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The Government has announced fresh sanctions on Belarus

   News / 05 Jul 2022

Published: 05 July 2022
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


The Government has announced fresh sanctions on Belarus in response to its support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The measures include import and export bans on products worth around £60m, the foreign office said yesterday, including a block on oil refining goods, advanced technology components such as those used in quantum computing, and luxury goods,including British artwork and designer handbags. The UK will also ban imports of Belarusian iron and steel and prevent Belarusian firms from issuing debt and securities in London. In a statement, the government accused Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko “regime" of continuing to "actively facilitate" Russian president Vladimir Putin’s "illegal invasion…by letting Russia use its territory to pincer Ukraine — launching troops and missiles from their border and flying Russian jets through their airspace". "Lukashenko has also openly supported the Kremlin’s narrative, claiming that Kyiv was 'provoking Russia' in order to justify Putin’s bloody invasion," a statement said. The government has previously raised import tariffs on a range of goods from Belarus by 35% and sanctioned senior government figures and officials.
 
An "airline slot amnesty" has been introduced by the Government, meaning airlines can cancel flights without being fined or penalised for not using their airport slot. Generally, airlines must use slots a certain number of times each season in order to keep them. The likelihood is now that there will be a fresh wave of cancellations over the summer period, although airlines have also been told they must finalise their summer schedule by Friday 8 July. Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, told Yahoo Finance: “An amnesty on slot rules is potentially good news for passengers as it should encourage airlines who need to cancel more flights to do so now rather than at the last minute and could ease disruption this summer by letting better-staffed airlines step in and fly routes”. British Airways, whose services from Heathrow Airport are likely to bear the brunt of planned cancellations, said: “We welcome these new measures, which help us to provide the certainty our customers deserve by making it easier to consolidate some of our quieter daily flights to multi-frequency destinations well in advance, and to protect more of our holiday flights". The flag carrier announced last Friday it had axed a further 650 flights from London to destinations throughout Europe. Gatwick Airport has also said it will reduce the number of flights during summer because of staff shortages.
 
EasyJet's chief operating officer has resigned "to pursue other business opportunities". The airline said it wished Peter Bellew well. His resignation comes in the wake of criticism from trade union Unite, which last month highlighted a "lack of leadership" at the airline and urged Bellew to "take control," and the cancellation of thousands of EasyJet flights, some at short notice. EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said the role of interim chief operations officer would be in the "very capable hands of" David Morgan who has been with EasyJet since 2016 and is currently director of flight operations. He had previously led overall operations at the airline, as interim chief operating officer in 2019.
 
Staff at Ryanair and EasyJet have confirmed they will stage industrial action in July following pay disputes. British Airways workers at Heathrow voted to strike last month, after the carrier did not repeal a 10% pay cut that was put in place over the pandemic.
 
As many as four in 10 travel insurance policies do not cover for strikes by airport or airline staff, new data from Which? shows. The consumer group scrutinised 199 policies offered by 71 providers and found that just six in 10 — a total of 120 — offered cover if customers had to cancel trips due to strikes, meaning a significant proportion of travellers could find themselves unprotected. 78 policies offered no cover whatsoever for cancellations due to strikes, while for one other policy it was available as an optional extra. The company advises travellers to take care when buying travel insurance ahead of a summer of predicted disruption.
 
Kellogg's has lost a court case in which it attempted to circumvent new food rules coming into force in October which ban foods deemed high in fat, sugar or salt from prime spots in stores such as checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents. Kellogg's had argued in court that the government’s obesity strategy had not considered the nutritional value of the milk that is added to its cereals, but the Royal Courts of Justice disagreed and ruled in favour of the government. Kellogg's said it was "disappointed". "It makes little sense to us that consumers will be able to buy other products, like donuts and chocolate spreads, on promotion - but not many types of breakfast cereals," said Kellogg UK managing director, Chris Silcock. The Department of Health and Social Care said it “strongly welcomed” the judgement as location promotion restrictions were expected to deliver more than £57bn of health benefits. "Together with the volume price restrictions, these changes will protect children up and down the country from products high in saturated fat, sugar or salt," a spokesperson said.
 
Pret A Manger has returned to profit. Sales rose to £357.8m in the six months to June - up 230% on last year when lockdowns took their toll. The sandwich chain noted that regional sales are what have driven the upturn in the company’s fortunes; since September last year the firm has opened 27 new shops across the country, mainly outside of central London, taking its UK portfolio to 442 shops. About a third of Pret's UK shops are now outside the capital.
 
German logistics company DHL is to create 3,500 jobs in the UK through depot expansion. The firm says it is investing £190m plus into 10 new collection and delivery depots nationwide, and into expanding 20 existing sites. The investment is part of DHL’s plan to expand its UK e-commerce operation – DHL Parcel UK – after the company witnessed a 40% rise in volumes since the start of 2020, following a boom in its e-commerce division. Half the money will be used to build the SEGRO Park Coventry Gateway, a hub south of Coventry airport, in the West Midlands, which can hold up to 500,000 items per day and will produce more than 600 new jobs in administration and manufacturing, The Independent reports.
 
Amazon says it will launch a fleet of e-cargo bikes and a team of on-foot delivery staff to complete last-mile deliveries in central London to replace thousands of traditional van journeys in the city’s congested roads and help pursue “a global net zero carbon future”.
 
Criminals who leave prison with a job, accommodation and bank account are up to 10 times less likely to reoffend, according to research by the think tank set up by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith. In contrast, The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) said linking prisoners up with an employer, ensuring they did not end up rough sleeping or sofa surfing and offering “simple” support such as ensuring they could get to work and had a bank account, slashed reoffending rates from 64% to 4.6%.
 
“The Church of England has invited money lenders into the temple" to help finance its net-zero drive, Yahoo Finance reports. The Church Commissioners for England, which manages a £10bn investment portfolio on behalf of the church, has hired Wall Street giants JP Morgan, Morgan Stanleyand Bank of America to gauge market interest about a bond sale. The borrowed money will be used to fund environmental and social projects as well as other general purposes.
 
Time spent handling customer complaints is costing businesses more than £9 billion a month in staff hours, according to The Institute of Customer Service’s Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI). The index revealed 17.3% of Brits have experienced a product or service problem in the past 6 months, the highest figures since records began in 2008. It also revealed 42.8% of problems were linked to the quality and reliability of goods and services, while 26.4% were linked to the suitability of goods and services. Over 10,000 people were polled for the UKCSI survey, which is published in January and July each year, across 13 key sectors including retail, telecommunicationsand media.
 
Runaway price rises have ridden a coach and horses through household financial resilience in the UK,” Yahoo Finance says, reporting the latest HL Savings and Resilience Barometer which reveals that “in the past three months, two in five people have had to dip into savings, cut back, or borrow money to cover their costs”.  The research suggests that once price rises are considered, disposable incomes have fallen 3% in the past three months because of inflation. The Barometer, produced with Oxford Economics, who forecast wages and factored in the government’s lump sum paymentscoming later this year, discovered that rather than the extra government money undoing the damage, incomes will remain broadly flat for the rest of the year. It noted that inflation is hitting those on lower incomes the three times harder than those on the highest incomes, partly because such a large proportion of their income is needed to cover the cost of essentials. As a result, the bottom 20% of earners will see any savings from the pandemic disappear over the next year, the report said.
 
Prices in Turkey are rising at their fastest rate in 24 years, according to the latest official figures. The BBC reports that the country’s annual rate of inflation, hit 78.62% in June, with transport costs and housing seeing some of the sharpest price rises. Last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut interest rates from 19% to 14% to try to boost the economy, describing them as "the mother and father of all evil," but this appears to have been one factor in the rise. Usually countries would increase interest rates in an attempt to cool inflation.


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