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2,000 jobs under threat at fashion chain
About 2,000 jobs are under threat as another high street retailer faces tough trading conditions. The company that owns Select, a fashion chain aimed at young women, is seeking a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) that would allow it to slash rents. The chain has 183 stores in England and Wales also sells 4,000 items online. Genus UK, Select’s owner, has no plans to close stores, but the proposal includes an option for landlords to “take back loss-making sites”.
MPs to debate Vote Leave Brexit spending allegations
Claims the Vote Leave campaign exceeded spending limits in the 2016 Brexit referendum are to be debated by MPs. Lib Dem Tom Brake, who secured Tuesday’s debate, said the public had to be sure that elections are “free and fair” and conducted within the rules. Vote Leave has denied ex-volunteer Shahmir Sanni’s claim it may have used a different pro-Brexit group, BeLeave, to get round strict spending controls. Meanwhile, Theresa May has defended one of her aides at the heart of the row. The role played by Vote Leave during the EU poll is currently being investigated by the Electoral Commission.
Apprentice levy under pressure with fresh fall in sign-ups expected
Moves to boost Britain’s apprenticeships system are set to suffer another heavy blow this week, with the number of people signing up for the training programmes expected show a further plunge. The data are understood to reveal a drop of almost a third for the three months to February. Government has set a target of 3m people starting apprenticeships by 2020. It brought in the levy to fund the policy last April. Under the system, all employers with an annual wage bill of £3m or more have to pay 0.5pc of their staff costs into a fund topped up by government to finance training. The system covers almost 20,000 companies and is expected to collect close to £3bn a year. However, it has been attacked by many companies – especially smaller ones – who find it too mired in red tape to navigate. In the first quarter after the levy was introduced, the number of people signing up for the vocational training suffered a 60pc year-on-year collapse to 69,800.
VW compensation case to start with carmaker demanding costs from plaintiffs’ lawyers
British motorists’ legal battle to win compensation from Volkswagen over the “dieselgate” scandal will finally kick off on Tuesday – with the car giant set to demand money from the claimants. Lawyers who say they have signed up more than 50,000 VW owners between them have made a High Court application for a “group litigation order” as they try to start a class action against VW. However, infighting between different groups of lawyers representing motorists has meant three previous hearings about compensation for alleged “fraudulent misrepresenation” have failed to make progress. VW is understood to want to claim hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs it accrued preparing for the previous hearings.
Get on with Brexit to boost the economy, says CBI chief
Britain’s businesses have told the Government to take the hard choices in Brexit as soon as possible to get a “bespoke deal which works for us”, creating more certainty for investment and boosting the economy – rather than “kicking the can down the road”. The Confederation of British Industry campaigned against Brexit in 2016, but its boss Carolyn Fairbairn said the priority now is getting a good deal which will renew business confidence. “When I hear talk about ‘kicking cans down the road’ it sets off real alarm bells,” she told an audience at the Institute for Government, praising the recent progress made in the negotiations and calling for more to follow quickly.
Green groups file diesel ban enforcement action in Stuttgart
Environmental groups suing German cities have threatened to take further legal action against the German state of Baden-Württemberg, where authorities have allegedly failed to confirm they would soon comply with a federal court ruling and enact driving bans against older diesel-engine cars. Last month a federal court in Leipzig upheld a lower-court ruling that cities in breach of EU air quality rules had a duty to meet pollution targets, including by banning certain diesel cars from entering them. Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and ClientEarth, the groups who brought the federal case, on Monday launched an enforcement action to compel authorities in Baden-Württemberg to set diesel restrictions in place.
Arizona suspends Uber’s self-driving car testing after fatality
Arizona governor Doug Ducey suspended Uber’s self-driving vehicle testing on Monday following a pedestrian fatality in a Phoenix suburb last week. Ducey told Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi that video footage of the crash raised concerns about the company’s ability to safely test its technology in Arizona. He said he expects public safety to be the top priority for those who operate self-driving cars. “The incident that took place on 18 March is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation,” Ducey said.
First self-driving train launches on London Thameslink route
Passengers have been carried across London by the first self-driving train on a mainline railway in the UK. Govia Thameslink Railway promised that it would not spell the beginning of the end for drivers, who remain responsible for safety and can take control of the train at any time. Automated operation using a new digital signalling system will allow many more trains to pass through the congested tracks between St Pancras and Blackfriars in central London, giving space for an additional 60,000 passengers to commute at peak hours daily.
Half of family cars too small for 3 child seats
Only half of family cars are able to carry three child seats, a study has found. Research by What Car? found only one out of eight popular SUVs coms up to requirements, while just two thirds of people carriers can cope with three child seats in a row in the back.
Car dealer expand
Inchcape is buying central American car distribution business Grupo Redelman for £200m as it tries to boost its presence in emerging markets. Grupo Redelman is a family run, exclusive for Suzuki retailer, in both Costa Rica and Panama, selling 12,500 vehicles in 2017.
Traffic fumes ‘triggers one in four cases of child asthma’ with researchers describing it a ‘real concern’
Nearly one in four cases of childhood asthma are caused by traffic pollution, a city-wide study found. International scientists used computer simulations to assess the impact of exposure to toxic nitrogen oxide gases. They found that up to 38 per cent of cases of childhood asthma each year in Bradford may be attributable to air pollution. Pollution from road vehicles alone was linked to 24 per cent of cases. The findings, reported in the journal Environment International, shed light on why childhood asthma rates soared in the UK after the 1950s – though it is thought they have plateaued since the 1990s.
Ford Fiestas are at risk as keyless car theft soars with police saying crooks hack into vehicles with electronic devices sold on Amazon and eBay
Drivers of keyless Ford Fiestas are being targeted by thieves as part of a hi-tech crime spree. Police say crooks hack into the cars with electronic devices sold on Amazon and eBay. Although all models of keyless cars have been stolen – including luxury BMWs and Range Rovers – owners of Britain’s most popular vehicle have been among the hardest hit. Cleveland Police said they have had 90 reports of keyless cars being stolen since December – and half of them were Fiestas, the country’s best-selling motor for the past decade.
Families facing a £30bn interest free credit card time bomb after huge surge in borrowing since the financial crisis
Fears are growing over Britain’s debt time bomb after figures revealed as much as £30billion is sitting on zero-interest credit cards. Consumers have embarked on a borrowing binge since the financial crisis, lured by card firms offering 0 per cent interest introductory offers. But experts warn that families will struggle to deal with their debts once the interest-free period ends, leaving them facing monthly credit card bills that many cannot afford to pay.