Thursday 24 September 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015 Posted by Jake No comments Labels:
Posted by Jake on Thursday, September 24, 2015 with No comments | Labels:

CBI chief backs green economy, says government’s U-turns will cost business hundreds of billions
John Cridland, director general of the CBI and the most senior voice of British business, has blasted the government’s performance on the “green economy”, warning that UK companies will lose out on hundreds of billions of pounds in opportunities for overseas exports if ministers do not reverse direction. Cridland said the UK’s green economy alone was already worth £120bn a year, and that between 2010 and 2013, the green economy grew at more than 7% a year, compared with less than 2% a year for the UK economy as a whole. The green economy is a new “emerging market”, comparable to the existing emerging economies of China and India, according to the business leader, but the UK’s previous success in capitalising on such opportunities is at risk: “Over many years, the UK has built up real credibility on climate leadership and low-carbon investment. This is hard won, but easily lost.” Since coming to power, the Conservatives have aimed a series of blows at the green economy, including: slashing support for solar power; effectively ending the building of new onshore wind farms; scrapping the flagship “green deal” insulation scheme, with no replacement; and part-privatising the Green Investment Bank. There has also been a stream of rhetoric from senior ministers that has attacked green aims, including pledges that the UK would hang back on cutting emissions, compared with other major economies. GUARDIAN

Low prices, high pay! Lidl becomes first supermarket to offer Living Wage and vows not to increase cost of goods to fund it
It's already known for its low prices – now Lidl says it’s going to pay the highest supermarket wages. The discount chain will be the first grocer to adopt the so-called Living Wage for its staff. And it has vowed not to push up the cost of goods to fund the £9million cost of the increase. Lidl will give workers at least £8.20 per hour across Britain – some £1 more than the minimum announced by George Osborne in the summer. The firm, which has 620 stores and a 4.1 per cent share of the UK grocery market, will pay £9.35 per hour in London. It represents an average wage increase of £1,200 per year, with more than half of the grocer’s 17,000 workforce of all ages benefiting from the rise. In July, the Chancellor stunned firms by revealing plans to introduce what he dubbed a ‘National Living Wage’. From April 2016, firms will have to pay all workers over 25 at least £7.20 an hour, up from the current national minimum wage of £6.50. It will rise to £9 by 2020. However, the move has been controversial. Last week, Costa Coffee faced a backlash for threatening to hike the price of a cappuccino to pay for the cost of higher wages. Pub chain JD Wetherspoon said the National Living Wage would put ‘financial pressure’ on the already-strained sector. And clothes retailer Next claimed they will have to increase prices to pay for the rise in staff costs. But German-owned Lidl, which made record sales of £4billion last year, said it would absorb the wage increase itself. It’s UK boss Ronny Gottschlich said employees will be amongst the best paid in the supermarket sector. DAILY MAIL

New NHS contract will worsen shortage of junior doctors
The warning comes from the trainee doctors group (ATDG) of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which represents the professional interests of all the UK’s 240,000 doctors. It puts extra pressure on Hunt to reconsider his decision to impose new terms and conditions on the NHS’s 53,000 junior doctors in England, which has sparked angry protests. The new contract will extend the normal working week in which doctors can be told to work their 48 hours from 7am-7pm Monday to Friday to 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday. Many will also see their pay cut because they will no longer be paid overtime for working evenings and Saturdays. The ATGD claim the new contract will deepen existing shortages in areas which already require doctors to work a lot out of hours, such as A&E units, acute medicine, children’s services and general practice. Recent official NHS figures, covering the arrival of the latest round of new junior doctors in August, show that acute medicine was still short of 48% of the new recuits it needed, as was renal medicine (48%) and geriatrics (14%). The proposed changes have already raised fears of an exodus of expensively trained medics to other countries, such as Australia, after figures showed 1,644 young doctors had already began the process of applying for the certification needed in just three days last week. GUARDIAN

Tory MP Andrew Tyrie demands proof that taxpayer is getting value for money in RBS sale
Treasury Select Committee (TSC) chairman Andrew Tyrie MP is demanding to see what advice the government received from UK Financial Investments (UKFI) - the agency that manages the public stake in bailed-out banks - before it started to sell off shares in Royal Bank of Scotland last month. UKFI sold around 600m shares, reducing the government's 79 per cent stake in the lender. The shares went on sale at a £13bn loss. Tyrie, who has been chairman of the TSC since 2010, noted that Osborne has since commissioned "an independent report from Rothschild to verify the work of its own advisers", saying this "could be taken to cast doubt on the quality of this advice". Tyrie said: "UKFI exists to develop and execute an investment strategy for disposing of the government’s shares in RBS and Lloyds in a way that protects value for the taxpayer. This is its overarching objective, set out in its framework document." It follows concerns about why UKFI had paid Goldman Sachs and UBS just £1 for services that otherwise would have brought in millions for the investment banks, a fact revealed earlier this month. CITY AM

'Million' new homes by 2020 target declared by minister Brandon Lewis
Housing minister Brandon Lewis said the government aimed to see one million new homes in England over this Parliament. But the National Housing Federation (NHF) said about 245,000 new homes were needed each year in England. Figures from 326 councils showed only 457,490 were built between 2011 and 2014. The NHF estimated 974,000 homes were needed during that period. Gill Payne, NHF director of policy and external affairs, said: "Skyrocketing rents and ballooning house prices are eating up more and more of people's wages and forcing people out of their local communities or into smaller, lower quality housing... We haven't built enough homes in this country for decades.” In 2012, the government introduced changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, aimed at making the planning process simpler and quicker. But numerous other factors have also been blamed. A shortage of land has also been cited by homelessness charity Shelter, while criticism has been levelled at developers who build slowly rather than progressing quickly. By keeping the number of new homes available at any one time low, the price of those houses can be kept high, said Matthew Pointon, property economist at Capital Economics. A shortage of skilled labour, a big drop in the number of councils building new homes and regulations restricting housing associations have also been blamed. Shelter's chief executive Campbell Robb added: "We are past the time for another grand statement of ambition. To give ordinary families back the hope of a stable home, we need to see investment and a comprehensive plan that can actually get these homes built." BBC NEWS

Volkswagen scandal: rivals strenuously deny emissions tampering
BMW, Toyota, Honda and Renault are the first large car manufacturers to go on record and categorically deny that they have been tampering with the results of emissions tests in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Volkswagen has seen its share price fall more than 38 per cent since it was first accused of fitting a “defeat device” to cars sold in the USA, which detected when the vehicle was being emissions-tested, and drastically reduced its output of nitrous oxides. It has since been suggested that some of the company’s rivals could be involved in similar practices – so much so that they could be endemic in the industry. Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, has called for a Europe-wide investigation into the company, while several countries around the world have launched their own probes. TELEGRAPH

Government to prosecute rogue training providers offering dodgy apprenticeship schemes
Examples of misuse of the term “apprenticeship” included young people thinking they had completed an apprenticeship when they hadn't; youngsters having to find other employers to achieve the qualifications required; and workers entering the industry part-qualified without adequate experience or skills. Global construction company Balfour Beatty and family firm SJD Electrical both told the Government that they had been forced to turn away job applicants who were severely underqualified at the end of 'apprenticeship schemes' done elsewhere. Skills Minister Nick Boles has promised apprentices similar legal protection to university students. In future anyone offering 'fake' or low-quality apprenticeship training could be fined or face prosecution in a magistrates' court. Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn said: 'Protecting and enhancing apprenticeships as proposed by the Enterprise Bill will further build the status of apprenticeships and help to encourage business to invest in them... It is crucial that apprenticeships remain world class.' The Government is committed to helping create three million new apprenticeships by 2020. DAILY MAIL

Floodgates open for flight delay claims
Millions of stranded airline passengers will be eligible for compensation payouts after the European court of justice (ECJ) ruled that they can claim for delays caused by technical problems. The judge decreed that unexpected technical problems can no longer count as an “extraordinary circumstance”, opening the door to claims of up to €600 (£437) a head. Last year, the UK’s supreme court reached the same conclusion in a case brought by a passenger who wanted compensation for a 27-hour delay, but the decision was only legally binding in England and Wales. However, the battle is far from over. Since the supreme court verdict, thousands of people who have tried to lodge a claim have been fobbed off by airlines. Airlines have been turning “technical problems” into a “hidden manufacturing defect” which does count as an “extraordinary circumstance” (and which would, if genuine, oblige the airline to ground its entire fleet). This week, Britain’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, began enforcement action against Ryanair to make the budget airline pay compensation to thousands of delayed passengers in the wake of the European court judgment. GUARDIAN


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