Published: 02 February 2022
Location: London, UK
The Treasury committee says the government should “seriously” consider making big tech firms reimburse victims of online fraud when fraudulent advertisements appear on their platforms as this could “rapidly transform their approach”. The MPs are also pushing for urgent legislation to make reimbursement for victims of “push payment fraud” from financial services firms mandatory. £479m was stolen from people in such scams last year, when fraudsters tricked victims into transferring money to them. “For too long, pernicious scammers have acted with impunity, ripping off innocent consumers with fraudulent online adverts, impersonation scams and dodgy crypto investments,” Mel Stride, chair of the Treasury committee, said. The report also says the number of agencies responsible for fighting economic crime and fraud is “bewildering” and suggests a single law enforcement agency “with clear responsibilities and objectives”. Another recommendation is for higher company formation fees and Companies House reform to prevent fraudsters hiding their identities behind UK businesses to launder money and conduct crime. The committee also wants proper regulation to be introduced to protect consumers from fraud and money laundering in the cryptoasset industry.
An estimated 2.3 million Brits failed to file their self-assessment tax returnsby the 31 January deadline, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) says. More than 10.2 million customers did meet the deadline and filed their 2020/21 tax returns by 31 January, with over 630,000 customers filing on the day of the deadline. Like last year, penalties on late tax returns have been waived until 28 February and on late tax payments until 1 April, but unpaid taxes will still be charged at 2.75% interest from 1 February.
Regional inequalities in the UK are "large and persistent" and levelling upprogress will require a long-term plan across multiple policy areas including education, skills and economic development, new research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has found. There are substantial wage inequalitiesacross the UK, according to the IFS Deaton Review of Inequalities, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. In 2019, workers in London were paid an average of £20 per hour — 60% more than the £13 in Scarborough and Grimsby. Wages among the highest earners are particularly unequal, with the top 10% of earners in London making 80% more per hour than the top 10% in Scarborough. The relative positions of places in terms of their average wages has seen very little change over the last 20 years, according to the IFS.
The UK's manufacturing sector output grew at the fastest pace in six months in January as factories shrugged off the impact of Omicron and global supply chain pressures began to ease. Yahoo Finance UK summarises the IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) which shows the output index rose to 54.5 in January - its highest since July 2021 - up from 53.6 in December. Any figure above 50 denotes growth. It was the UK manufacturing sector's 20th successive month of expansion.
A fresh deal has been struck to keep supplies of vital industrial-grade carbon dioxide (CO2) flowing by keeping a key production site open. When CF Industries' plant at Billingham shut briefly last year, it caused a crisis, threatening CO2 supplies to the food, medical and nuclear sectors. A three-month deal allowing it to continue operating expired on Monday, but the government said major CO2 users have now reached a new agreement which have not been disclosed, but which the BBC understands it will last until at least spring and come at no cost to the taxpayer.
The housing market has had its strongest start to the year since 2005 with prices growing over 11%, according to mortgage lender Nationwide. Annual house price growth rose to 11.2% in January, compared to 10.4% in December. The above-consensus rise was the highest since June 2021, and the strongest start to the year for 17 years, the UK’s biggest house index revealed. The average house price now stands at £255,556, up from £254,822 in December. The monthly change was 0.8% compared to 1.1% in December.
UK consumers face paying an extra £180 a year for their shopping basket, on average, as inflation pushes up the cost of groceries, industry figures show. Grocery prices in the four weeks to 23 January rose by 3.8%, according to research firm Kantar. Prices are rising fastest for fresh beef and poultry, savoury snacks, crisps, skincare and cat food but are falling for fresh bacon, vitamins and beer. Separately, The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned it will be "impossible" for the sector to shield shoppers from rising costs in the months ahead as till price rises hit their highest level for almost 10 years. The BRC pointed to headwinds from many sources as its latest shop price index, compiled with NielsenIQ data, showed annual inflation at the shops jumping from 0.8% in December to 1.5% in January, driven by non-food inflation which accelerated to 0.9% in January compared to a fall of 0.2% in December.
More than one in five people are cutting back on their use of gas and electricity as household budgets are squeezed by inflation, survey figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. 66% of adults in Britain say they have experienced an increase in the cost of living over the past month, with higher energy bills cited as a cause by four in five. 32% say they are cutting back on their use of fuel; 53% are spending less on non-essentials; and 26% are digging into their savings.
It has emerged that 1,600 Tesco jobs are at risk because the supermarket giant will be making changes to its overnight roles in some stores as well as closing its Jack’s discount supermarket arm. The retailer will move its overnight stock replenishment to daytime hours in 36 large stores and 49 convenience stores and convert 36 petrol stations to be pay-at-pump only during overnight hours. This puts 1,400 jobs at risk, while the closure of seven Jack’s stores risks another 200, including roles at Jack's head office.
Colin the Caterpillar has shaken hands with rival Cuthbert in a resolution of the supermarket cake wars, The Guardian says. Marks & Spencer has reached a deal with Aldi after taking legal action to protect its bestselling bug-shaped Colin cake since the German discount grocer launched copycat rival Cuthbert. Details of the deal, which was finalised in the high court last week, have not been revealed, but it is understood Cuthbert will not appear again in quite the same form, although Aldi says, “he will be back”. Aldi is still in another legal battle with M&S over gin in a light-up Christmas bottle, which M&S claims was copied from theirs.
Britannia has again been revealed as the worst hotel chain in the UK in 2021, according to a new survey by consumer group Which?. The group, which has 61 hotels across 36 areas of the UK, was at the bottom of the rankings for the ninth year in a row. 51% of the chain's guests in the survey of 2,600 hotel stays said they encountered a problem during their stay at a Britannia hotel, with the most common complaint being about poor standards of cleanliness. However, despite earning the lowest score in the ranking of 49/100, this was the best result the chain has had in years, after receiving slightly improved ratings for bed comfort and value for money. Mercure was second from bottom with a score of 52/100, followed by Macdonald (59), Ibis Budget (60), Jurys Inn (62), and Best Western (62). Premier Inn received the highest large hotel chain score with 79%, just pipping Crowne Plaza and Sofitel on 78% and 77% respectively. The best small chain was Hotel du Vin, which received a score of 80% — the highest overall. Pub operators also ranked highly, with large hotel chain Wetherspoon scoring 74% and small chain Young’s receiving 73%.
Academic bookseller Blackwell's has put itself up for sale for the first time in its 143-year history after scrapping plans to hand ownership of the business to its employees. Sky News has learnt that Blackwell's, which has been owned by its founding family since its first store opened in Oxford in 1879, has appointed corporate financiers to oversee a sale process. City sources said that discussions with prospective buyers had been underway for some time, and that a deal was possible in the coming months.
A report conducted by former Australian sex discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick has revealed that 21 women have been raped or sexually assaulted on Rio Tinto sites over the last five years. The damning report found more than a quarter of women had experienced sexual harassment while at work and that almost 50% of all employees were bullied. Racism was also found to be rife across the mining giant's operations in Australia and South Africa, according to the eight-month study, which surveyed more than 10,000 employees. Chief executive Jakob Stausholm said: "The findings of this report are deeply disturbing to me and should be to everyone who reads them. I offer my heartfelt apology to every team member, past or present, who has suffered as a result of these behaviours. This is not the kind of company we want to be.” He promised to implement every one of Broderick's 26 recommendations for the FTSE 100-listed firm to help it address the issues.
Oxford Biomedica's licensee for a Parkinson's disease treatment has pulled out of development and returned the rights to the UK company. Sio Gene Therapies told Oxford on Monday that it would stop work on AXO-Lenti-PD, a gene therapy programme for Parkinson's. This followed the departure of Sio's chief executive and its announcement that resources were constrained, Oxford said. The rights will be returned at no cost to Oxford, which said it did not plan to invest in developing the "non-core legacy asset" and would license it out to another company.
UK cinema chain operator Cineworld has begun talks with former shareholders of its US Regal Entertainment division over a potential rescheduling of its payment obligations. In September, Cineworld said it would pay $170m to investors who were angry with the price they received when the company took over the US chain in 2017.
Boeing has signed an order from Qatar Airways for a new freighter version of its 777X passenger jet which industry sources suggest could be for up to 50 freighters, with a list value of $14bn. It would be the first order for a freighter version of the 777X, Sharecast News says. The passenger airliner has been delayed to late 2023 or beyond. The deal comes as Qatar Airways and Boeing's European rival Airbus continue a legal battle. In December, Airbus was taken to court by Qatar Airways in London, following a series of alleged problems with the Airbus A350 aircraft. Qatar Airways is seeking more than $600m in compensation after grounding the affected aircraft - 21 of its 53 A350 jets - claiming an issue with cracking and peeling paint was a safety risk.
Tesla recalled another 53,000 of its electric cars overnight, after a new software fault was discovered, which could see the cars run through stop signs. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the recall included a number of Model S and X cars made between 2016 and 2022, as well as Model 3 vehicles between 2017 and 2022, and Model Y autos made between 2022 and 2022. The NHTSA said Tesla would send a software update to cars that would disable the 'rolling stop' function, which is where the bug is present. Almost half a million Tesla cars were recalled at the end of 2021, after it emerged that the opening and closing of the boot could damage the cables connecting cameras to the rear-view mirror. According to Cars.com, there have been 27 previous recalls ordered by the NHTSA on Tesla vehicles since 2009, before the fresh recall issued this week.
PlayStation maker Sony has announced a $3.6bn deal to buy Bungie, the games developer behind titles such as Destiny. US-based Bungie was founded in 1991 and early hits included Myth and Marathon.
India's finance minister has said the country will launch a digital version of the rupee as early as this year. In her annual budget speech, Nirmala Sitharamanalso outlined plans for a 30% tax on income from digital assets, which will put profits from trading or transferring cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens in the country's highest tax band. India is the latest major economy to announce an official virtual currency: China has been trialling the digital yuan ahead of this month's winter Olympics and has banned cryptocurrency trading and mining.
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