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Thursday BriefingBack


Hundreds of companies failing to pay minimum wage 

The government has named 360 businesses which have failed to pay either the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW). Among them are well-known names like Debenhams, Subway, Lloyds Pharmacy and St Mirren Football Club. More than 15,500 workers had to be paid back nearly one million pounds. The Office for National Statistics has calculated that 362,000 jobs did not pay the NMW in April 2016. The biggest offenders were employers in hairdressing, hospitality and retail.



Which? survey names favourite UK supermarkets 

Waitrose, Iceland and Marks & Spencer have topped a Which? supermarket consumer satisfaction survey. Shoppers gave Waitrose the award for best in-store experience, with Tesco and Asda trailing in eighth and ninth place respectively. The consumer group said Iceland was voted best for online, closely followed by Ocado, with Morrisons in third. The M&S Simply Food chain won the convenience store category.



New £5 note: Bank to keep note despite animal fat content

The new £5 note will not be withdrawn, despite concerns that it contains traces of animal fat, the Bank of England says. The Bank said it had concluded it would be “appropriate” to keep the £5 polymer note in circulation.




UK households feel pinch from inflation’s rise – survey 

British households felt their living costs rose at the fastest pace in nearly four years this month as the post-Brexit vote pickup in inflation curbed consumers’ appetite for big spending, a survey by data firm Markit showed on Wednesday. The weaker pound, combined with higher global oil prices, pushed inflation in January to 1.8 percent, its highest level since mid-2014, official data showed on Tuesday. The consumer price index is expected to rise further to around 3 percent later this year, eating into the spending power of consumers who have been the driving force behind the resilience of Britain’s economy since the Brexit vote.



Financial Times

Anger in Berlin over GM plans to sell Opel to Peugeot 

Berlin is furious it received no prior notification that General Motors planned to sell its ailing European business to French rival PSA Peugeot Citroën, as concerns grow that a sale could lead to heavy job losses in Germany just months before an election.  The German government said on Wednesday that it would insist jobs at plants of GM’s Opel subsidiaries be preserved in the aftermath of any deal. Officials said privately they felt ambushed by the news. No one in Berlin appears to have been informed ahead of time, either by GM or Peugeot.



Toyota recalls fleet of ‘ultimate eco-car’ fuel cell vehicles 

Just two years after hitting the roads, Toyota is recalling its entire fleet of 2,800 fuel cell vehicles which the Japanese automaker has touted as the “ultimate eco-car” of the future. The company blamed the global recall of the Mirai on software issues with the output voltage generated by the fuel cell system. Among the 2,843 vehicles produced between November 2014 and December 2016, recalls in Japan and the US will account for 2,700 vehicles while the remaining are in Europe and the United Arab Emirates.



Union demands Nissan-style assurances for Vauxhall UK plants 

Union leader Len McCluskey has called for Vauxhall to receive the same post-Brexit assurances of government support as Japan’s Nissan, following news that the UK car plants could be sold to France’s Peugeot.  Mr McCluskey said he had asked “without a shadow of doubt” for the British plants — the largest of which is at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire — to receive the same assurances about their future competitiveness that Nissan received in October.



The Times


Rise in foreign workers pushes employment to record high 

An increase in foreign-born employees was responsible for driving the total UK workforce to a record high last year, official figures show. A total of 31.8 million people were in work at the end of last year, while unemployment fell by 7,000 to 1.6 million. The jobless rate of 4.8 per cent is as low as it has been in a decade. About 300,000 more people were in work between October and December than in the same period in 2015, the Office for National Statistics Labour Market report said. The increase was attributed to the number of foreign-born workers rising by 431,000 to 5.5 million. Over the same period the number of UK-born people in employment decreased by 120,000 to 26.3 million.



Soaring US prices lift odds of a rate rise 

Inflation soared to a five-year high in the United States last month, far more than economists expected, boosting the chance that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month. Consumer prices rose by 2.5 per cent on an annual basis, with the core rate climbing to 2.3 per cent. Both figures are comfortably ahead of the central bank’s 2 per cent threshold.




The Guardian


Treasury hits back at ‘scaremongering’ over business rate changes 

The Treasury has hit back at “scaremongering” about its changes to business rates as the government comes under pressure from companies to scrap its plans at the budget. David Gauke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, insisted that the vast majority of business will see no change or a fall in their rates, while a quarter will see their bills rise. His robust defence of the revaluation is likely to dampen speculation that the move could be reversed in Philip Hammond’s budget next month.



European commission issues ‘final warning’ to UK over air pollution breaches

Britain has been sent a final warning to comply with EU air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) or face a case at the European court of justice. If the UK does not show Brussels how it intends to comply with EU law within two months, a court hearing with the power to impose heavy fines could begin later this year, as the Guardian revealed last week. Four other EU states – Germany, Italy, France and Spain – were served with final warnings on Wednesday. In all, air pollution limits are being flouted in 23 out of the EU’s 28 countries and 130 of its cities.




Tata Steel workers agree to pension cuts to save 8,000 jobs 

Tata Steel UK workers have voted in favour of proposals to turn around the struggling business, potentially saving 8,000 jobs but also leading to cuts to their pension benefits.

Workers from the Community, Unite, and GMB unions all backed the plan in separate ballots. Approximately three-quarters of votes supported the proposals, which involve saving the Port Talbot steelworks in south Wales.



Daily Express


Diesel cars aren’t dead despite government crackdown: Used cars hit record high 

Used car sales in the UK hit record high in 2016 – an increase of 7.3 per cent on the previous year. Britain’s used car market reached record levels in the UK in 2016 with over 8.2 million second-hand cars being purchased. April and October were the busiest months for used car sales in the UK. According to figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 1.8 million used cars were bought by new owners in the fourth quarter.



City AM


An epidemic of fraud costs the UK economy as much as £125bn every year 

An epidemic of fraud since the global financial crisis has cost the UK economy £125bn every year, according to new research. Business losses from fraud and error have increased by 43 per cent since 2008, according to the research by Crowe Clark Whitehill and the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Counter Fraud Studies. The research showed losses accounted for 6.54 per cent of business expenditures, up from 4.57 per cent in 2008. Over the 19 year period for which data is available the average percentage loss was 5.85 per cent. The report finds the UK economy could be boosted by £50bn per year if businesses concentrated on reducing fraud by 40 per cent.


Posted by Paul Carpenter on 16/02/2017