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The government's Covid test scheme to prevent workers having to self-isolate is a "pointless solution"

   NEWS / 29 Jul 2021

Published: 29 July 2021

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


The government's Covid test scheme to prevent workers having to self-isolate is a "pointless solution" because it excludes supermarket workers, according to the boss of the Iceland chain. "It's only depot and factory workers so it only fixes half the supply chain issue," Richard Walker told the BBC. Smaller food delivery firms have also complained they still do not know if they qualify for the new scheme or not. Daily testing instead of self-isolation for critical sectors in England was launched on Monday after staffing shortages after people were "pinged" by the NHS app after having had close contact with someone who has Covid.
 
Steel company Sheffield Forgemasters is set to be nationalised in a £2.6m deal with the Ministry of Defence. The government said it intends to invest up to £400m in the historic business for "defence-critical plant, equipment and infrastructure" over the next decade. The 215-year-old manufacturer plays a key role in the UK's nuclear submarine supply chain. Unions told the BBC the move will end years of instability for the firm. The acquisition, which is subject to a three-week offer period, is due to be completed on 19 August. Sheffield Forgemasters described it as an "important milestone" for the company, South Yorkshire and UK manufacturing as a whole.
 
Stamp duty holiday withdrawals have "taken some of the heat out" of the UK housing market, according to the Nationwide. The building society said house prices dropped slightly in July compared with June but were still 10.5% higher than a year ago, meaning stamp duty savings have been outstripped by rising prices. But the tax break, alongside the search for space, has created a housing boom during the pandemic. The mortgage lender told the BBC the typical home cost £244,229 in July.
 
FTSE companies could be forced to explain to investors why they have missed diversity targets set by UK’s financial watchdog, which is mulling tougher rules on gender and ethnic minority representation. Yahoo Finance UK says the Financial Conduct Authority has launched a consultation on proposals to improve transparency on the diversity of listed company boards and their executive management teams. If enacted, the rules would require listed companies to publish a ‘comply or explain statement’ every year on whether they have achieved certain targets around diversity. These targets would stipulate that at least 40% of the board should be women, at least one senior board position should go to a woman, and at least one member of the board should be from a non-white ethnic minority background.
 
The Honda factory in Swindon will close tomorrow after 36 years. Of the 3,000 workers at the factory, only 200 will stay on to decommission it, the BBC reports. The move also means some 1,800 jobs will be axed at two local firms that supply the plant. The factory has churned out some 3.7 million cars since it opened in 1985 and until recently was manufacturing about 680 cars a day. The decision to shut the plant was first announced in February 2019.
 
Lloyds Banking Group says pre-tax profits across the group surged to £2bn in the three months to the end of June, marking a sharp improvement from the £676m loss it reported during the same period in 2020 when it put aside billions of pounds to cover potential defaults linked to the pandemic. The bank has also restarted dividend payments of 67p per share, after a temporary ban on mposed by the Bank of England at the start of the pandemic. The bank told The Guardian an improving economic outlook meant it could release £333m from the funds it had set aside to cover potential defaults on lending to customers. Lloyds had set aside £2.4bn to cushion potential bad debts last year.
 
ITV posted strong results for the first half of 2021, with advertising revenue getting a boost from the UEFA Euro 2020 football tournament. Total revenue was up 27% to £1.5bn driven by 26% growth in the money brought in by ITV Studios, which was £798m, an increase of 26%, thanks to a majority of programmes being back in production.
 
Shares in oil major Shell headed higher this morning in London as the company reported half-year results and announced a $2bn (£1.4bn) share buyback programme that would be enacted before the end of the year. Adjusted earnings headed to around $5.5bn during Q2 — outstripping last year's covid deflated numbers by more than eight times. Shell also upped dividend payments from 16 cents (11p) to 24 cents (17p). Last year, the firm’s first cut in dividends since WWII caused the share price to plummet.
 
The BBC reports Uber shares have fallen after reports technology investment firm SoftBank is selling some 45 million shares - around a third of its stake - in the US ride-hailing app. The shares, worth around $2bn (£1.44bn), are reportedly being sold to offset losses incurred by the steep dip in the value of investments made in Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi, after a series of punitive actions by Chinese authorities spooked investors.
 
Google workers will need to be vaccinated before returning to the office, the US tech giant has said. The policy will begin at its US campuses within weeks and then be rolled out globally for its 144,000 employees. In addition, Google will extend the full reopening of its global campuses from 1 September to 18 October due to a spike in cases caused by the Delta variant of coronavirus. However, the firm said any Google employee can apply to work from home permanently if they choose, and transfer offices.


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