to go fully digital. - Guardian.
Nearly 90% of former Debenhams stores remain empty almost a year after the department store closed its doors for the last time, in a sign of the challenge to reinvent high streets across the country. The empty shops are among nearly 8,000 outlets left empty last year, according to a report by the high street analysts Local Data Company (LDC), as Covid lockdowns accelerated the shift towards shopping online and pummelled city centres. - Guardian.
Thousands of steelworkers were the victims of pension regulation failures that left some with losses of up to £489,000, an official report has found, prompting accusations that the UK financial watchdog was “asleep at the wheel”. The National Audit Office’s findings relate to a 2017 scandal involving members of the British Steel pension scheme, many of whom were persuaded to transfer their retirement savings by advisers who then pocketed huge fees. - Guardian .
A Russian default on its debts after western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine is no longer “improbable”, but would not trigger a global financial crisis, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Sunday. The Washington-based fund’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, said the sanctions imposed by the United States and other nations were already having a “severe” impact on the Russian economy and would trigger a deep recession there this year.
UK household incomes are on course to collapse by the most since the mid-1970s after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent energy prices soaring to new highs, a thinktank has said. The Resolution Foundation said the dramatic increase in global oil and gas prices was forecast to push UK inflation above 8% this spring, causing average incomes across Britain to fall by 4% in the coming financial year – a hit worth £1,000 per household, the biggest annual decline since 1975.
Sadiq Khan has called on ministers to grant him powers to freeze private rents in London, amid a push by Labour over cost of living issues which also saw the party reiterate its call for the scrapping of the planned increase in national insurance contributions. The mayor has previously called on the government to allow him to put in place rent controls in London as a way to ease fast-rising costs, but has been rebuffed by ministers. - Guardian.
Members of the Democratic-controlled House judiciary committee have referred Amazon to the Department of Justice, alleging “potentially criminal conduct” by the company and some of its senior executives. In a letter to the attorney general, Merrick Garland, lawmakers claim that Amazon had engaged in a “pattern and practice of misleading conduct that suggests” it was acting to influence the committee’s investigation into online market competition. - Guardian .
Russia has drawn up plans to seize the assets of western companies leaving the country as the Kremlin pushes back against sweeping sanctions and the exodus of international businesses since its invasion of Ukraine. Announcing the move after a string of global firms said they would suspend operations in Russia this week, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, the country’s economic ministry said it could take temporary control of departing businesses where foreign ownership exceeds 25%.
Burberry has become the latest luxury brand to temporarily shut its stores in Russia following Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour Ukraine, after similar moves in recent days by Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Kering, Chanel and Prada. The British fashion brand has three stores in the country, including one run by a franchisee and one in Moscow’s famous Red Square. It had already announced last week that it had halted deliveries to the outlets but confirmed this weekend that it was shutting them for the time being.
Rishi Sunak is facing renewed pressure from business leaders to delay a planned £12bn rise in national insurance, amid warnings over soaring costs for companies and households as the Russian invasion of Ukraine drives up inflation. The manufacturing trade body Make UK, which represents 20,000 firms of all sizes across the country, said the tax hike planned for April should be pushed back until the UK economy is in a stronger position. It warned the government that pressing ahead would risk firms slamming the brakes on recruitment and putting the economic recovery from Covid at risk.