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Theresa May hails ‘fresh talent’ after reshuffleBack

BBC News


Theresa May hails ‘fresh talent’ after reshuffle 

Theresa May has said her reshuffle makes the government look “more like the country it serves” with a “new generation” of ministers brought in. The PM has appointed several new faces to her ministerial team. The mostly junior ministerial appointments come after Monday’s cabinet-level changes. These triggered the resignation of education secretary Justine Greening and were branded a “lacklustre PR exercise” by Labour. Of Tuesday’s appointments, six men and eight women were new additions to government, including five from ethnic minorities and 11 who were elected in 2015. Six of the women – all elected in 2015 – have been appointed as junior whips, who will be involved with enforcing party discipline.


Pollution hotspots revealed: Check your area –

Marylebone Road and Hyde Park Corner, both in central London, have the most polluted postcodes in Britain, says a new study on air quality. The data comes from a project to map concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) across the country. However, the results also show that large parts of Britain have relatively clean air.


Diesel cars: Your questions answered –

Diesel car sales are set to fall this year and will account for just 15% of the UK market by 2025, down from a 50% peak, according to a new study. Automotive expert, Professor David Bailey from Aston University said diesel’s “slow death” was being driven by “environmental pressures and consumer confusion”. We asked you to send in your questions about the diesel car industry, and put them to our Business correspondent Theo Leggett.

How has this U-turn come about – not that long ago the government was advocating diesel cars being better than petrol due to superior fuel economy? Diesels are, generally speaking, more fuel-efficient than petrol models and they do produce less CO2 – one of the main gases associated with climate change. […]

What is the effect of the ‘diesel scare’ on resale values of cars less than three years old, particularly part-exchange values?

How will the UK car-recharging service infrastructure cope – e.g. currently only two electric car charging points at Cobham services (busiest in UK)?

If diesel emissions are so bad for health and the environment, why do many new diesels have zero road tax? Does the new tax rise affect only the new diesel vehicles?

How do the government and the industry plan to counter the ‘confusion’ among consumers? In the end it is the cost that matters to most.


Electric car registration in Wales rises by 35%

The number of new electric and hybrid car registrations in Wales rose by 35% in 2017 compared to the previous year, a campaign group has said. Wales is ahead of the UK average of 27% growth, figures from the Go Ultra Low partnership show. The joint UK government and industry campaign body said it had been a “landmark year”. In absolute terms, the number of electric cars in Wales remains tiny. The 35% rise in new registrations represents a rise from 565 in 2016 to 760 in 2017.


Sainsbury’s profits boosted by ‘record’ Christmas week

The UK’s second largest supermarket, Sainsbury’s, has raised its profit guidance after “record” sales during Christmas week. Sainsbury’s said it now expected pre-tax profits to be slightly higher than £559m despite supermarkets facing a “challenging” market. The chain sold 1.1% more in the last three months, as higher grocery sales made up for lower non-food sales.


Morrisons posts better-than-expected Christmas sales

The UK’s fourth largest supermarket, Morrisons, continued to ring up growing sales over the key Christmas period. The chain sold 2.8% more in the 10 weeks to 7 January than it did for the same period a year earlier, not including new store openings. Christmas trading was particularly strong with sales for the last six weeks up 3.7% compared to a year ago.


Lidl reveals record-breaking December 

Lidl supermarket said it had record UK sales in December, with a rise of 16% on the same period in 2016. Customers bought about 600 tonnes of Brussels sprouts, 17 million mince pies and more than 800,000 litres of champagne and prosecco. The chain opened nine stores during the holiday period, bringing the total outlets to 693 – a rise of 43 on 2016.





UK economy set for ‘underwhelming’ 2018, says British Chambers of Commerce 

Britain’s economy looks set for an underwhelming 2018, according to a major survey on Wednesday that showed businesses are in a subdued mood ahead of Brexit. Companies continued to grapple with cost pressures in the last three months of 2017 and were reluctant to invest more, the British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey showed.


British union chief to warn Peugeot over Vauxhall plant’s future

The head of Britain’s biggest trade union will warn Peugeot’s chief executive at a meeting this month that any plans to close the firm’s Vauxhall car plant in northern England will cost it sales in Opel-Vauxhall’s largest market. Peugeot-maker PSA bought General Motors’ loss-making European arm, which operates as Opel on the continent and Vauxhall in Britain, last year and has been pursuing a restructuring plan to return it to profitability. The French group said on Monday it would cut a further 250 jobs at its Ellesmere Port car plant in Britain, reducing the workforce by a third to make it more efficient, renewing workers’ fears about the site’s future.



The Times


Rising fuel costs ‘are threat to small firms’

Rising fuel costs are causing misery for small companies, a business group has warned, after prices rose to their highest level in three years. The Federation of Small Businesses said that fuel costs were a primary reason for soaring operating costs at smaller firms. Mike Cherry, the federation’s national chairman, called for the government to intervene after official figures showed that the price per litre of petrol had reached an average of £1.21, while diesel had hit £1.24. In early 2016, both petrol and diesel cost £1.02 a litre. “Affordable travel on roads is vital to the success of small businesses and local economies” he said. “Over the coming year, we look forward to the government doing its utmost to help small firms battle the rise in operating costs.”


Widening skills gap ‘biggest drag on business’

Companies are facing skill shortages at critical levels that will restrain economic activity this year unless the issue is addressed, a leading business lobby group has warned. The British Chambers of Commerce, which represents thousands of companies, said that labour and skills shortages were likely to be the biggest challenge that firms face this year. Companies need to confront the problem by investing in skills and the government needs to provide the certainty to encourage them to spend, it added in its economic survey for the final quarter of last year. Concerns about recruitment have been mounting as unemployment falls to a 42-year low of 4.3 per cent. Companies that recruit much of their skilled workforce from overseas fear that the UK’s departure from the European Union will make the process harder.



The Financial Times


German regulator makes soft pitch to lure banks after Brexit

Brexit is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Frankfurt to try to lure global banks away from London — but do not expect Germany’s main financial regulator to be part of a heavy sales pitch.
At a time when European financial centres are competing hard for business that might migrate from the UK because of its departure from the EU, the approach might seem to harm Germany’s chances. European bankers paint a stark contrast with the activism of French policymakers.
So far Frankfurt, with or without help from BaFin, is emerging as a likely winner from Brexit. Seven of 15 global lenders have decided to make Frankfurt their post-Brexit EU headquarters — among them Citi, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — a Financial Times survey in December showed. The EU’s four other big financial centres — Paris, Dublin, Luxembourg and Amsterdam — have attracted the same number of banks between them.


Global economic potential ‘limited’, says World Bank

Global growth appears to have peaked, with demographics, a lack of investment, a slowing in productivity gains and tightening monetary policy placing limits on economic expansion, the World Bank said. The world’s economic output grew 3 per cent last year as more than half of economies accelerated, thanks to a rebound in investment, manufacturing activity and trade, bank economists said. The global economy is expected to maintain that rough growth level through 2020.  But that may be as good as it gets, according to the bank’s annual report on the state of the global economy. The problem facing the world is that after years of recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, most advanced and developing economies have closed the output gap between actual and potential economic growth. Moreover, it is hard to see that changing unless governments embrace the sort of reforms and investment drives that the bank and other institutions have been demanding for years.


Samsung gathers pace in quest for lucrative connections

Samsung Electronics yesterday doubled down on its ambitions in autonomous driving and connected technologies, unveiling a batch of products it hopes will drive growth amid concerns its lucrative memory chip business may have peaked. The development came as the South Korean group projected another quarter of record profits while it continues to reap the rewards of booming demand – and prices – for semiconductors. Despite forecasting a near-64 per cent year-on-year jump in operating profits for the last three months of 2017, the earning guidance prompted Samsung’s shares to dip 2 per cent in Seoul, underscoring the market’s lofty expectations for the technology group.



The Guardian


UK must be ready for rise of electric vehicles, says ABB chief

The UK should speed up preparations for the rise of electric vehicles, according to the chief executive of ABB, the world’s largest supplier of fast-charging points. He added his voice to warnings that Britain must move faster to make sure owners of electric vehicles are not stymied by a shortage of charging bays. “E-mobility is unstoppable, it’s just a question of how fast and how deep it will be deployed,” he said. “The UK has a big population that really wants to contribute to a greener, more sustainable world. But there’s always a question of whether it’s quick enough. In the next couple of years, it’s in the interest of everybody to make sure the infrastructure is coming up.”

He said this would include adding to the UK’s network of electric charging points, as well as ensuring enough energy capacity. There are 14,344 charging connectors in the UK, according to ZapMap, which charts the scale of the UK’s network. Those charging points served around 132,000 plug-in vehicles at the end of 2017, but the National Grid has predicted that the number of electric cars could surge to 9m by 2030.



Daily Express


Fisker solid-state electric car battery will produce 500-miles range and one minute charge

FISKER reveal details of its new solid-state electric car battery which will produce over 500 miles of range and one minute recharging times. The new battery technology was on display at the Las Vegas show and promises a breakthrough for EVs. Henrik Fisker, the company CEO, suggests that the battery ‘breakthrough’ could enable an electric car that rivals petrol and diesel.



The Daily Telegraph


Smartphone sat navs blamed for surge in car crime

Motorists who leave their mobile phones on show after using them as satnavs are contributing to a sharp rise in thefts from vehicles, experts have said. Last year more than half of police forces recorded rises in the number of f thefts from cars and vans, amid concern that motorists are becoming complacent about leaving devices on show. Nearly a quarter of million vehicles were broken into in 2016, with 26 police forces seeing the number of incidents go up in their area. Experts said the spike in the number of thefts being reported was worrying but could be to do with drivers becoming complacent about leaving items of high-tech equipment on show in their vehicles. The use of mobile phones as sat navs by drivers who forgetfully leave them in their cradles when they leave their cars, has also been suggested as one reason thefts are on the increase.


Driverless cars ‘demand overhaul of major cities’, says Ford

Ford has called for major cities to be rebuilt to cope with the rise of driverless cars, taxi apps and booming urban populations, warning that city centres will grind to a halt otherwise. Jim Hackett, the American carmaker’s chief executive, warned of “overwhelming pollution and paralysing congestion” if cities continue to grow as they are today. He said the rise of ride-hailing apps and delivery services would inevitably lead to more traffic unless transport authorities responded, adding that cities filled with cars had become a threat to “civic life”.

On Tuesday, Ford announced that it would launch an online service that would allow fleets of connected cars to wirelessly communicate with public transport, cyclists and infrastructure such as traffic lights and car parks to manage traffic. Its “mobility cloud” would allow different companies and government bodies to plug into a shared control centre, which Ford said would let cities run more smoothly.


Workers under 50 face tax rise to pay for state pensions

According to the Government Actuary’s Department the fund, which takes in national insurance contributions and uses them to pay state benefits, is under strain from the UK’s ageing population and will reduce from around £25bn today to zero by the mid-2030s. To continue paying the state pension, which makes up around 90pc of its outgoings, national insurance rates would have to be “around 5pc higher” for the fund to break even, it said. A portion of national insurance contributions paid is held back for fund’s reserves while the majority is used to pay pensions and benefits in the current year.

Posted by Paul Carpenter on 10/01/2018