YachtLife is an app that let’s users browse yachts that they can rent. The company started in Miami, but now has rentals available across the world. From Florida, to Colombia, to Italy and Spain, customers can use the app to rent yachts for a day or weekend. Rentals come equipped with a captain and first mate, and even a chef if wanted.
7-year-old Maverick has a rare genetic disorder that severely limits his vision. Now, a medication called Luxturna – the first gene therapy approved by the FDA – has the potential to substantially improve his sight, via an injection of a gene-carrying virus underneath his retina.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 21st Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Wells Fargo, a major US bank, has agreed to pay $3bn (£2.3bn) to resolve a government investigation into its sales practices, including opening millions of fake customer accounts.
The bank admitted it had wrongly collected millions of dollars in fees, misused customer information and harmed the credit rating of customers.
The settlement comes about four years after the scandal first erupted.
It has already forced out two chief executives and led to hefty fines.
Since 2018, Wells Fargo has been operating under an order from the US Federal Reserve that limits its growth.
Last month, former chief executive John Stumpf agreed to pay $17.5m to settle charges, in a rare example of a bank executive being personally punished for failing to stop misconduct.
Charlie Scharf, who became chief executive in October, said the settlement was a “significant step in bringing this chapter to a close”.
“There's still more work we must do to rebuild the trust we lost,” he added.
“The conduct at the core of today's settlements – and the past culture that gave rise to it – are reprehensible and wholly inconsistent with the values on which Wells Fargo was built,” he said.
The settlement concerns activities between 2002 and 2016, when the bank's intense focus on growth put pressure on staff to meet “onerous sales goals”.
The environment ultimately led workers to create fake accounts, sell services that customers did not need, and shift money between accounts, among other illicit activities, prosecutors said.
Top managers of Wells Fargo's consumer division were aware of the “gaming practices” as early as 2002, they said. In 2004, an internal investigator called it a “growing plague”, according to the settlement.
“This case illustrates a complete failure of leadership at multiple levels within the bank. Simply put, Wells Fargo traded its hard-earned reputation for short-term profits, and harmed untold numbers of customers along the way,” US Attorney Nick Hanna said.
“We are hopeful that this $3bn penalty, along with the personnel and structural changes at the bank, will ensure that such conduct will not reoccur.”
Of the $3bn, about $500m is set to be returned to investors who were misled by bank disclosures.
The US Department of Justice said the bank would be monitored for three years for compliance, under a deferred prosecution agreement.
If the bank abides by the conditions of the settlement, including ongoing cooperation in investigations, the charges will be dismissed.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 20th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
At least 2bn polymer notes are to be rolled out across the country from Thursday
The new polymer £20 note featuring the artist JMW Turner is to go into circulation, as the Bank of England begins a mammoth operation to replace the most popular banknote in the country.
At least 2bn have been printed, and the Bank expects half of the country’s cash machines to have switched over within the next fortnight.
In Scotland, Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale will launch their polymer £20 notes on 27 February, with Royal Bank of Scotland following on 5 March. Banks in Northern Ireland will also change over in 2020, but there is no specific date.
Judging by the huge popularity of earlier polymer note issues, the Bank of England said it expected to see queues outside its Threadneedle Street head office when it opened its doors at 9am.Advertisement
Not all bank branches will be stocking the new £20 immediately. For example, Santander said only 12 of its branches would have the new note from Thursday. They include branches in Birmingham, Cardiff and Leeds.
The note will feature Turner’s portrait in front of The Fighting Temeraire, his tribute to the ship that played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It will also be the first note to include the signature of Sarah John, the Bank of England’s chief cashier since 2018.
The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, chose Tate Britain, which is home to the most important Turner collection, to launch the new note. The Fighting Temeraire, which is currently in the National Gallery, will be on view at Tate Britain in the autumn for a major Turner exhibition.
He said: “I am delighted that the work of arguably the single most influential British artist of all time will now appear on another 2bn works of art – the new £20 notes that people can start using today.”
The Bank said the banknote will be the single biggest switchover to polymer attempted anywhere in the world. While first adopted by Australia in 1988, US dollars and euros have so far resisted the switch to plastic.
According to the Bank of England, if the new £20 notes were laid end to end, they would stretch around the world almost seven times and weigh a total of 1,780 tonnes. The notes are manufactured in England by De La Rue.
Unlike the launch of the polymer £5 and £10 notes, Britain’s central bank has not set a date for when the older paper-cotton notes will stop being legal tender, so they can continue to be used in circulation. It said it will give at least six months’ notice of any withdrawal date.
The Bank is opting for polymer over traditional paper because it is cleaner, longer-lasting and harder to forge.
Old notes removed from circulation are either turned into compost, or burned to generate electricity.
Despite the fact that non-polymer £5 and £10 notes are no longer legal tender, £1.5bn worth are still in existence. The Bank of England said as of July 2019, there were 118m old £5 notes and 93.8m £10 notes that had not been returned.
But individuals have the right in perpetuity to bring old notes to the Bank of England and swap them for a new note of the same value.
Unlike in the eurozone, where the €50 is the most common note in circulation, the British have traditionally preferred lower denominations.
There are about 2bn paper £20 notes in circulation, compared with 1.1bn £10 notes, 400m £5 notes and 350m £50 notes.
Despite the decline in the use of cash, the total value of notes in circulation has remained broadly static in recent years. The Bank said it had found that while people were carrying the same amount of cash as before, it stayed longer in purses and wallets than before before being spent.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 20th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
A surge in complaints about mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) weighed on Lloyds' finances last year.
The UK banking giant posted a 26% drop in pre-tax profits to £4.4bn as it paid out billions of pounds to customers in PPI compensation.
The bill for PPI claims in 2019 would be about £2.5bn, but Lloyds said no further provisions were needed as it had already set aside enough money.
It brings the total paid out by Lloyds over the mis-selling saga to £21.9bn.
Lloyds said there had been a “significant increase” in queries about PPI claims ahead of a deadline to claim in August last year.
The deadline, set by the City regulator, prompted a rush of enquiries, which pushed the bank's bill up from £750m in 2018.
“The group's statutory performance was impacted by a substantial PPI charge related to the deadline for claims submission,” the bank's boss António Horta-Osório, said in a statement.
Lloyds has the biggest bill of all the banks for mis-selling of the insurance policy – which was intended to cover loan payments if, for instance, customers fell ill. But the insurance was often sold to people who did not want it or did not need it.
In the run up to the deadline, Lloyds said it had received about 5 million new claims but only about 10% of those resulted in a compensation payment. “Historic conduct issues remain disappointing but we continue to be focused on doing the right thing for our customers,” Mr Horta-Osorio said.
Last year, Lloyds faced criticism for its handling of a multi-million pound scam at a branch of HBOS, which it now owns. Mr Horta-Osorio promised to implement recommendations of a report that said a scheme to compensate customers had “serious shortcomings”.
“We have apologised to those impacted and are determined to put things right,” he said.
Despite the surge in PPI claims, John Moore, an investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said Lloyds appeared to be in a “decent place”. “Lloyds' performance is typically a reflection of the wider UK economic situation,” he said. “Political uncertainty influenced business and consumer confidence last year; yet, despite this challenge, the bank has posted resilient results.”
Mr Horta-Osorio took the helm after bank was rescued during the 2008 financial crisis. The government sold its final stake in the bank in 2017.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com–Wed, 19th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
A US-based firm says its first investment in the UK will be located outside Reading in Berkshire and operational in 2022.
A US company has announced plans to build a new film and TV studio in Berkshire, saying the £150m facility will create up to 3,000 jobs.
Blackhall Studios – based in Atlanta, Georgia – said its first foray overseas and into the UK market would deliver “the largest purpose-built film studio and digital creative hub complex in the UK”.
It added that several other opportunities were being considered in the country as clients including Disney and Universal – part of Sky News parent company Comcast – seek additional studio space.
The announcement was made two months after Sky revealed its own plans for a new 14-stage site beside the current Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire in a boost for the creative economy.
Netflix completed an agreement last year to create a production hub at Shepperton Studios.
Blackhall, which has hosted production on movies including Godzilla: King of Monsters' and Venom, said its planned UK studio space would be on the University of Reading-owned Thames Valley Science Park and be worth £500m to the economy once completed.
Of the 3,000 jobs it expects the project to create, half the number could be based at the new studios.
Chief executive Ryan Millsap said: “We are excited to be establishing a base in the UK.
“Blackhall is the global standard for entertainment production space and our US-based clients like Disney, Universal and Sony are all asking us to expand into the UK to meet their desire to create productions here.
“We are very excited about the prospect of investing in the UK creative industries as one of the most vibrant markets in the world.”
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “The UK and the US are each other's largest investors, and this announcement demonstrates the strength of our trading relationship, which benefits all sectors and regions in the UK.
“Blackhall's commitment is a strong endorsement of our creative industry and the great creatives that work in UK film, and is set to deliver hundreds of new jobs in the area.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 19th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Low-skilled workers would not get visas under post-Brexit immigration plans unveiled by the government.
It is urging employers to “move away” from relying on “cheap labour” from Europe and invest in retaining staff and developing automation technology.
The Home Office said EU and non-EU citizens coming to the UK would be treated equally after UK-EU free movement ends on 31 December.
Labour said a “hostile environment” would make it hard to attract workers.
But Home Secretary Priti Patel told BBC Breakfast the government wanted to “encourage people with the right talent” and “reduce the levels of people coming to the UK with low skills”.
Under the plan, the definition of skilled workers would be expanded to include those educated to A-level/Scottish Highers-equivalent standard, not just graduate level, as is currently the case.
Waiting tables and certain types of agricultural worker would be removed from the new skilled category, but new additions would include carpentry, plastering and childminding.
The government says it wants a “points-based” immigration system, as promised in the Conservative election manifesto.
Under this, overseas citizens would have to reach 70 points to be able to work in the UK.
Speaking English and having the offer of a skilled job with an “approved sponsor” would give them 50 points.
More points would be awarded for qualifications, the salary on offer and working in a sector with shortages.
But the government said it would not introduce a route for lower-skilled workers, urging businesses to “adapt and adjust” to the end of free movement between EU countries and the UK.
Instead, it said the 3.2 million EU citizens who have applied to stay in the UK could help meet labour demands.
Workers from European Economic Area (EEA) countries currently have the automatic right to live and work in the UK irrespective of their salary or skill level.
The government says this will end on 31 December, when the 11 month post-Brexit transition period is due to finish.
The salary threshold for skilled workers wanting to come to the UK would be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600.
However, the government says the threshold would be as low as £20,480 for people in “specific shortage occupations” – which currently include nursing, civil engineering, psychology and classical ballet dancing – or those with PhDs relevant to a specific job.
There would no longer be an overall cap on the number of skilled workers who could come into the UK.
What about lower-paid sectors?
Bodies representing farming, catering and nursing are warning that it will be hard to recruit staff under the new system.
The Royal College of Nursing said it the proposals would “not meet the health and care needs of the population”.
National Farmers' Union president Minette Batters raised “serious concerns” about the “failure to recognise British food and farming's needs”.
And the Food and Drink Federation spoke of concerns about bakers, meat processors and workers making food like cheese and pasta not qualifying under the new system.
But the government pointed to a quadrupling of the scheme for seasonal workers in agriculture to 10,000, as well as “youth mobility arrangements”, allowing 20,000 young people to come to the UK each year.
Analysis: By Danny Shaw
The government's proposed immigration system represents a balancing act – broadening the base of skilled labour while restricting the flow of those seeking lower-skilled jobs.
People wanting to come to the UK from outside the EU will find rules are being relaxed, such as scrapping the cap on skilled workers or the drop in minimum salary.
But for EU migrants who are used to moving freely between Britain and the continent, the new regime will be something of a shock.
Visitors can come for six months without a visa, but they won't be able to work, those with skills must have a job offer and clear the 70 points hurdle, and there'll be no work permits for migrants prepared to do menial jobs in restaurants, hotels, care homes and food processing plants.
There is some flexibility in the new structure. But the question is, will it be enough to prevent labour shortages and companies taking their business elsewhere?
Under the plan, all migrants would only be entitled to access income-related benefits until after indefinite leave to remain is granted, usually after five years.
Currently, EU nationals in the UK can claim benefits if they are “economically active”. Non-EU citizens become eligible for benefits when they are granted permanent residence, which usually requires five years of living legally in the UK.
What is the political reaction?
For Labour, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the salary threshold system would “need to have so many exemptions, for the NHS, for social care and many parts of the private sector, that it will be meaningless”.
Changes to the system would be implemented through an immigration bill needing approval from MPs and peers to come into force.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokeswoman Christine Jardine said the proposals were based on “xenophobia”.
And Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said the plans would be “devastating” for the Scottish economy.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 18th Feb 2020) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – The number of people in work in Britain jumped again at the end of last year, according to data which underscores how the labour market has defied a broader economic slowdown in the run-up to December’s election.
The number of people in work jumped by 180,000 in the October-December period to 32.934 million, at the top end of forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.
Full-time employment accounted for most of the growth, while self-employment also rose strongly, the Office for National Statistics data showed.
Signs of weakness in the labour market in the autumn – when Britain faced deep uncertainty about Brexit and the outcome of a polarising national election – prompted two Bank of England interest-rate setters to vote for a cut to borrowing costs.
But the BoE’s other seven rate-setters backed keeping borrowing costs on hold amid signs that the economy has picked up following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s election triumph on Dec. 12.
The number of people out of work dropped by 16,000 to 1.290 million, the ONS data showed.
The unemployment rate of 3.8% remained at its joint lowest level since early 1975.
In another sign of confidence among employers about their hiring intentions, vacancies in the three months to January rose to 810,000, their highest since the three months to September.
“The jobs market remains remarkably robust, with employment levels rising despite the UK economy stalling at the end of last year,” said Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce.
“However, the strong headline figures mask underlying problems. Lingering economic uncertainty can mean companies hire staff to fill orders rather than investing for the long-term, weakening productivity.”
Tuesday’s data showed Britain’s productivity growth – the flipside of strong increases in jobs – remains a problem.
Output per hour in the fourth quarter rose by 0.3% in quarterly and annual terms. While the year-on-year growth rate was the strongest since the second quarter of 2018, the ONS said the numbers did not represent a breakthrough.
Many employers fear that Brexit-related uncertainty will return in 2020 as Johnson has ruled out extending a transition period with the European Union beyond the end of the year, saying he will clinch a free trade deal with the bloc by then.
Growth in pay has also slowed steadily in recent months.
Total earnings growth including bonuses rose by an annual 2.9%, the weakest gain since the three months to August 2018.Slideshow (2 Images)
Excluding bonuses, pay growth also slowed to 3.2%, its slowest increase since the third quarter of 2018.
Economists had expected total pay to grow by 3.0% and regular pay to grow by 3.3%.
“In real terms, regular earnings have finally risen above the level seen in early 2008, but pay including bonuses is still below its pre-downturn peak,” ONS statistician Myrto Miltiadou said.
The data also showed workers born in the EU’s 27 countries rose by nearly 6% in annual terms in the fourth quarter of 2019, ahead of Britain’s departure from the bloc on Jan. 31 this year. That was the biggest such increase since the start of 2017.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 18th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Figures obtained by GMB show safety at its UK warehouses could be worsening
More than 600 Amazon workers have been seriously injured or narrowly escaped an accident in the past three years, prompting calls for a parliamentary inquiry into safety at the online retailer’s vast UK warehouses.
Amazon, whose largest shareholder is the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, recently launched an advertising campaign fronted by contented staff members, after a string of embarrassing revelations about working conditions.
But new figures obtained by the GMB trade union under the Freedom of Information Act suggest safety at its more than 50 UK warehouses has not improved, and may be worsening.
Local authorities have received 622 accident reports involving Amazon warehouses over the past three years. The annual total has risen from 152 in 2016-17 to 230 the following year and 240 last year.Advertisement
In one case, a self-employed contractor at a London warehouse lost consciousness and appeared to stop breathing following a head injury, having attempted to restart work.
The accident investigation report found that sorting baskets had been overfilled and that “the main root cause of this incident was failing to provide a safe working environment”.
A report covering an incident in 2015, before the period covered by the figures, concluded that a lapse of concentration due to “long working hours” was behind an incident in which a forklift truck driver reversed into a steel structure, bringing some of it down.
Internal emails from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that the accident was reported by an Amazon worker who would not give their name because they were “worried about getting sacked”.
Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan and a Labour leadership contender, called for an investigation into Amazon. She said: “The warehouse injuries suffered by Amazon workers are beyond appalling. I stand ready, if and when Amazon’s workers take strike action and protest, I will be there with them.
“The Tories need to start taking workers’ rights seriously and standing up to businesses like Amazon. I call on an urgent investigation – workers simply cannot wait for their conditions to improve.”
Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington, said: “In my 30 years in the world of work I cannot remember any company clock up so many injuries to its workers.
“I have been inside the giant Rugeley depot and heard first-hand from frightened workers of the 77 serious incidents in Rugeley alone.
“Amazon purports to be a 21st century company. It behaves like a 19th century mill-owner. [Its] owner, the American billionaire, Jeff Bezos, should be called to account by parliament for his actions.
“How can he or Amazon justify refusing to talk to their workers’ union, the GMB, on safety? Their behaviour is disgraceful.”
The GMB said the escalation in the number of accidents and near-misses demonstrated the need for parliament to investigate the online retailer.
Mick Rix, GMB national officer, said: “Amazon are spending millions on PR campaigns trying to persuade people its warehouses are great places to work. But the facts are there for all to see – things are getting worse.
“Hundreds of stricken Amazon workers are needing urgent medical attention. Conditions are hellish.
“We’ve tried over and over again to get Amazon to talk to us to try and improve safety for workers. But enough is enough – it’s now time for a full parliamentary inquiry.”
Amazon became the second company in the world to be valued by Wall Street at $1tn, while its founder Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest man with an estimated net worth of $137bn (£104tn).
But the company has been dogged by allegations that its success is founded on the backs of workers enduring poor safety and low pay, leading to claims that Scottish staff resorted to living in tents to cut commuting costs.
Bezos is paying $165m for a house in the exclusive Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles, according to the Wall Street Journal, more than Amazon is due to pay in US federal taxes in 2019.
An Amazon spokesman said: “Amazon is a safe place to work. Yet again, our critics seem determined to paint a false picture of what it’s like to work for Amazon. They repeat the same sensationalised allegations time and time again.
“Our doors are open to the public, to politicians, and indeed to anyone who truly wants to see the modern, innovate and, most importantly, safe environment we provide to our people. The fact is we benchmark against UK national data, published by the Health & Safety Executive, confirming we have over 40% fewer injuries on average than other transportation and warehousing businesses in the UK.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 17th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Shoe Zone has warned that it could be forced to close a fifth of its stores if business rates do not change.
The retailer will close 100 of its UK stores unless the property tax is overhauled.
Boss Anthony Smith told the BBC: “If people want vibrant High Streets, they really do need retailers like us to keep our shops open in smaller towns.”
Retailers have called on HM Treasury to reform business rates in the Budget scheduled for next month.
Business rates are similar to council tax for business properties. They are paid by businesses, or landlords if a property is empty.
Mr Smith told Wake Up to Money that although rents had fallen across its 500 shops, the amount it pays in business rates had increased from 26% to 54% over the last 10 years.
High Street regeneration
Mr Smith said: “There is a lot of talk about the regeneration and repurposing of town centres, which we are all up for. But whatever goes into those shops, the rateable value is still simply too high.”
The rateable value is set by the government's Valuation Office Agency. It determines how much a firm has to pay in business rates, based on the value of the property.
He added: “It's a simple maths question. Every time a lease comes up, we'll look at the mathematics of it. If we are not making any money out of it… the shop will unfortunately close.”
In 2019, the firm's former chief executive Nick Davis stepped down, warning that profits would be lower than expected.
Anthony Smith was previously chief executive of the brand for 20 years, and last year took the role on again.
He told the BBC that the firm is closing about 20 stores each year, but pointed out that sales online and in out-of-town areas were “going well”.
High Street stores have recently been under pressure due to a squeeze on consumer spending and the rise of online shopping.
Major supermarkets, department stores and others recently called on the government to overhaul the business rates system, saying they place an unfair burden on shops.
However, it is not clear whether the Budget scheduled for 11 March will go ahead as planned following last week's the resignation of former Chancellor Sajid Javid.
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(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 14th Feb2020) London, Uk – –
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group has said it plans to change its name later this year, as it reported a near doubling of annual profits.
The Edinburgh-based bank, which owns RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank, said it would rename itself as NatWest Group.
The bank reported profits of £3.1bn for 2019, nearly double the £1.6bn seen the year before.
New RBS chief executive Alison Rose called the results the “start of a new era” for the bank.
It is thought that Ms Rose is hoping a rebrand will help shift the lender's image away from its association with the financial crisis.
The bank was rescued by the government in 2008 in the aftermath of the financial crisis at a cost of £45bn and it is still 62% state-owned.
Ms Rose told the BBC's Today programme that the name change would not alter any services for RBS or NatWest customers.
About 80% of the bank's customers are thought to use NatWest. Names of individual NatWest and RBS branches will remain the same.
She also said that the name change would not result in any job cuts across the group.
This is Ms Rose's first set of results for the lender. She became the first woman to lead one of the so-called big four largest UK banks when she was appointed last year.
Analysis: Dharshini David
Crucial questions unanswered
Today's announcement was not just the first set of full-year results unveiled by new chief executive Alison Rose but also the long-awaited unveiling of her strategy.
But many crucial questions remain unanswered, with Ms Rose failing to address recent press reports that claimed job cuts may be in store.
RBS was the subject of a £45bn state bailout during the financial crisis, and remains 62% taxpayer-owned. A 25-year veteran of the bank, Alison Rose is one of the few senior executives left from the pre-crisis era, when former boss Fred Goodwin's overambitious expansion plans left the bank in a perilous state.
More than a decade on, it falls to her to complete the clean-up operation. She says the name change for the parent company marks a new era, but the real challenge is to prove she can get the bank back into a state where the remaining stake can be sold without incurring a hefty loss for taxpayers.
RBS also announced it was committed to “at least halve the climate impact” of its financing activity by 2030.
It says it will stop lending to coal companies by the end of the decade.
The bank also confirmed it would make its own operations “net carbon zero” by the end of this year.
That follows on from a pledge by Lloyds Banking Group to halve the amount of carbon emissions it finances through personal and business loans by 2030.
A continuity candidate
Ms Rose has been at RBS for more than 25 years, mainly in a number of roles in its investment bank.
She was previously deputy chief executive of NatWest Holdings, and before Ms Rose was appointed chief executive of the RBS group she was head of commercial and private banking.
She worked her way up after joining the bank as a graduate trainee in 1992.
Unlike her predecessor Ross McEwan, she is based solely in London, although the bank has its headquarters in Edinburgh.
Ms Rose is also paid more than her predecessor, with her annual salary set at £1.1m compared with Mr McEwan's £1m.
RBS's share price fell by nearly 5% after its results.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said markets needed “some convincing”, despite the jump in profits.
But he said “it's clear RBS is putting legacy conduct issues behind it and has got the payment protection insurance (PPI) monkey off its back”.
The bank took a £900m charge for mis-sold PPI in 2019, which was at the top end of its expectations.
Mr Wilson added: “Now that the PPI deadline has passed, the bank has much greater visibility of future cash generation.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 14th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
The US giant that pioneered mass car production unveils its first all-electric model as the industry finally embraces change.
In the farthest corner of a basement gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum is an object that may have changed the world more than any other in the museum's vast collection.
A 1926 Ford Model-T Tourer is the starting point of an exhibition examining the impact of car design.
It's there because it was transformative: for manufacturing, industry, travel, leisure, economies, cities and the environment.
The car ushered in the age of mass production and the democratisation of vehicle ownership and established Ford as an industrial giant, a position it retains to this day.
Its founder aimed the vehicle unashamedly at the American everyman.
“I will build a motor car for the great multitude,” Henry Ford promised.
“But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces.”
He was as good as his word and in 19 years of production, 15 million Model T's were made and sold around the world.
More than a century on however there is no question the age of the motor car has come at a price, with the climate the principal victim of Ford's success.
Today the motor industry is finally grappling with the emissions crisis, and Ford has launched its first all-electric model, the Mustang Mach-E.
Tellingly this is not an ‘electric Model T' aiming to repeat the universal affordability of the car that made the marque.
The name is a giveaway.
Mustang is Ford's best-known brand, the badge on the noisy, thirsty sports coupe driven into Hollywood lore by Steve McQueen in Bullitt.
The Mach-E is not an electric version of a gas-guzzling US classic.
Instead the Mustang name is there to burnish the sporty credentials of an SUV designed to be sleek enough to catch the eye of petrolheads but with enough room in the back to make it a viable family car.
With a starting price of around £46,000 for the entry level model, rising to £56,000 and more for a battery with longer range, it is closer to the top end of the electric market created by Tesla than the mass market into which Ford sells its best seller, the Fiesta.
There are practical and economic reasons for the positioning.
The Mach-E's battery costs around £10,000, which is a quick way of making a £15,000 Fiesta unaffordable.
And it is heavy, so an SUV makes it a good starting point for electrification.
Ford follows Jaguar, Audi and others in focusing on larger battery-powered vehicles.
Tesla has also demonstrated there is a market for electric vehicles at the upper end, one Ford hopes to reverse into with a more affordable offer.
But with the British government having imposed a 2035 deadline for a ban on new diesel and petrol cars, mass-producers like Ford need to bring electric technology into the reach of their founder's “great multitudes”.
Ford's European President Stuart Rowley acknowledges the challenge, but says governments and consumers, still wedded to our planet polluting cars, have to change too.
“We will be investing in lower-priced full battery electric vehicles as we move forward,” he told Sky News.
“Our first European-built battery electric vehicle will be coming to market in 2023, and as we gain scale the cost of the technology will reduce and it will become more accessible
“But you have got to remember today the charging infrastructure isn't in there, so even if you can afford an expensive vehicle you wouldn't necessarily be able to use it.
“So many people will want different solutions.
“We'll have a mild, a full and a plug-in hybrid Cougar, and we're electrifying our commercial vehicles – we have a plug-in Transit custom one tonne van and next year we'll have a two tonne full-battery electric Transit.”
Like its counterparts Ford wants governments to do more to incentivise and support the market, building charging infrastructure and offering tax breaks to buyers.
It will push back on some targets however, with Rowley arguing there should still be a place for “clean diesel” in their Transit and other light goods vehicles.
But strikingly, he says he can see the day the Ford Motor Company no longer makes petrol and diesel cars.
“I'm sure that day will come, I don't know what date that is and it will be different in different countries but the technology will evolve.
“I don't know when, there will be many forces at play in that, but that's the direction of travel we're going in.
“That's what governments want, it's what society wants and we will be a part of that.”
They will have to be if the internal combustion engine is to join the Model T as a museum piece.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 12th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Gas and electricity customers will receive automatic compensation of £30 from May if their switch to a new provider goes wrong, Ofgem has said.
The regulator said the new rules should give “peace of mind” to those shopping around. More than six million people switched energy firms last year.
Payments will be made if the switch is not completed within 15 working days.
A mistaken switch or a failure by the old supplier to provide a final bill within six weeks will also qualify.
‘First time success'
Mary Starks, from Ofgem, said: “We are introducing these new standards to give customers further peace of mind, and to challenge suppliers to get it right first time.”
The move was described as a “welcome intervention” by David Pilling, from the Energy Ombudsman – the independent referee of unresolved disputes between customers and providers.
“Switching is now second only to billing as a source of complaints that we handle, so it's clear that for too many people the process of changing supplier doesn't go as smoothly as it should,” he said.
Since Ofgem introduced minimum standards last year, more than £700,000 has been paid out to customers from suppliers.
Of these payments, 27% have been for mistaken switches, while 73% have been for late credit balance refunds. This system will now be extended by making compensation payments automatic.
“Households can still save hundreds of pounds by switching and shouldn't be put through the hassle and stress of having to claim compensation when energy suppliers make mistakes,” said Dame Gillian Guy, boss of Citizens Advice.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 12th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Bonilla a la vista sees sales surge after its distinctive tins feature in Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning comedy thriller
Parasite’s Oscar-night triumphs may have been celebrated mainly in its native South Korea and in the many outposts of the country’s diaspora, but the film has also been toasted on an industrial estate in north-west Spain.
The Galician town of Arteixo is home to a family-owned business that exports 40 tonnes of its crisps to South Korea each year, and whose products have won over more mouths thanks to an unexpected cameo role in Bong Joon-ho’s comedy thriller.
Bonilla a la vista, which has been making crisps and churros for almost a century, first realised something odd was going on last month when people began posting screen grabs of one of its distinctive blue-and-white crisp tins on social media.
It soon emerged that their products had cropped up in Parasite, appearing in a scene in which the infiltrating Kim family eat snacks and drink whisky in the living room of their wealthy employers, the Parks.
Bonilla’s crisps were already popular in South Korea, but their brief role in Parasite has led to them being feted by social media influencers. It has also resulted in a 150% surge in online sales, meaning more work for the company’s 100 employees.
“It was a total coincidence that the tin of crisps appeared in the film,” said a spokeswoman for Bonilla.
“We actually only found our about the tin being in the film through friends and customers who clocked it. It was a complete surprise, but rather a lovely one. Sales have gone up a lot but, oddly, it’s mainly been in Spain. Our distributors have asked us for more merchandise to meet the demand.”
Bonilla a la vista was founded in 1932 when Salvador Bonilla began travelling around Galicia to sell his crisps and churros at fairs.
Today, it produces about 540 tonnes of crisps each year, of which 60 tonnes are sold overseas – two-thirds in South Korea. A 500g tin costs €13 in Spain and €23 in South Korea.
Salvador’s son César, who started off frying crisps and churros and delivering them by motorbike, still heads the family business at the age of 87.
Things have changed since the days when he would be up all night frying before heading out first thing the next day to drop off the snacks at bars and cafes.
But even if Bonilla is as startled by his firm’s Oscar boost as anyone, he says his crisps have always spoken for themselves.
“We’ve always used good potatoes, good olive oil and sea salt – that gives them a great taste and texture,” he said.Advertisement
“Still, it was a huge surprise and you just can’t get better publicity than being in an Oscar-winning film. We export to 20 countries but we’ve never had a boom like this.”
The company’s Korean market opened up four years ago following a few fact-finding missions from would-be importers.
“They came over three or four times and we chatted and negotiated,” said Bonilla. “They visited a few factories but in the end, they went for this one. Ours were the crisps they liked and we became friends almost before we started doing business.”
Between colds and dialysis appointments, the businessman has not managed to see Parasite yet, but insists that he will. “I have to because it’ll be such a great moment.”
There are also plans to send “Mr Bong Joon-ho” a blue-and-white can or two to sit alongside his golden statues. “He certainly deserves them,” said Bonilla.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 11th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
The government will also announce billions of pounds of investment in greener bus services and cycle paths.
Boris Johnson is heading for a rebellion by up to 60 Conservative MPs by giving the go-ahead for the controversial £100bn flagship rail project, HS2.
The hugely expensive scheme is expected to be approved at a special meeting of the cabinet and then the prime minister will announce the decision in a statement in the Commons.
In a bid to placate potential rebel MPs, the PM's statement will also include the announcement of £5bn of new funding to overhaul bus and cycle links for every UK region outside London.
The package includes at least 4,000 new zero emission buses to promote greener commuting, over 250 miles of new cycle routes and dozens of new ‘Mini-Holland' schemes, designed to make town centres safer and greener for cyclists and pedestrians. HS2 explained: What is it and how much will it cost?John-Paul Ford Rojas looks at the detail of one of the UK's biggest infrastructure projects in decades
The go-ahead for HS2, which will eventually slash journey times between London and the north of England, is seen as a move to repay northern voters who swept Mr Johnson into Number 10 in December.
As a result, it has become a political imperative for the prime minister, who won his 80-seat Commons majority with pledges to improve infrastructure in the north of England and the Midlands.
But it risks a furious backlash from Conservative MPs in the home counties and middle England, who are bitterly opposed to the project on grounds of its ballooning cost and the destruction of rural beauty spots.
Nearly 60 Conservative MPs are backing an HS2 Review Group, a caucus of Tories opposed to the scheme including a number of new MPs elected to the Commons in the December election.
The Taxpayers' Alliance has also condemned the go-ahead. Spokesman Harry Fone said: “This announcement is a massive blow to the taxpayers of today and tomorrow who will be left paying for the HS2 white elephant with no light at the end of the tunnel.”
Meanwhile, Greenpeace said Boris Johnson's decision will give him “the dubious honour of being this century's largest destroyer of irreplaceable ancient woodlands in the UK”.
But Mr Johnson's decision to back HS2 after months of wrangling and the cost trebling since it was first conceived more than a decade ago reflects his determination to go ahead with major infrastructure projects.
The prime minister is said to want to see the biggest infrastructure revolution since Victorian times and has even ordered civil servants to carry out a feasibility study for a £20bn bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.
On HS2, he is likely to announce that work on the London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Crewe sections can begin immediately, opening in 2036. But it is thought that a phase from Manchester to Leeds will be delayed until 2040 to make sure it is cost-effective.
This review is likely to recommend integrating HS2 with the new Northern Powerhouse line linking cities including Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Sheffield, Leeds and Hull.
Other projects expected to be given the go-ahead include the repeatedly delayed electrification of the Trans-Pennine route between Manchester and York, a £3bn upgrade that will enable more trains to run and cut journey times.
In backing HS2, the prime minister is overruling his controversial special adviser Dominic Cummings, who has described it as “a disaster zone” and his transport adviser Andrew Gilligan, who have both argued for the project to be scrapped.
But the decisive moment in the Whitehall wrangling over the project came last month when the Chancellor Sajid Javid let it be known that after a Treasury analysis that he backed it ahead of a crucial meeting with the PM and the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Mr Javid refused to confirm the final decision in the hours leading up to the announcement, but balked at the suggestion the splurge would be better spent improving east-west transport links.
“It's not about instead of,” he told Sky News' Kay Burley@Breakfast, adding: “We can still as a country invest in better connectivity across our cities.”
Two of the biggest backers of HS2 have been the big-city mayors, Labour's Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester and the Tories' Andy Street in the West Midlands. Senior Tories believe the go-ahead is crucial to Mr Street's chances of re-election in May.
Travelling at up to 250mph, HS2 is designed to reduce journey times between London and Birmingham from 80 to 45 minutes and between London and Manchester from 128 to 68 minutes.
The cost was originally estimated at £3bn in 2009, then £56bn in 2013, but is now expected to cost £106bn, though the National Audit Office has said it is impossible to estimated with certainty what the final cost will be.
By Jon Craig