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CBI chief urges rethink on apprentice training levy
The UK’s biggest business lobby has called on the government to “radically rethink” the apprenticeship levy that is due to be introduced next year. Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, will say on Thursday that there are growing concerns among companies about the viability of the system as proposed.
“Firms want to create quality apprenticeships and they’re ready to work with the government to do this. But as it stands that’s not what the levy is doing,” she will tell a City of London audience. The government has the opportunity to create a once-in-a-generation revolution in skills, but it is currently only likely to deliver another once-in-an-administration shake-up,” she will say.
From April next year, businesses with a pay bill of £3m or more will pay a 0.5 per cent payroll tax to fund the levy. Each employer will receive an allowance to offset the levy and pay for training
The Evening Standard
‘Thousands of driverless cars set to arrive on London’s streets’
Thousands of driverless cars could soon be motoring around London, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said today. The Cabinet minister backed the capital being at the centre of a motoring revolution as one major manufacturer announced it will trial 100 driverless family cars in London from next year. Mr McLoughlin told The Standard: “Driverless cars are the future of the motoring industry and we are determined that the UK leads the way in developing this new technology. “These vehicles will make road travel safer, smoother and smarter; transforming journeys for millions of people.”
UK economic growth slows to 0.4% in first quarter
The UK’s economic growth slowed in the first quarter of the year, hit by a drop in manufacturing and construction output, official figures have shown. Gross domestic product grew by 0.4% between January and March, down from 0.6% in the fourth quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. On an annual basis, growth was 2.1%.
The 0.4% rate was in line with economists’ expectations, and marks the 13th consecutive quarter of positive growth for the UK.
Google partners Uber on driverless cars
Google has formed a coalition with carmakers and taxi-hailing companies to help steer the regulations needed to make self-drive cars a reality. Including Ford, Volvo, Uber and Lyft, it will lobby lawmakers and regulators on some of the legal barriers. Former US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official David Strickland will be its spokesman. The coalition also aims to convince the public of the benefits of driverless cars.
Sir Arnold Clark ‘first billionaire car dealer’
Sir Arnold Clark has become Britain’s first billionaire car dealer, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2016. The newspaper has estimated the 88-year-old and his family’s fortune at just over £1bn, putting them at 114th in the list.
It said profits at Glasgow-based Arnold Clark Automobiles reached a record £107.2m in 2014, on sales of £3.2bn. The business is estimated to be worth £1bn. Other assets include the yacht Drum, once owned by Simon Le Bon. Sir Arnold started his business in 1954. He was knighted in 2004.
Sky News Online
Using Phone Behind The Wheel ‘Unacceptable’
Almost two-thirds of motorists saw at least one driver using a mobile phone while driving during their last hour on the road, a RAC survey has found. The research, which questioned 2,120 motorists, suggests the problem of using phones illegally while driving has grown worse. Some 6% of those polled reported seeing between five and seven drivers breaking the law, whereas only 26% of people polled reported seeing no wrongdoing.
A RAC spokesman said: “Using a hand-held phone should be regarded as being as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.”
The Government is currently examining responses to a consultation which proposed tougher penalties for drivers who break the law. MPs are considering raising the number of penalty points for those caught from three to four, fines may also be increased by 50%, to £150.
The Daily Telegraph
EU drive for ‘green’ biodiesel has increased emissions, study finds
The use of supposedly ‘green’ biodiesel to hit EU renewable energy targets has actually significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions, a new study finds. By 2020, continued use of biodiesel derived from vegetable oil will increase total EU transport emissions by almost four per cent compared with using its fossil fuel alternative, according to analysis by Transport & Environment, a green group. That is roughly equivalent to putting an extra 12 million cars to the road, it says.
More cities could charge polluting diesel vehicles
Charges on polluting vehicles entering town and city centres could be introduced in dozens of areas across the UK under plans to help improve air quality. Ministers have already announced plans to impose “clean air zones” in five UK cities to help tackle dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide, but have now confirmed that other areas will be encouraged to follow suit. MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) select committee on Wednesday call for “new clean air zones in dozens of English towns and cities to cut the risk of cardiac, respiratory and other diseases”.
Diesel emissions scandal: British Government agency that tests diesel engines could be ‘compromised’ by cuts, MPs and campaigners warn
The work of the Government agency in charge of testing diesel cars could be “compromised” because Treasury cuts are making more reliant on cash from car makers, MPs will warn today. Whitehall civil servants and ministers will put under scrutiny for their response to the diesel engine scandal on Monday which has affected millions of drivers of diesel cars.
The furore was reignited late last week after “real world” tests commissioned by the Government found manufacturers were deliberately reducing emissions controls on their engines when it is cold to reduce damage to engines.
Now it has emerged that the Vehicle Certification Agency – which carried out the tests – has agreed £420,000 of efficiency savings by increasing its “revenues for services provided” in its 2016/17 business plan.