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Brexit: May to meet UK financial services chiefs
The Prime Minister is set to meet with business leaders from the UK’s financial services industry as the government attempts to secure a Brexit deal that will include the sector. Theresa May will talk with Barclays’ chief Jes Staley and Goldman Sachs International boss Richard Gnodde among others on Thursday. The Chancellor Philip Hammond will also attend after travelling to Berlin. He described financial services as pivotal to a “bespoke” trade deal.
Environment strategy aims to stop needless plastic waste
Theresa May will pledge to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042. The commitment is part of a 25-year plan to improve the natural environment being launched on Thursday. In her speech to launch the plan the prime minister will say: “I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly.” But green groups are angry the proposals will have no legal force. They say the plans could simply be shelved if they become inconvenient and the promise to stop “avoidable” plastic waste is too vague.
UK employers aim to write off apprenticeship spending as tax
One-fifth of companies in the UK intend to write off their payments under the apprenticeship levy scheme as tax, according to a new survey. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said nearly half of a 1,000- company sample would also happily rebadge current training spending in order to comply with the rules, which require groups to put aside 0.5 per cent of their payroll to fund apprenticeships. The government introduced the levy last April, setting the goal of creating 3m additional apprenticeships by 2020 in the public and private sectors as part of efforts to improve the UK’s poor productivity record. Any company or public sector body whose salary bill exceeds £3m has to pay the levy and then claim vouchers from the government to spend on courses for their apprentices.
Brussels eyes new taxes to cover €15bn post-Brexit shortfall
Brussels is targeting foreign travellers, plastics and greenhouse gas emissions to help cover a shortfall of €12bn-€15bn in the annual EU budget once Britain leaves. Among the European Commission’s planned cash raids are proposals to increase a forthcoming border charge for non-EU tourists and travellers — which would include those from Britain after Brexit — and an EU-wide plastics tax. The commission is also considering shifting profits from the EU’s carbon trading scheme from member states to Brussels. The EU is steeling itself for lengthy and politically sensitive talks over its next budget, which will run for at least five years from 2021. Britain is a net contributor to the EU budget and Brussels wants the 27 other EU governments to increase their budget contributions after Brexit.
Cheap pound drives best factory growth in seven years
Factories are growing at the fastest pace in almost seven years after a solid three months to November that beat all forecasts and put Britain on track to start 2018 on a firm footing. The Office for National Statistics said that manufacturing had expanded by 0.4 per cent in November, taking the sector’s annual growth rate for the latest quarter to 3.9 per cent, the biggest rise since March 2011. Economists said the performance meant that overall growth may be better than the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast of 0.4 per cent in the final quarter of 2017. The sector accounts for only a tenth of output in Britain, with four fifths generated by services.
EU signals fresh hope for banks after Brexit
British financial firms will be allowed privileged access to European Union markets in return for payments to Brussels under plans being considered by countries including Germany. Government figures in EU capitals are examining ways to make a wide-ranging trade deal contingent on Britain continuing to make substantial payments. “If Britain wants to trade budget contributions for access to [the] single market for the City, there will be many takers,” one European diplomat said. This is the first sign that some EU nations are thinking creatively about how to maintain links after Brexit.
Car giants must accept defeat in their diesel war
For a company that prides itself on ingenuity, Jaguar Land Rover seems remarkably short of answers when it comes to one of the car industry’s greatest challenges: how to respond to the fierce crackdown that diesel engines are now being subjected to. The Volkswagen “dieselgate” scandal has consigned the fuel to an early grave, but Jaguar, like its rivals, continues to fiercely fight for diesel’s survival. Its seems very short-sighted generally, and just plain strange in JLR’s case given that its latest whinge about the backlash came on the back of record car sales. The UK’s biggest car maker sold 178,601 Jaguar cars in 2017, more than 20pc up on the previous year, while Land Rover sales also rose by 2pc to 442,508.
Oil price hits three-year high of nearly $70 a barrel
Drivers have been warned they face misery at petrol pumps this year after the oil price rose to a three-year high of almost $70 (£52) a barrel. In November, Opec and other big oil producers including Russia agreed to extend production curbs until the end of 2018, which combined with geopolitical uncertainty, has pushed up prices. The RAC said the price of petrol in the UK had gone up by 5p per litre since the start of November, to 121.27p, and diesel by 3p to 123.97p. “If oil stays at this level, pump price hikes will be almost inevitable. With households across the country still feeling the cost of Christmas, this is not the start to 2018 anyone would have wanted. It could also negatively affect business and further fuel inflation,” said the RAC’s fuel spokesman, Simon Williams.
The price of a barrel of Brent crude hit $69.37 on Wednesday, the highest amount since December 2014.
Britain is a nation of middle-lane hogs: More than 40% of motorists admit driving in the centre of the motorway when the inside is clear despite threat of £100 fine
It is one of the most infuriating driving habits, clogs up the roads – and is now a punishable offence. But Britain remains a nation of middle lane ‘hoggers’ according to a report. Drivers who take up the middle lane of a motorway even when the inside lane is clear are flouting the Highway Code, as well as enraging many of their fellow road users by slowing up traffic. But, unfortunately, this – as well as the threat of a £100 fine – does not appear to be a big enough deterrent. According to a poll of drivers more than four in ten (43 per cent) admit to hogging the middle lane, with most committing this cardinal driving sin to avoid the need to overtake slower traffic such as lorries further down the road. Analysis of more than seventy hours of footage of motorway traffic found that an average of half (50 per cent) of all vehicles travel in the middle lane, and 27 per cent travel in the outside lane.
Learners need night-time driving lessons to help stop crashes, study finds
Introducing more night driving lessons for learners could help reduce the rate of crashes among new licence drivers, a study has found. The report by IAM RoadSmart made a number of recommendations to help improve training, in the hope it would make roads safer. Statistics revealed while new drivers are quick to learn how to avoid single vehicle loss of control crashes, they take significantly longer to learn how to deal with vulnerable road users, be safe on the motorway and safely complete low-speed manoeuvres. The development of these skills simply came down to experience, rather than age, indicating new drivers are exposed to the same risks when they first get their licence regardless of how old they are. This suggests accidents with new motorists could be avoided by seeking to quickly increase hazard perception and knowledge, rather than focusing on the age and maturity levels of drivers.