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Major energy supplier EDF says it is “not ready” to take on any more customers from failed firms

   News / 15 Oct 2021

Published: 15 October 2021
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


The national roll-out of a £100 contactless spending limit begins today, raising the limit you can spend with one tap from £45.
 
Another UK energy supplier has ceased trading, the third this week. Daligassupplied gas to 9,000 domestic and non-domestic customers. Ofgem will now find them a new supplier.
 
Major energy supplier EDF says it is “not ready” to take on any more customers from failed firms. So far, EDF has taken on 220,000 customers from Utility Point, which went bust a month ago, and 360,000 households from Green Network Energy which collapsed in January. EDF's managing director for customers Philippe Commaret told BBC Radio 4's Today programmeyesterday that it was now a "big question" whether Ofgem can force firms to take these customers on. “The supplier of last resort [process] has worked really well until now and we can be very proud that industry has stepped in in order to help the customers who were in distress," he said. “The question is whether or not we will be able to take that any further and I think that for ourselves our top priority is obviously to maintain the quality of service for customers, not to create any detriment to customers." A spokesman for Ofgem said that it can "direct" a company to take on customers from a collapsed supplier but that discussions always take place between the regulator and the new firm.
 
The ongoing energy crisis threatens the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and could stoke inflation, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned. Its latest monthly report, published yesterday, predicted global oil demand will rise by over half a million barrels per day, with demand recovering to pre-COVID levels next year. “Record coal and gas prices as well as rolling blackouts are prompting the power sector and energy-intensive industries to turn to oil to keep the lights on and operations humming,” it said. “Higher energy prices are also adding to inflationary pressures that, along with power outages, could lead to lower industrial activity and a slowdown in the economic recovery.” The Paris-based agency estimated that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will pump 700,000 barrels per day below the estimated demand for its crude oil in the fourth quarter of the year. This will mean that demand will outpace supply at least until the end of 2021. Countries must intensify their investments in clean energy, or miss carbon reduction targets, the IEA said.
 
The government is to allow 800 foreign abattoir workers into the UK on temporary visas, in an extension of its seasonal workers scheme, after warnings from farmers of mass culls. It previously said businesses should pay higher wages and invest in skills. A shortage of butchers has already seen farmers destroy 6,600 healthy pigs due to a backlog on farms, the National Pig Association said. Last week, the National Farmer's Union warned that pig farmers were "facing a human disaster" due to the shortage of butchers. The extension will last until the end of the year. To further address the crisis, the government plans to introduce funding for additional meat storage, introduce the processing of animals on Saturdays and offer the potential for longer working hours.
 
Ports around the world are reportedly struggling to move shipping containers on, meaning goods may be prevented from reaching the shelves in the run-up to Christmas. Tim Morris, chief executive of the UK Major Ports Group, told Yahoo Finance that “pressures are being exacerbated by well publicised issues impacting all UK supply chains, notably shortages of HGV drivers.” Ports have started to get congested as there are fewer drivers available to move unloaded containers to free up space. A high demand for goods as well as a surge in online shopping is another reason behind the congestion, combined with factory closures and restricted operations at ports around the globe. Felixstowe, which is the UK’s biggest commercial port and deals with 36% of UK freight container volumes, is among the worst-hit terminals.
 
Swedish furniture giant Ikea says it expects the disruption to global supply chains to continue for at least another year. Chief executive Jesper Brodinsaid while there had been some improvement, there was still congestion at ports which has led to supply problems. "We need to live with disturbances for the year to come," he said.
 
The owner of Poundland says it is experiencing supply chain pressures. Pepco said the bounce-back in global demand after lockdowns had seen raw material prices surge while constrained freight capacity had "significantly increased" shipping costs recently. The group, which has nearly 900 Poundland and Dealz stores in the UK and Ireland and over 2,000 more in Europe under the Poland-based Pepco brand, said it plans more investment to keep prices low as it expands further.
 
Britain's 20-year binge on cheap food is coming to an end and food price inflation could hit double digits due to a tidal wave of soaring costs that are crashing through the supply chain, Britain’s biggest chicken producer has said. Ranjit Singh Boparan, owner of the 2 Sisters Group and known as the "Chicken King" said in a statement: "The days when you could feed a family of four with a £3 chicken are coming to an end".
 
The Bank of England (BoE) has warned of rising defaults on household and business loans, with expectations of an increase by the end of November. In its latest credit conditions survey for the third quarter of this year, it said that the net percentage balance for changes in default rates decreased over the period. The poll of lenders also found that more households are forecast to have defaulted on mortgages and other loans, including credit cards, in the next few months. “The prospect of higher interest rates, the end of the furlough scheme, a cut to universal credit and rising inflation could contribute to the potential increase in default rates among consumers,” Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, told Yahoo Finance UK.
 
The number of UK firms struggling to recruit workers is climbing "precipitously", with 77% of those attempting to recruit reporting difficulties, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). The trade organisations recruitment outlook research for the second quarter of 2021 showed 61% of firms overall attempted to recruit, the highest level since the second quarter of 2018. 92% reported difficulties in the hotels and catering sector, while 75% of service sector firms said likewise, both the highest response rates on record for the dataset going back to 1997. Among manufacturers 80% reported recruitment issues, the highest proportion since 2018 and only one percentage point away from the all-time high for this indicator. Consumer services firms (such as tradespeople, cleaning, and education) were the least likely to report difficulties at 69% but even this represents an eight-point rise from 61% in Q2. The data came from a survey of more than 5,600 firms.
 
The number of jobs being advertised has soared by over 600,000 since late August to a new record high, according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s latest Jobs Recovery Tracker. Between 4 and 10 October there were a record 2.29 million active job adverts in the UK. In the same week there were around 235,000 new job postings - the second highest weekly figure since data collection began.
 
Tour operators and airlines have called on the government to publish the date when Covid tests will change for fully vaccinated travellers. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said last month that "day two" PCR tests would be replaced with cheaper lateral flow tests from "the end of October" but no firm details have been issued. Steve Heapy, boss of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays,said: "It is time for the UK government to confirm exactly when these changes will come into force…hard-working customers and families do not deserve delays and speculation, they deserve clarity so that they can plan and look forward to their holidays." His criticisms were echoed by Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents major UK airlines and carriers. "Passengers still don't have clarity as to what tests they'll be asked to take,” he said. “The detail is important and obviously it takes time to work through, but we now urgently need to know so that people can plan ahead.”
 
British Airways (BA) has announced it is recruiting an unconfirmed number of cabin crew to work on flights from the summer of next year. The airline, which made 4,700 cabin crew redundant during the pandemic, said the positions would be open to both former employees and new recruits and as an incentive, BA is waiving its usual rule that new starters must wait six months before accessing staff travel. However, trade union Unite described the move as “another attempt to drive down pay and conditions” as “the creation of these new posts confirms what Unite said last year, there was never any need to sack thousands of dedicated BA staff.” Unite general secretary Sharon Grahamsaid: “Last summer, British Airways became the first major employer to embark on the abhorrent practice of ‘fire and rehire’, sacking thousands of dedicated staff. Now, fewer than 12 months later, BA is championing its intention to recruit thousands of new staff, insultingly even asking those crew it sacked needlessly last year to reapply on substantially reduced terms and conditions.”
 
Boots enjoyed a bumper revenue in the full year to August 2021, thanks to sales of Covid-19 tests, despite footfall levels on the high street still being weaker than they were before the pandemic. Sales topped £34bn at parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance which completed its takeover of Boots in 2015, creating one of the largest pharmacy chains in the world. The group said that over the past year, Boots has become one of the UK's leading COVID-19 test providers, with more than 3.7 million tests administered to date.
 
FTSE 250 coach operator National Express reported a "sequential improvement" in performance in the third quarter yesterday, with revenue up to 83% of the equivalent period pre-pandemic in 2019.
 
Domino's Pizza has announced plans to create 8,000 jobs across the UK and Ireland. The chief executive of the FTSE 250-listed company, Dominic Paulsaid: "Our supply chain continues to deliver outstanding results, despite the well-publicised inflationary pressures and challenging labour market, which is testament to the skill and dedication of our teams. While we see these pressures continuing into 2022, our success in managing them to date provides us with confidence that our growth momentum will be sustained.”
 
Automotive retail group Marshall Motor (MM) has announced the acquisition of Motorline for £64.5m in cash. Sharecast News also said MM has acquired a related freehold property for £2.9m and secured the option to buy two additional more for £24.9m. Motorline is a multi-franchise dealer group headquartered in Canterbury and operating across Kent, West Sussex, Surrey, Berkshire, Bristol, South Wales and the West Midlands. It represents ten brands through 48 operating franchises including Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Audi, ŠKODA, Nissan, Peugeot, and Maserati. It also operates four Volkswagen Group Trade Parts Specialist (TPS) businesses and five used car centres. For the year to the end of December 2020, Motorline's consolidated revenues were £695.2m, while pre-tax profit was £6.1m.
 
Italian-owned paper manufacturer Industrie Cartarie Tronchetti is set to build a new 700,000 sq ft production facility in Deeside, North Wales. The investment is expected to create 463 jobs.
 
More than 100,000 US workers will strike, or have threatened to in October, as a wave of industrial action dubbed "Striketober" hits America. On Thursday, 10,000 workers at farm equipment maker John Deere walked out over pay and conditions. Some 60,000 TV and film crew workers are set to strike on Monday, while 24,000 nurses could also protest. The BBC says the strikes follow a rise in US union activity after decades of decline, as staff demanded better rights during the pandemic. Employers have also found themselves on the back foot amid a labour shortage that has forced them to push up wages for the lowest paid.
 
Microsoft is shutting down its Chinese version of LinkedIn in response to Beijing’s ongoing internet censorship. Microsoft cited a "significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements". The tech giant now plans to launch a simple job search site to replace LinkedIn in China, without the current social media features. Beijing officials warned LinkedIn to moderate content back in March.


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