• Call for inquiry into why senior Tory helped donor avoid £40m tax Link
    Guardian Business Sat 30 May 2020 08:54

    Labour has urged the Cabinet Office to investigate why the housing secretary intervened in a controversial London planning decision that could have saved a Conservative party donor tens of millions of pounds.

     Robert Jenrick, the housing, communities and local government secretary, knew that the former media tycoon Richard Desmond had only 24 hours to have an East End property development approved before hefty community charges were imposed on the billionaire’s project. The imposition of Tower Hamlets council’s community infrastructure levy (CIL) would have cost Desmond at least £40m.

    Jenrick later accepted that approval of the Isle of Dogs project was unlawful.

    In a letter to the cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, the shadow housing and planning minister, Mike Amesbury, said Jenrick’s decision to back the proposed development was “deeply concerning” and that the Cabinet Office should fully investigate the matter.

    “Serious questions need to be...

  • Lost Stock: 'It's like buying your future self a present' Link
    Guardian Business Sat 30 May 2020 07:29

    It’s not fashion shopping as we know it: shoppers provide details of their age, gender, size and colour preferences, and hand over £39. A few weeks later a box arrives on your doorstep containing at least three items, with full ticket prices adding up to at least £70, that were once destined for stores like Topshop.

    This is coronavirus crisis fashion shopping. The fashions come direct from the Bangladesh factory where the items were made and the mystery boxes are designed to provide a financial lifeline to the businesses and workers who supply big high street names.

    After fashion stores were forced to close their doors in the government shutdown, western brands including Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia, owner of the Topshop and Dorothy Perkins chains, as well as Primark and Edinburgh Woollen Mill cancelled or suspended £2.4bn of orders from factories in Bangladesh as they scrambled to reduce their losses.

    In total, an estimated £10bn of clothing has piled up in...

  • Coronavirus furlough scheme to be gradually withdrawn, Sunak says – video Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 17:49
  • Chancellor takes a softly-softly approach to easing Covid-19 crisis support Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 17:24
  • Markets not paying attention to climate crisis, IMF warns Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 16:54

    The increasing number of natural disasters over the past 50 years has been generally ignored by equity markets and tougher rules are needed to make investors aware of the dangers posed by the climate crisis, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

    Companies should be forced to disclose their exposure to climate risk because a voluntary approach does not go far enough, the IMF said in a chapter from its latest Global Financial Stability report.

    The Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures, an initiative led by Mark Carney, the former Bank of England governor, outlines how companies should calculate and disclose their exposure to climate risk to investors.

    However, the IMF said in a GFSR published on Friday that ultimately climate risk should be made part of international reporting standards.

    “An increasing number of firms have begun to voluntarily disclose climate change risk information, in line with the...

  • Rishi Sunak confirms furlough scheme to be gradually withdrawn Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 16:24

    Rishi Sunak has confirmed the treasury is to gradually withdraw its job retention scheme over the next five months, with businesses meeting 20% of the wage bill for furloughed staff by October.

    Taxpayers have been meeting the wage bill for 8.4 million workers, at a cost of about £14bn a month, since March. The scheme was aimed at preventing mass layoffs, as lockdown restrictions caused large parts of the economy to shut down.

  • UK banks granted 1.5m payment holidays on credit cards and loans Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 14:23

    Britain’s high street banks have granted almost 1.5m payment holidays to consumers struggling to repay their credit cards and personal loans during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Figures released by the banking lobby group UK Finance show that 877,800 credit card accounts had been given a payment freeze by 21 May. Monthly repayments on 608,000 personal loans had been put on pause by that date.

  • UK lockdown rules: what you are allowed to do from Monday Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 13:23

    Yes. Whereas people in England were previously allowed to meet one person from another household outside while maintaining a two-metre distance, from Monday, groups of up to six will be allowed to meet. People will be permitted to congregate in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, instead of just in public spaces, as Johnson said “there is no difference in the health risk”.

    The prime minister said people should try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession, “so that we can avoid the risk of quick transmission from lots of different families and continue to control the virus”.

    The new rules apply to the over-70s but those considered extremely clinically vulnerable to the virus are still being asked to shield by staying at home.

    In Scotland, people from one household will be able to meet with another household outdoors in public spaces or a private garden from Friday, providing they maintain social distancing. The first minister,...

  • Drone deliveries soar in rural Scotland during coronavirus outbreak Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 12:53

    Ten weeks on from the peak of the coronavirus pandemic there are still acute shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and Covid-19 testing kits across the UK, particularly in rural and isolated locations.

    On the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, however, the vital supplies arrive up to four times a day. They are flown in from the mainland by drone in a trial that could lead to the NHS regularly using drones to fly equipment and medical samples to many of Scotland’s roughly 90 inhabited islands.

    The unmanned aircraft industry hopes that showing the public drones can help in the fight against Covid-19, perhaps even save lives by speeding up test time turnarounds, could pave the way for wider adoption of drone technology.

    US investment bank Goldman Sachs believe drones could spawn a $100bn (£80bn) market if governments around the world allowed them to be used for everything from policing and border patrol to surveying vital...

  • Scandal-hit NMC Health on verge of liquidation Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 11:28

    Joint administrators for NMC Health, the holding company of the UAE-based healthcare provider NMC Group, have said the company will probably be dissolved or put into liquidation.

    Administrators from the consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal Europe were appointed in April to oversee the hospital operator, after an application from one of its biggest creditors, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

    The bank has since begun criminal proceedings against an unspecified number of individuals at the company, which has been delisted from the London Stock Exchange and is now the subject of a UK accounting investigation.

  • 'I don't have one cent left': Hispanic Americans hit hardest by layoffs Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 10:28

    When the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs report earlier this month, the unemployment numbers were jaw-dropping: the unemployment rate rose from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April – a decade’s worth of job gains wiped out in mere weeks.

    The jobs report also unveiled the grim reality of which communities have been hit hardest from the economic impacts of Covid-19. Hispanic Americans saw the highest unemployment rate of any racial group at 18.9%, over 4% more than the national unemployment rate of 14.7%.

  • British Airways may outsource work of 450 redundant employees Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 09:33

    British Airways is proposing to outsource work being done by at least 450 employees it is making redundant.

    The Labour party said the proposals were “disturbing news” and called for the government to scrutinise the plans, revealed by the Guardian.

    The airline, owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), is also considering closing its operation at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 completely and shrinking its footprint at Terminal 5, the Guardian understands.

    Terminal 3 – which operates BA short-haul routes across Europe and long-haul destinations including Cape Town and Miami – carried about 15% of BA’s Heathrow traffic before the pandemic. Terminal 3 has been mothballed during lockdown, with all BA flights running from Terminal 5 on dramatically reduced schedules.

    BA, which has received state aid worth hundreds of millions of pounds, proposed cutting as many as 12,000 jobs last month in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Among the...

  • B&M buoyed by DIY sales boom in UK coronavirus lockdown Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 08:33

    The discount retailer B&M has said exceptionally strong demand for DIY and gardening products in the coronavirus lockdown drove a 22.7% jump in underlying UK sales over the last eight weeks.

    The group, which has traded throughout, said UK like-for-like sales growth had accelerated from 6.6% in the final quarter of its 2019-20 year, which benefited from a strong grocery performance in March.

    It said customers had been visiting its stores less frequently during the lockdown but their average spend had been much higher than usual.

    However, the business was experiencing larger-than-normal operating costs in distribution and its stores because of physical-distancing measures and higher wage costs during the crisis.

    It also warned there had been a significant “bring-forward” of demand in some key categories, partly caused by the warm spring weather.

  • Renault to cut 14,600 jobs as part of €2bn cost-saving plan Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 08:03

    The French carmaker Renault plans to cut 14,600 jobs as it aims to save €2bn (£1.8bn), in one of the deepest restructuring programmes prompted by the coronavirus pandemic across the global car industry.

    Renault will cut 4,600 jobs in its French operations, which will undergo a major reorganisation, and another 10,000 around the world.

  • Hong Kong tensions end winning streak for global stock markets - business live Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 07:03

    Having spent most of this week ignoring the prospect of an escalation of US, China tension over Hong Kong, despite various smoke signals throughout the week suggesting a confrontation was brewing, US markets turned tail sharply late last night on reports that President Trump was going to be holding a press conference later today on China.

  • Half of Britain is broke - and the other half is richer than ever Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 06:08
  • Dining out now: 'A no-show can be a mortal blow to any hospitality business' Link
    Guardian Business Fri 29 May 2020 02:13
  • Rishi Sunak to taper furlough scheme, forcing employers to pay 20% of wages Link
    Guardian Business Thu 28 May 2020 19:23

    The government will start tapering its furlough scheme from August by forcing those employers taking part to pay 20% of workers’ wages as well as covering their national insurance and pension contributions.

    Under plans to be announced by Rishi Sunak over the next few days, the support given by the furlough scheme will be cut back due to government concerns about its spiralling cost and the likely impact on the UK’s growing public spending deficit.

  • EasyJet's axe-wielding smacks of opportunism | Nils Pratley Link
    Guardian Business Thu 28 May 2020 18:23
  • The Guardian view on Covid-19 and cults of strength: the weakest response | Editorial Link
    Guardian Business Thu 28 May 2020 17:28

    Even leaders who thrive by bullying people have realised that they can’t bully a pandemic. But nor does caution fit easily with their macho political image. Their temptation has been to let it run its course instead. Now the facts are catching up with them.

    The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has repeatedly dismissed the risks from coronavirus, defied his own government’s advice by meeting crowds of supporters, and pushed states to reopen beauty parlours as the death toll climbed. This week it passed 25,000, and a study suggested it could hit 125,000 by early August. Brazil ranks second in the world for recorded cases – all the more shocking given its strong performance in the previous HIV and Zika virus health crises.

    Mr Bolsonaro’s friend Donald Trump has now imposed a travel ban on non-US citizens coming from Brazil. Yet the US is leading the world for coronavirus cases and fatalities, with 100,000 deaths, and the toll is rising as the lockdown eases. Mr...

  • EU green recovery package sets a marker for the world Link
    Guardian Business Thu 28 May 2020 16:58

    The European Commission has put down a marker for the world with its green recovery package. It sets a high standard for other nations, using the rebuilding of coronavirus-ravaged economies to tackle the even greater threat of the climate emergency, in principle at least.

    With the world fast approaching the point when climate chaos becomes inevitable, how the trillions of recovery dollars – or euros – are spent is a use-it-or-lose-it moment, so what the EU does really matters. Climate change is a global crisis, meaning all nations must act and some must lead the way.

    Under Donald Trump, the US is slashing green protections while the biggest polluter, China, is sending mixed messages by backing coal power stations as part of its recovery. The UK, host of the next critical UN summit, has been all but silent.

    The EU’s plan seeks to pour money into emissions-busting sectors: €91bn (£81bn) a year for home energy efficiency and green heating, €25bn of renewable...

  • Bank of England rate maker sets out gloomy economic forecast Link
    Guardian Business Thu 28 May 2020 15:27

    Britain risks a long period of low growth and high unemployment as the economy stutters back to life, a Bank of England policymaker has warned.

    Michael Saunders, a member of the Bank’s monetary policy committee, said the “searing experience” of the coronavirus crisis wou leave its mark long after the lockdown was lifted and the central bank should risk pumping too much stimulus into economy rather than too little to combat a severe downturn.

    Saunders, who was one of only two members of the nine-strong MPC this month to back an increase in the stimulus programme, said he thought the economy was on course to suffer more long-term damage from the pandemic than the Bank said in its most recent assessment.

    An acceleration in the already high rate of unemployment and an increase in the number of companies going bust would leave long-term scars on badly affected industries while the threat of a resurgence in Covid-19 cases was likely to weigh on business and consumer...

  • 'I don’t know how I’ll survive': the laid-off workers devastated by coronavirus cuts Link
    Guardian Business Thu 28 May 2020 13:02

    Sandra Rivera Del Valle, a cabin cleaner with airline contractor Eulen America at Orlando airport in Florida, started experiencing cold-like symptoms on 13 March. As a cancer survivor over the age of 60, she was advised by her doctor to quarantine for two weeks as a precaution, as she was unable to get tested for Covid-19. 

  • The world wasn't ready for a Green New Deal in 2009. Today, it may be | Larry Elliott Link
    Guardian Business Thu 28 May 2020 12:32

    Timing matters. Early 2020 saw an economic collapse the likes of which have not been seen in living memory. Growth has collapsed, unemployment has soared, poverty has increased.

    Yet in different circumstances the past few months would have been dominated by calls for countries to do more to cut carbon emissions. As 2019 drew to an end, everybody from the managing director of the International Monetary Fund to the governor of the Bank of England was warning of the threat of global heating.

    A year of floods, hurricanes and bush fires had made a strong case for action to make economies more sustainable. What was lacking was a profound shock that would make change possible. Now we’ve had one.

    Governments are creating, borrowing and spending money like never before in peacetime, in an attempt to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. They have the opportunity to reshape their economies in a way that would be consistent with preventing catastrophic...

  • Job vacancies collapse has hit low-income workers hardest – ONS Link
    Guardian Business Thu 28 May 2020 12:02

    Low-income workers have borne the brunt of a collapse in job vacancies in the UK caused by the lockdown of the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the latest official snapshot of the economy.

    The Office for National Statistics said the number of vacancies on offer had more than halved since severe restrictions were imposed in March, with even bigger drops in the retail and hospitality sectors.

    Official monthly figures for vacancies are only available up until April, but the ONS said that by using data from the online job search engine Adzuna it was able to add the current state of employment opportunities to its list of Covid-19 tracking indicators.

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