EU citizens given 28-day deadline to apply to stay in UK

( via – – Wed, 23rd June 2021) London, Uk – –

Immigration enforcement officials will begin giving EU citizens who live in the UK a 28-day warning to apply to remain, the government says.

But the Home Office will allow people indefinite time to complete an application for settled status if they have a reasonable excuse for delay.

There is a week to go until the deadline for applications.

Some 5.6 million European Economic Area (EEA) citizens and their dependents have applied for settled status.

But there are around 400,000 cases outstanding, and the government's helpline is receiving thousands of calls a day.

After the 2016 Brexit referendum, which took place precisely five years ago, settled status was introduced for citizens of the EU and EEA living in the UK.

It allows them to retain the same rights of residence, travel, employment and access to healthcare and benefits.

The countries whose nationals have made the highest numbers of applications are Poland (975,000) and Romania (918,000).

Immigration minister Kevin Foster said anyone whose application was not concluded by next week's deadline would not lose out, as their rights were protected in law.

He added that immigration enforcement officials would begin issuing 28-day notices to people, advising them to apply for settled status.

Migrants' groups had voiced concern that children would be among those who had not applied.

But Mr Foster said there would be an indefinite period where people who had not applied would be allowed to do so, if they had reasonable grounds.

He gave the example of students who might discover when applying to university for the first time that they do not have settled status.

‘Changed guidance'

Maike Bohn, co-founder of the EU citizens' campaign group the3million, said: “It's good that people can apply late, but the crux is they're unlawful as they haven't put an application in.

“Those eligible and not applying on time become unlawful and risk losing work, housing, access to free health care and so much more.”

Mr Foster said existing benefit claimants would not have their payments stopped if they had not been granted settled status.

But he said no-one could begin a benefit claim, job, or tenancy in England without settled status.

He also said the Home Office had “changed guidance” to border officials after reports that some EU citizens had been detained for long periods at the border last month.

Speaking to the House of Lords European Affairs Committee on Tuesday, he said: “I want to get as many people through the door before the 30th [of June] as possible.”

The EEA is made up of the 27 EU states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

What is settled status?

EU nationals living in the UK have until 30 June to apply to stay in the UK.

They can apply for:

  • Settled status – on offer to anyone who can prove that they had been in the UK continuously for five years or more before 31 December 2020. As of 31 May, it has been granted to 2.75 million people.
  • Pre-settled status – on offer to anyone who had been in the UK for less than five years by the end of 2020. As of 31 May, it has been granted to 2.28 million. They can apply for settled status in future, but there is no guarantee they will get it.
By Callum May

Leaseholders benefit as CMA secures deal with Aviva and Persimmon

( via– Wed, 23rd June 2021) London, Uk – –

The Competition and Markets Authority warned other housing firms and investors to fall in line too or face possible legal action.

Leaseholders “trapped” in homes they struggle to sell are among thousands set to benefit after Aviva and Persimmon agreed to changes following an investigation by the competition regulator.

Hundreds living in homes whose freeholds are owned by Aviva will be affected after it said it would remove contract terms which allow ground rents to double every 10 to 15 years.

The ground rents will revert to the original amounts and leaseholders who were affected by the “doubling” clauses will be refunded excess amounts paid, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said.

Thousands more will benefit after house builder Persimmon said it would offer leasehold house owners the option to buy the freehold of their property at the discounted price of £2,000.

Anyone who has already bought a freehold from the company at a higher price will receive a discount, under the agreement.

It follows concerns that homeowners been led to believe they could buy their freehold at a certain price “only to find out later that this price had increased by thousands of pounds with no warning”.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “This is a real win for thousands of leaseholders – for too long people have found themselves trapped in homes they can struggle to sell or been faced with unexpectedly high prices to buy their freehold.

“We now expect other housing developers and investors to follow the lead of Aviva and Persimmon.

“If not, they can expect to face legal action.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said practices such as doubling ground rent “have no place in our housing market” and hailed the settlement as a “hugely important step”.

“We have also introduced legislation that will protect future homeowners by restricting ground rents in new leases to zero and I would strongly urge other developers to follow suit in amending their historic practices,” Mr Jenrick said.

The settlement follows the CMA's launch of enforcement action in September against housing developers Countryside Properties and Taylor Wimpey for using potentially unfair contract terms and Barratt and Persimmon over the possible mis-selling of leasehold properties.

In connection with this it has also been investigating investment firms, including Aviva, that bought a large number of freeholds from Countryside and Taylor Wimpey.

It has now written to the investment groups other than Aviva setting out its concerns and “requiring them to remove doubling ground rent terms from their contracts”.

The CMA said its investigation into Countryside, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt, and those investment groups – Brigante Properties, Abacus Land and Adriatic Land – remained ongoing adding that “it should not be assumed that they have breached the law”.

Responding to the CMA announcement, Persimmon said it had not historically sold leasehold homes in high volumes and largely stopped doing so in 2017.

It said the agreement largely extended existing schemes in place to enable leaseholders to buy their freeholds at below market value.

The CMA wrote to Countryside and Taylor Wimpey in March warning them they could be breaking the law if they continue to include unfair ground rent terms in contracts for new homes.

Campaigners have called for the end of leasehold sales for new-build properties.

Flats are often sold as leaseholds with the freehold held by a separate owner, often the builder, who is entitled to charge ground rent to the homeowner.

The government has pledged to reform the system.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

London underground to get full mobile network by end of 2024, says Sadiq Khan

( via – – Tue, 22nd June 2021) London, Uk – –

Sadiq Khan says work will begin soon on connecting busiest underground stations for end of next year.

Passengers on the London underground will have mobile coverage throughout the network by the end of 2024, the mayor of London has said.

Transport for London (TfL) said work on preparing some of the capital’s busiest stations, including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road and Bank, would begin soon, and they would be among the first fully connected stations by the end of next year.

TfL has awarded a 20-year concession to BAI Communications (BAI), a global provider of 4G and 5G connected infrastructure, to counter so-called not-spots in the network.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, who was re-elected last month, said: “I promised Londoners that if they re-elected me for a second term as mayor I would deliver 4G throughout the tube network.”

Permanent phone reception was made available on underground sections of London’s tube network for the first time in March last year when the eastern half of the Jubilee line was covered.

Mobile coverage on underground sections of the tube had previously been available only in a short trial on the Waterloo and City line during summer 2017.

Khan said: “It’s already up and running on the eastern half of the Jubilee line and I’m delighted to announce today that I am fulfilling that commitment and full internet access will be available across the tube, with key central London stations such as Oxford Circus and Euston set to benefit before the end of next year.”

Camden Town and Euston are the other stations that will be among the first tranche to be connected.

Shashi Verma, the chief technology officer at TfL, said: “London underground was born in the 19th century, and this concession to deliver mobile coverage to the whole tube network ensures it continues to adapt for customers in the 21st century.

“Providing mobile connectivity to customers within the tunnels and on platforms across London will help them stay connected more easily, and will both provide a long-term revenue stream for TfL and support economic growth across the city.”

UK negotiate to join trans-Pacific trade deal

( via — Tue, 22nd June 2021) London, UK —

LONDON, June 21 (Reuters) – Britain will begin negotiations on Tuesday to join a trans-Pacific trade deal that it sees as crucial to its post-Brexit pivot away from Europe and towards geographically more distant but faster-growing economies.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) removes 95% of tariffs between its members: Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile and Malaysia.

Britain hopes to carve out a niche for itself in world trade as an exporter of premium consumer goods and professional services. Accession to the pact would supplement trade deals London is seeking, or has already agreed, with larger members.

“This part of the world is where Britain’s greatest opportunities lie. We left the EU with the promise of deepening links with old allies and fast-growing consumer markets beyond Europe,” trade minister Liz Truss said. “It is a glittering post-Brexit prize that I want us to seize.”

The CPTPP is forecast to lead to only a minimal gain in British exports or economic growth. But it locks in market access, including for the legal, financial and professional services sectors, and is seen by ministers as an important way to gain influence in a region where China is increasingly the dominant economic force.

Joining the CPTPP in its current format could add around 1.8 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) to the economy over the long-term – or less than 0.1% of pre-pandemic gross domestic product, according to British government modelling published on Tuesday.

That gain could rise to 5.5 billion pounds – or 0.25% of GDP – if Thailand, South Korea and the United States were also to join the bloc.

Unlike the European Union, the CPTPP does not impose laws on its members, it does not aim to create a single market or a customs union, and it does not seek wider political integration.


The process of negotiating membership is largely about proving to existing members that Britain can meet the group's standards on tariff removal and trade liberalisation, and then setting out details of how and when it will do so.

“The CPTPP agreement has strong rules against unfair trade practices like favouring state-owned enterprises, protectionism, discriminating against foreign investors, and forcing companies to hand over private information,” the trade department said in a statement.

“The UK's joining will strengthen the international consensus against such unfair practices,” it added.

The government is expected to publish documents setting out its assessment of the benefits of membership on Tuesday, but highlighted cars and whisky as goods exports that would benefit.

The United States withdrew from an earlier planned trans-Pacific trade pact under then-president Donald Trump. His successor, Joe Biden, spoke prior to his election last November about the possibility of renegotiating the deal, but has not laid out any firm plans since taking office.

Reporting by William James

Morrisons’ share price soars 30% after US private equity firm offer

( via – – Mon, 21st June 2021) London, Uk – –

Morrisons' share price has jumped by more than 30% after a US private equity firm made an offer to buy the supermarket group for £5.5bn.

Shares in Morrisons rose to 234.73p on Monday, just above the price proposed by Clayton Dubilier & Rice.

Morrisons' board has rejected the offer, saying it “significantly undervalued” the business “and its future prospects”.

However, there is speculation the move may prompt others to bid for the group.

Morrisons – the UK's fourth-largest supermarket chain – has nearly 500 shops and employs about 118,000 people.

George McDonald, executive editor of the publication Retail Week, said CD&R's proposal “could flush out more bidders”.

He pointed to private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Lone Star Funds, which had been interested in buying Asda.

“But one of the interesting things about Morrisons is the closeness of its relationship with Amazon,” he told the BBC's Today programme.

Morrisons has had a relationship with Amazon since 2016, under which the supermarket sells fresh produce and food through Amazon's website.

Mr McDonald said: “Amazon hasn't, so far, really become a force to be reckoned with in food but it would like to be. You wonder whether this situation might flush out interest from them although, it also has to be said, they traditionally don't like to get involved in auctions.”

Amazon owns the US supermarket chain Whole Foods, which also has seven outlets in the London.

Under UK takeover rules, CD&R has until 17 July to announce a firm intention to bid or walk away.

In addition to the cash offer, CD&R would take on Morrisons' £3.2bn of debt, taking the total value of any deal to almost £9bn.

A successful bid by CD&R for Morrisons would mark the second time this year that a private equity firm has been involved in the takeover of a UK supermarket.

Earlier this year, TDR Capital and the Blackburn-based Issa brothers bought a majority stake in Asda from US parent Walmart, valuing the supermarket at £6.8bn.

Seema Malhotra, Labour's shadow minister for business, expressed caution about what a potential takeover of Morrisons could mean for the workforce.

“Our supermarkets that play a role at the heart of our communities need owners that put the long-term interests of the business and its employees first,” she said.

“When Debenhams went bust we saw private equity firms walk away while employees lost their jobs and staff who have paid into the pension scheme were left out of pocket. Too often dodgy private equity firms load the companies with debt and leave while pocketing the dividends. This has to end.”

CR&R has made investments in UK retail in the past – it banked £1bn from selling its stake in discount chain B&M – and it counts Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco, as a senior adviser.

Morrisons' entire executive board is made up of former Tesco executives, including chief executive David Potts, chief operating officer Trevor Strain and chief financial officer Michael Gleeson. Morrisons' chairman Andrew Higginson was also a long-time executive at Tesco.

Shares across retail-related companies rose on Monday following the emergence of the proposed offer.

Ocado, the grocery delivery and distribution platform, saw its share price rise 5%, Sainsbury's increased by 3.6% and Tesco's shares added 1.3%.

Despite being one of the retail sectors allowed to stay open throughout the entirety of Covid, some supermarkets have seen their share prices underperform.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said this underperformance was “surprising” given “the resilience shown by all, in their stepping up to the challenges of the pandemic”.

“All three – Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco – have seen costs rise as a result of Covid, and while in the case of Morrisons profits halved last year, like-for-like sales growth remained resilient in its first quarter, rising 2.7%, despite the tough comparatives of last year, when sales surged for all three as people stockpiled all manner of staples.”

For the year to the end of January, Morrisons reported a 50.7% drop in annual pre-tax profit before exceptional items to £201.1m.

The supermarket paid back £230m of business rates relief that the government had granted to businesses to help them through Covid.

Earlier this month, Morrisons faced a significant backlash over bonuses from investors at its annual general meeting

The company's board had stripped out the cost of the pandemic when calculating bonuses for senior staff.

McDonald’s to hire 20,000 staff for new UK and Ireland restaurants

( via– Mon, 21st June 2021) London, Uk – –

The announcement comes after the US-owned fast food chain recently said global sales had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

McDonald's has announced that it is hiring 20,000 more workers as it opens new restaurants in the UK and Ireland.

The US-owned fast food chain is taking on staff and opening 50 new sites in 2021.

Mr Pomroy said: “It's fantastic to be able to offer an additional 20,000 people an opportunity to work with us.

“There is no doubt the pandemic has had a huge impact on many people's employment opportunities and threatened the future of high streets up and down the country.

“The moves we've announced today reflect our commitment to continue to innovate and invest in the local communities and economies we serve.”

McDonald's currently has more than 1,400 restaurants, run by local franchisees, across UK and Ireland, employing more than 130,000 people.

Mr Pomroy admitted, speaking to the Telegraph, that it was “getting harder and harder to recruit”.

Trade industry body UK Hospitality has recently described a staffing crisis across the industry with a vacancy rate of 9% or 188,000 workers, following more than a year of closures and restrictions.

McDonald's said in April that, globally, sales in the first quarter had surpassed 2019 levels, helped by strong performance in its US home market.

Outside America, it said it did well in the Australia and Canada though continued to be held back in many markets by COVID-19 restrictions.

Earlier this year, Sky News reported claims that sales competitions between restaurants in the UK were endangering staff health and safety. McDonald's said it would investigate.

The latest jobs announcement comes days after Sky News revealed plans for expansion at fast food chain Itsu, which could create 2,000 new jobs.

Why The World Is Running Out Of Sand

Source: CNBC

Even though sand can be found in nearly every single country on Earth, the world could soon face a shortage of this crucial, under-appreciated commodity. Sand use around the world has tripled in the last twenty years, according to the UNEP. That's far greater than the rate at which sand is being replenished. Here's what's behind the looming sand crisis.

Tesco admit it faces a shortage of drivers for its lorries

( via– Fri, 18th June 2021) London, Uk – –

Haulage industry representatives met ministers this week to appeal for help but say nothing has been offered to date.

Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket chain, has admitted it faces a shortage of drivers for its lorries as the haulage industry warns of a widespread UK delivery crisis ahead.

Ken Murphy, Tesco's chief executive, told a call with analysts after the company's first quarter results that it was “working hard” to address its shortfall through recruitment and insisted product availability remains strong.

He made his remarks as hauliers grapple for support from the government to avert, what they say, is a threat to the economy from a national shortage of drivers – estimated at up to 100,000.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) argues that the COVID-19 crisis including testing demands, coupled with Brexit preventing the sector using EU-based drivers, has driven the problem.

There have been calls in some quarters for the army to be brought in to help shift goods if short-term access to non-UK labour is not allowed.

A meeting with ministers this week failed to produce a breakthrough, as far as the industry was concerned.

The RHA said it also highlighted issues around driver training and apprenticeships, parking and facilities for drivers, and the “need to treat drivers and the sector with the respect they deserve”.

There is long-standing anger over the treatment of drivers in relation to illegal cross-Channel migration and communication of rules ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period which coincided with disruption caused by COVID testing demands.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said on Wednesday, after a meeting with Roads Minister Baroness Vere: “The need for action is clear and urgent.

“We and many others have provided overwhelming evidence that the shortage is getting worse – the situation must be addressed right now.”

The government has indicated that it is looking at options to offer support.

But a Department for Transport spokesperson was quoted by The Grocer as responding: “Most of the solutions are likely to be commercial and from within industry, with progress already being made in key areas such as testing and recruitment, and a big focus towards improving pay, working conditions and diversity.”

By James Sillars

UK food and drink exports to the EU sales dropped by 47%

( via – – Fri, 18th June 2021) London, Uk – –

UK food and drink exports to the European Union almost halved in the first three months of the year, compared with the same period in 2020.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) figures show EU sales dropped by 47%.

The trade body said the decline was largely due to changes in the UK's trading relationships, but said the pandemic was also a factor.

The government said it was “too early to draw any firm conclusions” on the long term impact of Brexit.

It also said the pandemic had depressed demand.

“The most recent ONS trade statistics show that for both March and April, overall exports to the EU have exceeded the average levels across 2020,” a government spokesperson added.

Rachel Hicks, co-founder and co-distiller at Sky Wave Gin said the “red tape is strangling” her business. She said that EU sales “utterly dropped off a cliff” in the first quarter, meaning her turnover was down 30%.

“The real shame is somewhere like Asia – a fast growing region for gin – is going to potentially snaffle all the markets,” Ms Hicks said.

“We are now unable to quickly send gin to our customers all over Europe and have to wait for HMRC to inspect us every time we send gin abroad.”

Graham Flannigan from Berwick Shellfish in Northumberland, is in a similar position. He said his seafood exports had “come down drastically” mainly due to Brexit and the impact of lockdowns.

“The logistics systems are moving better now but it's the red tape that is having to be built into the cost of the goods and this is having a knock on effect,” he added.

Cheese sales hardest hit

Dominic Goudie, the FDF's head of international trade, said the drop in exports his federation had recorded was a “disaster” for the industry.

“It is a very clear indication of the scale of losses that UK manufacturers face in the longer-term due to new trade barriers with the EU.”

New trade barriers were not the only factor affecting cross channel trade. The FDF said that the Covid-19 outbreak accounted for a decline of some 10-15%.

Figures for the quarter were also affected by companies stockpiling ahead of the Brexit-related changes.

The combination of these factors, the FDF says, led to significant falls in the value of leading exports.

Compared with the first quarter of 2019 – before Covid became a factor – exports of cheese were down 72%; fish sales were down 52% and chocolate was down 37%.

Exports of food and drink to nearly all EU nations fell significantly in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year.

Worst hit was trade with Ireland – normally the sector's biggest overseas market. It was down by more than 70%. But sales to Germany, Spain and Italy also more than halved.

For decades, the UK has sold more food and drink to the European Union than to the rest of the world combined.

However, the fall in shipments to Europe means that is no longer the case. In the first quarter exports to non-EU nations made up 55% of the total.

The FDF said this is the first time this has happened in at least 20 years.

Overall, sales to non-EU countries rose by 0.3% – although there was a significant increase in shipments to China.

Sales to the region, which fell in the first quarter of last year due to Covid-related lockdowns, recovered to reach £200m – well above their pre-pandemic level of £163m.

New rules

On 31 December, the so-called ‘implementation period', in place since Britain left the EU, came to an end.

That meant trade across the channel became subject to new post-Brexit regulations and customs formalities for the first time.

This FDF says this has had a particularly significant impact on the trade in products of animal origin and other perishable foods, because it led to significant delays while formalities were completed.

“Trade that would take 12 hours in the past can now take a day or even a week,” said Mr Goudie.

“If you lose two days or even three days it takes a big chunk out of the of shelf life of the product, which makes the trade itself less viable.”

UK government could make working from home ‘default’ option

( via – – Thur, 17th June 2021) London, Uk – –

Downing Street confirms report from leaked document but says there would be no legal right to work from home

Downing Street has confirmed that the government is considering legislating to make working from home the “default” option by giving employees the right to request it.

Responding to reports that ministers could change the law, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said a flexible working taskforce was examining how best to proceed.

“What we’re consulting on is making flexible working a default option unless there are good reasons not to,” they said. That would mirror the approach to other forms of flexible working such as part-time hours.

However, they stressed there would be no legal right to work from home, adding that the prime minister still believed there were benefits to being in the office, including collaboration with colleagues.

The pandemic has ushered in drastically different working arrangements for many office workers; but the plan to legislate to support working from home had already been mooted in the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto.

Labour called on the government to clarify its position. Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s deputy leader, criticised the lack of clarity on plans for office-based workers, and called for stronger rights for staff “so that workers are not pressured or blackmailed back into unsafe workplaces”.

The government’s roadmap for unlocking the UK economy had initially suggested that all restrictions would be removed in England from Monday, 21 June. However, that has been extended until at least 19 July to give more time to vaccinate people.

Ministers have been advised that removal of all restrictions on workplaces could be risky, according to a document first reported by Politico. Instead, the government is thought to be considering advice for a hybrid approach, blending continued home working with some time in the office when necessary.

According to reports, the government is considering proposals that would see the law changed so that employers would have to prove it is essential before being able to insist employees attend the workplace.

“Throughout this crisis this government has failed working people time and time again, from refusing to classify Covid as a serious workplace risk to failing to crack down on unsafe workplaces and rogue employers who have put their staff at risk,” Rayner said.

“As we emerge from this crisis, we cannot have one-sided flexibility that allows employers to dictate terms to their workers when it comes to flexible working arrangements.”

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which represents human resources professionals, has called for a change in the law to allow employees to request flexible working from the day they start.

By Heather Stewart and Jasper Jolly

More people view crypto assets as a mainstream investment rather than a “gamble” says UK watchdog

( via — Thur, 17th June 2021) London, UK —

How The Right 5-10 Cryptocurrency Coins
Could Make You A Fortune

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) – More people see crypto assets as a mainstream investment rather than a “gamble” as ownership of bitcoin and similar crypto currencies has risen to 2.3 millon adults in Britain this year, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Thursday.

Regulators have repeatedly warned consumers about the “speculative” nature of largely unregulated crypto assets, with bitcoin hitting a high of around $64,899 in April before a sharp drop left it trading around at $39,344 on Thursday morning.

But people increasingly see crypto assets as a potential investment, even though the level of understanding of the sector is declining, the FCA said in its fourth study into crypto assets ownership.

The number of UK adults owning crypto assets has risen quickly from 1.9 million in 2020, the FCA said, adding that the number of people who view them as a gamble fell to 38% from 47% over the same period.

The average holding has risen to 300 pounds ($419.58) from 260 pounds, reflecting price rises, while ownership remains skewed to professional men over 35 years old, the FCA said.

Enthusiasm is growing, with over half of crypto holders saying they have had a positive experience so far and are likely to buy more, the FCA said.

Sheldon Mills, the FCA's executive director for consumers and competition, said it was important for consumers to understand that the assets are largely unregulated.

“If consumers invest in these types of products, they should be prepared to lose all their money,” Mills said in a statement.

The latest survey also looked at stablecoins like Facebook's Diem for the first time. Stablecoins seek to avoid volatility by being tied to an asset such as a currency.

Ownership of stablecoins is much lower, with 87% of crypto users saying none of the crypto currencies they bought were stablecoins.

Reporting by Huw Jones

Ryanair accuses PM of mismanaging the reopening of the skies to allow hassle-free holidays

( via– Wed, 16th June 2021) London, Uk – –

Chief executive Michael O'Leary accuses the PM of mismanaging the reopening of the skies to allow hassle-free holidays.

Ryanair has hit out at the UK government's traffic light system for global travel, describing the meagre green list of destinations as a “red list shambles”.

The airline, Europe's largest carrier, spoke up amid growing industry anger that holidays abroad are being discouraged at a time when COVID-19 vaccine rates should, they argue, be prompting a reopening of the skies.

They accuse the government of taking a harsh approach compared to many destinations in the EU, though ministers say the caution is justified given the surge in the Delta variant strain.

The removal of Portugal from the UK's green list earlier this month means people returning from every major viable tourist nation must self-isolate.

All travellers returning from amber locations must take a pre-departure coronavirus test, two post-arrival PCR tests costing around £100, and self-isolate for 10 days.

EasyJet revealed on Tuesday that it had moved aircraft from the UK to Germany in response to the countries'
differing approaches to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary called for a pragmatic approach in a bid to help the sector get back on its feet after unprecedented losses and damage inflicted on the wider economy.

He said: “The UK's COVID travel policy is a shambles.

“The green list is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower COVID case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on amber.

“Meanwhile, UK citizens, almost 80% of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June, continue to face COVID restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June.”

He said a vaccine-driven approach would “at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work.

“It is time for Boris Johnson to end his gross mismanagement of COVID and the recovery from COVID, and take advantage of the UK's successful vaccine programme,” he added.

UK could be left behind in the electric car race, warns report

( via – – Wed, 16th June 2021) London, Uk – –

The UK risks being left in the slow lane when it comes to building electric cars, according to a new report.

Influential green group Transport and Environment (T&E) says as recently as 2018, the UK produced roughly half of all electric cars built in Europe.

But it claims a lack of investment by UK manufacturers means that by the end of the decade that figure will have fallen to just 4%.

This comes at a time when the market is expanding rapidly.

As a result, the Brussels-based campaign group says that, despite being one of the first countries to outlaw the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, the UK will be almost wholly reliant on electric vehicles imported from abroad.

The market for electric cars remains relatively small, but it is growing rapidly, largely due to increasingly stringent emissions limits.

A number of European governments have already set targets for phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered vehicles, in their efforts to meet climate change targets.

The UK, which plans to ban the sale of most new cars with internal combustion engines by 2030, is among the most ambitious.

But according to the study by T&E, manufacturers based here are among the worst prepared for the change.

The race for electric vehicles

T&E's report is based on information compiled by industry data specialist IHS Markit, including the carmakers' own market and production forecasts.

It concludes that by 2030, battery-powered electric cars will account for 48% of production across the 27 countries of the EU and the UK. Plug-in hybrids will make up 11%.

However, it suggests that the difference in the way manufacturers have approached the transition means that the balance of power in the industry is expected to change.

Germany is expected to remain the dominant car producer in Europe. By 2030, its output is expected to increase from 4.5 million cars a year to 5.1 million – with half of them being electric.

But the UK, it says, will see output fall from its pre-Covid level of 1.3 million cars a year to just 1 million – and only 24% are expected to be battery-powered electric vehicles.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents the automobile industry, strongly refutes T&E's conclusions.

“The accusation that UK car makers are not preparing for the shift to electrification is utter nonsense,” SMMT's chief executive Mike Hawes told the BBC.

“The UK was home to the first mass-produced electric vehicle in Europe, almost one in four cars made here this year have been either battery electric or hybrid, and British brands have publicly committed to be amongst the first anywhere to be fully electric.”

He added that independent forecasts showed the UK was ramping up its production of electric vehicles and that it would be able to meet the government's net zero 2030 ambitions.

“However, our ability to realise this opportunity still depends on the inherent competitiveness of the UK as a place to invest,” he stressed.

“The UK-EU trading rules will help but success will depend on greater backing for advanced manufacturing; reducing operating costs, investing in workforce skills and the maintenance of a healthy new car market.”

Criticism of carmakers

According to T&E, among the manufacturers with facilities in the UK, Toyota is “least prepared for the electrification revolution that is under way”.

This, the group says, is because of the Japanese company's plans to continue building hybrid cars at its factory in Derbyshire. Rather controversially, it describes hybrids as “a 25 year-old outdated technology”.

Toyota has frequently defended its focus on hybrids in the past, saying it “believes it is better to maintain an open regulatory framework towards carbon neutrality and not limit possible technology solutions too early”.

The organisation is also critical of Jaguar Land Rover and BMW, owner of the Mini brand. It says Stellantis, which owns Vauxhall, “is better prepared to transition to electric cars but is focusing new electric car production in EU countries”.

It is worth pointing out, however, that Stellantis is still in talks with the government over the future of its plant at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, which could lead to electric cars being built at the site.

The report also accepts that BMW's plans to turn Mini into an all-electric brand could affect the forecasts it uses for UK production.

Nissan, meanwhile, is widely reported to have plans to expand battery production at its base in Sunderland, with the construction of a new “gigafactory”.

But according to T&E, the plan – which would initially see the plant having a capacity of 6.5 Gigawatt hours (GWh), this amounts to “a tiny fraction of the 474GWh of production at 17 sites across Europe for which funding has already been secured”.

It adds: “A further 10 gigafactory projects (including BritishVolt) have been announced, which would take total cell production to over 1000GWh”.

But it claims these projects are unlikely to go ahead unless the government puts more pressure on carmakers.

Without strong pressure to change, it says “the UK car industry will wither away”.

A government spokesperson said: “The UK will continue to be one of the best locations in the world for automotive manufacturing through a major government investment programme of up to £1bn to support the electrification of the auto supply chain, including the development of gigafactories in the UK.”

Britain and Australia announce free trade deal

( via — Tue, 15th June 2021) London, UK —

Britain and Australia announced a free trade deal on Tuesday which the British government hailed as an important step in building new trade relationships following its departure from the European Union.

Britain said cars, Scotch whisky and confectionery would be cheaper to sell in Australia because of the agreement, which removes tariffs and reduces red tape. Australia said it was a “great win” for Australian agriculture.

The deal is the first bilateral trade accord Britain has negotiated from scratch since leaving the EU last year. The government sees it as an important piece of its post-Brexit strategy to shift Britain's economic centre away from Europe and seek new opportunities in higher-growth Indo-Pacific nations.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Johnson overcame sticking points during talks after the Group of Seven advanced economies met in Britain at the weekend. Morrison attended the summit as a guest.

“I think this is important economically, there's no question about that … but I think it's more important politically and symbolically,” Johnson said. “We're opening up to each other and this is the prelude to a general campaign of opening up around the world.”

Britain is Australia's eighth-largest trading partner and Australia is Britain's 20th largest, with two-way trade worth A$26.9 billion ($20.7 billion).

“This is the most comprehensive and ambitious agreement that Australia has concluded,” Morrison said.

Prior to Britain joining the then European common market in 1973, Britain was Australia's most lucrative trading market.

The full agreement is yet to be published. According to British official estimates, it could add 500 million pounds to the country's economic output over the long term, a small fraction for an economy worth around 2 trillion pounds.


The bigger economic prize could be the precedent the deal sets for freer access in trade that allows Britain's services sector to export financial, legal and other professional services.

“It is a fundamentally liberalising agreement that removes tariffs on all British goods, opens new opportunities for our services providers and tech firms, and makes it easier for our people to travel and work together,” British trade minister Liz Truss said.

Britain has applied to join a trans-Pacific trading bloc, of which Australia is also a member, that includes other countries where minister predict demand for digital, legal and professional services will grow rapidly. 

That deal, Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, is also seen as important economic counterweight to China's influence in the region.

The deal with Australia will be scrutinised by British farmers, who fear they could be forced out of business if the deal eliminates tariffs on lamb and beef imports.

Britain said its farmers would be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years.

Australian Minister for Trade David Littleproud said Australian farmers would benefit from the deal.

“Overall, this is going to be a great win for Australian agriculture,” Littleproud told 4BC Radio.

By William James and Colin Packham

Boohoo online fashion retailer reports strong sales as it relaunches Debenhams website

( via – – Tue, 15th June 2021) London, Uk – –

Fashion retailer says revenues grew 32% in the three months to May as Covid crisis fuels online spending

Boohoo has reported further strong sales growth on the back of the online shopping boom seen during the pandemic, as it launched a new Debenhams “digital department store”.

The online fashion retailer said its revenues grew 32% in the three months to May compared with the same period in 2020, even as Covid lockdowns eased and other retailers reopened their shops.

UK revenues were strongest, up 50%, followed by the US with a 43% increase while sales in the rest of Europe and the rest of the world fell by 14% and 15% respectively. Overall revenues are up 91% over the past two years, with sales in the UK and US doubling.

Boohoo relaunched the Debenhams website in April, selling fashion, beauty and homeware, with new ranges added. It bought the Debenhams brand and website out of administration for £55m in January, after the 243-year-old department store chain collapsed last year. The Debenhams name has disappeared from the high street, with all stores around the country closed, leading to the loss of about 12,000 jobs.

The Debenhams brand allows Boohoo, which has thrived in the world of fast fashion, to make a big push into beauty and homeware. Debenhams was the UK’s second-biggest beauty retailer when it collapsed. Analysts say the acquisition will help Boohoo appeal to older shoppers and enter new markets such as sportswear.

Boohoo has also relaunched the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton websites, after snapping up the brands for £25m out of administration in February, which completed the break-up of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group. As with Debenhams, Boohoo – as an online retailer – had no interest in the stores.

John Lyttle, the Boohoo chief executive, said: “I am delighted with our performance in the first quarter, particularly as it was always going to be challenging to produce strong growth rates on last year, when lockdowns around the globe drove such high traffic to online retailers.”

Boohoo is working to improve conditions among UK and overseas suppliers, after allegations of poor pay and conditions last year, particularly in Leicester where the group sources about 40% of its fashions. The overhaul of Boohoo’s supply chain is being monitored by advisory firm KPMG and the retired judge Sir Brian Leveson.

Leveson said in a progress report, published on Tuesday, that Boohoo had taken the recommendations “extremely seriously”.

“My experience has demonstrated that any transformational change needs continuous investment of time and effort in order to embed the imposed business changes as permanent. That will be even more difficult in a business as dynamic as Boohoo.”

However, he added: “The progress and commitment are evident and has been the subject of positive comment from a number of those interested and engaged in the problems that Leicester has evidenced.”

Leveson said a small number of businesses that were initially approved had been removed from the list of suppliers while new companies were in the process of being added, and that Boohoo’s due diligence may now go well beyond that of other retailers. With importers that do not themselves manufacture but source garments that they sell on to the group, Boohoo needs to insert fair dealing requirements into a contract, he said.

Lyttle said: “We continue to make great progress on our agenda for change programme, with this morning’s latest report from Sir Brian Leveson outlining the seriousness with which the group is determined to develop and demonstrate a gold standard in our supply chain.”

Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor, said: “Rectifying the reputational damage remains a work in progress and the share price has declined by 10% over the last year … Over the last two years, however the shares remain up by 49% despite the dip and investor sentiment remains defiantly optimistic on prospects.”

By Julia Kollewe

Chancellor Rishi Sunak set to reject calls to bolster taxpayer support for businesses

( via– Mon, 14th June 2021) London, Uk – –

The hospitality sector says it faces the risk of ‘economic long COVID' unless the chancellor adjusts and extends support.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to reject calls to bolster taxpayer support for businesses in line with a delay to coronavirus Freedom Day, according to a Treasury source.

PM Boris Johnson is tipped to confirm on Monday evening that the timing for an end to all COVID-19 restrictions will slip beyond the 21 June date originally hoped for – by up to a month.

He will apparently call for “one last heave” in a bid to protect the NHS from the surge in Delta variant cases.

While businesses will understand the caution, many are continuing to access and benefit from government aid including the furlough scheme – support that is due to be wound down from the end of June after an extension announced at the budget in March.

The Treasury source explained: “We went long to cover if we had to delay some reopening, so support is already in place”.

The remarks suggest there will be no widespread extensions announced on Monday – but the prospect of targeted support should not be ruled out.

In the case of the Job Retention Scheme, the latest official figures have shown 3.4 million workers remained on furlough on 30 April.

Employers claiming under the scheme will have to contribute 10% of a monthly salary from July, as things stand, with the taxpayer support falling from 80% to 70%.

The scheme, which has cost £64bn to date, is due to be wound up completely by the end of September. Retail jobs worst hit by virus crisis

The business rates holiday enjoyed by hospitality, retail and leisure firms since the start of the pandemic is also among aid due to be scaled back from July.

The delay is of particular frustration to hospitality firms – forced to operate at limited capacity during the busiest months of summer and during a delayed Euro 2020 football championships involving three home nations.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, said thousands of operators will continue to lose money until the last phase of the road map out of lockdown restrictions is implemented.

She said: “Hospitality businesses cannot continue to operate under conditions that leave them unable to trade profitably and so we echo the importance of government support should there be any delay to the complete lifting of restrictions.”

She added: “Hospitality has been the hardest hit during the crisis, losing more than £87bn in sales, leaving businesses deeply in debt and at risk of suffering “economic long COVID” if the long term support set out by the chancellor for the sector at the budget is not sustained and adjusted.

“Even now, with partial reopening, sector sales remain down 42% and 300,000 jobs remain protected by furlough.”

Theatres are among those desperate for a complete reopening as restrictions limit audience capacity to 50%.

Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber, who has previously said he is prepared to risk jail if he can not fill theatres from 21 June, told the Daily Mail on Monday that the industry faced “bankruptcy” unless COVID rules were axed.

By James Sillars

JD Sports defends pay policy after backlash over £4.3m boss’s bonus

( via – – Mon, 14th June 2021) London, Uk – –

JD Sports is facing an investor backlash after handing its boss a £4.3m bonus despite benefiting from millions of pounds in Covid support.

Executive chairman Peter Cowgill's total pay, including a short-term salary reduction, reached nearly £5m.

Shareholder advisory group Glass Lewis has urged investors to vote against the “inappropriate” pay policy.

JD Sports defended its pay policy. saying it reflected the group's “sustained outstanding performance”.

“The posting of exceptional results during such a challenging climate demonstrates that the remuneration approach and steps taken throughout the pandemic continue to support and drive this performance.”

During the pandemic, the retailer has received £61m through the UK furlough scheme and an estimated £38m in business rates relief.

The company has also benefitted from an additional £25m in wage support from other countries where it operates, including the US.

JD Sports was also granted a £300m loan through the Bank of England's Covid Corporate Financing Facility Scheme which was set up to help larger firms through the pandemic.

The company said it had not used any of the loan by the time the scheme closed in March.

As a non-essential retailer, JD Sports was forced to close during lockdown. However, the company, which has stores across the UK, Europe, the US and Asia Pacific, reported a 0.9% rise in revenues to £6.1bn as it shifted sales to online.

Pre-tax profit fell by 7% to £324m.

Special bonus

JD Sports will hold its annual general meeting on 1 July when shareholders will be invited to vote on the company's remuneration report alongside other resolutions.

The bulk of Mr Cowgill's bonus for last year came from a special award of £6m which was granted to the executive chairman in 2019 to reflect his “exceptional performance” and was to be paid in instalments.

JD Sports had already paid out £3m prior to the Covid pandemic. The company then delayed a £1.5m payment that was due in October 2020.

The company said in its annual report: “In the light of developments caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it was agreed that the remaining payments would be deferred and paid when the board and committee were satisfied it is appropriate to do so.”

The payment went ahead in January this year “following a detailed review”. The additional final instalment of £1.5m has also since been paid to Mr Cowgill.

Stripping out these payments, Mr Cowgill's bonus for the last financial year was £1.3m compared to £1.7m in the previous 12 months.

Mr Cowgill also reduced his basic salary by 75% though this was only between April and August last year, after which it returned to normal levels.

According to The Sunday Times, Glass Lewis is also recommending that shareholders vote against the re-election of Mr Cowgill due to what it claims is inadequate succession planning.

It also said there had been a lack of progress on the board's gender diversity. Mr Cowgill and chief financial officer Neil Greenhalgh are the only members of the executive board.

There are five non-executive directors comprising three men and two women, Heather Jackson and Kath Smith.

How Danny Meyer Built High-End Burger Chain Shake Shack

Source: Make it

It's hard to think of a bigger restaurant success story over the last decade than Shake Shack. The high-end burger chain began as a hot dog cart in 2001 in New York City's Madison Square Park by famed restaurateur Danny Meyer. The menu was handwritten written by Meyer on a single sheet of paper in about 10 minutes and is about 85 percent the same today. But there’s so much more to this story. Like for three years after 9/11 that hot dog cart paid the bills at the crown jewel of Meyer’s restaurant empire, Eleven Madison Park. Or how he wasted over a million developing a line of French fries only to throw them away out of pure pride. If Danny Meyer is the heart and soul of Shake Shack, its longtime CEO Randy Garutti is the engine that powers it. Here’s how they built Shake Shack.

How Child YouTube Stars Have Become Popular Brands On Par With Star Wars and Marvel

Source: Bloomberg

Content created for children on YouTube has exploded over the last decade. In just a few short years, the power to help launch a successful toy has moved from toymakers and TV executives to 9 year-olds and their parents. Child YouTube stars have now become popular brands on par with Star Wars and Marvel, and all of kids entertainment could shift because of it.

Hornby emerge as lockdown winner after boost from model train enthusiast puts profits back on track

( via– Fri, 11th June 2021) London, Uk – –

The company said it had benefited as consumers found comfort returning to hobbies that they had enjoyed in the past.

Model train maker Hornby has emerged as a lockdown winner after a boost for stay-at-home hobbies helped it return to profit.

Chief executive Lyndon Davies said the business was now “firing on all cylinders” after sales rose 28% to £48.5m for the year to the end of March.

The group was in the black for the first time in nine years, reporting a profit of £345,000 after a loss of £3.4m in 2019/20.

Mr Davies said: “Our online sales increased as much of the population returned to hobbies they had enjoyed in the past, where they found comfort.

“We also found new people who discovered what we had to offer.

“Despite the easing of lockdowns the demand continues.”

Mr Davies added that the group was reaping the benefits of efforts to turn around its fortunes with “spectacular new products and technology”.

Meanwhile, worries about Brexit red tape prompted Hornby to stop shipments to EU countries late last year but it said that in recent weeks these have resumed.

However there were “still delays in certain countries whose procedures are unnecessarily rigid”.

Chairman John Stansfield said: “Despite the many challenges to the company caused by COVID-19 the old adage that people turn to hobbies in times of recession proved correct.”

Mr Stansfield said that sales increased “across almost all channels and brands” except concessions that were closed due to lockdowns for most of the year.

He said Hornby was already selling a proportion of its products online and it was able to strengthen that offering, keeping its logistics centre in operation under social distancing rules.

Meanwhile the third-party retailers, via which it also sells model trains, had put in place e-commerce systems and were better able to trade in later lockdowns.

Mr Stansfield added that while supplies from its manufacturers in the Far East had been “greatly affected” by the pandemic and shipping container shortages, they had “managed to satisfy the majority of our requirements”.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas