UK Watchdog Fine PWC £1.5m Over Auditing Misconduct

(qlmbusinessnews.com via Irishtimes.com – – Wed, 16 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

Britain’s accounting watchdog has fined audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP a record £5.1 million (€5.6 million) and given it a severe reprimand after it admitted misconduct when auditing collapsed accounting firm RSM Tenon.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said PwC and senior audit partner Nicholas Boden admitted a series of failures when they signed off RSM Tenon’s accounts for the year to June 2011.

“The admitted acts of misconduct include failures to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence and failures to exercise sufficient professional scepticism,” it said in a statement.

The FRC warned last month that accountants should challenge information provided by clients.

RSM Tenon, which had been listed on the London stock market, collapsed in 2013 and its assets were taken over by Baker Tilly.

The FRC said PwC’s misconduct was extensive, comprising five separate admitted acts in relation to the accrual of bonus payments, the accounting for a lease, the assessment of goodwill impairment and other aspects of the audit.

The FRC said PwC had to pay a fine of £6 million, reduced to £5.1 million after a settlement discount as well as a 500,000 pound contribution to the watchdog’s costs.

Boden, who was PwC’s senior audit partner for RSM Tenon, was fined £114,750 and given a severe reprimand.

PwC, one of the world’s top four accounting firms, said it accepted the FRC’s findings and was sorry that aspects of the audit carried out in 2011 fell short of professional standards.

“We continually review and update our audit processes in response to both internal reviews and external inspection findings. Audit quality is of paramount importance and our annual Audit Quality Reviews show year-on-year improvements,” PwC said in a statement.

In May, PwC was fined a then record £5 million over the way it checked the books of collapsed social housing maintenance company Connaugh

UK to Propose Interim Customs Agreement with EU After Brexit

 

The British government is proposing an interim customs agreement with the European Union after Brexit to allow trade to continue as freely as possible once the UK leaves the EU.

The Brexit Minister David Davis says that under the plan, existing customs arrangements would broadly stay in place during an interim period.

The UK has said it will leave the EU’s Customs Union – its tariff-free trading area – and the Single Market when its membership of the bloc ends in March 2019.

Rail Fares Hit by Biggest Annual Increase in Five Years

David Baldock/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 15 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

Rail fares for commuters in England and Wales will increase by 3.6% from next year, adding pressure to incomes already squeezed by higher prices.

The rise, the biggest annual increase in five years, is set by the government and linked to July’s retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation announced by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday. The higher fares will take effect from January.

Economists had expected RPI to increase to 3.5% in July, while rail fares rose by 2.3% at the start of 2017 based on last year’s figures.

The change applies to about 40% of rail fares, including season tickets on many commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and anytime tickets around major cities. So-called regulated fares are set by the government but normally provide the benchmark for rises across the network.

Unions and campaigners have been holding protests against the rises at railway stations around the country.

The RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said government policies of holding down wages while allowing fares to rise was a “toxic combination”. He said: “The private operators and government say the rises are necessary to fund investment but the reality is that they are pocketing the profits while passengers are paying more for less with rail engineering work being delayed or cancelled, skilled railway jobs being lost and staff cut on trains, stations and at ticket offices.”

The Aslef general secretary, Mick Whelan, called for the system to be reformed, saying: “The government must intervene to make fares simpler, fairer and cheaper in Brexit Britain. Passengers and taxpayers will rightly be asking what they are paying for.”

He said fares should at the least be linked to the consumer price index (CPI), which rose by 2.6% in July, rather than RPI.

Stephen Joseph, the chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, called for a fares freeze: “[The government’s] frozen fuel duty for the last seven years and we think rail fares should be given the same treatment.”

Joseph also said it was unacceptable that the government continued to use the higher RPI rate to calculate rail fare rises. “Passengers would be forgiven for thinking they are being taken for a ride when RPI has been dropped as an official measure for most other things.”

The rail industry defended the steep increase. Paul Plummer, the chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, representing train companies and Network Rail, said: “Money from fares pays to run and improve the railway, making journeys better, boosting the economy, creating skilled jobs and supporting communities across Britain. It’s also the case that many major rail industry costs rise directly in line with RPI.”

Inflation had been expected to rise again after an unexpected fall in June, helped by falling fuel prices, which offset the rising costs of food, clothing and household goods.

Although CPI did not resume its upward trajectory last month, it is still running above the government’s 2% inflation target and outstripping the pace of wage rises. That has led to a rising cost of living, heaping pressure on households. Consumers are using credit cards to fund spending and the Bank of England has expressed alarm about the increase in personal debt.

Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at data company IHS Markit, said there were still risks “skewed towards inflation rising in coming months”, while wage growth is expected to remain below 2%.

ames Tucker, the head of CPI inflation at the Office for National Statistics, said RPI was not seen as a good measure by the statistics authority. However, the Treasury said the use of RPI was “consistent with the general approach adopted across the rail industry”, while the measure is used to account for inflation in the cost of running train services.

“Although inflation is likely to start falling next year, we understand some families are concerned today about the cost of living,” a Treasury spokesperson added.

Labour said the latest rise meant the average commuter will be paying £2,888 for their season ticket in January, £694 more than they paid in 2010. Some are paying over £2,500 more to travel to work than in 2010, it added.

A Virgin Trains season ticket between Birmingham and London Euston will now cost £10,567, while season tickets on some routes have risen by more than 40% since 2010. Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, said the rises were “truly staggering”, adding: “The truth is that our fragmented, privatised railway drives up costs and leaves passengers paying more for less. The railways need serious reform.”

In Scotland, the blow for some rail travellers will be eased slightly as the Scottish government plans to limit regulated off-peak fares to an increase of 1% below RPI, or 2.6%, although season tickets will rise at the RPI rate.

By Richard Partington and Gwyn Topham

Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset 11bn Merger

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 15 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

The £11bn merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management has completed, creating Europe’s second-biggest fund manager.

A Stock Exchange announcement confirmed the deal’s conclusion, following court approval for the merger last week.

The enlarged company, which will trade as Standard Life Aberdeen, will hold £670bn under management.

Co-chief executive Keith Skeoch described the move as the “beginning of a new chapter” in the firms’ history.

Mr Skeoch said: “Our leadership team is in place and we have full business readiness from day one.”

The merger, which was agreed in March, is targeting cost savings of £200m a year, with about 800 jobs expected to be lost over three years from a global workforce of 9,000.

The new company will be jointly led by Mr Skeoch and Aberdeen boss Martin Gilbert.

Mr Gilbert said: “As ever our priority remains the delivery of strong investment performance and the highest level of client service.

“The merger deepens and broadens our investment capabilities and gives us a stronger and more diverse range of investment management skills as well as significant scale across asset classes and geographies.”

Overall, Standard Life Aberdeen will have offices in 50 cities around the world, servicing clients in 80 countries.

ALDI takes on Amazon by Launching US Online Grocery Delivery Service

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Mon, 14 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

Aldi is ramping up its ambitions in the US and taking on retail giant Amazon in the process with a new venture into online grocery delivery.

The German discounter has partnered with Instacart, the US venture-backed same-day delivery startup, to get its products into customers’ hands.

Not content with giving the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s a run for their money in the UK, Aldi outlined its ambitions to become the third biggest grocery chain in the US in June.

And now, the Instacart partnership will bring groceries – including fresh fruit and veg – to customers in three US cities (Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas), in as little as an hour in an initial trial “with potential for future expansion”.

Five-year-old Instacart rivals Amazon Fresh and serves more than 30 states and cities in the US. The deal comes after Amazon’s blockbuster $14bn takeover of Whole Foods.

Aldi launched home delivery in the UK for the first time last year for wine, furniture and other items, but not groceries.

By Lynsey Barber

Wilko employees on alert as cost cutting measures leaves 4000 jobs at risk

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 14 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

Wilko is consulting with 3,900 employees about a shake-up of shop staffing roles, the latest retailer over the past week to axe jobs amid rising costs and a tough trading environment.

The value retailer said that it was stripping out a level of supervision roles across its stores in the UK but would create 1,000 new senior roles as part of the changes and a significant amount of customer service roles.

Anthony Houghton, Wilko retail director, said that the move was necessary to ensure “all retail operations are fit for the future”. Mr Houghton added that despite growing customer numbers and efforts to reduce costs, the challenging landscape meant that it was dragging profits lower.

Wilko’s consultation with staff will run until October and will affect “thousands” of store staff, according to Retail Week, which first reported the staffing change.

Wilko’s most recent accounts reveal that its pre-tax profits crashed by 80pc in the year to January 28, after a £12.9m hit from a jump in costs associated with the sterling slump following the EU Referendum. Wilko also criticised the introduction of the National Living Wage, which it said “was well above expected levels” and had hurt discount retailers.

Mr Houghton said that the changes to staffing were the “legacy of retail structures that created complexity to manage which aren’t simple, fair or transparent for our team members. The simpler, newly defined store structure will give teams greater variety within their roles and result in more team hours on the shop floor, delivering a better customer experience”.

Wilko follows Asda earlier this week in announcing that hundreds of jobs could be at risk as the supermarket plans to make changes to 18 underperforming stores.

Sainsbury’s is also taking the axe to more than 1,000 jobs at its head office as part of a giant £500m cost-cutting drive, as revealed by the Sunday Telegraph.

By Ashley Armstrong,

Asda Targets Staffing Levels to Cut Costs After Poor Annual Results

 

grassrootsgroundswell/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 11 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

UK’s third-largest supermarket targets staffing levels to cut costs after worst annual results since Walmart takeover

Thousands of Asda workers are facing redundancy or a dramatic cut in their working hours as Britain’s third-largest supermarket chain looks to cut costs.

Asda has begun a consultation with 3,257 employees in 18 underperforming stores, singled out as overstaffed relative to their current sales performance.

Asda posts worst annual figures since Walmart takeover
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The Guardian has learned Asda is also looking at staffing levels in a further 59 of its supermarkets, though at present this is an informal process. The retailer is not looking to cut jobs in these stores but wants staff to agree to work in different departments when required.

The GMB union said it had been contacted by worried Asda workers “fearing for their jobs” after new business plans were shared with store managers that included a substantial reduction in staff hours worked.

The 18 stores facing staff cuts include branches in Halifax in West Yorkshire, Broadstairs in Kent and the Basildon Eastgate store in Essex. Staff will face a series of one-to-one meetings over the next three weeks. The eventual job-loss figure is expected to be in the hundreds.

Last week Asda posted its worst annual figures since being taken over by Walmart in 1999, as fierce competition in the UK supermarket sector took its toll. The supermarket chain admitted its performance was “behind expectations” after pre-tax profit for 2016 fell 19% to £791.7m. Accounts filed at Companies House also showed sales fell to £21.6bn from £22.3bn, as shoppers flocked to cheaper rivals.

The supermarket industry is going through massive change as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are forced to cut costs to respond to the threat posed by the fast-growing discounters Aldi and Lidl, as well as grocery sales moving online.

In a sign of how the balance of power is shifting, Aldi overtook Waitrose in 2015 and then, in February, sailed past the Co-op to become the UK’s fifth-biggest grocer. Lidl is expected to overtake Waitrose this year. The two currently sitneck and neck with 5.1% of the market, according to the consumer consultancy Kantar Worldpanel.

Tesco is axing 2,300 staff this year as part of a cost-cutting programme that is hitting head office workers as well as staff based at its Cardiff call centre – due to close early next year. At the weekend it was revealed that Sainsbury’s plans to cut 1,000 head office jobs.

In recent years Asda has trailed behind Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and is the worst-performing member of the “big four”. Its deteriorating performance led to the replacement of chief executive Andy Clarke last summer with the Walmart executive Sean Clarke parachuted in to lead a turnaround. He has focused on dropping prices, boosting the quality of food ranges and improving customer service.

Bryan Roberts, an analyst at TCC Global, said all the major supermarkets were trying to become more efficient as they juggled higher payroll costs following this year’s hike in the national minimum wage, and inflation linked to Brexit’s blow to sterling. “You need to be careful that you are cutting away fat without cutting into the muscle,” he said. Good customer service was a point of difference for Asda in its battle with the discounters, he added.

Last year Asda cut 750 jobs at its Leeds head office and in store. The process saw the closure of staff canteens in all stores and an end to shop-floor services such as photo-processing and pizza-making.

“We are currently in discussions with a number of our stores about changes that are needed to the number of hours required to run that store for our customers,” said an Asda spokesman. “It is common practice for a supermarket to need to make changes to hours based on the changing shopping habits of customers. We understand that any conversations about change are unsettling, but it is always our upmost priority to find alternative roles or working patterns for impacted colleagues.”

Roberts said Asda was “on the up” with the most recent set of industry figures showing it had pulled in an extra 398,000 shoppers in the 12 weeks to 16 July. The Kantar data showed Asda’s sales for the period grew by 1% compared with the same period a year ago.

Asda said like-for-like sales fell 2.8% in the first three months of 2017, which was marginally better than the 2.9% drop recorded in the last three months of 2016. Its second-quarter performance will be revealed on Thursday when Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, updates investors.

By Zoe Wood

UK Shops Plan Mass Recall as More than 700,000 Items Implicated In Dutch Egg Scandal

Ian Britton/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via ibtimes.co.uk – – Thur, 10 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

Around 700,000 eggs in the UK have been implicated in the European egg contamination scandal, the Food Standards Agency has revealed.

Earlier in the week, the FSA said that the number was only 21,000 but after further tests and inspections the number has been revised up significantly.

A number of products are affected including processed foods such as sandwich fillings which use eggs as well as other chilled products.

In a statement, the FSA said: “Investigations into the Fipronil incident in Europe continue. We have now established that more eggs from affected farms than previously identified came to the UK.

“It is very unlikely that these eggs pose a risk to public health, but as Fipronil is unauthorised for use in food-producing animals we have acted with urgency to ensure that consumers are protected.”

In large quantities, Fipronil is “moderately hazardous” according to the World Health Organisation with an impact on kidneys, liver and thyroids.

However the risk is deemed to be low according to the FSA, however the pesticide is banned for use in animals that produce food.

A number of products are affected including processed foods such as sandwich fillings which uses eggs as well as other chilled products.

In a statement, the FSA said: “Investigations into the Fipronil incident in Europe continue. We have now established that more eggs from affected farms than previously identified came to the UK.

“It is very unlikely that these eggs pose a risk to public health, but as Fipronil is unauthorised for use in food-producing animals we have acted with urgency to ensure that consumers are protected.”

In large quantities, Fipronil is “moderately hazardous” according to the World Health Organisation with an impact on kidneys, liver and thyroids.

However the risk is deemed to be low according to the FSA, however the pesticide is banned for use in animals that produce food.

By Jordan Bhatt

Sainsburys Cost Saving Overhaul threatens 1,000 jobs

Elliott Brown/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 8 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

Sainsbury’s is taking the axe to more than 1,000 jobs at its head office as part of a giant £500m cost-cutting drive.

It is understood that a team of top consultants from McKinsey have been parachuted into the supermarket’s headquarters to draw up a staff reduction plan.

Sainsbury’s employs 3,000 staff outside of its stores, including at its Holborn base in London. It also has a separate human resources centre in Manchester, an IT team in Walsgrave, Coventry, and a banking division in ­Edinburgh. The exact number of job losses is expected to be announced next month.

It is the latest in a series of major shake-ups at the big supermarkets as they grapple with far-reaching changes in how Britain buys its food.

In March, Sainsbury’s announced it was slashing 400 jobs, with a further 4,000 employees facing major changes to their working hours, as part of a shake-up of night shift work at 140 stores.

The company said the cuts were necessary to avoid having to raise prices, which had fallen in its core grocery business following a slump in the pound.

Two years ago, 800 store staff lost their jobs as part of a three-year plan to slash costs by £500m. Then, last November Sainsbury’s announced a new £500m three-year, cost-saving target, just months after closing its £1.4bn takeover of Argos.

It is a pattern that is being repeated at the supermarket’s main rivals. The established chains have been unable to stem the loss of customers to convenience stores, discounters and online ­rivals.

They have responded by slashing prices and improving the quality of their products but, to offset the ­increased outlay, have scaled back their operations in an effort to become leaner and more efficient.

In June, Tesco unveiled 1,200 job losses at its head office, just one week after announcing 1,100 jobs would be culled at a call centre in Cardiff, as boss Dave Lewis steps up a sweeping cost-cutting drive.

Since taking charge of Tesco in 2014, Mr Lewis has more than lived up to his nickname “Drastic Dave”, which he was given at Unilever because of a willingness to dramatically rein in overheads. In his first year, Mr Lewis made nearly 10,000 employees redundant.

Five thousand head office staff and UK store managers were let go, as well as more than 4,000 roles overseas and at the chain’s banking arm. In 2015, a further 2,500 positions were axed with the closure of nearly 50 underperforming stores.

Then, in April this year, a reduction in shelf-stacking night shifts in some of its biggest ­supermarkets put a further 3,000 posts at risk. The swingeing cuts are part of a turnaround plan in which Mr Lewis has pledged to save £1.5bn of costs.

Clive Black, analyst at Shore Capital, said that Sainsbury’s plans were “part of a structural shift happening across the industry to reduce operating costs to reflect the changes across the industry”.

He added: “Most of these supermarkets have had stagnating operations for some time that lacked the entrepreneurial spirit to make the workforce more efficient.” Senior sources said that Sainsbury’s was focused on reductions within its HR, and learning and development teams.

The supermarket, which employs 51,000 full-time staff and 130,000 part-time workers, spent £2.5bn on wages last year and a further £267m on social security and pension costs.

“We do not comment on speculation and would always make any announcement around jobs to our colleagues first,” a Sainsbury’s spokesman said.

By Ben Marlow and Ashley Armstrong

Gender inequality manifesto memo by Google employee creates backlash

 

An internal memo to Google employees questioning Google diversity initiatives has taken the internet by storm. In the memo, the unnamed author challenges the companies practices of favoring women and minorities just for being women and minorities. He’s got a point. Google’s hiring and promotion practices look to be discriminatory but they can get away with it because they are discriminating in a way society is accepting of. The memo also points out that some people in the company are afraid to share their views because they fear being fired, seemingly with good reason.

Danielle Brown, Google’s new VP of diversity has responded to the memo and basically, tells Google employees it’s ok to share their opinions as long as they have the right opinions.

EU Eggs Contamination Concerns

 

New questions are being raised over the contamination of eggs with insecticide in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, with Belgium admitting it knew about the problem in June, a month before it became public.

Officials say details were not released because a fraud case had been launched.

Katrien Stragier, a spokeswoman for the Belgian Federal Food Agency, told local television: “We’ve known since the beginning of June there’s a problem in the poultry industry with Fipronil.

The Drama School Creating a New Generation of Black British Actors

 

They’re young, British, and taking on Hollywood. A new generation of black actors, including John Boyega in the blockbuster Star Wars, have been trained at the Identity School of Acting, in London. Established in 2003, it now boasts a roster of talent, that’s doing well in America. The British Film Institute has identified a lack of diversity in film making, and Colleen Harris has been to meet some of the school’s stars, who’re breaking the industry’s glass ceiling.

RBS made £939m in profits in the six months to June, beating analyst expectations

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 4 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has posted its first half-year profit in three years, as the taxpayer-controlled bank said it may move some operations to Amsterdam after Brexit.

The bank made £939m in profits in the six months to June, beating analyst expectations, compared to a £2bn loss last year.

The Treasury declined to provide an update on when it plans to sell its 72pc stake.

Ross McEwan, RBS chief executive, said that the potential Amsterdam move would affect around 150 staff in its NatWest Markets business.

He said the bank was “advancing discussions” with Dutch authorities about repurposing an EU banking licence it picked up through its disastrous acquisition of ABN Amro prior to the financial crisis.

But he cautioned that it was not a done deal and depended on the outcome of Brexit talks, saying: “It’s in case we do need it. We’ll be operationally ready if required. If we do have to make some changes, we will set up an operation in Amsterdam.”

RBS shares jumped more than 4pc to around £2.67 in early trading.

Despite the profitable start to the year RBS restated that it does not expect to make its first full-year profit in a decade, instead predicting a return to the black in 2018.

This is due to an expected multi-billion-pound fine in the second half from the US Department of Justice for its role in selling subprime mortgages before the crash.

Analysts expect the DoJ fine to be around £5bn-£6bn, although estimates range from £4bn-£15bn. RBS made no update on provisioning for the fine this morning, despite only having around £3bn left in its compensation pot.

Mr McEwan conceded the fine may not land this year amid disarray at the DoJ under the Trump presidency. He said: “We don’t have an update on that. It may not be done this year but I’m still optimistic it will be done.”

Unlike Barclays and Lloyds, RBS did not set aside any more money for PPI claims in addition to its existing £4.9bn pot. It has already paid out £3.8bn.

The bank’s core high street and small business lending arm enjoyed a good period, doubling half-year profits to £1.1bn, up from £533m.

But the group was once again weighed down by exceptional restructuring and misconduct costs, running to a combined £1.2bn.

This figure included the first payment of £151m towards a separate £4.2bn settlement with US housing authorities over misselling toxic mortgages.

Mr McEwan also fired a warning about Britain’s consumer credit glut, after Bank of England governor Mark Carney ordered banks to explain their consumer lending policies.

He said: “Consumer credit has increased by 10pc over the last year and is outstripping wage growth. The Bank of England is rightly asking questions.”

Mr McEwan pointed out RBS was focussing on expanding secured credit including mortgage lending, with unsecured making up only 4pc of its total. In business lending he said it was being “cautious in areas like real estate”.

When asked if there was an update on selling the taxpayers’ stake in RBS, the Treasury referred the Telegraph to chancellor Philip Hammond’s statement in the Spring Budget that: “The government will continue to seek opportunities for disposals, but the need to resolve legacy issues makes it uncertain as to when these will occur.”

There had been speculation Mr Hammond could take advantage of the expected profits announcement to offload shares.

In April Mr Hammond said he was willing to sell the stake at a loss in order to draw a line under the post-crisis years. At current prices RBS shares are worth around half of the £5.02 a share level the Government bought them for in 2008.

A Treasury spokesperson added: “There is still work to do but RBS is continuing to implement its strategy and is making good progress in dealing with the problems of the past.”

RBS was boosted last month by European regulators’ blessing that it can keep the 316-branch business Williams & Glyn in exchange for stumping up £775m in small banks support.

Costs are down more than 4pc as restructuring continues, with £490m of cost stripped out in the first half, towards a target of £750m for the year. It has so far closed 81 subsidiaries, cut 3,000 desks and ditched 7,000 systems or applications.

Mr McEwan said a rise in mobile banking was reducing costs, with 58 people every second using its apps and a 13pc increase in users.

The bank is on track to meet financial targets for this year and 2020.

By Iain Withers

Accenture Consultancy firm to creates 1,700 new jobs

UK in Spain/Flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 3 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

Consultancy firm Accenture aims to have hired 1,700 people in the UK during its 2017 financial year, the company announced on Thursday.

Chancellor Philip Hammond described the investment as a “vote of confidence” in Britain’s economy.

The roles are based throughout the country, primarily in London and Newcastle, and are focused on technology – including around 500 positions across robotics, cyber defence, artificial intelligence (AI), data science and virtual reality.

The company said it had hired recruited approximately 600 entry level employees, including school leavers, as it further broadens its intake beyond university graduates.

“This investment is a vote of confidence in our plan to build a stronger economy,” Mr Hammond said.

“These jobs will be filled around the country in cutting-edge sectors where Britain leads the world, such as cyber security, robotics and virtual reality.”

Olly Benzecry, chairman and senior managing director for Accenture in the UK and Ireland, said: “Accenture’s growing workforce marks our ongoing commitment to the UK as we continue to help our clients navigate through a period of unprecedented change and digital disruption.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be at Accenture as we work with organisations to unlock value through innovation.

“As new technologies rapidly impact every aspect of our lives, from progress in AI to the increasing threat of cyber crime, we are taking on people who possess the skills required to help our clients to succeed in the digital economy.”

The company is also bolstering its technology advisory and consulting workforce in industries including financial services, communications & media, retail, consumer goods & services, utilities and government.

Accenture said it is also training 40 technology apprentices this year, and offering technology and digital-oriented work experience, and vocational education.

By Oliver Gill

Co-operative cash machines to spray invisible gel to catch criminals

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com — via The Independent -– Thu, 3 August 2017) —

Criminals who attempt to break into Co-operative cash machines will be sprayed with an invisible gel said to be detectable on the skin and clothes for as long as five years.

Forensic technology company SmartWater teamed up with the Co-op Group in making the gel traceable enough to link criminals back to the scene of the crime. Only a tiny amount of gel – the size of a speck of dust – is enough for criminal forensic investigators to find and identify a person.

Approximately 2,500 Co-op cash machines will have the technology installed across the UK, following a 90 per cent reduction in crime at ATM’s during a pilot scheme rolled out over 30 locations last year.

According to the Co-op, ATM crime is most frequent in the North West of England. London is reportedly ranked second in ATM crimes across the UK. The capital is also home to high rates of “Black box” crimes, whereby criminals gain access to ATMs by physically connecting them to devices, such as a laptop, to usher commands which dispenses cash.

The Metropolitan Police said it had taken up the initiative, alongside SmartWater, to visit one in seven homes across London to give away free crime-detecting kits aimed at “reducing household burglary”.

“All custody areas have suitable detectors fitted, with all prisoners routinely scanned and hundreds of patrol staff have been both equipped and trained to detect it”, said Iain Raphael, Detective Chief Superintendent and Enfield Borough Commander. “We welcome any crime prevention initiative such as this that can benefit from our on-going work with SmartWater and criminals contemplating attacks on Co-op ATM’s should take note”.

Chris Whitfield, Co-op’s Director of Retail and Logistics, said ATM crime disproportionately impacts rural police forces where “cash dispensers are more of a lifeline for residents and the local economy”. He added: “At the forefront of combating ATM crime this proven technology utilises the latest ATM security capabilities and innovations to cut crime, providing a safer and secure way to deliver a key and convenient service in local communities.”

By Shafi Musaddique