UK cars hit by Volkswagen diesel scandal less than half fixed

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( via — Fri,31 Mar, 2017) London, UK —

Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) said it has so far fixed fewer than half of the 1.2 million cars affected by the diesel emissions scandal in Britain, 18 months after the revelations first came to light.

The German carmaker admitted in September 2015 to using software to cheat diesel emission tests in the United States and has since paid out compensation to U.S. motorists but has refused to do so in Europe.

In Britain, Europe's second biggest autos market where Volkswagen Group is the top seller, the firm has faced pressure from lawmakers who have repeatedly questioned the brand's managing director.

In a response to lawmakers' latest letter, VW's Paul Willis said the firm was nearly half way to fixing all models.

“We have implemented the technical measures in more than 540,000 UK vehicles,” Willis told lawmakers in a letter dated Mar. 24, which was released on Friday. In February, he said the total stood at 470,000.

VW has not set a firm deadline to complete the work but hopes to have most of it done by the autumn.

Willis also denied that any of the changes made had negatively affected the performance of vehicles, an issue at the heart of attempts by some law firms to take legal action against the company.

“The technical measures have been rigorously tested and the relevant authorities have confirmed that there is no adverse impact on the vehicles' MPG, CO2 emissions, engine output, maximum torque and noise emissions,” he said

By Costas Pitas

US posts GDP increase of 2.1 percent


The US economy showed rigorous consumer spending in the fourth quarter and slowed less than was previously reported.

GDP increased to an annualised 2.1 percent up from previous estimate of 1.9 percent. U.S. corporate profits rose again in fourth quarter, while overall economic growth was revised up.

The Commerce Department said that business activity moderated further at the beginning of the year.

Lloyd’s of London soon to be Lloyd’s of Brussels

Lloyd's of London is soon to be Lloyd's of Brussels as the insurer announced it is to open a subsidiary in the Belgian capital.

The company wants to keep its ‘passporting rights' so that it can continue to offer financial services across the EU.

Lloyd's chief executive, Inga Beale, said the move would guarantee continued business when Britain leaves the EU.

Self-driving cars potential £8bn boost to UK economy


( via – – Thu, 30 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –

Self-driving cars could deliver an £8bn a year boost to the economy by giving people with disabilities the ability to travel more freely, increasing their education and earnings potential.

New research on so-called “autonomous” cars has found that vehicles that do not need a human at wheel could open up opportunities for people with disabilities that limit their mobility.

Instead of having to rely on inflexible public transport, self-driving vehicles would give freedom to an estimated 1m people, offering them the opportunity to boost qualifications and increasing their earnings by an average of £8,500 a year.

The findings tie in with Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) Connected Car conference on Thursday, which explores how the technology will transform the industry and the opportunities it presents.

“The benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles are life-changing, offering more people greater independence, freedom to socialise, work and earn more, and access services more easily,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the trade body, which predicts that self-driving cars will be commonplace by the 2030s.

“Fully autonomous cars will be a step change for society, and this report shows people are already seeing their benefits. The challenge now is to create the conditions that will allow this technology to thrive.”

The research also found that six out of 10 people believe self-driving cars will improve their quality of life, with this rising to seven out of 10 for people aged 17 to 24.

The high cost of insurance is seen as a hurdle to young people driving, but when computers are controlling vehicles this is no longer a factor.

Older people also identify the benefits of autonomous cars, with half of them saying it would make their day-to-day lives easier, as aged-related issues such as failing eyesight limit their ability to drive themselves.

Across the board, stress-free driving is perceived to be the biggest attraction of self-driving technology, with computers taking the pressure off and the cars parking themselves once at their destination.

On-board technology that self-diagnoses problems is also expected to ease motorists’ minds.

Britain is aiming to be at the forefront of developing autonomous cars, with the Government having made it a priority with legislation and funding to encourage research in the UK.

The potential payoff for establishing Britain as a world leader in the sector is massive. The SMMT valued autonomous cars and the systems that connect them to the internet as being worth £51bn a year to the UK economy by 2030. Success in the field could also see 320,000 jobs created.

The latest research into the impact of autonomous cars was conducted by Strategy&, a unit of global consultants PwC.

“There is a real risk that this momentum and competitor advantage in the UK will stall if we don’t do more to create positive public perception, overcoming our inherent risk averse culture,” said Mark Couttie, a partner with Strategy&.

“Expanding people’s horizons about the advantages of fully autonomous cars is a vital first step. This means better communicating the art of the possible to increase social acceptance and dispel concerns that our survey identified relating to cost and safety.”

By Alan Tovey

Brexit Countdown Officially Begins:Formal notification letter received by Brussels


The countdown to Brexit has officially begun.

As the British Prime Minister left for parliament to officially brief MPs on the triggering of Article 50, her envoy in Brussels handed over the official notification letter to the EU Council President Donald Tusk. The Article 50 letter. Theresa May signed the Brexit letter on Tuesday.

Tesco pays £129m to settle accounting fraud scandal


Tesco is to pay a £129m fine to avoid prosecution over a 2014 accounting fraud.

Between February and September of that year, Tesco misled investors by issuing a trade statement overstating its profits.

Tesco has agreed to pay a penalty of £129m relating to false accounting at Tesco Stores in 2014.

‘Bank of mum and dad’ funding, making housing market unfair


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( via – – Tue, 28 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –

More first-time buyers than ever are using family money, exacerbating inequality, says Social Mobility Commission

The number of first-time buyers relying on family loans from the “bank of mum and dad” to fund their deposits is exacerbating inequality and impeding social mobility, a government-backed study has warned.

The Social Mobility Commission found the percentage of first-time buyers turning to family for financial help had increased from 20% in 2010 to a historic high of 34%. The report also found just one in three (31%) 25- to 29-year-olds owned a home compared with 63% of the same age group in 1990.

“Home ownership helps unlock high levels of social mobility but it is in freefall among young families,” said the former Labour MP Alan Milburn, the chair of the commission.

“Owning a home is becoming a distant dream for millions of young people on low incomes who do not have the luxury of relying on the bank of mum and dad to give them a foot up on the housing ladder. The way the housing market is operating is exacerbating inequality and impeding social mobility.”

The report, which used data from the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, examined a series of surveys, including the English Housing Survey – which interviewed around 13,300 households in 2013-14 – and the Labour Force Survey, which looked at homeowners by age between 1995 and 2015.

It found one in 10 first-time buyers used inherited wealth and that 12%, whether it was a first property or not, were using a “gift or loan”.

First-time buyers who receive cash or at least a loan from their parents can buy 2.6 years earlier that those who do not, and this figure rises to 4.6 years in London.

The study also found 30% of households with dependent children held assets that could be used towards a home deposit, but only around 10% of households without any formal education qualifications over two back-to-back generations felt they could help out their kids.

The report predicts that if the economy weakens, the proportion of first-time buyers being propped up by family will remain at about one third until 2025, but it will boom to 40% by 2029.

Theresa May’s government earlier this year strayed from David Cameron’s “home-owning democracy” approach to housing and announced tougher regulation on landlords.

The proportion of people living in private rented homes has doubled since 2000.

“It is welcome that the government recognises the growing problem people face in getting on the housing ladder,” said Milburn, who was a Treasury and health minister in Tony Blair’s governments.

“A major national effort is needed to expand opportunities for home ownership and will require more radical action on housing supply.”

The commission’s State of the Nation 2016 report encouraged the government to build 3m homes over the next decade and build on the green belt.

The report’s lead author, Dr Paul Sanderson, said only “better-off” young people with parents who had accumulated housing wealth were likely to consider home ownership unless there were “radical changes to the housing market”.

“It is further embedding social immobility into the housing market,” said the Anglia Ruskin senior lecturer and University of Cambridge fellow.

“Obviously it’s down to affordability, increasing housing prices and incomes staying static compared to inflation.”

Sanderson said an increase in building social housing, regulation of planning developments and a focus on the help-to-buy scheme could help turn the tide.

John Healey, the Labour party’s shadow secretary of state for housing and a former government minister, however, criticised flaws in the scheme.

“This is further evidence of an inequality of wealth and opportunity for home ownership in this country and it’s part of seven years of failure on housing under Conservative ministers,” Healey told the Guardian.

“The government has got to do more to help young first-time buyers who don’t have the bank of mum and dad behind them.

“They could start by making sure help to buy is better targeted. It’s indefensible that help to buy is helping almost 25,000 people who are not first-time buyers.

“Younger people on smaller incomes are increasingly locked out.”

By Peter J Walker

Large electronic device ban comes into force on UK airlines


A ban on large electronic devices in aeroplane cabins has come into effect on several airlines flying “into the UK and US”.

Citing attacks on aircraft and in airports in recent years, the US has applied the restrictions to nine carriers from eight countries: Turkey; Morocco; Jordan; Egypt; the United Arab Emirates; Saudi Arabia; Qatar; and Kuwait. The UK ban covers six nations, excluding the UAE, Morocco and Kuwait, but including Lebanon and Tunisia.

Mark Cuban Basketball Multi-Billion Dollar Enterprise


Bloomberg Game Changers profiles Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban. See how Cuban spun his love of basketball into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.


New fuel-efficient planes about to shift global aviation map


The global aviation map is about to shift in a way we've not seen in three decades. New fuel-efficient planes mean that we could see a lot more long-haul direct flights. Bloomberg Gadfly's David Fickling explains why that could be bad for the airlines.

Electric black cab manufacturer opens a £300m plant in Coventry


The black cab manufacturer London Taxi Company has opened a £300m plant for its new electric cab.

The plant in Coventry, which has created more than 1,000 jobs, will produce the electric taxis by the end of the year.

The company is owned by Chinese carmaker Geely. Chief executive Chris Gubbey told Ian King Live there may yet be more investment.

Uk follows US by imposing ban on larger electronic devices on flights

Britain has followed in US footsteps by imposing a cabin baggage ban on larger electronic devices on passenger flights from several Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Direct inbound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia are affected by the new restrictions, amid terrorism fears.

Passengers won't be allowed to bring phones, laptops or tablets over 16 cm in length, 9.3 cm in width and with a depth of over 1.5 cm into the cabin.