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Retail woes force hundreds of store closures
Nearly 650 shops and restaurants, run by a handful of major chains, have shut since the start of 2018 or are at risk of closure. Maplin and Toys R Us sites account for half that total, according to analysis by BBC 5 live’s Wake Up to Money. Both chains fell into administration on the same day in February. The remaining Toys R Us stores will close on Tuesday, when the American chain finally disappears from the UK’s retail parks and high streets. Administrators for Maplin are keeping its 217 shops open, but they are “under review” while a buyer is sought.
MPs announce hand car-wash ‘slavery probe’
MPs are to investigate the growth of hand car-wash services in the UK, amid concerns they are damaging the environment and exploiting workers. The Environment Audit Committee will examine the impact of cleaning agents on water sources, plants and wildlife and how water use can be minimised. It will look at employment conditions, amid claims of trafficking of workers. Mary Creagh, who chairs the committee, said though “cheap and convenient”, the prices may be “too good to be true”. The Labour MP told the BBC much of their workforce was from Eastern Europe and there were concerns some of them were “bonded labour” – people who had been tricked into travelling abroad by the promise of a job and were now working in low-paid roles with little control over their working hours to pay off debts.
Number of zero-hours contracts in UK rose by 100,000 in 2017 – ONS
The number of zero-hours contracts in use across the UK rose by about 100,000 last year, according to official figures. The Office for National Statistics, said the number of employment contracts without a minimum number of guaranteed hours increased to 1.8m in the year to November, up from 1.7m in 2016. Union leaders attacked the government for failing to help people in precarious jobs, where employers can cancel shifts at short notice and leave households scrambling for work. The latest figures buck a trend for the falling use of zero-hours contracts since they reached a peak of about 2.1m in May 2015. Tim Roache, the general secretary of the trade union GMB, said: “The number of zero-hours contracts should be falling but they are in fact on the rise.
Why are car theft gadgets STILL being sold online? Police wrote to Amazon and eBay two weeks ago but items including a Ford lock pick and blank keys are still up for grabs
Internet retailers were accused of irresponsibility last night for refusing to stop selling devices that fuel vehicle crime. The Daily Mail revealed yesterday that dozens of the gadgets are listed on Amazon and eBay. Costing as little as £100, they can be used to steal a car in seconds. David Jamieson, police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, where vehicle theft has almost doubled, wrote to Amazon and eBay almost a fortnight ago asking for specific devices to be removed from their sites. Yet last night gadgets used in a Mail investigation – including a Ford lock pick, blank key and key programming device – all remained on sale. Mr Jamieson said: ‘Amazon seem impervious to responsibility. That is so disappointing.
Britain to sign a Brexit deal with Michigan state to collaborate on new technology like driverless cars
Britain is set to sign a Brexit deal with Michigan to develop new technology including driverless cars, it has been revealed. The UK is set to sign a memorandum of understanding to collaborate with the US state – which is home to Detroit, the centre of the country’s car industry. Michigan State Governor Rick Snyder said the world is on the brink of a revolution in the car industry thanks to driverless vehicles. And he said the deal will allow the UK and Michigan to share and hone technology so they can be at the forefront of the transformation. The deal is a boost for Theresa May’s Government which has said it wants to use Brexit to champion new free trade deals with countries around the world.