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UK inflation rate remains at 3%
UK consumer price inflation remained at 3% in January, the same level as in December. The rate, as reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), is close to November’s six-year high of 3.1%. Most economists were expecting a small fall in the CPI to 2.9%. The ONS said that, although petrol prices had risen by less than this time last year, the cost of entry to attractions such as zoos and gardens fell more slowly. It said though, that after rising strongly since the middle of 2016, food price inflation now appeared to be slowing.
MPs launch inquiry into workplace harassment
MPs are to examine the use of non-disclosure agreements as part of an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace. The Women and Equalities Committee said it would consider whether they were being abused by employers and legal experts to “cover up wrongdoing”. How to protect staff and make it easier for them to report abuse are among other issues that will be looked at. Tory MP Maria Miller said changes to workplace culture were clearly needed.
Rising costs force firms to consider London exit
A combination of uncertainty over Brexit negotiations, rising rental prices and high business rates are driving hundreds of businesses out of London, a business lobby group has warned. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that over the past year one in five businesses in the capital had moved or were thinking of relocating in London or quitting the city. “What we have is a still unfolding picture of how businesses are reacting to cost pressures and uncertainties,” Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the organisation, said. “Unless businesses see serious progress in trade talks, it is not unlikely that we could see this figure translate into even bigger losses.”
Insurers raise premiums for divorced flat-dwellers
Ministers have been urged to conduct an independent review into how insurers calculate the cost of car and home cover after an investigation by The Times found that premiums are being priced on the basis of customers’ perceived wealth. Seemingly arbitrary factors such as whether a customer has a credit card or which internet browser they use are being used to calculate the cost of insurance rather than solely identifiable risks such as the number of burglaries or car thefts in an area. Experts say that the industry is trying to assess the wealth of customers because it believes that richer customers are less likely to claim.
World’s largest car hire firm LeasePlan gears up for £5bn flotation
The world’s largest car hire firm is revving up plans for a blockbuster stock market float after another set of record profits. Profits jumped 13pc to €677m (£600m) at LeasePlan, which has a fleet of 1.7m cars, and is 50 years old. The firm said it was benefiting from a “clear megatrend” in which increasing numbers of people are turning their back on car ownership, in favour of so-called “usership”, or the sharing economy, as annual sales nudged €9.4bn. It has signed a deal with Uber to provide drivers with access to its fleet. Chief executive Tex Gunning said growing customer demand for the entire range of services where LeasePlan does not just supply the car but also provides financing, insurance, and repair and maintenance, had boosted results.
Number of new drivers banned for mobile phone use rockets
The number of new drivers who lost their licence for using a mobile phone at the wheel rocketed by 356 per cent in 2017. Following new laws introduced in March 2017 which saw drivers handed six penalty points and a £200 fine for using their phone while driving, some 533 new drivers lost their licence for breaching the rule – up from 117 the year before. New drivers will lose their licence and must retake their test if they accrue six points or more in the first two years of driving. New motorists banned for driving without due care and attention – another charge used by police for mobile phone use at the wheel – was also up to 447 in 2017, compared with 401 the previous year.