Published: 06 July 2021
Location: London, UK
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick will today unveil plans for a new housing regulator with the power to prosecute property developers that do not meet safety standards. The new safety regime is designed to prevent any repetition of the Grenfell Tower disaster, which killed 72 people in 2017, and will be announced in the government's Building Safety Bill.
The average cost of running a car could rise by between £30 and £100 a year, and the average gas bill could increase by between £80 and £170 a year due to new proposals drawn up by ministers to reduce carbon emissions. The government has a legal commitment to reduce emissions in 2030 by at least 68% compared with 1990 levels. It has also vowed to cut this further to 78% by 2035. According to the Times, the plan is to increase the cost of petrol and gas, and Prime minister Boris Johnson is set to meet with chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, next week to discuss the scheme, which could be launched as soon as next year. The sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2030.
Petrol prices are already at their highest for nearly eight years, after eight consecutive months of increases at the pumps, figures from the RAC show. According to RAC data, a litre of unleaded rose by 2.7p in June from 129.52p to 132.19p - its most expensive since October 2013 when it stood at 132.28p.
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey opposes government plans to slash carbon dioxide emissions from new homes by at least three-quarters. The firm has argued against heat pumps, proposed as a replacement for gas boilers, telling a consultation that they would be too expensive and would disappoint customers with their performance. Taylor Wimpey typically builds about 15,000 new homes a year and argued a target of cutting CO2 emissions from new homes by 75% to 80% from 2025 was “too high.” The firm’s position was revealed through a freedom of information request by Unearthed, the investigations arm of the environmental charity Greenpeace. Barratt, Berkeley and Thakeham homes all supported the target, as did the Home Builders Federation.
The parent company of Vauxhall is rumoured to be ready to announce plans to build electric vans at its Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, according to the BBC. If so, the investment, said to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, would safeguard about 1,000 factory jobs. The future of the plant had been in doubt after Stellantis scrapped plans to build a new Astra model there. Stellantis has been discussing options for the site with the UK government for several months, and is known to have been seeking financial support for its plans. Sales of vans have been booming during the pandemic, as a result of growing home delivery sales. Stellantis is the world's fifth-largest car maker and also owns Peugeot, Fiat and Chrysler.
Sweet maker Haribo says it is struggling to get stocks into stores across the UK because of a shortage of lorry drivers. The German confectioner, who makes Starmix and Tangfastics, said: “As is the case with many manufacturers and retailers throughout the country, we are experiencing challenges with regards to the nationwide driver shortage.” The Road Haulage Association says there is currently a shortfall of around 60,000 drivers, as 30,000 HGV driving tests did not taking place last year because of covid. Typically, 72,000 candidates train to become HGV drivers, with 40,000 passing, but only 15,000 were able to complete training last year.
Morrisons has agreed to a £6.3 billion takeover bid, just a week or so after rejecting an unsolicited offer of £5.5 billion pounds from US-based Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) which it said undervalued the company. On Saturday, the supermarket confirmed a successful offer led by US private equity firm Fortress and involving Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Koch Real Estate Investments. The offer represents a 42% premium on the Morrisons share price before it was announced that the supermarket had rejected the takeover proposal from CD&R. Fortress has already invested in grocery retail in Europe and in Majestic Wine in the UK. The offer is subject to shareholder approval. However, US investment firm Apollo Global has thrown a potential spanner into the works, saying it too is considering making a offer for Morrisons, although no approach has yet been made to the supermarket chain.
500 Swedish Coop supermarket stores were forced to close on Friday following an ongoing "colossal" cyber-attack affecting organisations worldwide. At the coop, point-of-sale tills and self-service checkouts stopped working. The supermarket itself was not targeted by hackers, but a large software supplier the company uses indirectly was. The BBC said cyber researchers estimated about 200 other businesses were affected, and that the Russia-linked REvil ransomware gang was once again responsible.
Sainsbury’s is launching a fresh round of price cuts in the latest battle with discount rivals Aldi and Lidl. Britain’s second-biggest grocery chain will reduce the cost of 60 staples across fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy by the end of the month by investing £50m. Sainsbury’s cut prices across 250 items in February. A further 47 items will be reduced on Wednesday with the remaining discounts applied by the end of the month. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons have all launched an ‘Aldi price match’ in the last 18 months.
Asda says it will make hybrid working permanent at its head offices once Covid restrictions are lifted.
The supermarket group said staff at Asda House in Leeds and George House in Leicester can choose where they work. Around 4,000 staff work at both offices, with the majority based in Leeds.
M&S in-store bank branches have now closed. All 29 were shut on Friday, ahead of the withdrawal of M&S Bank from the current account market. M&S Bank is a joint venture between the retailer and HSBC and has more than three million customers. Services will continue online and over the phone, and in-store travel money bureaux, located in more than 100 stores, are unaffected. M&S Bank will also continue to provide credit card, insurance, savings and loan products.
John Lewis has announced plans to move into the residential property market by building 10,000 homes for rental over the next few years. The BBC says the department store chain said the plans would give the firm a stable, long-term income, as well as providing new job opportunities. Tenants will have the choice of renting fully furnished with John Lewis products or using their own.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has rejected calls from activist investor Elliott Management to replace Dame Emma Walmsley and bring in a new chief executive. GSK said it would not be asking Walmsley to reapply for her job after it has spun out its consumer health division, which makes household brands such as Sensodyne, Aquafresh and Panadol. GSK said: "The board strongly believes Emma Walmsley is the right leader of New GSK and fully supports the actions being taken by her and the management team, all of whom are subject to rigorous assessments of performance. Last week Elliott – which took a multibillion-pound stake in the pharma giant earlier in the year - sent a 17-page letter to GSK's board suggesting change at the top and attacking the "poor record of execution and value creation" at the business, which is one of Britain's most valuable companies but has struggled to keep pace with its rivals, according to the Telegraph.
Budget airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air posted large increases in June passenger numbers on Friday, on the back of a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in some countries. Ryanair said it flew around 5.3m passengers in June, up from 400,000 during the same month last year, and 1.8m in May, when most flights were grounded because of the pandemic. Wizz Air said passenger numbers for June were up to more than 1.5m from 962,000 a year ago. Flights were around 64% full. Passenger numbers are still well below levels before the pandemic hit the industry early in 2020. In June 2019, 14.2m people flew with Ryanair, while 3.6m took to the skies with Wizz. Last month, Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group, the UK’s largest airport group, launched a legal challenge calling for transparency in the government’s handling of its contentious traffic light travel system for grading countries safe to visit.
The City has ousted Amsterdam to reclaim its place at the top of Europe’s largest share trading centre rankings last month for the first time since Brexit. £7.6bn of shares a day were traded on average at London venues in June, compared to £7.6bn for various Dutch venues, new data published by Cboe Europe reveals. City AM says London’s rise back to the top spot comes despite the EU blocking investors from trading shares in several companies listed in the capital. Brussels has still not recognised rules governing UK financial markets as equivalent to its own even though Britain formerly left the EU over six months ago. This impasse has locked European investors out of trading in certain stocks listed in the capital.
Lobby group London First is urging the PM to "set the country clearly on the path to recovery" by encouraging people to return to the office. 50 senior business leaders signed a letter to Boris Johnson saying city centres should "buzz again" after 19 July and that working from home should no longer be the default. "Our economic recovery will only succeed if the government commits to reviving our city centres," they added. Those who signed the letter included Heathrow and Gatwick airport CEOs John Holland-Kaye and Stewart Wingate, Capita CEO Jon Lewis and BT boss Philip Jansen.
The US economy added 850,000 jobs in June, beating estimates. Economists had forecasted a 700,000 increase. May’s non-farm payroll has also been revised up, showing 583,000 new hires from 559,000. However, the unemployment rate rose to 5.9% from 5.8% as more people are looking for work.
China's Cyberspace Administration (CAC) has launched an investigation into ride-hailing company Didi Global over issues related to ‘national security’ and ‘the public interest.’ The move comes just two days after the company’s hugely successful listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares fell over 10% on Friday in response to the news. The CAC has prevented Didi registering new users during its investigation. Didi gathers vast amounts of real-time mobility data everyday which it uses for autonomous driving technologies and traffic analysis among other things. The company is also facing an antitrust investigation into whether it used anti-competitive behaviours to drive out smaller rivals. Did told Reuters it planned to conduct a comprehensive examination of cybersecurity risks and would cooperate fully with the relevant government authority.
The owner of Australia's Sydney Airport has received a A$22.26bn (£12.1bn) takeover offer. Sydney Airport said the proposal, which is below its pre-pandemic stock market valuation, was being reviewed. Shares jumped by more than 30% after the buyout approach was announced. If the planned purchase is successful, it would be the biggest such deal in the country this year.
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