UK Firms Commit to Hiring More Over 50s to Fill Future Job Gap of 7.5 Million

( via – Wed, 24 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

The move to take on more over 50s comes amid a warning that the UK is facing a future jobs gap of 7.5 million unfilled roles.

Major companies including the Co-op Group, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Barclays have signed up to a pledge to hire 12% more older workers by 2022.

The firms will also publish age data of their employees as part of the initiative to secure an extra one million roles for older UK workers over the next five years.

The Government's Business Champion for Older Workers, Andy Briggs, has urged other businesses to get on board.

“The UK is facing a colossal skills gap, and older workers are vital to filling it,” said Mr Briggs, who is also the CEO of Aviva UK Life.

“Businesses can show leadership here, through committing to real change and actively seeking to recruit more over 50s into their organisations.

“By being open about the progress they are making, they can also lead the way in demonstrating the benefits of having a diverse team of employees that represents all sections of society.”

A total of eight companies have agreed to take part in the scheme, which requires them to publish the number and percentage of over-50s in their workforce as well as commit to hiring 12% more older workers by 2022.

Aviva, Atos, Barclays, The Co-operative Group, Home Instead Senior Care, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), Mercer, and Walgreens Boots Alliance make up the first UK firms to sign up to take part.

The average age of the UK population is currently 40, but according to government data one third of the working age population of the country will be aged 50 and over. By 2030, half of all British adults will be over 50 years old.

UK charity Business in the Community, which will publish the age data released by participating companies on its website, said without more older workers the UK is facing a jobs gap of 7.5 million unfilled roles by 2022.

Rachael Saunders, Age at Work Director at Business in the Community, said: “The UK simply cannot meet its growth and productivity objectives without adapting to retain, recruit and develop people aged over 50.

“We have an ageing society and it is essential that employers act now to ensure employees can stay in work for longer and to support career changes in later life.”

By Clare Downey

BP Begin Extracting Oil in Revival North Sea Oil Project



( via – – Tue, 23 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

BP has started extracting oil from one of the largest new North Sea projects in recent years in a revival for the declining oil basin.

The development follows BP's $4.4bn (£3.4bn) upgrade to the Schiehallion field in the West of the Shetland islands. The area also holds BP’s major new gas field project at Clair Ridge.

Schiehallion has produced 400 million barrels of oil since it was first developed in 1998, but new drilling technology could now unlock a further 450 million barrels of oil and gas from the licence, known as Quad 4, which would extend the life of the fields for decades.

The West of Shetland basin is considered a strategically important region in keeping North Sea activity afloat. It has already attracted interest from majors BP, Shell and Total as well as rising upstart oil explorers Siccar Point Energy and Hurricane Energy.

BP chief executive Bob Dudley said the “important milestone” for the group marks a return to growth for its North Sea business.

The group is planning to double its UK North Sea production to 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day by the end of the decade and has promised to hold a material business in the region for several decades.

To revive its UK production, Mark Thomas, BP’s head of North Sea business, said the upgrade was one of the largest ever UK mid-life offshore redevelopments. It included building the world’s largest harsh water oil vessel, the Glen Lyon. The 100,00 tonne floating facility is capable of processing and exporting up to 130,000 barrels of oil a day and storing up to 800,000 barrels of oil.

“BP has developed a strong track record of finding, developing and operating big offshore oil resources west of Shetland – we have and will continue to use the latest technology to maximise recovery from the Schiehallion Area,” he said.

BP is one of the longest-standing ‘supermajors' operating in the North Sea after its oil discovery in the Forties oilfield in 1970 helped kickstart the UK’s oil boom years.

In the wake of the oil price crash almost three years ago BP has started exiting older areas of the aging basin to focus on fresh projects where profit margins are more substantial.

Over the next 18 months, BP said it plans to participate in up to five exploration wells in the Schiehallion area, in addition to drilling approximately 50 development wells over the next 3-4 years.

Deirdre Michie, the chief executive of industry group Oil and Gas UK, said the project endorses its belief that the North Sea still offers potential with the right investment.

“Our faith in the long term health of the basin is well founded,” she said. “It’s also extremely heartening to see one of the original explorers of the basin using new, ambitious approaches and pioneering technology to help lead a revival in production.”

By Jillian Ambrose

RBS adjourned investors case in 11th-hour bid to settle


( via — Mon, 22 May, 2017) London, UK —

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (RBS.L) pursued last-minute settlement talks with a group of investors on Monday to avoid a potentially embarrassing trial over allegations the lender misled them about a 2008 capital increase.

A successful settlement would save former RBS Chief Executive Fred Goodwin from facing scrutiny in the courts over his decision-making and leadership at the time the lender almost collapsed.

RBS has doubled its offer to the remaining claimants as it seeks to settle the case, two people close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.

The civil trial brought by thousands of RBS investors was due to open at the High Court in London on Monday but was adjourned for a day to allow the settlement talks to continue.

The plaintiffs allege former executives gave a misleading picture of the bank's financial health ahead of a 12 billion pound ($15.5 billion) cash call in 2008. Months after the cash call, RBS had to be rescued by the government with a 45.8 billion pound bailout.

RBS, which remains more than 70 percent state-owned, denies any wrongdoing over the 2008 rights issue and says its former bosses did not act illegally.

Jonathan Nash, a lawyer representing the claimants, appealed in court for an adjournment saying the two parties were in settlement talks and wanted longer to strike a deal.

“We are involved in settlement discussions and we are hopeful of making progress,” Nash said.

The sources said RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan was directly involved in talks over the weekend and that the bank had offered more than 80 pence for each RBS share held, though it was not clear if any investors have accepted the offer.

A settlement at that price would cost RBS “in the tens of millions of pounds”, a third source familiar with the matter said.

The bank has settled with 87 percent of the investors who originally brought the case but the others have so far rejected its offers and say they were determined to go to court.

By doubling the amount on offer, RBS is close to a sum the remaining investors would accept, one of the sources said, indicating that they might settle if RBS raises its offer to 100 pence per share.

That represents half of the 200 pence per share investors paid at the time of the rights issue.

The outstanding group represents about 9,000 retail shareholders and 20 institutional investors. The large investors include U.S. bank Wells Fargo (WFC.N), the Boeing (BA.N) pension fund, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N) and local British council pension funds.

RBS declined to comment on the settlement offer.

By Andrew MacAskill and Lawrence White

Weak pound attract US tourists to UK as Britons stay closer to home


Images Money/

( via — Fri, 19 May 2017) London, UK —

Visits to Britain by North Americans surged at the start of this year as tourists took advantage of the weakened pound, which may be forcing British holidaymakers to stay closer to home, official data showed on Friday.

Some 8.1 million people visited Britain in the first quarter of this year, up from 7.6 million in the same quarter a year ago – a 7 percent increase, the Office for National Statistics said.

“The (data) indicate that the sharply weakened pound is encouraging more visits to the UK from abroad and more spend by visitors,” Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, said.

“This is especially true of North America, which ties in with the pound's fall being most pronounced against the U.S. dollar.”

The pound tumbled against the U.S. dollar after the June 23 vote to leave the European Union, instantly making Britain a cheaper place to visit. As of the first quarter of 2017, it was still down around 17 percent against the American currency. GBP=D4

The number of North American tourists visiting Britain totaled 760,000 in the three months to March, up 17 percent compared with a year ago.

But on the flip-side of the pound's plunge, the number of Britons making the trip to North America fell 3 percent over the same period to 710,000.

There was a 2 percent increase in the number of British visitors to Europe, suggesting the pound's fall may be forcing British people to holiday closer to home and chiming with reports of a rise in “staycationing” in Britain.

Visitors to Britain from other European countries increased 4 percent compared with a year ago, rising to 6.2 million.

Domestic and foreign tourism accounts directly for about 4 percent of Britain's economy, according to official statistics, though the industry says the broader contribution is larger.

Britain's economy has outperformed most forecasters' expectations since the vote to leave the European Union, which sent the pound to a record low against a basket of currencies.

This has already produced a sharp rise in inflation, but there has also been evidence of a modest boost to exports and inbound tourism.

A survey of manufacturers on Friday showed export orders are growing at the joint-fastest pace since December 2013.

By Andy Bruce

Watchdog begin in-depth investigation of proposed Just Eat and Hungryhouse merger


aJ Gazmen/Flickr

( via – – Fri, 19 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

The competition watchdog has confirmed it will begin an in-depth investigation into Just Eat’s proposed £200m merger with Hungryhouse.

Just Eat was given the chance to address the concerns of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) earlier this month, but has failed to do so, it said.

The CMA will now progress to a phase 2 investigation and has until November 2 to make a decision.

The investigation centres around concerns that restaurants could end up with a worse deal after the merger between the two online takeaway services.

“Following its initial investigation into the merger, the CMA has found that the companies are close competitors because of the similarity of their service and their broad geographical coverage,” the CMA said.

Some commentators had argued that they would not wield too much power over the market because competition had been bolstered by a series of new entrants such as Deliveroo and UberEATS.

But the CMA rejected the claim, saying these companies had a different operating model and therefore could not be considered direct rivals.

The escalation of the investigation comes as Just Eat continues to contend with internal upheaval in management.

Last month executive chairman John Hughes had to take a medical leave of absence just a month after chief executive David Buttress stood down because of “urgent family matters”.

It leaves interim chief executive Phil Harrison, previously chief financial officer, at the helm for the CMA investigation.

By Sam Dean

UK shoppers shrug off inflation pressures in spring spending spree

( via – – Thur, 18 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

Britain went on a spending spree in April. The shops were full of punters. Online retailers coined it in. Spring brought with it an end to the winter consumer spending blues.

That at least is what the official figures suggest. The Office for National Statistics reported that the volume of retail sales rose by 2.3% last month, smashing City expectations. This, though, is the same Office for National Statistics that said earlier this week that living standards were being squeezed because wages were failing to keep pace with prices. Something doesn’t quite add up.

One explanation is that the ONS has got its seasonal adjustment wrong. The late timing of Easter this year would be expected to lead to a rise in spending between March and April and the ONS tries to make an allowance for this. But it is not an exact science, which is why the monthly movements in retail sales often look quite dramatic. April’s big rise followed a 1.4% fall between February and March.

The weather also has an impact, particularly for certain sectors of retailing. April was a relatively warm month, which tends to increase footfall in the high street. Garden centres seem to have done especially well.

A less benign explanation is that consumers are either ignoring the squeeze on their real incomes or are oblivious to it. If so, expect to see an increase in consumer debt over the coming months.

This, though, does not square with what happened in the first few months of 2017, when consumers did seem to be tightening their belts after spending freely in the second half of 2016. Despite record levels of employment and ultra-low interest rates, there was a marked slowdown in retail activity.

All of which suggests that the April increase in retail sales should be treated with some caution. The ONS always suggests that looking at retail sales over the latest three months is a better guide to what’s happening than a single month’s data, and that advice is particularly apposite here.

Between the three months ending in January and the three months ending in April, retail sales volumes rose by 0.3%. That looks about right and fits with the general picture of an economy that is not about to plunge into recession but is not exactly firing on all cylinders either.

By Larry Elliott

Facebook slapped with £95 million fine by EU Regulators


The social network was found to have given misleading information by incorrectly saying it could not match up user accounts on the two platforms, according to regulators.

According to the Commission, in 2014 Facebook said it could not automatically match user accounts on the two platforms – but two years later launched a service doing exactly that.

Britains unemployment fell to its lowest level since 1975

Tim Tabor/Flickr

( via – – Tue, 17 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

Employment hit a record high in March and joblessness fell to its lowest level since 1975 as Britain’s businesses kept on hiring more workers.

A total of 31.95m people are now in work – the highest level on record – which amounts to 74.8pc of 16 to 64-year olds, also an unprecedented high, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment fell to 4.6pc in the three months to April, the lowest level since 1975. That means there are currently 1.54m people out of work, the lowest number since 2005.

There are also more vacancies on offer than ever before with 777,000 jobs advertised from February to April, indicating companies want to hire more staff in the months ahead.

But pay increased at 2.4pc in the year to March, falling behind prices, which rose by 2.7pc in April.

Excluding bonuses the picture was even more downbeat, with regular weekly pay rising by only 2.1pc year-on-year.

The Bank of England hoped that pay would start rising once unemployment fell to around 4.5pc, but there are few signs of this happening yet – even though the apparently strong demand for workers and low unemployment rate would usually push employers to pay more.

“We continue to think that this tightening will deliver a modest rise in nominal wage growth over the course of this year,” said Paul Hollingsworth at Capital Economics. “It might not be enough to keep up with inflation, which we expect to peak at just over 3pc in the fourth quarter.

“However, as inflation begins to fall back next year as the upward pressures from the drop in the pound start to fade, we think real wages will begin to rise again. As a result, the forthcoming squeeze on real wage growth should be nowhere near as severe or prolonged as that seen after the financial crisis.”

It came as separate Bank of England data showed pay deals remained subdued “across the economy”.

The Bank's monthly agents’ report, which gathers the opinions of 700 businesses across the UK, said consumers were cutting back on spending amid a squeeze in their incomes due to higher inflation.

Some labour costs were rising, particularly in manufacturing, but the Bank data showed pay deals were barely keeping up with price growth.

“Pay awards remained clustered around 2pc and 2.5pc across the economy,” it said.

Around 40pc of pay deals are negotiated in April, the Bank has previously noted.

Official data on Tuesday showed inflation climbed to 2.7pc in the year to April – its highest since mid-2013. Many economists expect the rate to hit 3pc in the coming months.

While the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote has pushed up inflation, there were further signs that it is boosting Britain's competitiveness.

“Consumer spending growth had moderated in real terms, as spending power had been hit by higher prices,” the Bank said.

“But manufacturing export growth had risen. That had mostly reflected the effects of the earlier decline in sterling.”

The Bank said manufacturing output had strengthened over the past month amid rising demand at home and abroad, driven by the automotive and aerospace sector.

The Bank's survey of 300 businesses showed most expected further export growth in the coming year – both in value and volume terms.

Goods exporters were particularly upbeat, with respondents citing the fall in the value of the pound and optimism about entry into new markets expected to push up export values, even as uncertainty over the UK's future relationship with the EU exerts a drag.

Respondents to the Bank ‘s survey said their availability to do business in new markets would be the “most important factor” affecting future export growth over the medium term.

There were also signs that companies are more willing to invest, which the Bank said was consistent with “modest growth in spending over the year ahead”.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said last week that many companies remained hesitant to plough cash into new projects while the UK's future relationship with the UK remained uncertain.

“We see some pick-up in investment and some positive contribution from net trade for most of the forecast, but it’s not booming,” he said.

The economy slowed down in the first quarter of the year even as employment rose strongly, so the amount of value produced per hour of work – a key measure of productivity – fell by 0.5pc. That is the first fall since late 2015, and reverses the 0.4pc rise in the measure in the final quarter of 2016.

Productivity growth is crucial to long-term improvements in wages and living standards, so the poor performance in the UK, and many developed economies, is a concern to analysts and policymakers.

Employment overall rose by 112,000 compared with the previous month, and by 381,000 on the year.

Most of the new workers – 91,000 on the month – found full-time jobs, while 21,000 gained part-time jobs.

Of the 8.5m part-time workers in the UK, only 12.4pc said they want a full-time job but have been unable to find one – the smallest proportion since 2009.

By Tim Wallace Szu Ping Chan

FSTS 100 smashes 7,500 points breaking an all time high

( via – – Tue, 16 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

The FTSE 100 rose steadily to yet another record high, breaking the symbolically important 7,500 point mark in morning trading as the pound dipped.

The index rose by more than 0.57 per cent at the time of writing to reach 7,505.46 points.

Meanwhile sterling fell below $1.29 against the US dollar despite inflation data overshooting consensus expectations.

London’s blue chip index also benefited from a strong rise from telecoms giant Vodafone despite some big share price falls from some smaller constituents.

Vodafone announced a £5.6bn loss thanks to currency movements, but it also said it would increase earnings next year.

The new high water mark comes after an extraordinary rally in the FTSE 100 over the last 12 months.

The latest leg of the rally has been driven by an improving global outlook, with higher commodity prices in the short term as well as favourable news for growth from the Donald Trump administration in the US.

The index has now rallied by almost 30 per cent from the lows below 5,800 points hit after the EU referendum. That surge was in part caused by the weakness in sterling, which fell sharply against the dollar, increasing the value of UK-listed companies' dollar earnings overnight.

The referendum came at the end of an extended period of weak global growth which saw the FTSE 100 fall to its lowest level since 2012 in February 2016. However, global growth has since picked up, boosting the multinational companies that make up London’s benchmark index.

The rising tide has not been limited to blue chip stocks, with the FTSE all-share index also hitting a fresh record high on Tuesday, continuing a strong rally since the end of 2016 into uncharted territory.

The FTSE 250 index has also hit records as recently as April.

Jasper Jolly

Ford planning a possible cut in 10% of its global workforce

( via – – Tue, 16 May, 2017) London, Uk —

Ford is planning to cut around 10% of its global workforce in an attempt to boost profits, according to reports.
Chief executive officer Mark Fields also wants to arrest the slide in the US car company's share price.
The cuts, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, are part of a plan to save $3bn (£2.3bn) during 2017.
Ford refused to confirm or deny the story, but said in a statement that it was focused on its plans to “drive profitable growth”.
It added: “Reducing costs and becoming as lean and efficient as possible also remain part of that work. We have not announced any new people efficiency actions, nor do we comment on speculation.”
Ford employs around 200,000 people, with half of them in North America.
Leaked document
In March, the carmaker announced that it would spend $1.2bn (£927m) to upgrade three plants in Michigan in the US and create 130 new jobs.
At the start of the year, it cancelled plans to build a new factory in Mexico after pressure from President Trump, who had also criticised General Motors' plans to produce cars there.
The company's share price has fallen by nearly 40% since Mr Fields took up his role in the middle of 2014.
Earlier this year, a leaked document seen by BBC Wales revealed that Ford was projecting a reduction of 1,160 workers at its plant in Bridgend by 2021 if no new projects came into the site.


JPMorgan buys 130,000 square foot Dublin office building


( via — Mon, 15 May, 2017) London, UK —

JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) has agreed to buy a Dublin building with room for 1,000 staff in the first sign of a financial services company expanding significantly in Ireland since the government began a major campaign to attract firms in the wake of Brexit.

The U.S. investment bank will acquire a 130,000 square foot (12,000 square metre) building at the Capital Dock development in Dublin's docklands, the building's developer Kennedy Wilson (KWE.L) said in a statement.

The bank, which currently employs around 500 people in Dublin, did not say how many jobs would be created or whether any positions would be moved from the United Kingdom.

JPMorgan plans to hire a significant number of people in Dublin in its expanding custody and funds services businesses over the next three years, JPMorgan’s head of investor services James Kenny told the Financial Times at the weekend.

The bank has indicated it will use its existing European Union banks, in Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg to anchor its European Union operations after Brexit.

“This new building gives us room to grow and some flexibility within the European Union,” senior country officer for JP Morgan in Ireland Carin Bryans said in the statement.

Ireland has engaged in a major lobbying campaign during the past year to try to convince companies with large bases in the United Kingdom to consider moving some of their staff to Ireland to maintain access to the European Union's single market.

Hubertus Vaeth, the head of Frankfurt's campaign to promote the city to banks since Britain voted to leave the EU, told Reuters earlier this month he expected the five largest U.S. investment banks to move staff to more than one EU location with around 1,000 going to Frankfurt and possibly more to Dublin.

Rivalry between the different EU cities has become acrimonious at times, with Ireland complaining to the European Commission that it is being undercut by predatory behaviour by other centres.

Ireland's financial services minister, Eoghan Murphy, said in a statement on Monday that JPMorgan's announcement was “a welcome vote of confidence in the strength of Ireland's offering and Dublin's status as a major financial centre.”

By Conor Humphries

EUROPOL stunned by wave of cyberattacks


Monday may see a resumption of the wave of cyberattacks around the world. That is the warning from computer experts as more and more companies and official bodies release details about how they have been compromised by the ransomware virus, that locks them out of their own systems.

Police and security forces have been overwhelmed by the scale of the attack.

New Walt Disney World Flight of Passage Ride in Pandora


Take a walk through the stunningly detailed queue of the new Flight of Passage ride in Pandora – The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World. Watch the full pre-show and step up to the link chairs right before the ride begins.

(Walt Disney World asked that we not record the ride itself.)