British Steel on brink of collapse unless the Uk government agrees to emergency £30M loan – source

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 21st May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British Steel, the country’s second largest steel producer, is on the brink of collapse unless the government agrees to provide an emergency 30 million pound loan by later on Tuesday, a source close to the situation said.

The steelmaker, owned by investment firm Greybull Capital, employs around 5,000 people, mostly in Scunthorpe, in the north of England, while 20,000 more depend on in its supply chain.

Greybull, which specialises in turning around distressed businesses, paid former owners Tata Steel a nominal one pound in 2016 for the loss-making company which they renamed British Steel.

British Steel had asked the British government for a 75 million pound loan but has since reduced its demand to 30 million pounds after Greybull agreed to put up more money, according to the source close to the negotiations.

If the loan is not approved by Tuesday afternoon, administrators EY could be appointed for British Steel as early as Wednesday, the source said.

“The UK steel industry is critical to our manufacturing base and is strategically important to UK industry. The government must intervene,” said Gill Furniss, Labour’s spokeswoman for steel.

“Administration would be devastating for the thousands of workers and their families who rely on this key industry in a part of the country which has not had enough support and investment from government over decades,” Labour said.

If British Steel goes under it would mark the demise of one of the key parts of what was once a national champion of the British economy.

Unions demanded the government give the loan.

“They must now put their money where their mouth is,” said Ross Murdoch, national officer for the GMB union for steelworkers.

“GMB calls on the Government and Greybull to redouble efforts to save this proud steelworks and the highly skilled jobs,” Murdoch said.

A spokeswoman for Britain’s business ministry declined to comment on the details of British Steel but said: “We are in regular conversation with a wide range of companies.”

British Steel secured a government loan of around 120 million pounds in May to enable it to comply with the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) rules.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge

UK jobless rate falls to a 44 year low as employers hire ahead of Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 14th May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest since the mid-1970s in early 2019 as employers hired in the run-up to the original date for Britain’s EU departure, but there were signs that Brexit was beginning to weigh on the jobs boom.

The rate edged down to 3.8% in the first quarter, its lowest since the three months to January 1975, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. Unemployment dropped by 65,000, the most in more than two years.

But employment growth slowed to 99,000, well below a median forecast of 135,000 in a Reuters poll of economists, and wage growth lost momentum too.

“It is possible to see the shadow of Brexit in some of these figures,” Mike Jakeman, an economist at accountancy firm PwC, said. “March was the month when Brexit anxiety was at its most acute and it might have been the case that firms were more reticent to offer higher wages and advertise new positions.”

The numbers could just as easily be a minor blip in the recent run of strong jobs and earnings growth, he also said.

Britain’s labour market has remained resilient as Brexit has neared, helping households whose spending has driven an otherwise fragile economy.

However, the jobs boom may well reflect how employers have opted to take on workers – who can be laid off quickly during a downturn – rather than commit to longer-term investments while they wait for uncertainty over the conditions of Britain’s departure from the European Union to lift.

Brexit was originally due on March 29. Last month it was delayed for a second time until Oct. 31 to give Prime Minister Theresa May more time to break an impasse over its implementation in parliament and in her own Conservative Party.

RISING INEQUALITY?

The strength of the labour market has pushed wages up more quickly than the Bank of England has forecast, leading some economists to think it might raise interest rates faster than investors expect once the Brexit uncertainty clears.

The ONS said that in January-March, total earnings including bonuses rose by an annual 3.2%, slowing from 3.5% in the three months to February and weaker than a Reuters poll forecast of 3.4%.

Excluding bonuses, pay growth also slowed, rising by 3.3%, in line with the Reuters poll.

The BoE this month said it expected wage growth of 3% at the end of this year.

Many people in Britain have however seen no increase in their living standards since before the financial crisis more than a decade ago, and a Nobel Prize-winning economist said on Tuesday that Britain risked tracking the rise in inequality seen in the United States.

The recent hiring surge, while good for workers in the short term, has weighed on Britain’s weak productivity growth – a major fault line in the economy – raising concerns about the long-term prospects for growth and prosperity.

The ONS said output per hour fell by an annual 0.2% in the first quarter of 2019, its third consecutive fall. In quarterly terms, output per hour dropped by 0.6%, its biggest fall since the end of 2015.

The ONS data also showed the number of EU workers in the United Kingdom rose by an annual 58,000 after three consecutive falls. The number of non-EU workers in the country grew more strongly, up by 124,000.

By William Schomberg

The top 15 richest countries around the globe!

Source: Factnomenal

The top 15 richest countries around the globe! These are the world's highest ranking nations. Which nations make most of their billions off of fish sales? What country hosts the gambling capital of the world? Find out as we look at the 15 Richest Countries In The World. #15 San Marino One of the smallest nations around the world, the Republic of San Marino only has a population of a little more than 33 and a half thousand people. The expanse of the country is small as well at just 24 square miles. But size isn’t everything, as San Marino ranks among the strongest economies today. With a GDP per capita of 50.9 thousand dollars, it’s no wonder this rich little country is the only nation in the world with more cars than there are people! #14 Austria The nation of Austria boasts a strong, well-developed social market economy that has elevated the country’s wealth among the elite. Thanks to the work of labour movements, the citizens of this European country have enjoyed moderate wages since the 1940s with more than half of the country’s salary and wage earner’s belonging to unions. Tourism also plays a major part in Austria’s economy, accounting for at least ten percent of the country’s gross domestic product, or GDP. Making a majority of its products to trade with surrounding EU countries, nearly 66% of Austrian imports and exports are made within their home continent. At a GDP per capita of 51.7 thousand dollars and a population of 8.75 million people, Austria maintains its hold with one of the most stable and successful economies worldwide. #13 Netherlands The Dutch have led Europe as one of the most consistent producers in the agricultural, fishing, shipping and trading industries since the 16th century. A population of 17 million people inhabit the Netherlands and the country churns out a GDP per capita of 52.9 thousand dollars! In addition to its seaward domination, the Dutch people have also been fortunate to have generated huge revenue from the discovery of natural gas resources in 1959. The Netherlands have an open trade economy that allows them to prosper by relying on foreign trade. Their economy is notable across the globe for its low unemployment levels, decent surplus and stable industrial relations. The Netherlands expects to have hit a budget surplus of .8 percent in 2018 and its unemployment rates are definitely below 5 percent. Numerous other factors like the countries social programs and well protected employee rights keep Dutch workers happy and the nation of the Netherlands near the top of the world’s wealthiest.

Trumps new tariff threat to China hits stock markets

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – -Mon, 6th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Stock markets in China and Europe have been hit after US President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on China, putting a trade deal in doubt.

He said on Twitter the US would more than double tariffs on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods on Friday and would introduce fresh tariffs.

Recent comments had suggested both sides were nearing a trade deal.

A Chinese delegation is preparing to travel to Washington for negotiations aimed at ending the trade war.

It is not clear whether Beijing's top trade negotiator Vice-Premier Liu He will be part of those negotiations that are due to resume on Wednesday.

“We are currently working on understanding the situation,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a regular news briefing.

Earlier, US media reported that Beijing was considering cancelling the talks. Reports said the Chinese were due to send a 100-person delegation to the negotiations.

Shares stumble

In China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 2.9% lower, while the Shanghai Composite tumbled 5.6%.

European stock markets fell in early trading, with the main Paris and Frankfurt indexes down more than 2% by mid-morning. Particularly hard hit were the makers of cars, car parts and steel.

US stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street. Markets in London are closed for a bank holiday.

Michael Hirson, Asia director at Eurasia Group, said: “His [Mr Trump's] move injects major uncertainty into negotiations, which now face a rising risk of an extended impasse – perhaps even through the US presidential election.”

What did Mr Trump say?

The US president tweeted that tariffs of 10% on certain goods would rise to 25% on Friday, and $325bn of untaxed goods could face 25% duties “shortly”.

“The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!” he tweeted.

After imposing duties on billions of dollars worth of one another's goods last year, the US and China have been negotiating and in recent weeks, appeared to be close to striking a trade deal.

Last week US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described talks held in Beijing as “productive”.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News that the president's tweet was a warning.

“The president is, I think, issuing a warning here, that, you know, we bent over backwards earlier, we suspended the 25% tariff to 10 and then we've left it there.

“That may not be forever if the talks don't work out,” he said.

Is the deal over?

So far, the US has imposed tariffs on $250bn of Chinese goods, having accused the country of unfair trade practices.

Beijing hit back with duties on $110bn of US goods, blaming the US for starting “the largest trade war in economic history”.

According to reports, in recent days US officials have become frustrated by China seeking to row back on earlier commitments made over a deal.

Sticking points have included how to enforce a deal, whether and how fast to roll back tariffs already imposed and issues around intellectual property protection.

Tom Orlik, chief economist at Bloomberg Economics, said: “It's possible talks are breaking down, with China offering insufficient concessions, and an increase in tariffs a genuine prospect.

“More likely, in our view, is that this renewed threat is an attempt to extract a few more minor concessions in the final days of talks.”

What will the tariff rise affect?

Mr Trump's latest move will raise duties on more than 5,000 products made by Chinese producers, ranging from chemicals to textiles and consumer goods.

The US president originally imposed a 10% tariff on these goods in September that was due to rise in January, but postponed this as negotiations advanced.

However, both US and international firms have said they are being harmed by the trade war.

Fears about a further escalation caused a slump in world stock markets towards the end of last year.

The IMF has warned a full-blown trade war would weaken the global economy.


Chancellor Philip Hammond decides future of 1p and 2p coins

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 29th April 2019) London, Uk – –

Chancellor Philip Hammond will this week rule on the future of 1p and 2p coins, a year after he called them “obsolete”.

In his Spring Statement in 2018, a Treasury consultation about the mix of coins in circulation appeared to pave the way for the end of both of them.

A swift reverse by the Prime Minister's official spokesman declared there were no plans to scrap the copper coins.

The Treasury has declined to comment on a report that there will be a reprieve.

But it confirmed that “the result of the review will be announced shortly”.

The Mail on Sunday quoted a government source as saying: “We will confirm the penny coin won't be scrapped.”

That Treasury consultation document said surveys suggested six-in-10 of UK 1p and 2p coins were only used once before being put in a jar or discarded, while one-in-12 were thrown into a bin.

The value of the 1p coin has also been reduced by inflation so, in effect, the 1p coin is now worth less than the halfpenny when it was abolished in 1984.

Penny definitions

  • Pretty penny: considerable sum of money
  • Penny dropped: something was finally understood
  • Penny-dreadful: a cheap, often lurid, book or magazine
  • Penny-pinching: miserly
  • Penny-wise: Careful and thrifty in small matters

Source: Collins English Dictionary

Among many of those who support the continuing use of copper coins, the belief is that retailers would simply round up prices to the nearest 5p if copper coins were scrapped.

But writing on the Bank of England's blog, Bank Underground, staff members Marilena Angeli and Jack Meaning last year argued that – even if this happened – it would have little or no effect on the cost of living, as measured by inflation.

They also argued that the growth of non-cash payments – particularly contactless cards – meant that shoppers could still be charged the exact amount when paying by card.

Thirdly, the duo quoted figures showing that only 12% of prices ended with 99p, with a falling number of items now priced at, say, £1.99.

Many countries – including Canada, the home of Bank of England governor Mark Carney – have ditched their low denomination coins. Australia, Brazil, and Sweden are among many others to do so.

Palm Island Dubai the largest man-made island in the world

Source: Provident

Palm Jumeirah is the world’s largest man-made island and is comprised of a two kilometre long trunk, a crown made up of 17 fronds and a surrounding crescent. The first of three such islands that comprise ‘The Palm Trilogy', Nakheel's signature development, it will be followed by The Palm Jebel Ali and The Palm Deira.

Following a number of years of feasibility studies, the Palm Jumeirah was launched in 2001, with reclamation starting in the same year. From the end of 2006, the island's first residences – comprising 4,000 luxury villas and apartments were handed over during a phased period. Since then, the tourism, leisure and retail elements of the island have been developed, creating a spectacular, world-renowned residential and tourism destination.

Universal credit to impact almost 2m people with loss of £1,000 a year – study

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 24th April, 2019) London, Uk – –

Those on disability benefits and low incomes will be among worst affected, IFS concludes

Almost 2 million people will lose more than £1,000 a year following the switch to universal credit, with those claiming disability benefits the worst affected, according to research by a leading thinktank.

Self-employed workers on below average incomes and low-income families with little savings will also be among the biggest losers, the Institute for Fiscal Studiesstudy concluded, as the government aims to complete one of the biggest overhauls of the benefits system since the introduction of tax credits in 2003.

The benefit clawbacks under the new system, which will affect around half of claimants, are expected to lead to a huge outcry from anti-poverty charities who have accused ministers of sanctioning more than a decade of austerity for some of the UK’s most hard-pressed households.

Earlier this month, welfare claimants began the fourth year of a benefits freeze imposed by the former chancellor George Osborne in 2016, which has already delivered cumulative savings of £4.4bn.

In March, the annual Households Below Average Income (HBAI) report covering 2017-18 found that 3.7 million children were living in absolute poverty, up from 3.5 million in 2016-17.

Universal credit is a merger of several benefits previously paid to claimants separately, including housing benefit, child tax credit and jobs seekers allowance.

The IFS said 11 million adults would lose or gain under new rules governing UC payouts, with 1.6 million gaining by more than £1,000 a year and 1.9 million losing at least that much.

About 4.2 million will be at least £100 per year better off than under the current system and 4.6 million will be at least £100 per year worse off after transitional protection expires, the IFS said.

The research tracked previous claimants and concluded that the circumstances of many low-income families will improve and they are likely to reduce their losses from UC over eight years. For some, losses will fall from more than £1,000 to nearer £100, the report said.

But those who are disabled or live with a disabled person are especially likely to be persistently, rather than temporarily, poor.

Tom Waters, a research economist at the IFS and an author of the briefing note, said: “The biggest losses experienced as a result of the switch are mostly down to a small number of specific choices the government has made about universal credit’s design, such as its treatment of the low-income self-employed and people with financial assets.

“Many of those very large losses do turn out to be temporary for those concerned. However, even when measuring people’s incomes over relatively long periods, universal credit still hits the persistently poor the hardest on average.”

By Phillip Inman

Natwest to double growth funding programme for UK small and medium-sized businesses

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Tue, 23rd April 2019) London, Uk – –

Natwest will double its growth funding programme for small and medium-sized British businesses, citing the need to help them navigate Brexit disruption.

The UK bank’s growth funding loan pot, which was started in May 2018, will be immediately doubled to £6bn in the latest sign that companies are demanding resources to cope with political impasse and that banks and investors can cash in by helping them.

The money will be available immediately and will help businesses looking to grow, fund green initiatives and navigate the current uncertain business climate, Natwest said.

Last week the government announced it had handed over £200m to help support smaller businesses in the 2019-20 financial year as the future of European Union funding remains uncertain.

The Treasury made the cash available to the British Business Bank, a public-private partnership which provides loans to small companies looking to increase in size through investment and venture capital firms.

The national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, said at the time: “With Brexit on the horizon, serious questions regarding future funding for a UK small business support network that’s heavily reliant on the EU remain unanswered.”

Natwest figures released today showed that £2.9bn of its already-expanded £3bn growth funding pot had been approved for investment.

The bank said it would increasingly focus on financing eco-friendly projects and intellectual property.

Alison Rose, chief executive of commercial and private banking at Natwest, said: “We are working every day to look at what businesses need to not just survive, but grow. In many cases this is bespoke funding.”

Referencing Brexit, she said: “We recognise that the challenges businesses face evolve all the time, which is why we try to innovate whenever we can.”

By Harry Robertson

No access to bank accounts ‘costs £500 extra a year’ in bills

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 22nd April 2019) London, Uk – –

People who do not have access to a bank account pay an extra £485 a year for everyday bills and services, research from an account provider suggests.

More than 1.2 million Britons do not have a bank account, so miss out on discounts reserved for those who pay bills by direct debit, said Pockit.

This ramps up the cost of energy bills, broadband and phone contracts, it said.

“For many of us, having a bank account is a basic fact of life,” said Pockit boss Virraj Jatania.

“Yet the unbanked face a banking poverty premium which can put a real strain on their finances.”

UK Finance, which represents the UK banking industry, said banks took their financial inclusion responsibilities “extremely seriously”.

“The banking industry is committed to ensuring banking is accessible to all. There are over seven million basic bank accounts in the UK, helping customers across the country access vital banking services,” it said.

Traditional banks can reject customers applying for accounts if they do not have enough forms of ID, or if their credit rating is poor.

But Pockit, which provides basic account services, said this meant many were being penalised.

It analysed prices from leading service providers and found:

  • Energy and broadband providers offer discounts to customers if they pay by direct debit – a saving which is not available to those without a bank account.
  • Mobile phone companies offer better deals to those paying via direct debit rather than pay-as-you go customers.
  • Those without accounts have limited options when looking for credit, and often turn to expensive cash-in-hand “doorstep loans”.

In one example, it found two of the UK's three largest broadband providers, BT and Virgin Media, offered a “super line rental discount” if you paid by direct debit.

But customers without a current account had to pay using methods such as cash transfers, costing them £38 more a year on average.

On electricity and gas, it analysed Ofgem data and found that those using pre-payment meters paid on average £141.57 more each year than those who paid by direct debit.

UK house prices rose at its weakest rate in six-and-a-half years in February

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 17th April 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British house prices rose at the weakest rate in six-and-a-half years in February, dragged down by London’s biggest price slump in a decade as Brexit uncertainty sent chills through the property market.

Official data also showed Britain’s consumer price inflation unexpectedly held just below the Bank of England’s 2 percent target in March, offering relief to consumers whose spending has helped Britain’s economy through the Brexit crisis.

House prices were just 0.6 percent higher in February than a year ago, slowing sharply from a 1.7 percent annual rise in January, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

In London, house prices were down by 3.8 percent — the biggest drop since mid-2009. The malaise in the capital spread to the south-east of England, where prices fell for the first time since 2011.

Other surveys have shown Brexit to be a major drag on the property market in the capital, which is sensitive to flows of migrant workers from the European Union. A surge in prices in London in previous years has also stretched affordability.

House prices in London are now 6 percent below their mid-2017 peak, albeit a smaller contraction than an 18 percent decline during the financial crisis.

“It is possible that the avoidance of a ‘no deal’ Brexit at the end of March could provide a modest boost to the housing market through easing some of the immediate uncertainty and concerns,” said economist Howard Archer from consultancy EY ITEM Club.

“However, we suspect it is more probable that with Brexit most likely being delayed until Oct. 31, prolonged uncertainty will weigh down on the housing market and hamper activity.”

INFLATION STILL SEEN RISING

Separately, the ONS said consumer prices rose at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in March, the same rate as in February. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a rate of 2.0 percent.

Sterling slipped against the U.S. dollar and the euro on the figures, while British government bond prices rose slightly.

Rising motor fuel prices were offset by falling food prices and computer game prices rising more slowly than they did a year ago, the ONS said.

Looking ahead, improving wage growth and poor productivity in Britain’s economy are likely to push inflation above the BoE’s 2 percent target by the end of 2019, said economist Andrew Wishart from consultancy Capital Economics.

“Nonetheless, with another Brexit crunch point looming in October and growth likely to be modest this year, we doubt the (Bank of England) will press ahead with another interest rate hike until next summer,” Wishart added.

BoE policymakers have said they want to see firm evidence of domestic inflation pressure – chiefly from rising wages – building before they vote to raise rates.

They will likely be reassured by Wednesday’s data that showed costs faced by factories for materials and energy – which eventually feed through to consumer prices – rose more slowly than expected in March.

By Andy Bruce, William Schomberg

UK pre-Brexit stockpiling grows economy as factories get a boost

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 10th April 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy unexpectedly grew in February, helped by clients of manufacturers rushing to stockpile goods ahead of Brexit, official data showed on Wednesday.FILE PHOTO: An employee looks up at goods at the Miniclipper Logistics warehouse in Leighton Buzzard, December 3, 2018 REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Gross domestic product grew by 0.2 percent from January, the Office for National Statistics said.

Economists taking part in a Reuters poll had expected zero growth.

Britain’s economy has held up better than many economists expected since the 2016 Brexit referendum although it has slowed ahead of its departure from the European Union and as the world economy loses momentum.

The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that Britain would grow by 1.2 percent in 2019 — as long as it avoids the shock of a no-deal Brexit. That would be faster than Germany’s 0.8 percent and only a touch slower than France’s 1.3 percent.

However, Britain still looks set for its weakest growth in a decade this year, according to forecasts from the IMF and the Bank of England which assume a Brexit deal will be done.

Prime Minister Theresa May will seek a new delay to Brexit when she meets EU leaders on Wednesday, just two days before Britain is due to leave the bloc without the cushion of a transition deal.

Wednesday’s data showed that over the three months to February, the economy grew by 0.3 percent, holding at the same pace as in January — which was revised up from a previous estimate — and stronger than a forecast of 0.2 percent in the Reuters poll.

Manufacturing output jumped by 0.9 percent in February from January, stronger than all forecasts in the Reuters poll and accounting for about half of the overall economic growth rate.

The ONS said it seen signs that clients of manufacturers were stockpiling goods to get ahead of any border delays in the event of a no-deal Brexit which was scheduled for March 29 but was subsequently delayed.

An ONS official said orders were being brought forward to beat the Brexit schedule, suggesting a likely drag on the numbers for coming months.

The statistics office said it could not quantify the impact of stockpiling on the data.

Britain’s dominant services sector grew by 0.1 percent in monthly terms in February, held back by the 12th fall in a row in the financial services sector – the longest such run on record — while construction rose by 0.4 percent.

There were signs that the slowdown in the global economy was also weighing on Britain’s economy.

Export volumes fell by 0.4 percent in the three months to February from the three months to November while imports jumped by 6.8 percent.

So far, Britain’s exporters have shown no sign of being helped by the fall in the value of the pound caused by the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The ONS said it could not say whether the increase in imports was driven by pre-Brexit stockpiling.

Reporting by William Schomberg and Andy Bruce

Gender pay gap narrowed by less than half of UK’s biggest employers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 5th Apr 2019) London, Uk – –

Fewer than half the UK's biggest employers have succeeded in narrowing their gender pay gap, analysis by the BBC has found.

Across 45% of firms the discrepancy in pay increased in favour of men, while at a further 7% there was no change.

Overall, 78% of companies had a pay gap in favour of men, 14% favoured women and the rest reported no difference.

Firms had until midnight to file pay comparison data – by which time 10,428 had done so – or face legal action.

The total is roughly the same as last year, but it is unclear how many firms have failed to respond, since the government has no definitive list of companies required to file figures.

Overall, the median pay gap in favour of men lowered slightly from 9.7% last year to 9.6% this year.

The median pay gap is calculated by comparing the difference in pay between the middle-ranking woman and middle-ranking man in the same companies.

By law, all companies, charities and public sector departments of 250 employees or more must publish their gender pay gap figures.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said it would take enforcement action against all firms that missed the deadline.

It was unclear exactly how many companies had not reported, although it is thought about a quarter did so in the last 36 hours before the deadline.

Anaylsis: Dharshini David

Ask gender pay specialists and they'll tell you there are many initiatives that companies can take – tackling unconscious bias, offering more flexible working and encouraging shared parental leave.

But the issue doesn't end at the office door. The experts say society needs to change.

Schools could encourage girls to take more STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and maths. There should be more flexible, affordable childcare options. And men could take on more of the household chores.

But gender pay gap reporting may not be enough: the government may need to get tougher.

Among firms reporting the biggest increases in pay gaps were garage chain Kwik Fit, Interserve FS (part of the Interserve Group), and car retailer Inchcape.

Firms reporting the biggest improvement in narrowing the gap were Newsquest Media Group, Mitie, and DFDS Logistics.

The three companies with the biggest gaps were Countrywide Services at 60.6%, which was nevertheless down from 63.4%; Independent Vetcare at 48.3% (50.5%); Easyjet at 47.9% (45.5%).

A spokesman for Interserve Group said: “We are committed to addressing the issues on gender pay and through the leadership of our chief executive, Debbie White, we are making good progress.”

A spokeswoman for Kwik Fit said it was committed to narrowing the gap and both recruit more female staff and promote from within.

Easyjet said in March that the gap had widened from 45.5% as more female cabin crew had been recruited since the last pay snapshot.

Most of the airline's pilots are male, and are more highly paid than cabin crew. The firm is making efforts to recruit more female pilots.

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, described the figures as “disappointing, but not surprising”.

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society chief executive, said: “The regulations are not tough enough. It's time for action plans, not excuses.

“Employers need to set out a five-year strategy for how they will close their gender pay gaps, monitoring progress and results.

“Government needs to require employers to publish action plans that we can hold them accountable to, with meaningful sanctions in place for those who do not comply.”

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “Big employers clearly aren't doing enough to tackle the root causes of pay inequality and working women are paying the price.

“Government needs to crank up the pressure.

“Companies shouldn't just be made to publish their gender pay gaps, they should be legally required to explain how they'll close them. And bosses who flout the law should be fined.

“We can't allow another generation of women to spend their whole working lives waiting to be paid the same as men.”

Understanding the terminology

Median pay gap

The median pay gap is the difference in pay between the middle-ranking woman and the middle-ranking man.

If you place all the men and women working at a company into two lines in order of salary, the median pay gap will be the difference in salary between the woman in the middle of her line and the man in the middle of his.

Mean pay gap

The mean pay gap is the difference between a company's total wage spend-per-woman and its total spend-per-man.

The number is calculated by taking the total wage bill for each and dividing it by the number of men and women employed by the organisation.

Pay gap v equal pay

The gender pay gap is not the same as unequal pay.

Unequal pay is giving women less than men for the same work. That has been against the law since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970.

A company's gender pay gap can also be caused by other things, for example fewer women in senior or highly-paid roles or more women in part-time jobs.

UK Factories stockpile for Brexit in March boosting manufacturing growth to a 13-month high


(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 1st April 2019) London, Uk –

UK factories stockpiled goods for Brexit at an unexpectedly high rate last month, boosting manufacturing growth to a 13-month high, according to a closely watched survey.

The research, by IHS Markit/CIPS, found that the rate of increase in stocks hit a survey record high for the third month in a row.

The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector rose to 55.1 in March, from 52.1 in February.

A figure above 50 indicates expansion.

The PMI has remained above that benchmark for 32 months in a row.

However, Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, warned that the boost to the UK economy could prove short-lived.

He said: “Manufacturers are already reporting concerns that future trends could be constrained as inventory positions across the economy are unwound.

“The survey is also picking up signs that EU companies are switching away from sourcing inputs from UK firms as Brexit approaches.

“It looks as if the impact of Brexit preparations, and any missed opportunities and investments during this sustained period of uncertainty, will reverberate through the manufacturing sector for some time to come.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the rise in the manufacturing PMI in March largely reflected producers rushing to complete work before the Brexit deadline, rather than a strengthening of underlying demand.

He added: “We continue to doubt that precautionary stockpiling for a no-deal Brexit will boost GDP, because manufacturers primarily are buying imports and are tying up cash that otherwise might have been used for investment.

“All told, then, the PMI should not instil any confidence about the near-term outlook for the manufacturing sector.”

UK house prices picked up in March, as Brexit weighed on the housing market – Nationwide

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 29th March 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British house prices picked up only a little bit of speed this month as the approach of Brexit weighed on the housing market, data from mortgage lender Nationwide showed on Friday.

Prices rose by 0.7 percent in annual terms in March, up from a rise of 0.4 percent last month.

House prices were rising by about 5 percent a year at the time of the Brexit referendum in 2016, according to Nationwide.

In monthly terms, prices rose by 0.2 percent after falling by 0.1 percent in February.

Economists in a Reuters poll had expected prices to rise by an annual 0.6 percent and to be flat on the month.

Last week, official data, covering more transactions than other surveys, showed prices in January rose by an annual 1.7 percent, the smallest increase since 2013, when Britain was trying to shake off the effects of the global financial crisis.

Nationwide said London was the weakest performing region in the United Kingdom in the first quarter of 2019 with prices falling by an annual 3.8 percent, the biggest drop since 2009.

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It was the seventh consecutive quarter to show falling prices in the capital.

Nationwide said factors behind the fall in London included unaffordable prices for many buyers and tax changes affecting the buy-to-let market.

Howard Archer, an economist with EY Item Club, a forecasting firm, said a prolonged Brexit delay could lead to house prices stagnating or falling slightly in 2019.

“If the UK leaves the EU without a deal during the second quarter, house prices could fall by around 5 percent in 2019 amid heightened uncertainty and weakened economic activity,” Archer said.

By William Schomberg

UK’s biggest companies facing pressure to impose caps on bosses pay to tackle “corporate greed”

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 26th March 2019) London, Uk – –

A committee of MPs makes several recommendations to help restore trust over awards at many top UK companies.

The UK's biggest companies are facing pressure to impose caps on bosses' pay as part of recommendations to tackle “corporate greed”.

The report by the business, energy and industrial strategy committee of MPs highlighted “huge differentials” in awards at top firms following a string of pay rows, such as those at Unilever and BT.

The most high profile was a backlash against £85m for Jeff Fairburn when he led housebuilder Persimmon – a reward that ultimately led to him being forced out of the door.

MPs argue it is time to break what they regard as a heavy reliance on overgenerous, incentive-based executive pay that is deliberately made complex to shake off shareholder opposition.

The report says failing remuneration committees should face action from the regulator formed to replace the Financial Reporting Council, which has been ridiculed by the committee for its role in the collapse of Carillion.

It said the new Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority must be “more robust and proactive in bearing down on excessive executive pay”.

The MPs recommended pay committees “set, publish and explain” an absolute cap on pay for executives in any financial year.

They said more could be done to tackle disparity between executive pay growth and workers by introducing schemes such as profit-sharing and boosting pensions – the latter seen as a particular issue for investors in the looming AGM season.

Several FTSE 100 firms, including HSBC and Centrica, have moved to slash payments to bosses in recent weeks following anger over discrepancies between those at the top and staff.

Committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “The roll call of dishonourable executive pay decisions at firms including Persimmon, Unilever, Royal Mail, BT, Melrose and Foxtons tell the all-too-familiar tale of corporate greed which is so
damaging to the reputation of business in our country.

“But these examples also highlight the persistence of executive pay policies where far too little weight is given to delivering genuine long-term value, investing in the future, or ensuring rewards are shared with workers.

“When the company does well, it is workers and not just the chief executive who should share the profits. Why should chief executives have a more generous pension scheme than those who work for them?”

UK retail sales and mild weather boost February sales growth ahead of Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 21st March 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales unexpectedly kept up a robust pace of expansion last month, after unusually warm weather boosted sales, reinforcing the sector’s role as a bright spot for the economy ahead of Brexit.

Annual retail sales growth slowed only a fraction to 4.0 percent in February after sales volumes grew at their fastest in more than two years in January, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a slowdown in sales growth to 3.3 percent.

Consumer spending has been a source of strength for the British economy at a time when businesses say that Brexit uncertainty is forcing them to postpone investment and a slower global economy is hurting export demand.

On Wednesday Prime Minister Theresa May asked for a three-month delay to Brexit on Wednesday to buy time to get her twice-rejected departure deal though parliament, but the request faced immediate resistance from the European Commission.

Sales volumes in February alone rose by 0.4 percent versus a poll forecast of a decline, after jumping by 0.9 percent in January, while annual sales growth for the three months to February was its strongest in over two years at 3.7 percent.

Falling inflation, a steady rise in wages and the lowest unemployment since 1975 have all boosted household incomes over the past year, though after inflation wages are still below their peak before the financial crisis.

Last year overall British economic growth slowed to its weakest since 2012 and the Bank of England – which is predicted to keep rates on hold later on Thursday – forecasts the weakest growth for a decade this year.

The ONS said that unusually warm weather in February had boosted spending at garden centres and on sporting equipment, sales fell at supermarkets and in clothing stores due to an end of January’s seasonal promotions.

Earlier on Thursday, major British clothing chain Next reported a small fall in annual profit on Thursday, hurt by lower store sales, and forecast another decline for 2019-2020.

Figures from the British Retail Consortium at the start of the month had suggested that annual sales growth at bigger high-street stores slowed in February, with the trade association blaming Brexit.

Separate figures from the ONS on Thursday showed the government broadly on track to meet updated borrowing goals for the 2018/19 financial year, as the strong labour market boosted income tax revenue.

Public borrowing for February, the eleventh month of the tax year, fell to 0.2 billion pounds from 1.2 billion pounds a year earlier, below economists’ average forecast of 0.6 billion pounds in a Reuters poll.

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With just one month remaining of the current financial year, government borrowing totals 23.1 billion pounds, down 44 percent from the same point in the 2017/18 tax year, though these figures are likely to be revised further.

Last week Britain’s official budget forecasters cut their 2018/19 borrowing forecast to 22.8 billion pounds or 1.1 percent of GDP from 25.5 billion pounds.

Finance minister Philip Hammond said at the time that if Brexit went smoothly there would be more money for public services in a major multi-year spending review due late this year.

Reporting by David Milliken and Andy Bruce

UK unemployment fall below 4% for first time since 1975

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 19th Mar 2019) London, Uk – –

The unemployment rate has fallen below 4% for the first time since 1975, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate was 3.9% in the three months to January, down from 4% at the end of 2018.

Meanwhile wages excluding bonuses rose by 3.4%, unchanged on the previous month and still outpacing inflation.

Unemployment fell by 35,000 to 1.34 million and the number of people in work rose by 222,000 – the fastest pace of hiring in more than three years and nearly twice as strong as economists had expected.

The ONS said the employment rate had hit a new record high of 76.1% while the level of economic inactivity – covering people who are neither seeking work nor available for it – hit a record low.

ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said: “The unemployment rate has also fallen below 4% for the first time since early 1975.”

But the ONS said that while the labour market had continued to perform strongly as it had in 2018, the general economic outlook was “more complex” with growth slowing and a number of companies shelving investments and some going into administration amid ongoing uncertainty.

Travelodge to create 3,000 jobs to fill post-Brexit staffing gaps

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 18th Mar 2019) London, Uk – –

Budget chain is to open 100 hotels in the next five years that will create 3,000 jobs

Travelodge wants to recruit parents returning to work to fill post-Brexit staffing gaps, as it pushes ahead with 100 hotel openings that will create 3,000 jobs over the next five years.

The company, one of Britain’s biggest hotel chains with 575 properties, hopes to fill 550 jobs immediately by attracting parents with hours that fit around the school run.

They include roles in reception, restaurants, housekeeping as well as some head office roles with flexible hours. Travelodge said it was targeting some of the UK’s 2 million-plus unemployed parents, citing YouGov research that 86% of them would like to return to work.

The majority of Travelodge’s hotel managers are female, and across the group almost three-quarters of its staff are women.

Like the rest of the hospitality sector, Travelodge is heavily reliant on EU staff, who account for 30% of its workforce. The industry has warned of the devastating impact the government’s plans to slash immigration from the EU by 80% after Brexit will have on the industry. The government wants to extend the £30,000-a-year minimum salary threshold that applies to non-EU workers to EU migrants.

The firm’s chief executive, Peter Gowers, said: “Travelodge is growing quickly and we want to unlock the potential of Britain’s mums and dads as they return to work. Hospitality can offer a great career for parents, with jobs close to home, hours that can match the school run, benefits that suit families and a path into management.

“We are preparing in earnest for post-Brexit Britain. With thousands of new jobs to fill, we need more new colleagues than ever. We see vast untapped potential in parents who want to return to work.”

By Julia Kollewe

Pound Sterling climbs as MPs vote to reject no-deal Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 14th March 2019) London, Uk – –

Sterling climbed by as much as three cents to reach a nine-month high against the US dollar and added two cents against the euro.

The pound is clinging on to gains of the past 24-hours following a big leap as MPs voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

In volatile trading, Sterling climbed by as much as three cents against the US dollar to nearly $1.34, a nine-month high, and was two cents up versus the euro to as high as €1.18 – a new 22-month peak.

That was after an amendment rejecting a no-deal Brexit in all circumstances was narrowly backed by the Commons.

It had given up some of those gains by Thursday morning – trading at €1.17 and $1.32 – as investors mulled the political reality that the vote was non-binding.

But the pound moved higher again later after Goldman Sachs put the chances of a no-deal Brexit at 5% – a shift from Wednesday's position of 10%.

There was a broad welcome for the MPs' no-deal vote from business groups but it was combined with continued frustration about the lack of a clear way forward, with the Commons due to vote on Thursday night on delaying the Brexit process.

A survey for the CBI suggested nearly 9 in 10 firms would back a delay but only if the alternative is to leave the EU with no deal.

Commenting on the task ahead Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “If they vote for an extension there will still be the considerable task of convincing the EU that there is an exit deal the House of Commons can get behind.”

Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, noted: “Unless the withdrawal agreement or some other realistic course of action is agreed very soon, the UK will still crash out, regardless of MPs' wishes.”

Business anxiety has mirrored days of high drama over Brexit in Westminster while currency markets have see-sawed sharply.

Sterling had hit a previous 22-month high against the euro earlier in the week when Theresa May secured a revised transition deal with the European Union before falling back again when it proved too little to win over parliamentary opposition.

Mrs May's crushing Commons defeat on Tuesday paved the way for the vote on Wednesday that saw MPs reject a “no deal” Brexit – seen as likely to create major economic uncertainty.

Investors see the further vote on delaying Brexit as positive for the pound as it could increase the Prime Minister's chance of securing a deal or even lead towards a second referendum.

David Cheetham, chief market analyst at xtb online trading, said: “It appears that hardline Tories are now starting to fear that the game is up and are looking to change tack and throw their weight behind the PM.

“There is significant scope for a sizeable relief rally in the pound, with the path of least resistance for sterling now appearing to be higher – albeit with several potential potholes still lining the way.”

By John-Paul Ford Rojas & James Sillars

Uk would eliminate import tariffs on a wide range of goods, no checks on Irish border in no-deal Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 13th March, 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Wednesday it would eliminate import tariffs on a wide range of goods and avoid a so-called hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The government announced the moves, which it said would be temporary, ahead of a vote by lawmakers later on Wednesday on whether Britain should leave the European Union without a deal, a prospect that alarms many employers with the scheduled March 29 Brexit date fast approaching.

Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a second, heavy parliamentary defeat on the withdrawal deal she struck with the bloc on Tuesday, leaving open the possibility of an abrupt, economically damaging Brexit without a transition arrangement.

However, lawmakers are expected to vote against a no-deal Brexit and then, on Thursday, vote in favour of seeking a delay to Brexit.

Under the tariff plan for a no-deal Brexit that would last for up to 12 months 87 percent of total imports to the United Kingdom by value would be eligible for tariff-free access, up from 80 percent now.

The new system would mean 82 percent of imports from the EU would be tariff-free, down from 100 percent now, while 92 percent of imports from
the rest of the world would pay no duties at the border, up from 56 percent now.

Some protections for British producers would remain in place, including for the country’s carmakers and beef, lamb, pork, poultry and dairy farmers.

Cutting import tariffs on imported goods would ease the hit to British consumers from an expected jump in inflation in the event of a no-deal Brexit which would probably cause sterling to tumble and make imports more expensive.

But it would also expose many manufacturers to cheaper competition from abroad and, if maintained, low or zero tariffs would deprive Britain of ammunition for extracting concessions from other countries in future trade talks.

On the Irish border, the British government said it would not introduce any new checks or controls on goods moving from the Irish Republic to the British province of Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, stressing the plan was temporary and unilateral.

“The measures announced today recognise the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland,” Karen Bradley, Britain’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland said in a statement. “These arrangements can only be temporary and short-term.”

Britain would seek to enter discussions urgently with the European Commission and the Irish government to agree long-term measures to avoid a hard border.

Goods crossing the border from Ireland into Northern Ireland would not be covered by the new import tariff regime.

Britain, Ireland and the EU have said they want to avoid physical checks on the border, which was marked by military checkpoints before a 1998 peace deal ended three decades of violence in the region. But they disagree on the “backstop”, or insurance mechanism, to exclude such border checks.

By William Schomberg