London and the southern regions of England are facing a dearth of teachers, nurses and police officers as rising rents make housing in large parts of the UK unaffordable for key public sector workers. A report by the consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said there was an urgent need to increase the supply of homes after it found that the failure of public sector pay to keep pace with soaring housing costs had made it increasingly hard for workers on modest incomes to make ends meet.
Shoppers deserted UK high streets during June as the washout weather and continuing Brexit uncertainty helped drive store visits down to a seven-year low for the month. The “summer slump” took a particularly heavy toll on high streets, with shopping centres also badly affected, according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) monthly footfall tracker for the period from 26 May to 29 June. - Guardian.
Britain is on course for another trade showdown with President Trump after deciding to forge ahead with a special tax on Amazon, Google and other big technology companies. The Treasury said yesterday that it will introduce a 2 per cent digital sales tax on revenues derived from UK users by big social media platforms, search engines and online marketplaces. - The Times.
The former auditor of Patisserie Valerie, the cake and cafe chain at the centre of an alleged accounting fraud, has been placed under increased scrutiny after the industry watchdog called the quality of its work “unacceptable”. Grant Thornton was the worst performer in the Financial Reporting Council’s annual review of audits by the UK’s big accountants. The FRC said half of the eight Grant Thornton audits it inspected for 2017/18 required significant improvement.
A fifth of the businesses started by Britain’s growing army of sole traders close within a year, according to a study highlighting the precarious financial states of those who opt for self-employment. A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that less than half of companies set up by individuals have a long-term future, with 60% ceasing trading within five years. – Guardian.
The feeling of relief in the British car industry was almost palpable on Friday, when Jaguar Land Rover said it would invest billions in producing new electric vehicles in the UK. After the recent closure of two other UK automotive factories in five months – Honda in Swindon and Ford in Bridgend – JLR boss Ralf Speth was clearly pleased to have good news for the 2,500 workers at the Castle Bromwich plant. Yet amid the congratulations, Speth also struck a note of warning.
A quarter of betting shops on UK high streets have been slated for closure, putting 12,000 jobs at risk, with William Hill the latest bookmaker to blame job cuts on stricter regulation of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Restrictions cutting the maximum stake on the controversial betting machines from £100 per spin to £2 came into force in April after a lengthy campaign by activists and MPs, who linked the controversial machines to gambling addiction. – Guardian.
Two of the most senior advisers to Northern Powerhouse Developments, the company owned by embattled financier Gavin Woodhouse, have quit the business in the wake of a series of allegations about its finances. The departures have emerged a week after publication of an undercover investigation by the Guardian and ITV News, which raised questions about the business interests of Woodhouse, who has raised millions from private investors but whose firms have a multimillion-pound “black hole”.
Facebook’s plans for a global cryptocurrency, Libra, will warrant close scrutiny by governments across the world, according to one of the UK’s most senior financial regulators. Christopher Woolard, the executive director of strategy and competition at the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) highlighted a series of potential issues with the digital currency, from consumer protection and privacy concerns to financial market stability. – Guardian.
Investors will be locked into Neil Woodford’s flagship fund for at least another month after a block on withdrawals was extended. The Woodford Equity Income Fund – which was valued at £3. 7bn at the end of May – will stay closed until the next review deadline of 29 July, preventing hundreds of thousands of customers from accessing their money. – Guardian.
Mobile banking is set to be more popular than visiting a high street bank branch within two years, according to new forecasts, highlighting how technology is transforming the way Brits bank. The tipping point will arrive in 2021, according to analysis by the consultancy Caci, when the number of customers regularly using branches will be overtaken by those using apps. – Guardian.
President Trump became the first United States leader to enter North Korea this morning, during a hastily arranged meeting with Kim Jong-un at the country’s tense border with South Korea.
Seven investors, who ploughed their savings into businesses owned by the embattled financier Gavin Woodhouse, have applied to the high court to have four of his companies taken into administration. The move comes a day after an undercover investigation by the Guardian and ITV News highlighted questions about the business interests of Woodhouse, who has raised millions of pounds from private investors but whose firms have a multimillion-pound “black hole”. – Guardian.
United Airlines has become the latest carrier to extend its ban on using the Boeing 737 Max after the US aviation regulator said it had identified a new potential risk with the plane. As the Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday that Boeing must address the new issue before the jet can return to service, United joined American and Southwest in continuing to ground the plane through August. – Guardian.
Homebuyers in a town where properties typically cost almost 12 times local salaries may soon have a low-cost option from Ikea after a UK council agreed to work with an affordable housing developer co-owned by the retailer. Worthing council has signed up with BoKlok, a company jointly owned by the Swedish retailer and construction firm Skanska which specialises in factory-built housing that can be constructed at a low cost. – Guardian.
Britain’s foremost tax and spending thinktank has said that Boris Johnson’s promise to cut taxes for millions of higher earners would cost £9bn and benefit the richest 10% of households in Britain most. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the proposal by the frontrunner in the Conservative leadership race was expensive and potentially incompatible with the Tories’ promise to end austerity and safely manage the public finances. – Guardian.
Most forms of Brexit will worsen the country’s finances and reduce space for new initiatives to address child poverty, social care and left-behind communities that some argue drove the Brexit vote, a report has found. Academics at the UK in a Changing Europe thinktank found a positive outcome depended on politicians being able to move on from the Brexit impasse and focus on longer-term challenges including productivity, regional imbalances and democratic reform.
Monsoon Accessorize is asking landlords to reduce rents on more than half its 258 leased stores in return for a £10m share of profits and an £18m interest-free loan to keep the company afloat. The multi-millionaire owner, Peter Simon, has also promised to halve the £5m rent on the fashion business’s London head office, which he owns, to help reduce costs. – Guardian.
People struggling with serious debt are to benefit from a new two-month “breathing space” during which they cannot be hassled by debt collectors and bailiffs, the government has said. During the 60-day period, those eligible will be protected from enforcement action from creditors, and will also see their interest, fees and charges frozen. – Guardian.
Jeremy Corbyn will back a move today for Labour to change its Brexit policy and support a second referendum in all circumstances. The shadow cabinet is due to discuss the plan to make Labour’s stance decisively pro-Remain. A paper drawn up by Andrew Fisher, Mr Corbyn’s head of policy, recommends that Labour support a second referendum on any deal negotiated with Brussels. A senior Labour source confirmed that Mr Corbyn was endorsing the shift in policy, adding: “It is a moment.