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School budgets lose around £4m to apprenticeship levy
Around £4m has been taken from school budgets in Wales to pay the UK government’s apprenticeship levy, councils have told BBC Wales, with one teaching union calling it a “disgrace”. Employers with wage bills above £3m pay the tax, to ensure larger firms contribute to the costs of training. UK ministers say Wales receives a “fair share” of the levy’s proceeds and Welsh ministers decide how it is spent. But ministers in Cardiff said that cash was “largely offset” by other cuts.
New rules to protect police pursuit drivers
Police drivers will have more legal protection if they are involved in a crash, as part of Home Office plans to tackle criminals on mopeds. New proposals aim to smash the “myth” that officers cannot pursue riders who are not wearing helmets. “Criminals must not think they can get away with a crime by riding or driving in a certain way,” policing minister Nick Hurd said.
Banks ‘charging more’ for overdrafts than payday lenders
Unarranged overdraft fees can cost borrowers up to seven times more than a payday loan, a consumer group warned. Which? said “sky-high” fees could add up to thousands of pounds a year, hitting those who can least afford them the hardest. It called on the Financial Conduct Authority, which agrees charges are often “too high”, to impose limits. A group representing UK banks said overdrafts offered customers a “short-term solution”. Which? compared the cost of borrowing £100 for 30 days in an unarranged overdraft across 16 high street banks with borrowing the same amount through a payday loan. It found that 13 of the banks investigated charged more than a payday lender – with some costing considerably more. The consumer group called the findings alarming and urged the FCA to “finally end this unfair practice”.
Elon Musk to fix Tesla ‘braking flaw’
Tesla boss Elon Musk has admitted there is a braking issue in its Model 3 cars but promised a firmware update to fix it “in the next few days”. The problems were flagged up in a review of the electric car by US website Consumer Reports. “Our testers found flaws – big flaws – such as long stopping distances in our emergency braking test and difficult-to-use controls,” wrote Patrick Olsen. Tesla had at first disputed the findings.
M&S profits slump on store closure costs
Marks and Spencer has suffered a big fall in annual profits following a costly store closure plan. Annual pre-tax profits fell by almost two-thirds to £66.8m as sales of food, clothing and homeware all declined. On Tuesday the retailer said it plans to close 100 shops by 2022, accelerating an overhaul that it says is “vital” for its future. The expense of closing stores and revamping the business cost M&S £321m in the 12 months to March. M&S has already shut 21 stores and revealed the location of 14 further closures on Tuesday.
Call for greater oversight of recommendations of public inquiries
Ministers must do more to demonstrate they are acting on the recommendations of public inquiries, a new report says. The National Audit Office said it was “not always clear” to the public whether inquiries were having their intended impact as there was no central body for tracking their progress. Of the inquiries it examined which had made recommendations since 2005, it estimated 45% of these were accepted. A third were accepted “in principle” while 7% were rejected.
Sajid Javid pledges he is ‘standing with’ police in first speech
Sajid Javid hopes to draw a line under the Home Office’s fractious relationship with the Police Federation in his first speech to the body. Mr Javid, whose brother is a chief superintendent in West Midlands Police, will pledge to provide the tools and back-up needed for frontline officers. In the speech taking place in Birmingham, he will say: “I’ve seen the impact the job has had on family life.” Theresa May was heckled at a previous meeting in 2012 over government cuts.
German carmakers in pole position with Chinese tariff cut
Cutting import duties on cars sold into China may have been a move designed to help US carmakers such as Ford and General Motors, but the biggest beneficiaries will probably turn out to be German manufacturers. A third of the cars imported by China last year were built in Germany, putting the country ahead of the US, which accounted for 22 per cent of imports, according to data from Jato Dynamics. Japan-built models account for a fifth of imports, while the UK, home to Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin, makes up 9 per cent. Even among the vehicles sold to China from US plants, many are from German brands, with both BMW and Mercedes-Benz exporting large numbers of luxury SUVs from US facilities. BMW and Mercedes will export 89,000 cars and 65,000 cars, respectively, from the US to China this year, according to forecasts from research group IHS, with electric carmaker Tesla third with 14,000 units.
BoE’s Carney expects post-snow rebound and ‘gentle’ rate rises
Britain’s economy is likely to be on the rebound in the current quarter after three months of near stagnation to start the year, Bank of England leaders told MPs on Tuesday, signalling that they are still planning on raising interest rates gradually this year. Mark Carney, the BoE governor, told the Treasury select committee that households were right to think “interest rates are more likely to go up than not, but at a gentle rate”, comments that helped lift the pound nearly 0.5 per cent to $1.35 before it pared gains in late trading. Sterling has fallen sharply since mid-April, when it approached highs not seen since before the Brexit referendum, amid a softening inflation picture that had analysts questioning whether the central bank would stay on its rate-raising course. Earlier this month, the BoE left rates on hold and gave little guidance on how it would proceed.
Drivers face price shock from electric cars
Ordinary motorists may be priced out of the market if they are forced towards more expensive electric cars under government plans that could ban the most popular hybrids by 2040. That is the warning from the most senior British executive of Toyota, the biggest manufacturer of hybrid cars in the UK, who also said that the proposals could risk thousands of jobs. This month Michael Gove, the environment secretary, announced plans to ban the sale of cars and vans with conventional internal combustion engines from 2040. Government sources have indicated this would include all cars or vans that cannot run continuously on an electric charge for 50 miles at a time.
April’s borrowing figure the lowest in ten years
The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has received a double dose of good news after official figures showed that he borrowed less than expected last year and that borrowing at the start of the new financial year was the lowest for ten years. Public sector net borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, fell by £1.6 billion year on year in April to £7.8 billion — the lowest April net borrowing since 2008, the Office for National Statistics said. Economist has expected a reading of £8.6 billion. The ONS also revised down the figure for last year from the £42.6 billion previously reported to £40.5 billion for the year to the end of March.
Halfords hits currency jam
The new boss of Halfords, the camping, bicycle and motor parts retailer, surprised investors with a profits warning that he blamed on flat prices for bicycles. Graham Stapleton, the former Dixons Carphone executive who took charge in January, also blamed currency movements that went against Halfords and higher investment as he reported a 6 per cent drop in pre-tax profits to £67.1 million on a small increase in revenues to just over £1.1 billion for the 12 months to the end of March.
BP invests $20m in company developing electric vehicle batteries that will take as long to recharge as refuelling a petrol car
Oil giant BP has announced that it will invest $20m (£14.8m) in Storedot, a company which is in the process of developing batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) that will take the same time to recharge as refuelling a normal petrol car. The investment in the Israeli battery company is part of BP Venture’s effort to expand its presence in the EV infrastructure sector. Tufan Erginbilgic, chief executive of BP downstream, said: “Ultra-fast charging is at the heart of BP’s electrification strategy. Storedot’s technology shows real potential for car batteries that can charge in the same time it takes to fill a gas tank.
UK households £900 worse off since Brexit vote says Bank
Bank of England governor Mark Carney tells the Treasury Select Committee that Brexit means real household incomes are about £900 lower than forecast in May 2016, “which is a lot of money”.
Smart traffic lights which always turn green to be trialled on Britain’s roads
Smart traffic lights that will always turn green are to be trialled on Britain’s roads, it has been announced by Highways England. The new lights, which are designed to put an end to stop-go driving, will advise motorists of the speed they should drive at in order to arrive at the next set of lights when they turn green. The concept is one of five shortlisted entries into a competition hosted by the National Roads Commission (NIC), Highways England and Innovate UK to create roads for driverless cars. Discussing the goal of driverless vehicles, Sir John Armitt, NIC chairman, said: “We can see for ourselves the progress in developing cars for the future, with trials of driverless cars taking place across the country.
New Zealand motorists are being slugged over $3 a litre at petrol stations
As petrol prices soar to a four-year-high in parts of Australia, fed-up motorists in New Zealand are being forced to pay over $3 a litre to fill their tanks. One man snapped a photo of 91-octane fuel selling for a staggering $3.11 a litre on the Great Barrier Island, off the coast of Auckland, this week. His photo sparked other furious motorists in New Zealand to compare petrol prices, with another claiming fuel was for sale on the Chatham Island for $3.05 a litre.
Thousands of van driver at risk of landing up to £2,500 fine by ignoring THIS road rule
New research has revealed that thousands of UK commercial vehicle drivers are breaching driver guidelines relating to taking a break and fatigue. Around a quarter of commercial vehicle drivers in Britain are flouting the rules and could face hefty fines if caught, claims research by Verizon Connect. By law, commercial vehicle drivers must take a break every four hours and 30 minutes of driving for a minimum of 45 minutes. A quarter of fleet managers admitted that on average drivers take breaks after five hours or more. Two thirds of fleet managers (66 percent) have systems in place to help ensure their drivers take required breaks.