The government is holding talks with the Turkish conglomerate Cengiz Holdings about stepping in to buy British Steel in the event that a planned sale to the Chinese industrial firm Jingye falls through. Officials remain confident that Jingye’s £50m purchase of British Steel, including the Scunthorpe steelworks, will go ahead in the next few weeks, saving about 4,000 jobs in the ailing industry. – Guardian.
The government is promising to turn Britain into a nation of savers by 2030 and cut the number of households relying on credit cards for day-to-day spending by launching an ambitious financial wellbeing programme. In an alarming summary of the state of Britain’s household finances, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), a government agency, said 11. 5 million people have less than £100 in savings to fall back on, while nine million said they often use credit cards and payday loans to meet essential weekly food and energy bills.
The world’s energy watchdog has warned the oil and gas industry that it risks a public backlash by failing to act on the climate crisis in favour of making short-term profits. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said oil companies must balance their desire for near-term returns and a long-term future by playing a much more significant role in combating the climate crisis. – Guardian.
The embattled shopping centre giant that owns Lakeside in Essex and the Trafford Centre near Manchester is planning to tap the City for £1bn of emergency cash as soon as next month, in a significant test of the market’s appetite for retail property. Intu Properties, whose share price has collapsed after the slew of insolvencies among tenants such as Debenhams and Arcadia, wants to launch a huge rights issue either alongside its full-year results at the end of February, or shortly afterwards.
The brothers who own the high street bookmaker Betfred are making millions from a business that treats public sector staff for health problems including gambling addiction, the Guardian can disclose. Betfred’s owners, the billionaire Tory party donors Fred and Peter Done, also own Health Assured, which holds dozens of government contracts to provide health and wellbeing programmes to staff. – Guardian.
There’s been a department store in the market town of Stockton-on-Tees for over a century. But the last one closed its doors for the final time on Wednesday when Debenhams pulled down the shutters. The store is one of 19 being closed across the country by the beleaguered chain this month, and it’s a big blow to Stockton, where New Look is also due to shut down on Saturday and many shoppers still mourn the loss of the Marks & Spencer in 2018. – Guardian.
The immediate future of Flybe was secured on Tuesday night after ministers agreed a rescue deal with shareholders to keep Europe’s largest regional carrier flying. The package of measures includes a potential loan in the region of £100m and/or a possible short-term deferral of a £106m air passenger duty (APD) bill, plus a pledge to review taxes on domestic flights before the March budget. – Guardian.
The government has been urged to rethink its tax and benefit rules for low-paid workers after it emerged that some staff at the bakery chain Greggs could get to keep just a quarter of their £300 annual bonus as a result of universal credit deductions. Greggs announced last week that its 25,000 workers would receive a windfall of up to £300 under a £7m reward scheme linked in part to the success of the company’s vegan sausage rolls. – Guardian.
The gambling industry watchdog is preparing to ban bookmakers from taking credit card deposits for betting online, in the latest move to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable customers. The Gambling Commission is expected to announce the long-awaited ban on credit card wagers, with the rules due to be unveiled as soon as Tuesday. Well-placed sources said an announcement by the regulator was imminent. It comes two years after charity groups such as GambleAware and Citizens Advice urged the government to implement the policy to protect people from sliding into gambling addiction.
Boeing on Thursday released hundreds of internal messages that raise serious questions about its development of simulators and the 737 Max that was grounded in March after two fatal crashes, prompting outrage from US lawmakers. In an April 2017 exchange of instant messages, two employees expressed complaints about the Max following references to issues with the plane’s flight management computer. “This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” one unnamed employee wrote.
Investors trapped in Neil Woodford’s main fund, which collapsed last year, have expressed their dismay that the former star stock-picker and his business partner, Craig Newman, took home £13. 8m in dividends from their investment management company last year. “It’s absolutely despicable but not a surprise,” said IT Consultant Ian Flaherty, awaiting the outcome of the administration process to see how much of his £10,000 savings held in the fund has been lost.
Barclays is being urged to stop offering loans to fossil fuel companies as part of the first ever shareholder climate resolution aimed at a UK bank. A group of 11 pension and investment funds managing more than £130bn worth of assets have filed a resolution calling for Barclays to set clear targets to phase out services to energy companies that fail to align with Paris climate goals. – Guardian.
Sajid Javid has pledged to use his first budget to kickstart a decade of renewal for the economy after announcing 11 March as the date for the delayed set-piece event. The chancellor said his package would focus on unleashing Britain’s potential after the country’s departure from the EU at the end of this month. – Guardian.
Senior executives in the UK’s top 100 companies took just 33 hours to be paid more than the typical worker’s annual salary, according to data that unions say should be a “source of national shame”. Figures released by the High Pay Centre thinktank showed that the typical FTSE 100 chief executive is paid 117 times more than the median worker, at £901. 30 an hour or £3. 46m a year. – Guardian.
The dependence of the UK gambling industry on high-spending VIPs, customers who are disproportionately likely to be addicts, has been laid bare in a secret report obtained by the Guardian. The Gambling Commission is considering whether to ban VIP schemes in Britain after collecting data from betting firms, including one that took 83% of all deposits from 2% of its customers. – Guardian.
The UK economy ended 2019 in stagnation, under pressure from long-term uncertainty, mounting business costs and a global economic slowdown, according to a business survey. The British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) latest quarterly economic snapshot, based on a poll of 6,500 firms across the country in November, painted a gloomy picture of the economy at the end of the last decade. – Guardian.
Social media executives will face fines and the threat of criminal prosecution for failing to protect people who use their services under plans to regulate tech giants in Britain for the first time. The government is to publish next month its response to a consultation on policing social media companies such as Facebook and Google after Britain leaves the European Union. - The Times.
The next Labour leader has been urged by defeated and re-elected MPs to ditch Jeremy Corbyn’s policies. Seven former MPs who lost their seats in the party’s worst election result since 1935 said that it needed fundamental change and an unflinching look at the reasons for the defeat. - The Times.
Ryanair is to appeal against a ruling in the Dublin high court over its attempts to delay the defection of its former chief operating officer to Easyjet. Mr Justice Senan Allen ruled that Ryanair’s attempt to enforce a “covenant” to prevent Peter Bellew from joining a rival within a year amounted to restraint of employment. - The Times.