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Retail sales ‘fall off a cliff’ as Easter timing hits spending
UK retail sales fell “off a cliff” in April, although the figures were distorted by the timing of Easter. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of new store openings, fell by 4.2% compared with April 2017. Total sales were 3.1% down year-on-year, the sharpest fall since the BRC started collecting data 23 years ago. While a lot of Easter spending was done in late March, not April, the figures were still worrying, the BRC said. The industry body has been publishing its monthly BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor since January 1995.
Insurers pledge fairer premiums for long-term customers
The insurance industry has pledged to crack down on “excessive” differences in premiums for new customers and existing policyholders. The plan aims to iron out some of the controversial big differences between premiums for new and existing clients. The move follows new rules that force firms to display the previous year’s premium on renewal notices. The new guidelines apply to home, motor and travel insurance, but not pet or health cover. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) say their Guiding Principles and Action Points should mean “an improvement in the outcomes for long-standing customers”.
Audi admits more diesel emission problems
Audi has admitted that another 60,000 A6 and A7 models with diesel engines have emission software issues. The number is on top of the 850,000-recalled last year by the Volkswagen subsidiary, of which only some have been found to require modification. The so-called dieselgate emissions scandal first came to light in September 2015. US prosecutors last week called it an “appalling” fraud that went to the very top of the company. Audi’s chief executive, Rupert Stadler, said the company had responded quickly “because full disclosure lies in our highest interest”. Customers will be informed and offered a software update.
Drivers could face £20 fines for needless engine idling
Motorists who keep their engines idling in one Scottish council area could soon face a £20 fine. Inverclyde Council has agreed to ask the Scottish government for permission to issue fixed penalty notices to offending drivers. The move followed a spate of complaints to the local authority over the last six months. Should the council’s application be successful a publicity campaign will follow to inform the public of changes. The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (Scotland) Regulations 2003 allows councils to apply to the government to tackle problems with engine fumes running “unnecessarily”.
Brexit: Peers call for UK to remain in European Economic Area
The House of Lords has backed calls for the UK to remain, in effect, in the EU’s single market after Brexit. An amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill obliging the UK to stay in the European Economic Area after it leaves the EU in 2019 was backed by 245 votes to 218. This was despite neither the government nor the Labour leadership backing it. The issue will now return to the Commons. Ministers warned that staying in the EEA would not give the UK “control of our borders or our laws”. Labour urged its peers to abstain in Tuesday’s vote on EEA membership – an arrangement which would see the UK retain full access to the EU’s internal market of 300 million consumers in return for making financial contributions and accepting most EU laws.
Nissan to phase out diesel cars in Europe
Nissan is to phase out diesel from its cars in Europe, becoming the latest carmaker to shun the scandal-tainted fuel source. The Japanese group will cease to launch passenger vehicles with diesel engines from 2021, though it will still offer diesel options in its commercial vehicles and pick-up trucks. Toyota has already announced that it will stop selling diesel cars in Europe, while Fiat Chrysler will kill diesel in all of its passenger cars by 2022 under a plan to be announced in June. Nissan’s move comes amid plunging diesel sales across Europe as governments rush to limit the fuel source that once dominated the continent’s cars.
Filling up? Pay for petrol at the pump to avoid obesity
Paying for petrol at the pump can help to stop people getting fat, one of the country’s leading obesity experts said as she warned that shops were tempting people to buy chocolates and sweets. Susan Jebb, an Oxford University professor and adviser to Public Health England on obesity, said that banning junk items at checkouts would work alongside restrictions on promotion and advertising being considered by ministers to bring a shift in Britain’s relationship with food.
Rise in road rage ‘putting repair worker lives at risk’
Highways bosses have warned of a rise in road rage on England’s motorways as the number of roadworks on the network increases. Dozens of incidents are being recorded every week involving impatient motorists driving through cones, or hurling abuse at road workers. Highways England, which maintains 4,300 miles of motorways and A roads, said that workers’ lives were being put at risk during the huge £15 billion upgrade of the system. The government-backed company has started a new campaign today to highlight the dangers posed by motorists who speed past roadworks.
DPD raises pay and scraps fines after driver’s death
Self-employed couriers working for the gig-economy delivery firm DPD will receive a guaranteed minimum wage of £8.75 an hour, as part of reforms following the death of a self-employed driver who missed hospital appointments because of the need to keep working or be charged. The proposal is thought to be the first of its kind by a major firm using self-employed gig workers in a system which has previously transferred most of the risk of achieving steady earnings on to workers who have been paid per delivery. The minimum rate will be £10.20 an hour in London and each self-employed driver will have their earnings and hours assessed quarterly by independent auditors.
Fury as supermarket petrol stations introduce £99 fuel ‘deposit’ to pay at the pump
Supermarket petrol pumps, including Asda, are starting to charge drivers a £99 fee to pay at the pump under a new European-style rule change by Visa and Mastercard. The “pre-authorisation charge” is being introduced to ensure drivers have enough money to cover the amount of fuel they put in their cars if they choose to pay at the pump instead of at a kiosk. Last month Asda became the first supermarket to introduce the charge at three stores, but has been met with complaints from customers. One customer claimed the £99 charge was deducted from her bank balance and not returned for two days. Although the money is deducted from the customer’s bank balance or credit card limit it is held in limbo but never actually leaves their account.
New driving law could land drivers £1,000 and even a prison sentence
MOTORISTS that drive a car with semi-autonomous capabilities, such as Teslas, could face fines of up to £1,000, penalty points and even a jail sentence for flouting a new rule. New motoring regulations have been put in place to target drivers who may be misusing new technologies on their car. A lot of modern cars are coming with semi-autonomous driving modes and different assistance systems to help motorists on the road. Systems such as lane steering, cruise control or emergency braking could, however, land you in some trouble if you don’t pay attention. New UK government regulations will target drivers who let go of their steering wheel when systems like these are engaged.