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Unemployment drops by 52,000 but jobless rate stays at same level
UK unemployment fell by 52,000 in the three months to August to 1.4 million, leaving the jobless rate unchanged at 4.3% from the previous quarter – still at the lowest level since 1975. However, pay still failed to keep pace with inflation, with the real value of earnings down 0.3% over the past year. Total earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by 2.1% from June to August. The claimant count increased by 1,700 to 804,100 last month, said the Office for National Statistics. The UK’s key inflation rate rose to 3% in September.
Traffic jams: UK’s worst motorway disruption revealed
The worst traffic jams in the UK left drivers facing up to 15 hours of disruption and tailbacks. A fuel spill, broken down vehicles and an emergency viaduct repair were behind the most severe delays. Traffic analysts Inrix said drivers and businesses lost millions of pounds in wasted fuel and time. They looked at disruption on motorways and A roads between September 2016 and August 2017.
Sainsbury’s to cut 2,000 jobs in cost-saving drive
Sainsbury’s has said it will cut up to 2,000 jobs from its human resources staff as part of plans to reduce costs. The UK’s second biggest supermarket chain says the “difficult decision” will affect roles in stores, as well as in the company’s central offices. It plans to make 1,400 payroll and HR clerks redundant and other changes could see another 600 posts removed. Sainsbury’s is looking to save £500m amid fierce competition from discounters and rising food costs. The majority of the headcount losses will be from within its supermarket stores.
Met Commissioner denies ‘no pursuit’ policy on moped crime
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has denied her force has a “no pursuit” policy when tackling moped thieves. But she said officers who chased suspects needed greater legal protection in the event of a crash. The commissioner said it was “too easy” to steal mopeds and scooters, though the number of thefts in London was on the decline. The Met was starting to “get on top” of the problem, she told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee.
General Motors to test self-driving cars in New York City
General Motors plans to become the first company to test self-driving cars in New York City, in some of the world’s worst traffic, as traditional automakers battle technology titans to take the lead in the development of autonomous vehicles. The Detroit-based automaker, whose shares have risen 25 per cent in recent weeks on investor expectations that it could beat rivals to the introduction of a mass market autonomous vehicle service, will test Chevrolet Bolt fully autonomous electric cars in its most complex market so far: lower Manhattan.
Daimler Trucks plans self-driving lorries at airports
Daimler Trucks is aiming to get ahead of rivals in the shift to mobility services with a simplified, self-driving fleet of lorries that can remove snow at airports and make it safe for aircraft to land. The 25-tonne, bright orange lorries are unique in the world of self-driving vehicles because they are automated rather than autonomous. This means they take a predefined route rather than making split-second decisions on direction through the use of sensors.
Shell opens its first UK electric vehicle charging points
Royal Dutch Shell has opened its first charging points for electric vehicles at UK filling stations in a further sign of the Anglo-Dutch group’s diversification beyond fossil fuels. Drivers will be able to recharge EVs at 10 locations, mostly in London and south-east England, by the end of the year. The launch on Wednesday follows Shell’s acquisition last week of NewMotion, one of Europe’s largest EV charging companies with 30,000 private home charging points and 50,000 public sites.
Volvo takes aim at Tesla with Polestar electric car
Volvo will use its new Polestar brand to take on Tesla’s Model 3, with a long-range electric car offered under a subscription service in 2019. The Swedish carmaker has spun out Polestar into a separate division to focus on high performance electric cars. On Tuesday, the company revealed plans for the first three vehicles under the name, and details of a new all-inclusive pay-monthly service that it believes reduces the “hassle” of car ownership. It will offer a fixed-price subscription service that includes insurance and maintenance, with the option of extra payments to hire a larger Volvo SUV for holidays or other trips. Customers can also use the Polestar app to book car washes and valets, and other services such as having a roof box fitted.
Interest rates set to rise as inflation hits a five-year high
An increase in interest rates next month is now “virtually inevitable”, according to economists, after official figures revealed that inflation had hit 3 per cent in September. The consumer prices index rose from 2.9 per cent in August to its highest level since March 2012 as the fall in the pound since the Brexit vote filters through into higher prices at the shops. The rise makes it almost certain that the Bank of England will push up interest rates for the first time in more than a decade in an attempt to dampen the steady climb in prices, according to City analysts.
True scale of UK slavery likely to involve ‘tens of thousands’ of victims
The number of people living in slavery in the UK is likely to be considerably higher than the current estimate of 13,000, according to the independent anti-trafficking commissioner, Kevin Hyland, who has claimed that the “true number is in the tens of thousands”. Speaking to the Guardian, Hyland said that a better understanding of the real scale of slavery in the UK must become an “absolute priority” for government, if there was a chance of reaching as many potential victims as possible. “The 13,000 figure is based on old intelligence and we’ve come a long way since then in terms of our understanding of the real scale of the problem we’re facing,” he said. “We know now that slavery here in the UK is far more prevalent than we have ever realised, and building a better response needs to be an absolute priority both domestically and globally.” The anti-slavery commissioner said that victims are currently being failed by the national referral mechanism (NRM), which was introduced in 2009 to identify cases of slavery and trafficking.
Hammond set to freeze fuel duty: Chancellor faces intense pressure to cancel 3p-a-litre rise from next April
Fuel duty is set to be frozen in next month’s Budget, Philip Hammond hinted yesterday. The Chancellor is under intense pressure to cancel a 3p-a-litre rise in pump prices that is due to come in next April. The Treasury has declined to comment on the status of the rise, which would be the first since 2010. But, in a significant move, the Chancellor highlighted the seven-year freeze yesterday as he briefed the Cabinet on measures the government is taking to ease pressures caused by the rising cost of living. With inflation hitting three per cent last year, senior Tories now believe it would be unthinkable for Mr Hammond to press ahead with the increase.
The new weapon against potholes? Sunflower oil! Capsules added to asphalt found to make roads ‘self heal’ by making cracks stick back together
Sunflower oil is being used to prevent potholes by filling cracks in the road. Highways England is carrying out a trial, after sunflower oil capsules added to asphalt were found to make roads ‘self heal’. It costs more than £88million a year to fill in the potholes in England’s roads, making the cooking oil – at around £1.15 a litre in shops – a relatively cheap solution. It works by making bitumen, the sticky black substance used in road surfacing, less thick so that it pours more easily into cracks before they form the dangerous trenches.