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The Real Living Wage comes into force today, marking a pay boost for more than 300,000 people

   News / 15 Nov 2021

Published: 15 November 2021
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


More than 300,000 people working for employers who have signed up to the voluntary Real Living Wage will get a pay boost of 40p to £9.90 an hour from today. Real Living Wage employers in London will pay £11.05 an hour, a 20p rise. The Real Living Wage is set by the Living Wage Foundation and almost 9,000 employers throughout the country have signed up to the policy, 3,000 of them during the pandemic. The compulsory National Living Wage currently stands at £8.91 an hour for anyone over the age of 23.
 
The number of UK jobs available, as measured by job adverts, hit a record high of 2.68 million in the first week of November. According to theRecruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) the growth shows “no signs of slowing down in the build up to Christmas”. “The general positive trend varies by region and sector, however,” Chief Executive Neil Carberry said. “London has been affected more than other areas by the rise of hybrid working, and its jobs market continues to grow at a slower pace than the rest of the UK. And while roles in logistics and care are in high demand, the construction sector saw a drop-off last week as supply issues constrained the industry’s ability to work to capacity.” The REC’s data shows driving instructors and prison officers saw the biggest increase in demand for recruiters last week, while adverts for fork-lift truck drivers, secondary school teachers and goods packers also saw big increases on the week before. Other key occupations which continued to have high levels of vacancies advertised included nurses (121,815), programmers and software professionals (102,661), care workers and home carers (78,740), and chefs (53,425).
 
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has measured the value of the UK’s ‘natural capital,’ the financial and societal value of natural resources to people in the UK, at £1.2 trillion. “Any natural resource or process that supports human life, society and the economy forms an important part of our natural capital,” the ONS says. “We are estimating both the current value and what it could provide for future generations”.  For full details of what is included see
https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/bulletins/uknaturalcapitalaccounts/2021
 
Transport charity Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the UK government to abolish Friday peak rail fares and reduce season ticket costs by a third to tackle transport emissions now, rather than wait until 2040. The charity also wants rail fares to be frozen for 2022, instead of rising according to the retail prices index (RPI), plus another 1%. The Office for National Statistics said in August that RPI for July was 3.8%, meaning prices could rise by 4.8% in January — the biggest increase since 2012. Regulated rail fares in England and Wales already rose by 2.6% in March 2021 — the first time the government lifted prices above RPI inflation since 2013. At the time, the government was criticised for further pricing middle income earners out of rail travel and undermining its green commitments, Yahoo Finance UK reports.
 
Bank of England (BoE) policymaker Catherine Mann has said she believes women were disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, saying it “was very much a 'she-cession'". She also suggested that working from homemay hurt women disproportionately in their careers as online communication cannot replicate the spontaneous office conversations important for recognition and advancement in many workplaces and business settings. "Virtual platforms are way better than they were even five years ago. But the extemporaneous, spontaneity — those are hard to replicate in a virtual setting," she told a women in finance event hosted by the Financial News. Mann pointed to difficulty accessing childcare and Covid-related disruption to schooling as reasons why many women were continuing to work from home while men returned to the office. "There is the potential for two tracks,” she said. “There's the people who are on the virtual track and people who are on a physical track. And I do worry that we will see those two tracks develop, and we will pretty much know who's going to be on which track, unfortunately". 
 
Over a third of UK workers (35%) would be willing to accept a pay cut in exchange for permanent remote working, new research by job site Reed has found. Almost one in five workers (19%) said they felt their employer was not flexible enough when it came to working from home, according to the survey of 2,000 UK employees, and a total of 36% of employees said they believe their employer is not providing a fair balance between remote and office working. However, 17% said their employer is too flexible, implying that some workers want to spend more time in the office. Almost a third (32%) of younger workers aged between 18 and 34 want more office-based working compared to less than one in 10 (8%) employees over the age of 45. 
 
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined interdealer broker Sunrise Brokers £642,400 for "serious" financial crime control failings in relation to cum-ex trading, involving the trading of shares on or just before the last cum-dividend date. The FCA said Sunrise had deficient systems and controls to identify and mitigate the risk of facilitating fraudulent trading and money laundering in relation to business introduced by the Solo Group, between 17 February 2015 and 4 November 2015. It highlighted two instances during which the firm failed to identify or escalate any potential financial crime concerns or suspicions when it should have done. Mark Steward, executive director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said: "Sunrise should not have carried out these self-evidently suspicious trades without proper due diligence. Sunrise's failings were significant, and this outcome demonstrates we will not tolerate firms' lax controls and that we will work with overseas agencies to ensure London is not viewed as a haven for poor controls and practices."
 
Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) has announced plans to scrap its dual listing structure and move its headquarters from the Netherlands to the UK. The oil giant will also ditch the ‘Dutch’ from its name and become simply Shell Plc. Shell’s CEO and CFO will be based here and all meetings of executives and board members will take place in Britain. Shell has been registered in the Netherlands for tax purposes since 2005. Business minister Kwasi Kwartengwelcomed the move, saying it is a vote of confidence in the national economy. The move follows some turmoil for the company in The Netherlands; a Dutch court ruled recently that the company was not doing enough to transition to green energy and should slash its emissions harder and faster, then last month, without warning, Dutch pension fund ABP said it would drop Shell - and all fossil fuels - from its portfolio. 
 
Having to date supplied its covid-19 vaccine on a not-for-profit basis,AstraZeneca (AZ) is now to “progressively transition the vaccine to modest profitability as new orders are received” by richer nations. The vaccine, developed with FTSE 250 pharma Oxford Biomedica, which was spun out ofOxford University, will remain not-for-profit in low-income nations.  The pharma has just posted quarterly sales of more than $1bn (£750m) for the vaccine, compared with $894m in the previous three-month period and $275m in the first quarter this year. Overall revenues for the quarter came in at $9.9bn, a rise of 50%, while revenues for the year to date increased by a third.
 
The owner of Burger King's British operations has picked two banks to serve up a whopper of a London float next year, Sky News reports. The broadcaster has learnt that Bridgepoint has hired Bank of America and Investec to spearhead the fast-food giant's initial public offering during the first half of 2022.
 
Retails prices may be soaring, but Aldi has once again proved to be the cheapest supermarket at which to shop in the UK. Analysis by consumer groupWhich? for October of a basket of 23 items, including groceries and household essentials, found Aldi came in 73p cheaper than nearest rival Asda with the basket costing £24.24. Tesco was the most expensive store; products there cost 18% more, or £28.64.
 
John Lewis has denied allegations it copied a little-known band's arrangement of the electro-pop song Together In Electric Dreams for its Christmas advert,Unexpected Guest, features a friendship between a boy and an alien visitor experiencing Christmas for the first time. The ad is set to a slowed-down version of the song, sung by 20-year-old singer Lola Young. Jeremy and Lorraine Millington, an alt-folk husband and wife duo, have claimed the John Lewis version resembles their version of the song, released as a charity single last Christmas, and which they claim was offered to John Lewis for the company's Christmas advert in March 2021 to "maximise the funds" going to charities. John Lewis said there are "no substance to these claims". 
 
The new James Bond film No Time to Die has proven to be a hit for cinema chain Cineworld, which said revenue from the box office and concessions was 27% higher in October, compared to the same month before the pandemic. “We are thrilled to see audiences returning in significant numbers. Our partnerships with the studios are as strong as ever and with the incredible movie slate to come, there are real grounds for optimism in our industry,” said chief executiveMooky Greidinger.
 
European budget airline Wizz Air says it is buying 102 Airbus A321 aircraft for an undisclosed sum.
 
Online financial trading group CMC Markets says it is looking at a possible separation of its leveraged and non-leveraged divisions to unlock shareholder value. In response to media reports of a potential split this morning, the London-listed firm said talks were exploratory at this stage, but it would complete a formal review by next June. CMC said its leveraged and non-leveraged units had benefited from significant investment and the review was triggered by the growing size of its client portfolio as well as by the launch of a new UK investment platform and its growing business-to-business platform operations. Conservative peer and former Tory party treasurer Peter Cruddasfounded CMC Markets in 1989 as a foreign exchange broker, and later pivoted the firm to online spread betting, where it now makes most of its money. 
 
The chief executive officer of Vodafone Group Plc has said that the European telecommunications industry needs to work together more, suggesting the company could potentially co-invest in rival Virgin’s roll out of fibre and even merge with competitor ThreeBloomberg reports. “Returns on capital in this sector in Europe have halved over the past decade,” said Nick Read in an interview with The Times. The sector is destroying value by duplicating infrastructure. We need to move to a better model.” UK mobile operator Three is widely seen as being up for sale. While Read did not disclose if the two companies were in discussions, he explained why “Voda-Three” should be approved by regulators if it were to happen. In 2016, Three was blocked from joining forces with O2 on competition grounds.
 
Johnson & Johnson has announced plans to separate its consumer health segment from the pharmaceuticals and medical device business, creating a new publicly traded company. The separation would create "two global leaders that are better positioned to deliver improved health outcomes for patients and consumers through innovation, pursue more targeted business strategies and accelerate growth," it said. J&J is aiming to complete the separation in 18 to 24 months, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions.
 
The Florida Man Organization is reported to have reached a deal to sell its prized Washington hotel for $375m (£279m). Under the planned sale, the Florida Man International will be renamed the Waldorf Astoria and managed by the Hiltongroup, according to reports. The former Florida Man's company opened the 263-room hotel to the public in September 2016 but has been looking for buyers since 2019. The deal with Miami-based investment firm CGI Merchant Group is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of next year, sources toldThe Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.


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