Published: 02 November 2021
Location: London, UK
Bluegreen has become the latest energy firm to go under as high gas prices continue to put smaller providers out of business. In a statement, Bluegreen, which has 5,900 customers, said it was in an "unsustainable situation". Energy regulator Ofgem said Bluegreen's customers would be moved to another supplier without them needing to act.
Households will remain worse off than they were before the pandemic until 2023, the UK's independent forecaster has warned. Charlie Bean, an Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) committee member, told MPs on the Treasury Committee that incomes would not return to 2019 levels for another two years. He said the main reason was "a very low rate of productivity growth".
The building of new smart motorways should be delayed for five years according to MPs on the Transport Committee. Chair Huw Merriman MP told BBC Breakfast this morning that they need to be proven safe before they're built.
Investigations continue into the cause of a train crash which resulted in a driver suffering “life-changing” injury. Two trains collided on the approach to a tunnel near Salisbury Station at about 18:45 GMT on Sunday: a South Western Railway (SWR) train running from London to Honiton, Devon, struck the side of a Great Western Railway (GWR) service from Southampton to Cardiff as they both entered Fisherton Tunnel. Of the 92 passengers on board, 14 required hospital treatment for minor injuries. BTP, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and the Office of Rail and Road are all investigating what caused the collision.
British factory output grew for a 17th consecutive month in October. The UK manufacturing PMI reading for the period was 57.8, well above the 50 mark that denotes growth.
Consumer spending is returning to normal levels, according to data from Nationwide’s latest quarterly spending report. Spending continued to rise in the third quarter but slowed considerably compared with Q2, up by 3% versus 14%. The Nationwide Spending Report analyses more than 620 million transactions. New consumer research from the building society suggests increases in household bills may be forcing people to review spending despite the economy having not long fully reopened. Soaring energy bills, a cut to household benefits in October and consumer price inflation above the Bank of England's target have been widely blamed for a potentially crippling cost of living crisis in the UK., Yahoo Finance UK says. Three quarters (74%) of those surveyed worry about the rising cost of living and one in four (25%) are uncomfortable about the state of their finances.
Retail footfall across the UK rose by 11.1% in the last week of October compared with the week before, the largest increase in activity since May, new data from retail experts Springboard has shown. Shopping centres saw the greatest increase with a jump of 15.2% and high streets were also notably busier with a rise of 12.1%. Retail parks also saw an increase, with footfall up 4.7%. Over the five days from Monday to Friday the increase was even greater, at 5.5%, in line with the October half-term school holiday.
British Airways’ parent company IAG has agreed a £1bn five-year credit facility UK Export Finance and a syndicate of banks. This is in addition to a £2bn UKEF guaranteed facility that was announced in December 2020 and drawn in March 2021. British Airways plans to draw down only when required and the facility will not be utilised upon signing, IAG said.
The Guardian has revealed that both Shell and BP, which together produce more than 1.7bn tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, have not paid any corporation tax on oil and gas production in the North Sea for the last three years. Company filings reveal that the oil giants, which have an annual global footprint of greenhouse gases more than five times bigger than Britain’s, are benefiting from billions of pounds of tax breaks and reliefs for oil and gas production. Shell and BP paid no corporation tax or production levies on North Sea oil operations between 2018 and 2020, and claimed tax reliefs of nearly £400m, according to annual “payments to governments” reports analysed by the newspaper. Over the same three-year period, they paid shareholders more than £44bn in dividends.
Greggs has launched a £100m legal claim against Swiss insurer Zurich Insurance Group to cover business interruption costs and expenses incurred when its stores were forced to close during lockdown. The chain, which has around 2,000 shops across the UK, is seeking £100m or at least £50m, it was reported by the Sunday Times, while Zurich believes it is due just £2.5m. Last year, a group of companies that had business interruption cover through Hiscox were refused payouts after the insurer insisted that their policies did not cover pandemics, but a test case brought by the Financial Conduct Authorityin January led to a Supreme Court ruling that in most cases, insurers should pay out, and in June Hiscox agreed a settlement with around 400 companies.
Grant Thornton (GT) has been fined more than £718,000 by the accounting regulator for failings in its audit of collapsed government outsourcer Interserve, which fell into administration in 2019. Interserve made most of its money from UK government contracts including provision of probation services and building schools, hospitals and offices. GT’s fine was cut from £1.3m because of the firm’s early confession and cooperation. It is the second fine in five weeks levied against the company by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC). In September the FRC slapped GT with a £2.3m fine for a "serious lack of competence" over its auditing of failed café chain Patisserie Valerie. Simon Lowe, the GT partner who led the audits, was fined more than £38,000 - reduced from £70,000 - and given a reprimand. The firm was also ordered to pay investigation costs of £467,000 and to report to the FRC for two years on its monitoring of the quality of its audit work on lossmaking contracts.
Capita plc has announced it is to sell its speciality insurance businesses to Marco Capital Holdings (UK) Limited for an undisclosed sum. The sale comprises two businesses: Capita Commercial Insurance Services Limited(CCIS); and Capita Managing Agency Limited (CMA). The revenue and profit before tax for the speciality insurance businesses for the year ended 31 December 2020 were £26m and £5m respectively. The senior management team and employees of CCIS and CMA will remain with the businesses as they transfer to Marco’s ownership. Capita previously announced its intention to sell a number of non-core businesses – including these two – to strengthen the balance sheet and focus on its two core divisions, Capita Public Service and Capita Experience. “In the past 12 months we have announced exits from: Education Software Solutions; our Employee Benefits business; Capita Life & Pensions Services (Ireland); Axelos; Atlas Master Trust; and Secure Solutions and Services,” the company said in a statement adding: “We continue to target £700m of non-core disposals proceeds by June 2022.”
British Salt is set to build a new 184,493 sq ft distribution centre at its Middlewich site in Cheshire. The multi-million-pound logistics facility will support its existing operations and a new manufacturing plant, which will be built on adjacent land.
Fortress Night, the Chinese version of the popular game Fortnite, is to close later this month. Owner Epic Games has declined to say why, however video games in China face strict operating restrictions. Many Western games need to be significantly altered for the Chinese market, both for regulatory reasons and cultural ones, the BBC reports, and Fortress Night is no exception. It includes several changes from the original Fortnite, including measures aimed at limiting the time players spend on the game, as well as having no "microtransactions" to buy extra in-game items with real money. In August, China's video game regulator announced that under-18s would be restricted to only an hour of online gaming on Fridays, weekends and holidays, after a state media outlet branded online games as "spiritual opium" earlier this year.
A digital token inspired by the popular South Korean Netflix series Squid Game has lost almost all of its value as it was revealed to be an apparent scam. Squid, which marketed itself as a "play-to-earn cryptocurrency", had seen its price soar in recent days - surging by thousands of percent. However, as the BBC reported, it was criticised for not allowing people to resell their tokens. This kind of scam is commonly called a "rug pull" by crypto investors and happens when the promoter of a digital token draws in buyers, stops trading activity and makes off with the money raised from sales.
Squid's developers have made off with an estimated $3.38m (£2.48m), according to technology website Gizmodo.
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