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British Hospitality Association expects a decline in the sector workforce by 2021

aJ Gazmen/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com — Mon, 3 July 2017) London, Uk —

The hospitality industry’s stellar growth since the financial crisis could be halted and start to fall by 2021 if the Government continues to overlook it, a new report has suggested.

Research by Ignite Economics, carried out for the British Hospitality Association, has predicted the sector’s workforce could begin to drop by 2021 with the contribution it makes to the economy also falling as cost pressures from wages and business rates bite alongside a potential labour squeeze once the UK leaves the EU.

The report’s least optimistic ‘bear case’ scenario suggests a 1pc fall in the number of people directly employed in the sector compared to 2016 to 3.17m, with the economic contribution the sector makes also starting to fall from its current level of £73bn.

While the estimated drop is small, any weakness in the industry would be a concern given it employs almost 10pc of the entire UK workforce and has grown its contribution to the economy faster than any other sector since the economic crisis.

“The hospitality sector has been largely overlooked by successive Governments, and was notable in its absence in party manifestos ahead of the General Election, as well as its absence from the Government’s Industrial Strategy,” the report said.

Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the BHA, said hospitality’s growth outlook was “highly uncertain”.

“We need the Government to step up and support our industry by reducing tourism VAT, working with us to reduce the dependence on EU workers and increase the number of UK workers joining the hospitality industry, allowing the Low Pay Commission to set the National Living Wage and to bring forward a fundamental review of Business Rates,” Ms Ibrahim said.

The bear case in the report assumes the 65,000 jobs per annum that come from EU workers are no longer able to be filled and that labour productivity ceases to improve and stays at 2016 levels.

A far rosier scenario is also offered by the report, suggesting employment could grow by 15pc to 3.69m and that the sector’s economic contribution could rise 30pc compared to 2016 to £95bn. A base case predicts a 7pc growth in employment to hit 3.43m and a 22pc rise in the sector’s economic contribution compared to 2016 to £89bn.

Ed Birkin, founder of Ignite Economics, said it was “more important than ever” to promote industries with strong economic fundamentals such as the hospitality sector.

“However, there are a number of potential headwinds facing the sector, and the extent of these will determine whether the industry can continue to be a key driver of growth for the UK economy.”

By Bradley Gerrard

 

Brexit talks begin in Brussels, as EU and UK seek new ‘partnership’

 

The big Brexit talks have kicked off in Brussels, with both sides sitting down for their first official discussions over the UK leaving the EU.

Britain’s Conservative Party lost its overall majority in the recent election, but Brexit Secretary David Davis said that has not changed their negotiating position.

“Because the membership of the single market requires the four freedoms to be obeyed, we need to bring back to the UK control of our laws of our borders,” Davis told reporters.

Pound plunges amid fears Brexit negotiations could be delayed

 

James Hume/Flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 9 June, 2017) London, Uk – –

The shock election result sent the pound plunging amid fears that Brexit negotiations could be delayed if voters returned a hung parliament to Westminster.

The pound immediately dropped in reaction to the shock 10pm exit poll, falling as much as 2% to $1.27 in the currency markets, its lowest level in six weeks. It was projected the Conservatives would become the largest party but fall short of the 326 seats required for a majority.

Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, described the exit poll as a “thunderbolt”, reflecting shock across the City, where dealers had begun the evening expecting a clear majority for the Conservatives.

The pound remained under pressure but analysts at financial firm IG said the futures markets were predicting the FTSE 100 index would open just 13 points lower, cushioned in part by the fall in sterling, which benefits the international companies in the index.

The stock market had fallen 0.38% to 7449 on Thursday, before the exit poll was published. While investors were surprised when May called the election on 18 April, with the FTSE 100 suffering its biggest fall since the vote for Brexit, the Tories were expected to win convincingly.

But the exit poll showed that would not be case. During the night the currency regained some of the lost ground as the first results came in and traders stationed at their desks across the City calculated that the exit poll was overstating the Conservatives’ losses.

But as the night wore on, the exit poll proved to be more correct than originally thought. Jeremy Cook, the chief economist at World First, said sterling was moving as each seat was called and at 1.30am, it reached a new low for the session of $1.2696, as sentiment shifted back towards the exit poll presenting a true picture. Cook saidsterling could fall to $1.24. This figure would, however, not be as low as the levels it plunged to after the Brexit vote almost a year ago.

“Currencies like governments with mandates – and don’t like delays to Brexit,” Cook said.

Lee Hardman, a currency analyst at MUFG, also warned the pound was vulnerable. “The market will be praying that this exit poll has got it wrong. Currency volatility is the best proxy for market fears; if the Conservative ship is sinking, then the market will be looking for a lifeboat,” he said.

Late on Thursday night, Kallum Pickering, an economist at Berenberg, agreed: “If the exit polls are right, tomorrow will be interesting, to put it mildly.”

The City was focused on the fear that fresh political uncertainty could delay Brexit negotiations. Kit Juckes, an economist at Société Générale, said: “There will be other polls, and results will come out through the night, but this is going to leave Theresa May struggling to keep control of the Brexit process.”

Dean Turner, an economist at UBS Wealth Management, said: “It is early days, and the result can change, but it looks as though Theresa May’s grip over the Conservative party has weakened, which does not bode well for the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.”

There was uncertainty about whether the election result could lead to a softer Brexit. Pickering said: “Markets might perceive the near-term uncertainty to be worse than it was after the Brexit vote. However, if a hung parliament forces a cross-party compromise, it could lead to a softer Brexit strategy, and may turn out to be positive in the long run after some serious initial confusion.”

While London dealers waited for the stock market to open, Chris Beauchamp, the chief market analyst at IG, said: “The shock of the result is not really translated into the market.” The loss of seats by the Scottish National party reducing pressure for Scottish independence was one potential reason, as was the prospect of a softer Brexit.

The Confederation of British Industry was quick to say any new government should start to refocus on the economy, which, according to official statistics, was the worst performer in the EU in the opening months of 2017 as the Brexit vote started to take its toll.

“As a nation, we have the creativity, skills and global outlook to make the UK a true world leader in the industries of the future, bringing jobs and growth to all parts of the UK,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the employers’ body.

“As early priorities, business will want to see a commitment to tax and regulatory stability, fast progress on a modern industrial strategy to support skills, infrastructure and innovation, and a Brexit approach that puts people and trade ahead of politics.”

By Jill Treanor

Bank of England Staff union launches ballot Over Strike Action

James Stringer/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 1 June, 2017) London, UK —

Staff at the Bank of England will begin voting on Thursday on whether to hold a strike this year in protest at below-inflation pay rises, union sources told Reuters.

Unite, Britain’s biggest union is consulting members on whether to take industrial action at the 323-year-old Bank, which employs around 3,600 people, after they were awarded a 1 percent pay rise for this year.

The union, which represents workers in security, catering, legal, HR and other services at the Bank of England, said the pay offer was “derisory” and the second year in a row that employees have faced a pay offer that is lower than inflation, resulting in a fall in income in real terms.

Industrial disputes at the BoE are rare. In 1994, IT staff at the Bank were balloted for strike action after a pay dispute but voted against it.

“The Bank’s disgraceful snub of low paid staff stinks of arrogance and represents an organisation thoroughly out of touch with the reality of the pressure staff face meeting their costs of living,” said Mercedes Sanchez, a Unite regional officer.

The Bank of England declined to comment.

Industrial action would be potentially embarrassing for the central bank, whose policymakers have focused heavily on the prospects for wage growth. The BoE’s latest economic forecasts show wage growth is likely to pick up significantly over the next couple of years, but it has previously been overly optimistic about the pace of pay increases.

Pay rises for public sector workers in Britain have been capped by the government at 1 percent. Although this does not apply to the independent Bank of England, it operates in an environment of pay restraint for public officials.

Workers in Britain suffered a long hit to their spending power after the global financial crisis, which eased only briefly when falling oil prices took inflation to zero in 2015.

Real earnings are below their levels of 10 years ago and inflation looks set to hit 3 percent this year, pushed up by the pound’s fall since the Brexit vote and the oil price rebound.

Britain faces the prospect of a wave of strikes in different industries this summer, with nurses and teachers threatening to stop work over issues ranging from pay deals to pensions.

Unite said some Bank staff earn less than 20,000 pounds a year imposing a 1 percent pay rise will potentially leave them and their families facing financial hardship.

BoE Governor Mark Carney has received an annual salary of 480,000 pounds since joining the Bank in 2013, as well as an annual accommodation allowance of 250,000 pounds. He has declined pay increases since joining.

The ballot will close on June 21 and if members vote in favour of strike action this could begin in the summer or autumn, the sources said.

By Andrew MacAskill and Andy Bruce

Google officially submits plans for new 1million sq ft London headquarters

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 1 June 2017) London, Uk – –

Construction on building that is longer than the Shard is tall set to begin in King’s Cross in 2018

Google has officially submitted plans for its new 1million sq ft (92,000m2) “landscraper” London headquarters, with the intention of beginning construction on the building in 2018.

Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studios, the team behind TfL’s New Bus for London and the 2012 Olympic Cauldron, the building will stand 11 storeys tall and stretch parallel to the platforms of London’s King’s Cross railway station.

Combined with Google’s current King’s Cross office around the corner, and a third building that the company also plans on moving into in the area, it will form a new campus that will house 7,000 Google employees. Dubbed a “landscraper”, the finished building will be longer than the Shard is tall.

The Heatherwick-designed building was submitted to Camden council and will be the first to be wholly owned by, and designed specifically for, Google outside the US. Google declined to comment on the cost of the project.

Heatherwick said in a statement: “The area is a fascinating collision of diverse building types and spaces and I can’t help but love this mix of massive railway stations, roads, canals and other infrastructure all layered up into the most connected point in London.”

He added: “Influenced by these surroundings, we have treated this new building for Google like a piece of infrastructure too, made from a family of interchangeable elements which ensure that the building and its workspace will stay flexible for years to come.”

Google’s Joe Borrett, the company’s head of real estate and construction, said: “We are excited to be able to bring our London Googlers together in one campus, with a new purpose-built building that we’ve developed from the ground up. Our offices and facilities play a key part in shaping the Google culture, which is one of the reasons we are known for being among the best places to work in the industry.”

The company’s decision to stick with its plans for the HQ was widely seen as a vote of confidence in the British economy following the decision to leave the EU in June 2016. In a speech in Google’s London office last November, chief executive Sundar Pichai said: “Here in the UK, it’s clear to me that computer science has a great future with the talent, educational institutions, and passion for innovation we see all around us. We are committed to the UK and excited to continue our investment in our new King’s Cross campus.”

Originally, the company’s plans had called for a luxury office, complete with a rooftop running track, indoor swimming pool and climbing wall – and saddled with an estimated £1bn price tag. But Google rejected those plans, put together by London-based architects AHMM, in 2015 for being “too boring”, and brought Heatherwick on board instead.

By Alex Hern

Eurostar makes a strong start in the first quarter with Sales up 15%

 

It’s been a tough couple of years for Eurostar, with a series of terror attacks in France and Belgium having hit travel, but the high speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe has started 2017 strongly.
Sales during the first three months of the year were up 15%.
Ian King took a trip to St Pancras International station where chief executive Nicolas Petrovic told him what was behind the rebound.

Britain’s financial sector formulate contingency plans after Brexit

 

Britain’s financial sector – the City of London – is abuzz with contingency plans.

In the near future, a raft of banks are expected to announce what they will do when Britain leaves the European Union, including moving staff to places like Frankfurt and Paris.

The man whose job it is to talk up London’s role as Europe’s international financial centre says we should not exaggerate the numbers that will leave but admits the UK economy could suffer.

London Docklands Factory to Build Thousands of Prefab Homes

ThisParticularGreg/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 13 Apr, 2017) London, Uk – –

Plans are being drawn up for a factory in east London that would supply thousands of modern prefab homes.

The scheme in the Docklands will be the first of its kind in the capital and eventually provide 3,000 new homes. Although modular homes have been built and shipped into other London sites, this is the first development with its own factory.

The Government is keen to promote prefab housing as a way of solving the housing crisis. Modular homes can be built in sections and then assembled quickly on site. Currently, around 15,000 new homes are produced this way each year.

The developer First Base has brought on the global engineering consultancy firm Aecom to help with the plans. The factory, in Silvertown, would deliver homes up to nine months quicker than was possible using normal house building techniques, First Base said.

The Silvertown development, which is being built by a partnership between Chelsfield Properties, First Base and Macquarie Capital, spans 62 acres in total.

The factory is expected to become operational later this year, producing two-bedroom homes in two parts, which can be put together on site.

Building modular homes costs 20pc less than traditional methods, the company said.

A number of other housebuilders have set up similar factories, although none has yet put a prefab home on one of their development sites.

In December, the housing association Your Housing Group signed a deal with China National Building Material Company, a Chinese state-owned construction company, to build 25,000 modular homes in the next five years.

Last year the housing minister, Gavin Barwell, said the Government saw a “huge opportunity” in manufacturers building houses off-site to hit ambitious building targets.

A surge in prefabs after the Second World War helped families left homeless after the Blitz.

UK Paramount Theme Park Construction Set to Cost £3.5 billion

It’s the news British film-lovers and thrill-seekers have been waiting to hear forever – no longer do we have to schlep across the seas to get our fix of stardust and adrenaline, for the UK is finally getting its own ‘Disneyland’.

The theme park will be the first of its kind in the UK, and is being created by film company Paramount at a cost of £3.5 billion.

Paramount is the company behind such iconic films as Titanic, Forrest Gump, The Godfather, Footloose, Braveheart and Iron Man.

Touted as the “UK Disneyland,” the new theme park is set to be built in Dartford, Kent and will feature attractions inspired by the films.

However, the park will also include rides inspired by BBC Worldwide and Aardman Animations, the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run.

The resort will be divided up into different areas such as Adventure Isle, Land of Legends, Cartoon Circus, Starfleet Command, Action Square, Port Paramount and Entertainment City.

As well as rides, the theme park is planned to include a theatre, cafes and restaurants, shops, hotels and a nightclub.

Much like at Disneyland, there will be a “Paramount and Friends Carnival” every afternoon and a show “celebrating the works of Paramount Pictures and our other content partners” every evening.

At an expected £57 for a full-priced day ticket, a family trip to the theme park will not be cheap.

Despite the price, the creators are expecting to welcome up to 40,000 visitors a day.

The plans for the park, however, are yet to be approved – a development consent order (DCO) will be submitted to the government in November, Essex Live reports.

But Humphrey Percy, group CEO of the project’s parent company Kuwaiti European Holdings, is confident there’ll be no problems getting the green light to go ahead with the park: “We have the financial backing to take us all the way through that process,” he said.

Provided the plans are approved by the Government, construction of the theme park should commence in 2019, with the 872-acre resort set to open in 2022.

IAG to Launch Low-cost Airline Named Level

 

Keith Mason/flickr
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 17 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –

The owner of British Airways is entering the fray of the burgeoning low-cost long-haul market with a new airline to be named Level in a bid to take the wind out of rivals such as Norwegian and WestJet.

International Airlines Group said Level will launch in June with an initial two new Airbus A330 aircraft flying from Barcelona to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said Level would become IAG’s fifth main airline brand alonside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

Mr Walsh added Barcelona was “just the start” and that other European destinations would be added.

Level will be initially staffed by Iberia’s flight and cabin crew, creating up to 250 jobs in Barcelona, the launch city for the brand.

Fares will start from €99 for a one-way ticket. Checked luggage, meals and seat selection will be among the perks for those willing to pay for one of the 21 premium economy seats each aircraft will have.

The remaining 293 seats will be economy, where passengers will be able to choose what they want to pay for.

Norwegian’s website has flights from Barcelona to San Francisco from €162 in the winter months, meaning Level could become a serious competitor.

By  Bradley Gerrard

Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn takeover bid for Sky to be investigated by Ofcom

David Shankbone/flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thu, 16 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –

Ofcom to assess whether deal gives mogul too much control of UK media and whether his family are ‘fit and proper’ owners

Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn takeover bid for Sky is to be investigated by the media regulator to see if it gives the mogul too much control of news output in the UK and whether the Murdoch family are “fit and proper” owners following the phone-hacking scandal.

The culture secretary, Karen Bradley, has referred 21st Century Fox’s bid to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own to Ofcom to investigate potential public interest issues on two grounds.

Bradley told MPs she has issued a European intervention notice on the grounds of “media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards” linked to the bid from Rupert Murdoch’s company. Bradley confirmed the decision in a statement to MPs in the Commons.

Ofcom will look at whether Fox’s takeover will raise issues of UK media plurality and concentration in Murdoch’s control.

The deal will give Murdoch full control of Sky News, as well as the Times, Sunday Times and Sun newspapers and radio group TalkSport, through separate company News Corp.

The second issue is whether Fox is committed to the required editorial standards, such as accuracy and impartial news coverage.

If Ofcom does not raise any concerns, Bradley must clear the bid.

However, if the regulator cites problems she must decide whether to accept an undertaking from Fox to address them.

Opponents of the bid have raised concerns that Murdoch, who also owns the rightwing Fox News, will use his influence to drive the news agenda and that there is a risk of the “Foxification” of Sky News.

Murdoch critics have called for the bid to be blocked while rival broadcasters are expected to lodge complaints and make representations in the UK and Europe – the European commission is also examining the deal – after expressing concerns that a Fox/Sky combination will dominate bidding for top-flight sport, TV shows and movies.

Fox News, which is also broadcast in the UK, has fallen foul of the regulator a number of times through editorial lapses. Last year, Ofcom criticised a Fox News programme for breaching the UK code when a guest said Birmingham was a city “where non-Muslims just simply don’t go”.

Separately Ofcom, which will now have up to 40 working days to report back to Bradley on the public interest concerns, will kick off its own concurrent review of whether Fox is “fit and proper” to take control of Sky’s broadcasting licence.

Ofcom, which has already said that Fox taking over Sky’s licence would warrant such a review, launched a “fit and proper” investigation following Murdoch’s previous attempt to takeover Sky back in 2010.

The investigation found that Sky remained a “fit and proper” owner of a broadcast licence, despite the phone-hacking affair that embroiled the now-defunct News Corporation, then the parent of Fox and Murdoch’s UK newspapers.

However, it published a scathing assessment of James Murdoch – then the chief executive of his father’s UK newspaper group and chairman of Sky – finding that his conduct repeatedly fell short of the standards expected.

The political fallout ultimately resulted in Rupert Murdoch withdrawing his bidand James standing down as chairman of Sky and quitting the UK newspaper business to run Fox, the film and TV operation, from the US.

Rupert Murdoch subsequently spun off the publishing and newspaper assets into a separate company, News Corp, and film and TV into 21st Century Fox, with independent boards, in part a corporate governance measure to facilitate another tilt at Sky.

James Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox, was reappointed as the chairman of Sky last year. In October, he had to rely on the support of Fox, Sky’s largest shareholder, to win approval for his return after more than 50% of independent shareholders voted against his reappointment.

At the time of the last bid the Murdochs agreed a deal to spin off Sky News to allay media plurality concerns. This time James Murdoch has stated that he does not believe any “meaningful concessions” will need to be made to get the deal through.

In a letter to Bradley during the 10-day period she has had to review whether to refer the bid to Ofcom, Fox argued that in the six years since the aborted bid the media landscape has changed beyond recognition.

The company says that media plurality is flourishing with the rise of digital rivals such as Google and Facebook and news distributors and new outlets such as Vice, Buzzfeed and Huffington Post, while newspaper sales decline.

It also argues that splitting the publishing and TV and film operations into two companies solves corporate governance, competition and plurality issues.

However, opponents argue that the Murdoch family will still be the ultimate owner of both newspaper and TV assets in the UK and that will give them too much control over UK news media.

Fox has also pledged to keep Fox News at arm’s length and “continue to broadcast news under the Sky brand maintaining its excellent record of compliance with the Ofcom broadcasting code”.

By Mark Sweney

Uber in London to appeal court ruling on drivers literacy

 

The online taxi service Uber says it will appeal after losing a court battle in London.

The app service was attempting to stop transport regulators from forcing private drivers to prove the level of their reading and writing skills in English.

London judges did agree with Uber, however, that drivers should not have to have permanent private hire insurance.

UK Businesses Urged To Hire A Million More Older Workers

 

Tim Tabor/flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Mon, 6 Feb, 2017) London, Uk – –
A Government-backed older workers champion says employees aged 50-69 are needed as the UK labour market faces a shortfall.

Employers have been urged to hire a million more older workers over the next five years to help plug the skills gap and combat age bias.

Andy Briggs, the Government’s business champion for older workers, has called for the employment rate for people aged 50-69 to rise from 59% to 66% by 2022.

Britain faces a shortfall of new workers over that period, with 14.5 million jobs created but only seven million younger people entering the workforce.

Mr Briggs, who is chief executive of Aviva UK Life, said putting a million more older people in work by 2022 was an “ambitious yet necessary target”.

“There are 15 million people of this age group in the labour market, yet only nine million are in work,” he said. “We want to get this to 10 million by 2022.”

The UK employment rate at age 50 is 83%, dropping to 64% at age 60.

Mr Briggs said older workers could be “written off” but employers should consider the “overwhelming benefits of having a diverse and representative workforce”.

He added: “We live in an ageing society so it is critical that people are able to work for as long as they need and want to.

“Many people aged over 50 want to continue to develop their careers, learn new skills, try new things and also share their broad knowledge and experience.

“This is good for everyone, and particularly for employers and their businesses who will benefit from drawing on the talent, creativity and experience of all their employees, regardless of age.”

Mr Briggs works with the Business in the Community group to help businesses retain, retrain and recruit older workers.

The Government announced a new strategy last week aimed at increasing the number of older workers.

London Underground staff strike cause travel chaos to millions

Millions of London underground passengers have been hit by travel chaos after unions called a 24-hour strike.

The industrial action is part of a long-running dispute over ticket office closures.

Unions say over 800 jobs have been axed and allege it has resulted in staff being abused by angry passengers queuing at ticket machines.

The city’s mayor Sadiq Khan has criticised the walkout.

Aerial footage from the UK capital showed commuters struggling to get to work.