The Trades Union Congress and Heathrow have called on the government to cover UK airports’ operating costs while travel bans are in place, and to extend the furlough scheme for as long as public health measures affect aviation, in a joint call for “survival support”. They said the demand for financial help and other measures were a matter of survival for businesses in the sector, after a budget in which Heathrow accused the chancellor of ignoring aviation and failing to understand the sector’s role.
Steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta owes an estimated £4 billion to stricken Australian finance house Greensill and some of the world’s biggest lenders. Analysis of the industrialist’s spending and borrowing spree over several years reveals that he owes more than £3 billion alone to Greensill, the business that fuelled his growth spree but is now on the brink of administration. - Sunday Times.
Business leaders have criticised Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, for shutting down the Industrial Strategy Council, the government’s in-house thinktank plotting the regeneration of Britain’s hard-pressed regions. The decision to disband the council, which was led by the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, was called a “sad and bad” decision by Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
Sainsbury’s is to cut 500 head office jobs while another 650 jobs are at risk as the supermarket closes one of its online grocery packing centres. The UK’s second largest supermarket will also close offices in Coventry and Victoria in London and move out of two of the five remaining floors it occupies at its London head office in Holborn, another two floors at its Avebury office in Milton Keynes and one in Manchester as many staff permanently switch to working part-time from home.
Complaints to the financial ombudsman about a type of high-cost loan where the debt is backed by a relative or friend have leapt by more than 3,000% in a year and are running at almost 800 a week. The surge in the number of unhappy customers means that sub-prime lender Amigo – the biggest provider of so-called guarantor loans – has become the UK’s most complained-about financial firm, according to the latest data. - Guardian.
City firms revealed in the final months of 2020 that they planned to shift nearly £100bn in assets to the EU, taking the total value of assets lost to the bloc since the Brexit vote to £1. 3 trillion, according to a new survey. The data from consulting group EY pointed to a last-minute push by firms before 31 December after the UK-EU trade deal did not offer concessions for the UK’s dominant financial services sector. It forced companies to move staff and assets to the continent in order to continue serving EU customers.
Uber has been accused of using “loaded questions” in a consultation with drivers, after a landmark court ruling handed workers rights to improved conditions. The firm may have to pay out over £100m in compensation to 10,000 drivers, after the UK supreme court ruled last week they are entitled to holiday pay, a company pension and the national minimum wage. Uber has previously argued that its 60,000 UK drivers are self-employed independent contractors with limited employment rights.
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.