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General news updateBack

Corporate manslaughter penalties to get tougher

Businesses falling foul of health and safety legislation or corporate manslaughter could face tougher sanctions if new rules are adopted.

The Sentencing Council, which issues guidelines on sentencing for the judiciary, has announced its recommendations for corporate man-slaughter and health and safety offences.

The new guidelines aim to “ensure sentences are proportionate to the seriousness of the offence while, as required by law, taking into account the financial circumstances of
the offender”.

This will include a review of the company’s annual turnover, which the fine will be based on. However, the new guidelines will take into account the company’s overall finances before confirming the amount.

“We want to ensure that these crimes don’t pay,” said Michael Caplan QC, a member of the Sentencing Council.

“They can have extremely serious consequences and businesses that put people at risk by flouting their responsibilities are undercutting those that maintain proper standards and do their best to keep people safe.”

Since the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act, the CPS has successfully prosecuted five companies for corporate manslaughter. However, none have been related to incidents involving at-work drivers.

In addition, seven other companies have been charged and those cases are either awaiting or undergoing trial.

Meanwhile, police are considering whether to charge the first company under corporate manslaughter for a fleet-related death.


Government announces ‘biggest upgrade to roads in a generation’

A £15 billion plan to triple levels of spending by the end of the decade to increase the capacity and condition of England’s roads, was announced to Parliament today (Monday, December 1) by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

The Government says it is investing in more than 100 new road schemes over this parliament and next, 84 of which are revealed today.

More than 1,300 new lane miles will be added by schemes being delivered over the next parliament on motorways and trunk roads, tackling congestion and fixing some of the most notorious and longstanding problem areas on the network, say ministers.

The plans are published today in the ‘Road investment strategy’, which includes £1.5 billion of investment to add an extra lane onto key motorways to turn them into smart motorways, boosting connectivity between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire.

McLoughlin said: “Today I am setting out the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades. It will dramatically improve our road network and unlock Britain’s economic potential.

“Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity. For too long they have suffered from under-investment.

“This government has a long term plan to secure the country’s future and this £15 billion roads programme is demonstration of that.

“Better roads allow us to travel freely, creating jobs and opportunities, benefiting hardworking families across the country.”


‘Two speed model’ likely

The used car market is likely to move to a ‘two speed model’ in the medium term with a split between various types of approved schemes and then the rest of the of the sector

The RAC makes this prediction following an announcement by the Government that its Used Car Commission is being tasked with developing a set of minimum standards for approved schemes – including manufacturer programmes, motor codes and the RAC’s own BuySure.

RAC head of dealer propositions Mario Dolcezza explained, ‘Basically, we believe that the market will effectively become a two tier system. There will be programmes such as manufacturer approved schemes and BuySure that offer the buyer a very high degree of protection with detailed inspections, HPI checks and strong warranty support.

‘Below this, there will be everyone else. Of course, there will not be one standard for these non-approved dealers but they will clearly be not of the same type as those retailers who choose to meet the proposed Government Used Car Commission guidelines.’

Mario said that this split in the market was likely to become obvious to customers in quite a short space of time.


UK manufacturing activity picks up in November

BBC News reports that UK manufacturing activity increased in November after solid domestic demand offset weaker orders from overseas markets, a survey has indicated

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 53.5 from 53.3 in October. A figure above 50 implies that the sector is growing.

The reading was the highest for four months and adds to the picture of a stronger economy.

The rate of job creation reached a four-month high, the survey found.

‘In the lead-up to the chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the November PMI survey shows the UK manufacturing sector continuing its solid expansion,’ said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit.

‘Despite easing from the stellar pace set in the first half of the year, growth is still coming from a broad-base that will aid its sustainability.’

Chancellor George Osborne has warned that the UK is being affected by weakening economies in the eurozone and elsewhere.

Monday’s survey showed manufacturing exports were still falling, notably to the European Union and Russia. A weaker euro was adding to this.

Rob added that a lower oil price, currently at four-year lows, meant inflationary pressures were also easing and that this ‘will continue to provide some leeway for


Scots to set taxes?

A new Government-commissioned report has recommended Scotland be given control over its income tax rates and bands, throwing up the possibility of different company car taxation for employees north or south of the border.

The recommendation comes in the ‘Smith Commission’, which was set up by prime minister David Cameron in the wake of Scotland’s decision to reject independence in October.

The ability to change speed limits is also included in the document, which was agreed between all the main political parties, while the Government’s Motability scheme for disabled drivers will also need to be rearranged as Scotland.

The draft Scotland Bill is due to be published in January, and the bill will be included in the Queen’s Speech next May.


Posted by Sue Robinson on 05/12/2014