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Bank of England to decide on whether to raise rates
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is set to decide later whether to raise rates from 0.5%. Economists believe the Bank will not increase the cost of borrowing after a slowdown in UK economic growth in the first quarter of the year. Last month, Bank governor Mark Carney said “mixed” economic data could delay any increase. Rates rose for the first time in more than 10 years in November, from 0.25%. The Bank is also expected to downgrade its economic growth forecasts. The economy expanded at its slowest pace in five years in the first three months of 2018.
Gender pay: Hundreds of firms face action over non-disclosure
Hundreds of companies face legal action after failing to meet an extended deadline to report their gender pay gap, Britain’s equality watchdog said. Companies with more than 250 staff must now publish the details on their own websites and on a government site. Many did this only after the Equality and Human Rights Commission began enforcement action last month. EHRC head Rebecca Hilsenrath said there would be “zero tolerance” of firms that failed to comply. Ms Hilsenrath said: “Last month, we contacted almost 1,500 businesses to commence enforcement proceedings and as a result the number of employers facing investigation is now under 500.” “Breach of these regulations is breaking the law and we’ve always been clear we will enforce with zero tolerance.”
BMW recalls 300,000 cars that risk stalling completely
BMW is extending a UK recall of its cars after the BBC’s Watchdog found that vehicles could cut out completely while they are being driven. It is recalling 312,000 vehicles: the BMW 1 Series, the 3 Series, the Z4 and its X1 petrol and diesel models made between March 2007 and August 2011. BMW initially recalled 36,410 petrol cars last year over safety issues. It said it now recognised there may have been similar problems in cars not covered by the first recall. The German carmaker initially recalled cars in the UK after Narayan Gurung, who was travelling with his wife on Christmas Day in 2016, died when their Ford Fiesta crashed into a tree to avoid a broken-down BMW in Guildford, Surrey.
Asda scraps £99 petrol station deposit charge after complaints
Asda has suspended a controversial £99 petrol pump deposit trial after an outcry from customers. Those using pay-at-the-pump facilities at certain petrol stations were debited £99 on top of their fuel purchase. Asda said the deposit was a holding charge to ensure customers had enough money to pay for their fuel. But following the backlash, Asda said it would “suspend” the scheme pending review because “we always want to do the right thing for our customers”.
Brexit: Warning of rising food bills and disruption to supplies
Food bills could rise sharply if there is no free trade deal with the European Union after Brexit, peers have warned. The Lords EU Environment Committee said it was “inconceivable” there would be no impact on EU produce, which makes up 30% of the UK’s food imports. While better-off customers could afford to buy more expensive home-grown goods, it said, those on lower incomes could be left with lower-quality imports. Officials said the UK’s aim was to ensure the “smooth flow” of goods.
German push for ‘class action’ lawsuits will benefit VW drivers
As many as 2m German drivers of diesel cars are set to benefit from the introduction of a type of collective damages lawsuit as part of a push by the government in Berlin to bolster consumer rights. Volkswagen, which has admitted guilt and paid a $2.8bn criminal fine in the US for equipping cars with test-cheating software, has long maintained that similar software used in 9m cars in Europe was not illegal. It has also offered technical fixes to make these cars compliant with European laws, whereas in the US such fixes were not available and VW was compelled to buy back hundreds of thousands of cars. The company’s stance is now set to be tested in its home market after the German government approved a draft law on Wednesday that would allow consumer groups, automobile clubs and similar organisations to launch a “model” damages claim against companies on behalf of multiple individuals.
Dodgy drivers named and shamed online on new website
Bad drivers are being shamed on a website that allows frustrated motorists to upload footage of antisocial behaviour on the road. The site allows users to identify drivers who have parked over multiple bays, blocked entrances, slammed on their brakes, tailgated or swooped across several lanes of a motorway. Other gripes include speeding and able-bodied drivers using disabled bays. Rate-driver.co.uk leaves the numberplate clearly visible and includes a monthly top ten of the worst offenders. A total of 7,000 incidents have been uploaded and it is just one of a growing number of outlets where road users are shaming drivers, prompted by the growing use of dashboard cameras.
Oil price jumps after Trump tears up sanctions deal
Oil prices jumped to near 3½-year highs on worries over fresh tensions in the Middle East and tighter global oil supplies after President Trump pulled the US out of an international nuclear deal with Iran. By late afternoon in London Brent crude was $2.17, or 2.9 per cent, higher at $77.02 on expectations of a fall in Iranian oil exports. “Iran’s exports of oil to Asia and Europe will almost certainly decline later this year and into 2019 as some nations seek alternatives in order to avoid trouble with Washington,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of the energy consultancy Trifecta.
Young drivers hardest hit by rising fuel costs
Young people are being worst affected by fuel prices at a three-and-a-half-year high, a survey suggests. Among drivers aged 18-24, some 11% are cutting back on car use, 23% are reducing spending in other areas and a further 21% are doing both to stay on the road, according to an AA poll. More than three out of five (61%) motorists in this age category drive at least 10 miles each way to get to work, the motoring firm said. Other groups who are driving less, not spending as much elsewhere, or both, include semi and unskilled workers (50%) and skilled workers (46%). Fuel prices are at the highest level since November 2014. Government data for Monday showed that petrol cost an average of £1.23 per litre at UK forecourts, while diesel was £1.27 per litre.