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Michael Pooley to succeed James McCarthy as President of CHEP Europe

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Michael Pooley to succeed James McCarthy as President of CHEP Europe

CHEP today announced a transition of leadership for its European operations. James McCarthy, is leaving the company after seven-and-a-half years. CHEP has appointed Michael Pooley, who has previously led the company’s UK & Ireland business as well as its Sales & Customer Operations team in the USA, as James’ successor as President, CHEP Europe.

The Group President of CHEP’s worldwide Pallets operations, Peter Mackie, said: “James McCarthy has done a great job leading CHEP Europe, driving our business closer to its customers, overseeing the launch of a number of new pallet solutions and developing our focus on assisting customers with their sustainability efforts. The entire CHEP family will miss James and wishes him and his family very well for the future. In Mike Pooley, we are delighted to appoint a strong successor to James. During his time as head of our Sales & Customer Operations for CHEP USA, he was integral to strengthening key customer relationships and energizing our teams. His appointment will provide both continuity and fresh impetus for CHEP in Europe as we continue to work together with our customers to make their supply chains more efficient and sustainable.”

Mr McCarthy will remain with CHEP until December 2015 to work alongside Mr Pooley to enable a smooth leadership transition. Mr McCarthy has led CHEP Europe since March 2013 and also held the roles of President, CHEP Western Europe and Chief Financial Officer, CHEP Europe, Middle East & Africa since joining the company in 2008. Mr McCarthy said: “I have worked for CHEP for seven-and-a-half years and it has been a great experience but now is the right time for me to move on. I am delighted to welcome Mike back to the business and look forward to watching CHEP Europe and its customers thrive under his leadership.”

Mr Pooley rejoins CHEP on 1 November 2015 from materials testing company Exova Europe, where he was Managing Director since April 2013. Mr Pooley worked for CHEP from 2002 until 2013, in leadership positions including: Senior Vice President, Sales & Customer Operations for CHEP USA; Managing Director, CHEP UK & Ireland; and Vice President, European Key Accounts. Before joining CHEP in 2002, he spent 12 years with industrial gases business BOC in a number of business development, design, development and production engineering roles. Mike is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Henley Management College.

Mr Pooley said: “I am delighted to be returning to the CHEP family at a time when there are  so many opportunities to work with customers throughout Europe on developing solutions that make the supply chain better. I am excited at the prospect of again working with our wonderful portfolio of customers and our passionate teams of supply chain experts.”

About CHEP

CHEP is the global leader in managed, returnable and reusable packaging solutions, serving many of the world’s largest companies in sectors such as consumer goods, fresh produce, beverage and automotive. CHEP’s service is environmentally sustainable and increases efficiency for customers while reducing operating risk and product damage. CHEP’s 7,500-plus employees and 300 million pallets and containers offer unbeatable coverage and exceptional value, supporting more than 500,000 customer touch-points in more than 50 countries. Our customer portfolio includes global companies and brands such as Procter & Gamble, Sysco, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Nestlé, Ford and GM. CHEP is part of Brambles Limited. For further information, visit

For further information, please contact:

Víctor Collado

Director, Corporate Communications

CHEP Europe, Middle East & Africa

Phone: +34915579401

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New record for September plate-change market

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New record for September plate-change market

As widely expected the September plate-change hit a new high with registrations up 8.6% to 462,517 units, according to the SMMT.

The rise marked the 43rd consecutive month of growth for the new car market and pushed the year to date total up 7.08% to 2,096,886 units. This was the first time the 2 million barrier has been exceeded in September since 2004.

“September is traditionally one of the year’s biggest months for new car registrations, and last month set an autumn record,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, who reiterated his belief that the market will soon level off.

“With plenty of attractive, affordable deals available on the new 65-plate, Britain’s car buyers – whether private, fleet or business consumers – were busier than ever. The market reached pre-recession levels some time ago, and we anticipate some levelling off in the coming months. It is too early to draw conclusions, but customer demand for diesel remained strong, accounting for one in two cars registered.”

The retail sector led the market accounting for 49.3% of registrations, a year on year rise of 3%. Fleet demand grew 15.2% taking 44.9%, while the sub 25 fleet business sector grew 10.6% and accounted for 5.8% of the market.

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Ridgeway Group profits rocket 26% to £10.3m

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Ridgeway Group profits rocket 26% to £10.3m

Ridgeway Group turned in a strong performance in 2014 with pre-tax profits up 26% to £10.3m on turnover up 18% to £647.7m.

Results filed at Companies House showed that like-for-like new car retail sales rose 7% for the period and 15% overall.

The group, under chief executive John O Hanlon (pictured) saw average new car price increased by £574 per unit, gross profit per unit fell slightly but total gross profit increased by £1.75m.

Like-for-like used vehicle sales rose 11% in the year to 31 December and 21% overall.

The company said it had improved stock management and used car processes, which had lifted profitability.

Average used car prices increased by £735 on average with gross profit per unit up 16% and overall gross profit increased by £5.4m.

Ridgeways said that aftersales revenues and profitability grew in 2014 with increased customer engagement through service plans and the use of technology.

The group won the Motor Trader Digital Initiative of the Year award in 2014 for the development and implementation of Workshop Window.

During 2014 the group rolled out a programme of training modules in the Ridgeway Academy, covering sales, aftersales, communications and management for staff at all levels. To date almost 900 employees have attended one or more sessions.

Ridgeway continues to invest heavily in its facilities with a new Audi showroom opening in Oxford in July 2014 and refurbishment of VW dealerships.

It also relocated Skoda in Oxford to Kidington and refurbished a Maserati dealership and Select used car showrooms during the period.

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JJ Foodservice updates fleet with 7.5t Isuzu Forward rigids

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JJ Foodservice updates fleet with 7.5t Isuzu Forward rigids

JJ Food Service has taken delivery of new Isuzu Forward 7.5 tonne rigid trucks.

Mick Montague from JJ Food Service said: “All our Isuzus have served us really well in the past. They are an excellent workhorse with outstanding payload capability.

“In fact, we have still got some 06 plate Isuzus running around on a daily basis within our fleet today. For our new bespoke service for home deliveries, we felt that the Isuzu Euro VI 7.5tonner would be the ideal vehicle to handle the requirements of this specific operation.”

The latest replacement Isuzu Forward N75.190 4×2 rigids feature the popular Easyshift automated transmission and are specified with a Solomon’s dual compartment refrigerated body that has a movable bulkhead. The trucks each use Carrier Transicold Xarios refrigeration systems as standard and the bodies have all been fitted with the latest JJ Food Service wrap livery.

“For the last few years, we have concentrated on adding 18 tonne rigids to our fleet, however recently, our product range has changed considerably, in terms of product categories and higher price points. To accommodate these changes, we needed to go back to putting more 7.5 tonne vehicles into the fleet. This gives us a better, more efficient, utilisation of these types of products,” added Montague.

Based at the JJ Food Service depot in Enfield, the latest Isuzus are being used for a range of the company’s distribution services, mainly delivering to customers in West London and the City.

As the delivery routes are not particularly high mileage, JJ Food Service anticipates that the new Isuzu delivery vehicles will have a long working life in its fleet.

“Isuzu and JJ Food Service have enjoyed a really successful working relationship that goes back over many years. This is part and parcel of the ITUK approach to its customers. By working closely with our customers such as JJ Food Service, we are able to develop long-term partnerships. We strive to deliver great customer service and care and provide vehicles that are ideally suited to the specific distribution requirements,” added Keith Child, marketing director at Isuzu Truck.

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Mobiles to load news articles faster

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Mobiles to load news articles faster

Google speeds up news article downloads on mobile devices

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Several big-name publishers are already planning to support the initiative

Dozens of leading news organisations, including the BBC, are taking part in a scheme that will allow their web-based articles to load more quickly on smartphones and tablets.

Leaders of the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative promise that the stripped-back versions of the pages will be “lightning fast” to load.

The move has been led by Google, which is providing use of its servers.

Participants believe it may discourage the use of ad-blocking plug-ins.

AMP works by simplifying the technical underpinnings of the pages involved.

Much of the Javascript code used on normal webpages is absent, meaning articles should not only appear faster but use less battery power.

Publishers can continue to tap into the same ad networks as before, but they will not be able to display some types of adverts including pop-ups and “sticky” images that move as users scroll down a page.

Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and WordPress have said they also intend to make use of the technology.

Facebook is a notable exception. The social network recently launched an alternative programme called Instant Articles, which speeds up the delivery of third-party content by hosting it on its own platform.

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Facebook launched its Instant Articles initiative earlier this year

Cache and serve

News sites will automatically create AMP versions of their stories at the same time as they publish and update the originals.

View an AMP edition of this article

Google intends to scrape these from the web, store them on its cache servers and then serve them to users via its Search and News tools.

Likewise, the social networks involved are also expected to cache and direct users to the AMP articles rather than the originals if users click on relevant links in their apps.

“Today, roughly 40% of users abandon an article if it doesn’t load after six seconds,” Danny Bernstein, Google’s director of product partnerships, told the BBC.

“To be able to pull down an article instantly from Twitter, from Pinterest is a remarkable thing.

“We’ll support accelerated mobile pages in search in 2016, but the code is public, so publishers can launch them today, and we expect some smaller apps to be able to render AMP files immediately.”

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Publishers can download the relevant specifications from the Github code-sharing site

Faster downloads

Many of the biggest names in publishing are already involved.

Conde Nast, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, Vox Media and the New York Times are among those taking part.

The BBC noted that at present some of its mobile pages could take 12 seconds or longer to download in Australia, and this helped address that problem.

“Pages on mobiles will load much quicker than before, particularly in markets with slow connectivity, due to a simplified approach to both coding and caching of pages,” explained Robin Pembrooke, general manager of the BBC’s News Product.

“With over 60% of traffic to BBC News coming from mobiles or tablets, optimising this performance is crucial, particularly for events such as the [UK] general election where we saw over 85% of traffic coming in on mobile devices in the morning after as final results came in.”

The Guardian’s chief strategy officer Tony Danker added that there was huge benefit in his industry taking co-ordinated action to reduce the appeal of ad-blockers.

“Users are not spending hours discriminating between sites based on their speed,” he said.

“They punish each of us for the sins of the whole ecosystem.”

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AdBlock Plus recently launched a version of its plug-in for iOS handsets

More work needs to be done, however, to ensure approved ads appear and to let the publishers track readership of their work.

Test demo

Google said it did not plan to automatically prioritise AMP-enabled articles in its search results.

However, since loading times are one of the factors its algorithms take into account there is an added incentive for other news organisations to join.

It is already offering a demo for users to see how the service might work on mobiles.

One industry analyst said he expected the service to be popular.

“Anything which enables content to be distributed more quickly and makes it more accessible is good for the industry,” said Ian Maude from Enders Analysis.

“And because it’s backed by Google and other companies of its ilk and several of the major publishers it could have an impact on Facebook’s own efforts to promote Instant Articles.”

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Cameron warns over extremist teaching

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Cameron warns over extremist teaching

David Cameron: Prime Minister warns over extremist teaching

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Mr Cameron set out his plans at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester

Religious supplementary schools in England that teach children intolerance will be investigated and closed down, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Mr Cameron promised to open these religious schools to inspection.

He said there was no problem with children learning about their faith in specialised supplementary Muslim, Christian or Jewish schools.

But children’s minds must be broadened and not “filled with poison”.

Mr Cameron told delegates: “Did you know, in our country, there are some children who spend several hours each day at a madrassa?

“Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with children learning about their faith, whether it’s at madrassas, Sunday schools or Jewish yeshivas.

“But in some madrassas, we’ve got children being taught that they shouldn’t mix with people of other religions; being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people.

“These children should be having their minds opened, their horizons broadened, not having their heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate.

“So I can announce this today: if an institution is teaching children intensively, then whatever its religion, we will, like any other school, make it register so it can be inspected.

“And be in no doubt: if you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down.”

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The measure is aimed predominantly at Muslim madrassas

Analysis by Branwen Jeffreys, BBC Education Editor

It’s only a year since plans for a voluntary code of conduct for madrassas were shelved by the Department for Education.

Now, the government is going considerably further, with plans to consult then legislate to require supplementary religious schools to register and face what is being described as a “light touch” inspection regime.

While any law would be broadly framed to include all religions, the thresholds of numbers of children and hours per week are likely to be set at a level that would exclude conventional Sunday schools as well as home education.

This is about what is being described privately as the “hard edge” of some religious instruction that crosses firmly into the territory of inciting hatred or intolerance.

There will be no tolerance of corporal punishment, but no prescription of what or how religious beliefs can be taught.

Of course, the reality of trying to define that in law will prove complex and highly contentious.

Ofsted may be less than keen to take on the additional role of trying to enforce sanctions, which could include plans to change through to closure.

The prime minister said extremist religious supplementary schools were part of a wider problem of segregation within some communities, adding extreme madrassas “incubate these divisions”.

Eight hours of study

Downing Street said that the new inspection regime would apply to religious institutions offering eight or more hours of study a week to children in England.

This could include Christian Sunday schools and Jewish yeshivas, but is more likely to cover up to 2,000 Muslim madrassas.

Many religious supplementary schools offer teaching within places of worship, but others are conducted in homes.

Currently, they are not required to register with the authorities and are not subject to inspection, but under Mr Cameron’s plans, they would have to register with the Department for Education.

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It is unlikely the plans would apply to Sunday schools and yeshivas as they tend to teach for fewer hours

Faith groups would be consulted on the precise details of how inspections should be carried out and whether they should be done by the schools watchdog, Ofsted, or another body.

The BBC understands the government will launch a consultation on the plan “swiftly”.

A Number 10 source said that Mr Cameron’s initiative came in response to concerns raised about some madrassas by members of the Muslim community.

It was expected no problems would be found with the vast majority of madrassas, the source added.

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Robert Peston leaves BBC for ITV role

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Robert Peston leaves BBC for ITV role

Robert Peston leaves BBC for ITV role

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Peston’s informality has become a personal trademark

The BBC’s economics editor, Robert Peston, has been poached by rival broadcaster ITV, it has been confirmed, following days of speculation.

He will become ITV’s political editor, and present his own political interview programme, Peston on Sunday.

The correspondent made the announcement on his personal blog, saying: “You may have noticed that I am off to another place”.

“Working for BBC News has been the high point of my working life,” he added.

Peston’s departure marks the end of a nine-year stint at the BBC, where he covered the financial crisis and broke the story of Northern Rock asking for emergency funding in 2007.

His new Sunday morning show will place him in direct competition with the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Marr said he welcomed the challenge.

“If it’s true that he’s going to do a Sunday morning nine o’clock show directly against mine then on one level I say that’s fantastic, bring it on,” he told the Radio Times.

“Competition is good.”

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The reporter hosted an edition of Have I Got News For You earlier this year

But he also had a word of warning for his erstwhile colleague. “You have to absolutely subdue yourself and not think the programme’s about you because it never is,” he said.

“The Andrew Marr Show could be done by anybody if you get the right guests on it and you ask the right questions in the right order.”

‘Eccentric broadcaster’

Peston joined the BBC from the Sunday Telegraph in 2005, initially as the corporation’s business editor.

At first, he was mocked for his stilted delivery. The presenter’s idiosyncratic style was variously described as “strangulated”, “ragged and querulous” and like “a dalek” – but his reputation grew thanks to a series of scoops about the financial crisis.

“I think lots of people think I’m an eccentric broadcaster,” he told The Guardian in 2013.

But, he added: “I don’t really care what people think about my style, except in so far as it gets in the way of people understanding the story.

“If I felt I was not communicating the important stuff in a way people can understand, I would worry.”

In recent years, he has presented satirical quiz show Have I Got News For You and a one-off edition of Newsnight.

He admitted he wanted to replace Jeremy Paxman on the latter programme, but was “never really in the frame for it”.

Earlier this year in an interview with the Radio Times, which first reported his departure for ITV, Peston said he was looking for “another big challenge”.

He said: “I love the BBC. I genuinely don’t know… I mean, going from print journalism to the BBC was a big change, and I sort of feel that I wouldn’t mind another big change, but I haven’t the faintest idea what it would be.”

Announcing his appointment, ITV’s head of news, Michael Jeremy said: “We’re delighted Robert is joining ITV. His distinctive and intelligent approach to journalism will fit well with ITV’s news and current affairs output.

“Peston on Sunday will offer viewers a fresh and distinctive approach to political discussion at the weekend.”

The BBC’s head of news, James Harding, added: “Robert is an exceptional journalist and broadcaster who has broken some of the most important stories of the last decade. He has brought a singular insight to difficult and complex issues and he has a style – not to mention a hairstyle – all of his own.

“We’ll all miss him.”

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Corbyn: PM attack shows he’s rattled

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Corbyn: PM attack shows he’s rattled

Jeremy Corbyn: David Cameron’s attack shows he’s rattled

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has hit back after David Cameron accused him of a “Britain-hating ideology”.

His spokesman said it was “a sure sign” the PM was “rattled” by Labour.

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the prime minister launched his most outspoken attack on Mr Corbyn to date.

“We cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love,” the PM said.

The speech is being seen as an attempt to reclaim the centre ground from Labour after it elected left-wing MP Mr Corbyn as its leader.


He referred to the Labour Party 14 times and devoted a whole section of speech to Mr Corbyn, who has called for a “kinder politics” free of personal attacks.

The PM attacked comments his opposite number made in 2011 about the death of Osama Bin Laden, when he said it was a “tragedy” the al-Qaeda chief was killed rather than being put on trial.

He also said he was “angry” at the “self righteous” way Labour made its arguments and said the Tories were “keeping our head as Labour lose theirs”.

In response, a spokesman for Mr Corbyn – who travelled to Manchester during the Conservative conference to address a protest rally – said: “The fact that David Cameron used his speech to make personal attacks on Jeremy Corbyn are a sure sign that he is rattled by the re-energisation of the Labour Party.

“With cuts to tax credits and a continued failure on housing, his claim that the Conservatives are the party of working people is being exposed.”

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Cameron vows ‘assault on poverty’

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Cameron vows ‘assault on poverty’

David Cameron vows ‘assault on poverty’ in conference speech

David Cameron has vowed to devote much of his time in office to “an all-out assault on poverty”, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference.

The prime minister, who will stand down before the next election, said he wanted to tackle “deep social problems” and boost social mobility.

He also announced “dramatic” planning reforms to increase home ownership.

And he launched a broadside at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of having a “Britain-hating ideology”.

Mr Cameron said he wanted his time in power to be remembered as a “defining decade for our country.. the turnaround decade… one which people will look back on and say, ‘that’s the time when the tide turned… when people no longer felt the current going against them, but working with them’.”

He also:

  • Promised to end discrimination and “finish the fight for real equality”
  • Said he would not “duck” a fight over EU reform ahead of the UK’s membership referendum, saying he had “no romantic attachment to the European Union and its institutions”
  • Vowed to tackle “big social problems” including extremism and “segregation” caused by faith schools
  • Condemned “passive intolerance” of female genital mutilation and forced marriages
  • Defended the decision to launch a drone attack that killed two British Islamic State jihadists, saying he had taken “decisive action to keep Britain safe – and that’s what I will always do”
  • Prompted a standing ovation with praise for London mayor Boris Johnson

In his speech, Mr Cameron appealed to the centre ground of British politics, with a long section on equality, and said the Conservatives would “keep our head as Labour lose theirs”.

Britain has the lowest social mobility in the developed world, Mr Cameron said.

“Here, the salary you earn is more linked to what your father got paid than in any other major country,” he said.

“I’m sorry, for us Conservatives, the party of aspiration, we cannot accept that.”

He got a standing ovation from Conservative members for a strongly-worded attack on Jeremy Corbyn, telling them: “We cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist sympathising. Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.”

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The three word Conservative conference slogan was the backdrop for the speech

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David and Samantha Cameron braved the Manchester weather on way of speech

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Praise for Boris Johnson prompts a standing ovation for London’s mayor

He accused Labour of giving up “any sensible, reasonable, rational arguments on the economy”, accusing them of wanting to “nationalise industries without jacking up taxes to 60% of people’s income and printing money”.

“It’s not just that their arguments are wrong, it’s the self-righteous way they make them,” he said, adding: “Labour ideas don’t help the poor, they hurt the poor.”

Mr Cameron vowed to press ahead with replacing Britain’s nuclear weapons – another announcement that went down well with Tory delegates.

And he devoted a significant section of his speech to tackling “discrimination” against gay people and ethnic minorities – pointing out how CVs with white-sounding names got a better response – saying “you cannot have true opportunity without equality”.

He vowed to tackle “extremism in all its forms, the violent and the non-violent” and end “segregation,” telling Madrassas and other faith schools that children should be “having their minds opened, their horizons broadened” rather than being taught “not to mix with people of other religions”.

He also addressed criticism of his response to the Syrian refugee crisis, saying: “If we opened the door to every refugee, our country would be overwhelmed.”

He hailed justice secretary Michael Gove’s plans to reform the prison system to reduce re-offending – and announced a relaxation of planning rules to boost home ownership.

“When a generation of hard-working men and women in their 20s and 30s are waking up each morning in their childhood bedrooms – that should be a wake-up call for us,” Mr Cameron told the audience.

Under the plans, builders in England will no longer be forced to offer low-cost rented homes in new developments.

Instead they will be able to offer “starter homes” for first-time buyers under 40 as well, at discounted prices.

The price of the “starter homes” after the discount is applied will be capped at £250,000 and £450,000 in London – and those who buy them will be prevented from selling them for a quick profit under the new policy, which aides say will provide 200,000 new homes by 2020.

Buyers will be prevented from selling them on for up to five years.

Fears the latest extension of the scheme would simply lead to a boom in “buy-to-let” properties were dismissed by Mr Cameron’s aides, who said first-time buyers would not be able to get the kind of mortgage needed for property speculation.

But the chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, Campbell Robb, said the announcement meant starter homes costing up to £450,000 would be built “at the expense of the genuinely affordable homes this country desperately needs”.

Buyers will be prevented from selling them on for up to five years.

Fears the latest extension of the scheme would simply lead to a boom in “buy-to-let” properties were dismissed by Mr Cameron’s aides, who said first-time buyers would not be able to get the kind of mortgage needed for property speculation.

But the chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, Campbell Robb, said the announcement meant starter homes costing up to £450,000 would be built “at the expense of the genuinely affordable homes this country desperately needs”.

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Cameron defends jihadist deaths

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Cameron defends jihadist deaths

Cameron defends attack on jihadist Reyaad Khan in Syria

David Cameron has defended his decision to order the RAF drone strikes which killed a Cardiff jihadist in Syria.

The prime minister told the Tory party conference he took “decisive action to keep Britain safe”, claiming Reyaad Khan and Junaid Hussain were planning terrorist attacks on UK soil.

Mr Cameron said his job was “not to debate; it’s to decide”.

He said if he stalled, “we could see innocent people murdered on our streets”.

Mr Cameron said he had asked “all the proper questions” about the two men before taking “decisive action”.

“And the choice I faced was this: act, and we could stop them carrying out their plans.

“Stall, and we could see innocent people murdered on our streets.

“I took decisive action to keep Britain safe – and that’s what I will always do.”

Reyaad Khan, from Cardiff, and Junaid Hussain, from Birmingham, both 21, died on 21 August in what Mr Cameron called a “precision airstrike” when confirming the RAF’s involvement in September.

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Reyaad Khan was one of three British men who appeared in a video filmed by jihadists

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The Conservative conference protests

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The Conservative conference protests

The Conservative conference protests

Anti-austerity demonstrations have reached a new pitch outside this year’s Conservative conference in Manchester, with party members and MPs running a daily gauntlet of abuse from masked anarchists and other protesters as they queue to get in.

“Have you been spat at this morning?” asks a cheery man as we queued up in the pouring rain.

He tells me he is all for the right to demonstrate but he doesn’t like “intimidation”.

His friend says she has felt frightened this week – one protester came right up to her face shouting “Tory scum”. She feels safe once she is inside the heavily fortified conference zone, but “this is meant to be a democracy”, she says, “people should be allowed to debate without being intimidated”.

This is her first Conservative conference and is surprised to learn it is not normally like this.

There are always some demonstration outside conferences – 60,000 people took part in a largely peaceful march and rally against austerity and the government’s Trade Union Bill on Sunday, in a repeat of a similar demo last year.

But what is new this year is the presence of anarchists in significant numbers and the sustained level of verbal abuse directed at everyone wearing a conference pass.


Left-wing commentator Owen Jones said that even he had been on the receiving end of verbal abuse, tweeting: “Just had `Tory scumbag’ yelled at me as I walked into Tory conference. Novel!”

The demonstrators themselves are reluctant to talk, especially to the BBC, who, one tells me, are “getting as bad” as the rest of the media. “The migrant crisis? Why can’t we just say refugees?” She breaks off to carry on barracking conference goers: “Shame on you! How many weak and vulnerable people have you killed today?”

Some delegates bow their heads, others gaze impassively into the distance, a few blow kisses at the mob.

The demonstrators are angry about cuts to benefits and what they see as an assault on the NHS and the welfare state. Iain Duncan Smith is a particular hate figure, along with the prime minister.

There has been something approaching a carnival atmosphere outside the secure zone at times – teenagers were line dancing in the street on Monday, as police officers looked on.

At other times the mood has been tense.

As delegates were queuing up this morning, they watched a police officer with a sub machine gun vault a fence and wrestle a young man with a bulky backpack to the ground, while a police surveillance officer took pictures of the incident with a long lens camera.

Some have blamed the police for not doing enough to protect delegates.

“Tory women being subjected to sexist abuse outside conference and police refuse to intervene – disgraceful,” tweeted business minister Anna Soubry.

Home Secretary Theresa May insists Greater Manchester Police are “operationally independent”.

London Mayor Boris Johnson – a veteran of 1980s student politics when anti-Tory anger on the streets reached its heights – took delight in mocking “our crusty friends” who threw things at him as he arrived at the conference centre.

“I drew only one conclusion – that we need to do more to encourage sport in schools, because they managed to miss me with every projectile,” he said in his conference speech on Tuesday.

At a fringe meeting on whether the Tories should protect the NHS, on Tuesday, Telegraph columnist Janet Daley told panellists struggling to make themselves heard above the sound of chanting protesters to ignore the “din” from protesters who were helping to secure the Conservatives “millions of votes”.

When the sound of drums and chanting was replaced by the drumming of heavy rain on the canvas roof the tent breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“What the police could not be bothered to do God has done for us,” said a woman in the audience.

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‘It’s Carwyn Jones or me’, says Davies

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‘It’s Carwyn Jones or me’, says Davies

It’s Carwyn Jones or me for Wales, Andrew RT Davies says

The Tories are the only party that will not “prop up” another five years of Labour rule in Wales under Carwyn Jones, the Welsh Tory leader has said

Andrew RT Davies told party activists: “It’s me, or him. The maths is simple – only the Conservatives can do it.”

He said the 2016 election offered the chance to end 17 years of Labour Welsh government, and create a “new Wales”.

Earlier, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said Wales was “letting go of Labour” as people said “enough is enough”.

Mr Davies told the Conservative party conference, in Manchester, the assembly election offered a chance to “smash” the “cosy consensus” in Wales.

The Welsh Conservative party, he argued, was Wales’ “anti-establishment party”.

“We are the real Party of Wales. And we are the alternative.

“We’re the only Party that won’t prop up another five more years of Labour rule.

“And only the Welsh Conservatives can stop Carwyn Jones becoming first minister again.”

“It’s me, or him.”

‘Small business revolution’

Mr Davies said the May 2016 poll would also be a referendum on the Welsh NHS, promising the Tories would “invest in more paramedics, in better access to cancer treatments, in more accountability and in better patient choice”.

He promised new measures to cut waiting times, improve care, and provide “more patient-friendly services”.

On education, Mr Davies said that sending school budgets directly to schools, rather than via local authorities, “could mean hundreds of thousands more pounds reaching the frontline in every single school”.

He also promised to start a “small business revolution”, including plans to reduce business rates for smaller firms, provide “localised access to finance” and revive high streets.

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Stephen Crabb said people in Wales now believe they can do better with parties other than Labour

Speaking earlier, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb insisted Wales had “had enough” of the “stuffy Welsh Labour establishment taking their communities and their voters for granted”.

He said new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn may think he is “coming home to ‘Real Labour’ when he visits Wales …. where he can see a Welsh Labour government that has banned academies and banned free schools and abolished Right to Buy”.

“But he will also see that Wales is letting go of Labour…. as people across Wales say ‘enough is enough.'”

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Davidson in plea to ‘No’ voters

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Davidson in plea to ‘No’ voters

Ruth Davidson: Only Tories represent those in favour of Union

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The party of the Union will deliver for Scotland, Ruth Davidson tells the Conservative Party conference

Only the Conservatives represent those in Scotland who want to remain part of the UK, according to the party’s Scottish leader.

Ruth Davidson delivered that message during a speech at the Tory conference in Manchester.

She addressed delegates ahead of Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech.

Her focus was on the 2016 Holyrood election in which she said every vote for the Conservatives would “promote Scotland’s place” as part of the UK.

The Conservatives have only one Scottish MP but 15 MSPs at Holyrood.

Speaking at a fringe event at the conference on Sunday, Ms Davidson told activists her party was on track for its “best ever result” in next year’s Holyrood elections.

There is a new Jerusalem we want to build and we will work towards it every day.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson addresses the Tory Party conference

In last year’s independence referendum people in Scotland voted to remain in the UK by 55% to 45%.

In her speech to conference, Ms Davidson said the Scottish Conservatives were the party who represented the two million Scots who chose to back the Union.

She insisted the Tories would target the regional vote in next year’s Scottish Parliament elections and she urged people, whatever their party allegiance, to consider giving their second vote to the Conservatives.

Ms Davidson told those gathered: “I don’t want us to be just the party of the technocrat. The grudging vote of competence.

“I want us to be the party of the thinkers, the dreamers, the reformers and the visionaries too.

“The zeal of the missionary, the courage of the pioneer, the ambition to lift our eyes to the horizon and say there’s a new Jerusalem we want to build and we will work towards it every day.

“And, more than that. We’ll take people with us.”

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David Mundell was speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester

She added: “So long as the SNP refuses to rule out another referendum, our message for voters looking to cast that second vote is clear. Whichever party you support, use that vote intelligently.

“And if you’re one of the two million people who voted ‘No’ in last year’s referendum, use it as your intelligent vote for the Union.”

Ms Davidson went on to tell conference “Every cross in the Scottish Conservative box is a vote to promote Scotland’s place as part of the United Kingdom we built. And every vote for the Scottish Conservatives will help return a Conservative MSP.”

Ahead of Ms Davidson’s address, Scottish Secretary David Mundell spoke to party members.

Mr Mundell said: “We are stronger and safer together as partners in our UK. That is what just over two million voted just over a year ago, to keep our nations together. It was a ‘no thanks’ to independence.”

He added that the Conservative Party was in “the vanguard” of the No to Scottish independence campaign.

However, Mr Mundell said there could not be room for complacency and “championing the UK must be a full time job”.

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New FCA rules have ‘little or no impact’ on GAP sales

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New FCA rules have ‘little or no impact’ on GAP sales

The new GAP rules had “little or no impact” on GAP sales in September following the introduction of the new FCA rules

That’s the conclusion of AutoProtect based upon its own sales and feedback from dealers across the UK.

“The overall outcome is that there has been little or no impact to sales penetration. Given the speed with which changes to sales processes had to be made, I believe it is a great reflection on dealers capacity to adapt and to our ability to help them,” said Mike Macaulay AutoProtect’s head of corporate sales.

AutoProtect said that for many dealers, the initial priority was adapt to the new FCA requirements to ensure full compliance.

“Dealers can enjoy greater success with added value services and we see the evidence to support this.

“To achieve this, it important that sales personnel can deliver a natural sales process that integrates added value services within each car sale on a one to one customer level. As a business, our immediate focus is in helping dealers to develop this natural flow.”

Last week Dealerweb said that dealers saw GAP sales fall 11% in September as the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules began to bite.

The showroom management systems provider compared the volume of GAP sales generated by franchised dealers representing 12 volume and prestige carmakers.

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Average dealer made a loss of £16,000 in August

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Average dealer made a loss of £16,000 in August

The average dealer made a £16,000 loss in August, a 6.6% decline on the performance in August 2014.

This produced a slight drop in the rolling 12 month return on sales to 1.32%, according to dealer profitability specialist ASE.

ASE said that dealers continued to self-register cars. In the first 8 months of the year dealer new car sales are 2% down but registrations have increased by 6.7%.

“There is little evidence of these self registrations providing unsustainable pressure on the used car market as yet with used car return on investment improving slightly during August and stockturn speeding up marginally,” said ASE chairman Mike Jones.

Used car gross margins rose in August to 11.6% and there was a small decline in the average stand in value.

Jones said August is a small sales month and all eyes were now on the performance in September.

“The September financial result is going to be pivotal to the overall position for the year, and early indications are that we could mirror June and produce a strong profit, outperforming 2014.

“Registration levels are considerably ahead of the prior year which will bring associated healthy bonuses,” he said.

 Rolling 12 months August 2015 Rolling 12 months August 2014 Bench-mark
Net Profit as % Sales 1.32% 1.48% 3.0%
Overhead Absorption 54.2% 56.0% 80%
Used: New Sales 0.92:1 0.87:1 1.5:1
Vehicle Sales Expenses as % Gross 63.8% 61.9% 50%
Sales per Sales Executive 190 198 150
Used Vehicle Stockturn (days) 54.6 53.7 45
Return on Used Car Investment 76.5% 82.6% 100%
Overall Labour Efficiency 82.5% 82.0% 100%
Service Gross Profit % on Labour 75.6% 75.8% 75%
Service Expenses as % Gross 59.5% 57.6% 40%
Hours per Retail Job Card 1.62 1.65 2.5
Parts Gross Profit % 22.5% 22.2% 22%
Parts Expenses as % Gross 44.0% 44.7% 40%
Parts Stockturn 7.55 7.85 8.0

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Wales ‘could benefit’ from EU exit

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Wales ‘could benefit’ from EU exit

Wales could gain from EU exit, David Jones claims

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David Jones says Tory MPs may push to leave the EU if terms of UK membership do not improve

Claims that Wales has more to lose than other parts of the UK by leaving the European Union are “a great lie”, a former Tory Welsh secretary has said.

David Jones admitted Wales did benefit from EU membership but may be even better off if the UK left the union.

The Clwyd West MP told BBC Radio Wales the Conservative Party was “probably overwhelmingly Eurosceptic”.

He claimed more than 100 Tory MPs would be prepared to defy the wishes of the Prime Minister and back withdrawal.

David Cameron has promised an “in-out” referendum after he renegotiates the terms of the UK’s membership of the EU.

‘Push to leave’

Mr Jones called on the prime minister to focus on the rules surrounding benefits payments to migrants and measures to strengthen UK law.

“My assessment of the Conservative Party is that it’s probably overwhelmingly Eurosceptic,” he said.

“I think that if the Prime Minister does not achieve what we would like him to achieve, then we will certainly push for Britain to leave the EU.”

Mr Jones, vice president of Conservatives for Britain, which wants to reform Britain’s relationship with the EU, dismissed claims that Wales had more to lose from leaving the EU than other parts of the UK.

“This of course is frankly the great lie of those who want Britain to stay in the EU, come what may, put out that parts of the country such as Wales would be poorer,” he said.

“My view is that the parts of the country such as Wales that do benefit from the EU as they do at the moment would actually be not only just as well off but could potentially be even better off as could the country as a whole.”

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Arnold Clark pre tax profits surge 26% to £107m

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Arnold Clark pre tax profits surge 26% to £107m

Arnold Clark turned in a “truly remarkable” 2014 with pre-tax profits surging 25.9% to £107.3m on turnover up 11.9% to £3.27bn in the year to 31 December.

The group, in its 60th year, turned in a strong performance in used cars with sales up 10.8% to 158,384 units. On a like-for-like basis used car sales increased by 9.3% for the period.

Arnold Clark’s new car sales underperformed the UK market, up 3.1% to 91,477 units.

Strong residual values and low interest rates helped the Arnold Clark Finance vehicle management and daily rental business grow pre-tax profits 34.2% t £16.1m on increased turnover of £176.3m.

The company is to open a new Arnold Clark Motorstore on a nine-acre site in Chesterfield this month. Arnold Clark said the open value of its property assets in the UK stood at £402m.

The company continues to invest in its digital platform. At the annual Auto Trader awards it won the Ultimate Digital Dealer, SEO Excellence and Best use of Social Media categories. Total website visits increased by 17% during the year and it introduced Live Chat in December 2014.

In the chairman’s statement Sir Arnold Clark said: “We anticipate that 2015 will be a more challenging year than 2014 and expect that the new car market will remain relatively static with used cars showing modest growth.”

During its anniversary year Arnold Clark embarked on a programme of meeting with all members of staff to get their feedback on how it can develop and improve the business.

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Dealer footfall was “steady” in record September

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Dealer footfall was “steady” in record September

Despite the record level of registrations during the September plate-change, dealers did not experience a significant rise in footfall, according to research by CAP.

According to its monthly For Dealers, By Dealers survey, which polled the views of 80 retailers across the UK, just 41% said footfall had risen compared to August, while 32% said it had declined and 26% said it had declined.

“Footfall is an area that highlights the separation between those receiving support from the manufacturers, to drive traffic through their doors with attractive new car offers, and those that don’t,” said Philip Nothard, editor of CAP Black Book

“It is clear that September stood up to the expectation of it being steady.”

The research also highlighted concerns over the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act, which debuted on 1 October, with 53% of respondents saying it will have an impact on their business, while 39% said it would not.

“As compression of retained margins eased for dealers, many reported concern that the Consumer Rights Act may threaten profitability, or at the very least impact on resource. The Act has received a diverse reaction, very much dependent on what the dealers stock profile is, how they operate and more importantly, what processes, and customer care they already have in place,” he said.

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Russia ‘making Syria more dangerous’

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Russia ‘making Syria more dangerous’

Russia ‘making Syria more dangerous’, Michael Fallon says

Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war has made the situation “much more dangerous”, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.

Russia says its air strikes, which are backed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, are aimed at so-called Islamic State and “other terrorists”.

But the US and its allies say other rebel groups have been targeted.

Mr Fallon also said the government was “slowly building a consensus” among MPs for UK airstrikes over Syria.

He is to attend a Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday to discuss Russia’s action and the fight against Islamic State (IS) extremists.

‘Propping up’

Defence sources told BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith they believed only a “tiny minority” of Russian airstrikes in Syria were targeting IS forces, with some intelligence reports suggesting only one in 20 were directed against the militant Islamist group.

It is also claimed Russian planes are using unguided weapons, causing civilian casualties, he added.

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Russia’s air strikes have been condemned by the United States

Mr Fallon told BBC Breakfast: “The Russian intervention in Syria has made a pretty difficult situation much more dangerous.”

He said Nato would urge Vladimir Putin to stop “propping up” the Assad regime, adding: “We will be co-ordinating our activity to make sure the Russians actually start to respect some of the rules.”

He said Russia’s incursion into the air space of Turkey – a Nato member – would be condemned in “very strong terms” at the summit.


Russia began its air campaign in Syria last Wednesday.

It says it is targeting “all terrorists” in co-ordination with Syria’s government, but Nato and allied states have expressed concern that it is concentrating its attacks on rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, some of them backed by the West, and not jihadist groups like IS.

British MPs voted against action in Syria to prevent the use of chemical weapons by President Assad in 2013.

Now the government wants to extend its bombing campaign against IS from Iraq into Syria, but says it will only do so with Parliamentary approval.

Mr Fallon told told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “illogical” to strike targets in Iraq but not Syria.

On Tuesday, Prime David Cameron said he could not put a timescale on the vote, saying the government would “go back at a time when there’s a greater consensus across the House of Commons”.

He acknowledged some Conservatives would oppose air strikes in any circumstances and claimed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is against any military intervention, did not “see the risk” from IS.

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Bombardier and Airbus talk on CSeries

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Bombardier and Airbus talk on CSeries

Bombardier: Firm held talks with rival Airbus on CSeries

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Image caption

The CSeries is Bombardier’s first attempt at larger passenger planes

The aerospace firm Bombardier has confirmed it held talks with rival Airbus about selling a stake in its CSeries project.

The CSeries is a narrow-bodied passenger jet.

It is due to come into service next year, three years late and £1.2bn over budget. Airbus and Bombardier said the talks had now ended without agreement.

Bombardier is based in Canada but it is Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing employer.

John Campbell, BBC News NI Business Editor

Traditionally, Bombardier’s strengths have been in business planes – it makes the famous Learjet.

More than 10 years ago, it decided to move into bigger planes and challenge the Boeing/Airbus duopoly.

It created the CSeries and there is a consensus that it is a very good, modern, fuel efficient plane.

The problem is they have not sold enough of them.

Bombardier wanted to sell about 300 by the time they bring them into service next year. They have only sold 243.

The project is also about three years late and it has run about £1bn over budget.

That has put massive pressure on the whole Bombardier company.

Bombardier is now clearly looking for a CSeries partner.

The talks with Airbus broken down but, it says, it is still looking at ‘potential participation in industry consolidation.’

The company’s balance sheet continues to be under pressure because of the CSeries.

Reuters have reported the firm is talking to the Quebec state pension fund about making a fresh investment.

Ultimately, what it boils down to is that they have to sell more of the CSeries and it has been a long time now since they have had an order.

The wings for the CSeries are made at Bombardier’s Belfast plant.

Reuters had reported that the talks had explored if Airbus and Bombardier could set up a joint venture to spin-off the CSeries project.

The CSeries problems has made it a very challenging two years for Bombardier.

There has been an overhaul in its top management team and even speculation that the entire commercial aircraft division could be put up for sale.

Production of smaller Bombardier jets has also been cut back causing jobs to be lost.

About 800 jobs in Belfast have gone within the past year, mostly among its contractor labour force.

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Firms pushed over haze-linked products

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Firms pushed over haze-linked products

Singapore retailers grilled over products linked to haze

  • 7 October 2015
  • From the section Business

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Singapore is cracking down on retailers that use materials from firms accused of causing pollution with forest fires

Singapore is putting pressure on major retailers in Singapore to not use or sell materials produced by firms linked to fires in Indonesia.

Seven firms, including major supermarkets such as NTUC FairPrice and IKEA, have been asked declare they are not doing so within a week.

The forest fires in Indonesia have deteriorated Singapore’s air quality, causing a blanket of haze in the city.

FairPrice has said it removing products from one Indonesian firm.

The state-owned supermarket giant said that it was removing all paper products sourced from Asia Pulp and Paper Group (APP), following the notification from the government.

APP has been named by Singapore authorities as one of the companies suspected of contributing to the haze.

What is behind the South East Asia haze?

In a joint statement, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) said they had asked the retailers to declare that they have “not procured or used wood, paper and/or pulp materials” from firms accused of contributing to the fires.

The SEC said retailers were “a good starting point” for firms to show their commitment to sustainable procurement processes and “for consumers to show their support for brands that have environmentally friendly practices”

The haze has caused hazardous air quality across the region. It has led to the cancellation of public events and schools closure over the past month, in Singapore as well as in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Anger has been rising in the region, with increasing pressure on the Indonesian government to control the annual burning of forests to clear land for palm oil and rubber plantations.

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Tesco sees new fall in profits

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Tesco sees new fall in profits

Tesco sees new fall in profits

  • 7 October 2015
  • From the section Business

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Troubled supermarket Tesco has announced a further big fall in profits as it struggles to turn its business around.

Underlying profits for the first half of its financial year were £354m, less than half of last year’s £779m.

Pre-tax profit was £74m, compared with a loss of £19m for the same period last year.

UK like-for-like sales were down 1.1% in the second quarter, but international sales were up 1%.

In February, Tesco reported the worst results in its history, with a record statutory pre-tax loss of £6.4bn for the year to the end of February.

Chief executive Dave Lewis said: “In the UK, we continue to improve all aspects of our offer for customers, resulting in volume growth which is allowing us to create a virtuous circle of investment.

“Our transformation programme in Europe has accelerated growth and reduced operating expenses, and in Asia, we have gained market share in challenging economic conditions.”

Mr Lewis has been focusing on cutting prices and putting more staff in stores in an effort to attract customers back to Tesco.

Tesco has completed the sale of its Homeplus stores in South Korea, reducing its debt by £4.2bn, but it has decided to keep its Dunnhumby data business.

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Orthopaedic op demand ‘challenge’

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Orthopaedic op demand ‘challenge’

Welsh NHS orthopaedic surgery demand a ‘challenge’

  • 7 October 2015
  • From the section Wales

The NHS in Wales will not be able to keep up with demand for orthopaedic surgery unless there are big and urgent changes in the way services are run, the deputy health minister has warned.

Vaughan Gething AM has unveiled a plan, which he claims will deliver better care for people with bone, joint and muscle conditions.

He said more patients are already being treated, with better results.

But opposition parties have condemned worsening waiting times.

Mr Gething admitted too many patients were waiting longer than they should for operations but the new plan would meet future demands.

“Over the last 10 years we’ve seen an improvement in the orthopaedic service in Wales,” he told BBC Wales.

“The challenge though is if we don’t change the way we run the service right across Wales then we’re unlikely to be able to meet that demand in the future.

“We treat more people than ever before, with more successful outcomes than ever before, but the challenge is – are we able to keep up with demand with the current way we do business? And we can’t.”


More than 40,000 routine orthopaedic operations take place in Wales every year.

But the number of people waiting more than six months for treatment has been increasing since the summer of 2012.

Under Welsh government targets, 95% of patients needing planned treatment – including orthopaedics – should be treated within six months and nobody should wait longer than 36 weeks.

Over the last four years, the number of operations taking place has slowly reduced which the plan said has had a “significant” impact on waiting times.

Ministers blame a rise in medical and emergency admissions in recent years.

This has been especially acute in the winter.

So the orthopaedic plan talks not only of the need “to change the service model for orthopaedics” but also of an urgent requirement “to improve capacity”.

However, there is no mention of allocating any additional money or resources.

Indeed the Welsh government said this is a plan about changing the NHS works – not spending more money.


Tony David, 72, a retired engineer from Bridgend, has had one knee operated on and is waiting for surgery on the other one.

“It was in May last year when I saw the consultant and I asked him how long do you think it will be? He told me over 12 months.

“I’ve just come out [of hospital] now, so that’s nearly 17 months.”

His wife Beverley said it had been a frustrating time, with her husband left in pain.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board said in a letter to health watchdogs that the average orthopaedic waiting list at Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend had grown to 70 weeks due to “winter pressures”.

A spokeswoman said: “Our waiting times are longer than we would like and we are doing everything possible to reduce these times.

“Plans are in place to invest significantly in the service to increase the number of operations we are able to carry out.

“We are also continuing to look at options outside of the hospital.”


More of us are being referred to orthopaedic consultants by our GPs. The increase has been 30% since 2005.

This has been put down to Wales’ ageing population, increasing obesity and medical advances.

One part of the plan will encourage orthopaedic patients who are very overweight or smoke to undergo smoking cessation or weigh reduction programmes before surgery.

Health boards will be asked to monitor compliance rates.

There has been sound evidence that this approach can lead to significantly better results after surgery, the Welsh government insisted.

In some cases, patients have found their conditions have improved enough so they no longer need surgery

Mr Gething insisted the courses will not be compulsory and that patients will not be penalised in any way for not losing weight or failing to stop smoking.

“Anybody who’s clinically fit to have an operation can have that operation as and when it’s needed,” he said.

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Villiers to issue warning over NI talks

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Villiers to issue warning over NI talks

NI talks: Theresa Villiers to warn devolution is at stake in conference speech

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Ms Villiers is due to deliver her fourth Conservative Party conference speech as Secretary of State

The Northern Ireland Secretary is expected to tell the Conservative Party conference a failure to make political agreement threatens the survival of devolved government at Stormont.

Theresa Villiers is also expected to say that there is a risk those opposing welfare reform will end up running the devolved institutions into collapse.

She is to deliver her fourth conference speech as secretary of state.

She is expected to issue a series of warnings relating to the talks process.

Ms Villiers will declare that time is short and she will say the credibility and the survival of devolved government in Northern Ireland is at stake.

There are likely to be attacks on the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his approach to Northern Ireland.

Welfare powers

There will also be a re-statement that the government would not provide any additional money for welfare and would consider taking back welfare powers only as a last resort.

Inter-party talks in Northern Ireland began last month in a bid to resolve the current political crisis at Stormont.

The current crisis at Stormont was triggered when police said they believed IRA members had been involved in the murder of a former IRA man in Belfast in August.

The parties have also been deadlocked over the issue of welfare. The Northern Ireland parties had agreed on a welfare reform deal in December but Sinn Féin withdrew its support in March.

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Cerberus releases Robinson Nama letter

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Cerberus releases Robinson Nama letter

Nama portfolio: Cerberus releases letter it wrote to Peter Robinson

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In April 2014, Nama sold the loan book in an auction process to US firm Cerberus for £1.2bn

The Cerberus investment fund has released the letter it wrote to the First Minister Peter Robinson which set out how it would manage the Nama loan portfolio.

Cerberus bought the Nama portfolio for just over £1.2bn in April 2014.

The letter was sent in March 2014, the day before Cerberus met Mr Robinson and the then Finance Minister Simon Hamilton.

Cerberus had previously disclosed the existence of the letter.

This was in correspondence with Stormont’s Finance Committee.

The committee is investigating the loan sale.

Cerberus originally described the letter as being prepared for presentation “to the Northern Ireland Executive”.

It now says it was “to be provided to the Office of the First Minister”.

‘Use of incentives’

The letter explained how the fund intended to manage the portfolio should its bid succeed.

Nama: The key figures and background you need to know

The letter describes how Cerberus would be prepared to release personal guarantees as part of “consensual plans” with “cooperative borrowers”.

It also lays out how it would incentivise borrowers with asset management fees or “if appropriate, profit share structures”.

Cerberus has gone on to release some borrowers from loan guarantees, but it is not clear if it has implemented profit shares or other incentives.

The letter echoes a Memorandum of Understanding produced by the First Minister’s office at the start of the Nama loan sale process.

In January 2014, that office forwarded a letter to Nama.

Nama said it appeared to “summarise an agreement” between the Northern Ireland Executive and Pimco, another firm which was interested in buying the NI portfolio.

It set out conditions including the release of loan guarantees and the use of incentives including profit shares.

Nama ignored the letter, dismissing it as a “debtors’ charter”.

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Samsung profit forecast up 80%

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Samsung profit forecast up 80%

Samsung third quarter profit forecast up nearly 80%

  • 7 October 2015
  • From the section Business

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David Becker

Electronics giant Samsung has estimated its third quarter operating profit will be 7.3t won ($6.29bn; £4.13bn) – up 79.8% from a year earlier.

The guidance numbers for the three months to September beat expectations for a profit forecast of about 6.8t won and are up from 4.1tn won a year ago.

The numbers would mark the South Korean firm’s first quarterly profit growth in two years.

The company’s full results will be released later this month.

The electronic giant’s shares opened up in South Korean trade by more than 4% on the news.

Samsung has recently been facing stiff competition for its top-end smartphones made by its main rival, Apple.

While its bottom-end smartphones have been struggling against Chinese smartphone makers such as Xiaomi.

Analysts have said the firm’s positive third quarter guidance numbers released on Wednesday were surprising and probably reflected stronger smartphone earnings from a year earlier – particularly thanks to the launch of the firm’s Galaxy Note 5 in August.

‘Surprising news’

“[Samsung’s] products are selling better than expected,” Frost & Sullivan’s Andrew Milroy told the BBC.

“It is holding its own in the smartphone and tablet markets with some strong new models like the S6 Edge and the Note 5.

“It is also doing well in other consumer electronics markets and the semiconductor market,” he added.

A weaker won has also made the firm’s products cheaper to buy overseas and helps boost its bottom line when it repatriates its earnings.

Samsung’s earnings guidance release does not include a breakdown of results in its various divisions and does not provide a net income number. Its fully audited results are due out later this month.

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VW expects recall to start in January

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VW expects recall to start in January

VW’s Matthias Mueller: Recall to start in January

  • 7 October 2015
  • From the section Business

VW expects to start a recall of cars affected by its emissions scandal in January, the car giant’s new chief executive, Matthias Mueller, has said.

All affected cars will be fixed by the end of 2016, he told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Only a few employees have been involved in the scandal, he added in the interview.

Europe’s biggest carmaker has said emissions test-cheating software is present in 11 million diesel vehicles.

The firm would also look into its various brands and models, singling out Bugatti, its supercar marque.

Earlier, Mr Mueller told employees at VW’s Wolfsburg home plant in Germany the firm is facing changes that “will not be painless.”

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Bugatti will be among the carmaker’s brands to be scrutinised

All investments that were not deemed absolutely necessary would be abandoned or delayed, he said.

Technical solutions were “within view” and the firm would do everything it could to keep jobs secure, he added.

Future investment in plant, technology and vehicles would be put “under scrutiny”.

“We will do everything to ensure that Volkswagen will stand for good and secure jobs in the future,” he added.

Audi, Skoda, Seat

The emissions scandal engulfed the German car giant after it admitted cheating emissions tests in the US.

In the UK, 1.2 million vehicles could be affected. Elsewhere in Europe, France and Italy have opened investigations into the rigging of the tests.

The company is suspending the sale of 4,000 vehicles in the UK, saying the vehicles may be equipped with the device that cheated emissions tests in the US.

The move will involve vehicles across the VW group including the VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat brands.

VW said it was a temporary measure and that it intended to return the vehicles for sale once a fix is identified for the cars.

Despite the scandal that began almost two weeks ago, VW customers could still buy vehicles that had the rogue software.

The cars taken off the market represent 3% of VW’s stock in the UK.

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Syria threat to global security – Blair

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Syria threat to global security – Blair

Tony Blair: Syria crisis ‘threatens global security’

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Russia said it continued its airstrikes against Islamic State targets on Tuesday

Tony Blair has said the international community must be prepared to do “everything and more” to support those fighting Islamist militants in Syria.

He told the BBC Syria had “virtually disintegrated” but there would have to be a political settlement to end the fighting there, involving Russia and other allies of the Assad regime.

But the West must be able to negotiate from a “position of strength”.

David Cameron has urged more help for the “legitimate opposition” in Syria.

It comes as the Russian defence ministry said it flew 20 air sorties in Syria on Tuesday, striking 12 targets of the so-called Islamic State.

A US-led coalition has been conducting air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq since September last year, which rights groups say have also caused civilian deaths.

Syria’s conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and various rebel groups began in 2011. It has left more than 250,000 dead and about half the country’s population displaced.

Speaking in New York after making a speech at the 9/11 museum about jihadist ideology, Mr Blair said it was “not acceptable that they (Russia) attack parts of the opposition that we see as acceptable, and who represent a majority of people in Syria” – an accusation strongly denied by Moscow.

Where key countries stand: Who is backing whom

Why? What? How? Five things you need to know about Russia’s involvement

What can Russia’s air force do? The US-led coalition has failed to destroy IS. Can Russia do any better?

Russian actions in Syria, Mr Blair argued, should be seen as an attempt to secure “leverage” ahead of negotiations about the future of the country and he said the US, UK and its allies could be doing more to shape the dynamics on the ground.

“We have got to do everything we can and more to support those groups who are fighting them on the ground because you can’t defeat them by air power alone. That is clear,” he said.

“What is important for the west, is that we are very clear that we are going to obtain our own leverage to have an outcome that is fair and reasonable.”

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Tony Blair says a wave of terrorism may arise out of the current conflict in Syria

Mr Blair, who stepped down as a Middle East envoy earlier this year, said despite some progress in confronting Islamic State, the organisation was “far too powerful” and it was in the UK’s direct national interest to throw its weight behind military and diplomatic efforts to rid Syria of its presence.

“It is not simply to do with a struggle that is in a faraway country,” he added. “The truth is now we have hundreds of thousands of refugees coming from Syria to Europe.

“The first wave of this will be refugees. The second wave, I fear, will be terrorism and problems of terrorism arising out of what is happening in Syria.

“And we have both got to deal with that problem which is the outcome of the crisis in Syria and to try and resolve the actual crisis in Syria itself.”

Also speaking on Tuesday, David Cameron rejected claims that the UK would be prepared to back extremist groups opposed to the Assad regime and said he was willing to try again to work with Russia and Iran to identify an administration which could deliver a peaceful future for the country.

“We are working with our allies – and frankly we have tried to work in the past with the Russians, with the Iranians and with others, and we must try again – to identify a team of leaders and a structure where Sunni, Christian, Alawite, Kurd can all feel that they will be properly looked after in Syria.”

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‘Courage’ of drinks policy praised

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‘Courage’ of drinks policy praised

‘Political courage’ on drink pricing policy praised

  • 7 October 2015
  • From the section Scotland

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The Scottish government has been praised for its “political courage” in attempting to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol.

It came from the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA) which aims to counter the health problems created by alcohol consumption.

Alcohol causes more than three million deaths around the world annually.

But the number has of deaths linked to drinking has been falling in Scotland in recent years.

GAPA said it selected Scotland for its annual conference – being held in in Edinburgh from 7-9 October – because of the progressive approach it is taking to prevent alcohol harm, in particular the government’s attempts to tackle cheap alcohol through minimum unit pricing (MUP).

Although MSPs passed a law in 2012 imposing a minimum unit price to try to cut the harm it can cause, its implementation has been held up by a legal challenge from the Scotch Whisky Association.

‘Pay tribute’

Derek Rutherford, who chairs GAPA, said holding its annual conference in Scotland would acknowledge the work being done there to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.

“It provides the opportunity to acknowledge their advocacy strategies and to share in the experience of advocates in other regions and countries of the world,” he said.

“Importantly, we can pay tribute to the Scottish government for the political courage it has shown to implement appropriate policy in the face of stiff opposition by the drinks industry.”

Dr Mac Armstrong, chair of Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS), the national charity working to reduce alcohol harm, said: “The Scottish government’s plans to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol will increase the price of the cheapest, strongest drinks.

“Unfortunately, the implementation of this innovative policy has been delayed due to a legal challenge from the alcohol industry.

“This action provides yet more evidence of the alcohol industry’s role in seeking to prevent the implementation of alcohol policies that are going to be effective in reducing alcohol consumption and harm.”

The main focus of the conference, which has attracted more than 400 delegates from 55 countries, is on protecting children from the promotion of alcohol.

European ruling

Research shows that exposure to alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that young people will start to drink, and to drink more if they are already drinking.

Alcohol is the world’s fifth leading risk factor for disease, injury and disability. In eastern Europe, most of Latin America and southern sub-Saharan Africa it is the leading cause.

The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in Scotland has been falling in recent years.

The legal challenges against MUP have been debated in the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

In September, the Advocate General at the ECJ issued an opinion saying minimum pricing would only be legal if it could be shown no other mechanism – such as taxation – were capable of delivering the desired public health benefits.

The Scottish government said that was exactly what minimum unit pricing could do.

A full ECJ ruling is expected early in 2016, when the matter will go back to the Court of Session in Edinburgh which has already ruled in favour of MUP.

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The billion-dollar ex-council flat

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The billion-dollar ex-council flat

The billion-dollar ex-council flat

  • 7 October 2015
  • From the section Magazine

A bizarre trail leads from an impoverished former Soviet republic to the palm-fringed shores of the Indian Ocean and beyond, via a Scottish ex-council flat – the trail of $1 billion stolen from Moldova, Europe’s poorest country. For the first time, the flat’s owner has shed further light on the mystery.

A gritty Scottish housing estate is not the obvious place to search for $1 billion that’s gone missing from a small country at the other end of Europe.

But a modest ground floor two-bedroom ex-council flat in Pilton, north Edinburgh, is home to a mysterious firm with the right to collect that vast sum, allegedly stolen from the former Soviet republic of Moldova.

The Pilton flat in question is home to an astonishing 530 firms registered at the address.

Welcome to the bizarre world of shell companies, which can be used to conceal the real owners of assets – and the agents who create them. Donald Toon of the National Crime Agency – the man effectively in charge of the UK’s fight against dirty money – says he’s “very worried” about the role played by the agents.

Pilton is perhaps better known for its appearance in Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh’s novel, later made into a hit film, about poverty, crime and heroin addiction – than as a surreal portal to a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean.

But the BBC has discovered it has become just that.

One of the companies registered at the address is Fortuna United LP, the UK partnership named in a leaked report by Moldova’s central bank as the firm with the rights to the billion dollars which disappeared last year from three of the country’s main banks.

The loss of the money – equivalent to an eighth of Moldova’s entire GDP – has thrown the country into economic and political chaos.

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Thousands of protestors gather every weekend in the capital Chisinau to demand the return of the cash and the punishment of those guilty of the alleged fraud.

Fortuna United is named in the leaked report, by the New York-based corporate investigative agency Kroll, as the firm that is ultimately owed the entire proceeds of the Moldovan fraud.

But Fortuna United is obviously not doing any business in the flat in Pilton.

The only firm that is appears to be Royston Business Consultancy, a company formation agent or corporate services provider – that is, a company that sets up other companies – which registered Fortuna United and the firms officially housed there.

Royston Business Consultancy is run by a 36-year-old Lithuanian, Viktorija Zirnelyte, who owns the flat, and her business partner, fellow Lithuanian Remigijus Mikalauskas.

Her office is a homely front room with a row of ring-binders on a shelf among photos and ornaments, looking out on a privet hedge. She trained as an accountant, moved to Britain in 2004 and worked a series of odd jobs before starting this factory churning out companies.

She says she and Mikalauskas not only set up Fortuna United, they are directors of the two firms behind it – even though those firms are themselves officially based thousands of miles away in the Seychelles Islands.

Fortuna United is a limited partnership made up of two Seychelles companies – Brixton Ventures Ltd, whose director is Mikalauskas, and Trafford United Ltd, whose director is Zirnelyte.

But they have never been to the Seychelles, and official Seychelles ink stamps used to register Fortuna United at Companies House in the UK were not sent from the islands.

Zirnelyte says suitable stamps can be bought on the online auction site eBay.

There are estimated to be about 2,600 corporate service providers like Zirnelyte and Mikalauskas’s firm in the UK, in addition to some legal and accountancy firms who offer the same services.

The UK is one of the easiest countries in the world to set up a company in, and some agents offer to do it in an hour, for as little as £25.

Agents are required under the UK’s money-laundering regulations to satisfy themselves that their clients aren’t involved in illicit activities, and to know the “beneficial owner” of any firms they set up – in other words, who really controls the assets.

Zirnelyte says she knows who ultimately controlled Fortuna United, though she cannot reveal their identity.

She says her firm did not ask “details of the business” of the companies they set up. She says that is the job of “intermediary agents” – other corporate service providers she declined to name, mostly in eastern Europe, who pass customers on to her.

What are ‘shell companies’?

  • They are firms that only really exist on paper, used to channel funds or assets without actually having any employees or carrying out meaningful business
  • Agents known as corporate service providers often set up shell companies for a fee, sometimes providing them with a postal address and directors
  • The corporate service providers must know the identity of the “beneficial owner” behind any shell companies they set up and have to satisfy themselves that their clients aren’t involved in illicit activities

She says she and Mikalauskas were just “nominee directors”. She adds: “Nominee director is just an official representative for the authorities, and he is not involved in anything.”

But barrister Jonathan Fisher, QC, one of Britain’s leading experts in this area of law, says that legally, nominees would be as responsible as any other director for any wrongdoing.

“All that ‘nominee director’ means is that the person holding the position has been nominated to hold it on behalf of somebody else,” he says. A director “has to understand what the company is doing, he has to be involved in the management of the company”.

Zirnelyte adds: “I don’t have anything to worry about. I didn’t commit fraud myself or my partner didn’t do it. We comply with all the regulations.”

Toon, head of the economic crime command at the National Crime Agency, will not comment specifically about companies allegedly involved in the Moldova case.

But he says: “Trust and company service providers, company formation agents, those professions cause us real concern. The skills in those areas are essential to the type of money laundering we’re talking about.”

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Donald Toon, head of the economic crime command at the National Crime Agency

Toon says he is particularly worried that corporate service providers rarely alert the authorities to possible suspicious activity by clients, as they and others in the financial sector such as banks, lawyers and estate agents, are required to do.

Of more than 350,000 Suspicious Activity Reports to the UK financial intelligence unit last year, just 177, or 0.05%, came from company service providers.

Britain is now one of the nations leading a global fight for more company transparency. Prime Minister David Cameron told a conference in Singapore in July: “We are one of the most open and welcoming economies anywhere in the world and I want Britain to be that country. But I want to ensure that all this money is clean money. There is no place for dirty money in Britain.”

A new law that takes effect next year will require UK firms to disclose their beneficial owners. The UK will be the first country in the world to adopt such legislation.

But campaigners for greater transparency are concerned that no-one will check the accuracy of information firms give.

“There are going to be problems with the data. People will lie,” said Robert Palmer of the international anti-corruption group, Global Witness. “In the UK, about 75% of companies are created by a company service provider or a lawyer. So it’s really important those professionals are doing proper checks on their clients.”

The BBC has found that corporate service providers abroad have been advertising particular UK company vehicles, such as Scottish limited partnerships (SLPs), as ideal for clients seeking confidentiality.

Of the 48 UK firms said to be involved in the Moldovan fraud, 28 – including Fortuna United – are SLPs.

Research by the financial journalists Richard Smith, UK editor of the Naked Capitalism blog, and Ian Fraser shows the number of Scottish partnerships has suddenly jumped in recent years. Of the 6,000 formed in the past 18 months, 90% of them have corporate partners based in overseas tax havens.

“With the abuse of limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships – the opportunities they provide in terms of opacity of ownership, we are also a secrecy jurisdiction,” says Fraser.

“Britain is just like the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, the Cayman Islands – the whole archipelago of tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions around the world.”

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Protesters in Chisinau, Moldova

Moldova’s lost billion

The state was forced to bail three banks out after $1bn (£655m) vanished from their coffers. The missing money caused a rapid depreciation of the national currency, the leu, and a decline in living standards. Protesters have demanded the resignation of President Nicolae Timofti and other officials, including the governor of the national bank, and early parliamentary elections.

The great Moldovan bank robbery

Moldova anger over scandal grows

Scam sparks Scots fraud haven fears

Listen to the File on 4 report Dirty Money UK on the BBC iPlayer

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Argos in same-day delivery push

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Argos in same-day delivery push

Argos in same-day delivery push ready for Christmas

  • 7 October 2015
  • From the section Business

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Argos has upped the ante on home deliveries by becoming the first British retailer to offer a same day service across the UK up to 22:00, seven days a week.

And it says it will operate the scheme, named Fast Track, 364 days a year.

The service, will cover Argos’s 20,000 most popular products.

John Walden, Chief Executive of Home Retail Group (which owns Argos), said: “Argos led the way with click & collect 15 years ago.”

“And customers can continue to shop with us in the traditional ways if they choose to. But we believe Fast Track is the next big innovation and brings shopping into the digital age for customers, allowing them to get up to 20,000 products in their hands faster than ever before. No other retailer can offer the breadth of products immediately or at that speed.”

Customers have the choice of four time slots every day, including up until 22:00 for a flat fee of £3.95.

‘Hub’ stores

Can Argos crack same day delivery and, more importantly, afford it?

Earlier John Lewis started charging customers £2 to collect online orders in store worth less than £30 saying it could no longer swallow the cost of free delivery.

Argos believes it already has the necessary infrastructure in place to keep costs low.

Last year it rolled out a new delivery system across the UK. In addition to its big warehouses, it has around 150 larger hub stores which can quickly replenish its smaller stores with the most popular stock.

Now it’s in the process of hiring almost 2,300 permanent drivers to make home deliveries from these hub stores. It’s also recruiting 1,000 temporary drivers to help them over the peak Christmas period.

Ultra fast

With 80 shopping days until Christmas, Argos hopes to steal a march on its rivals over the increasingly important battle over delivery.

“Customers increasingly look for multiple delivery slots that allow them to shop how and when they want on the same day,” says Bryan Roberts, from Kantar Retail.

Argos is still not the quickest.

Earlier this year, Amazon launched an ultra fast service, Prime Now, allowing shoppers in parts of London and Birmingham to order via a mobile app and get their products within an hour. But you have to subscribe to Amazon Prime to use it.

Argos has now thrown down the gauntlet to the other traditional retailers this Christmas.

Bryan Roberts reckons it’s showing its rivals a “clean pair of heels” with this new nationwide service.

Retailers compared on their delivery policies:

  • Amazon: Prime members get one-hour same-day delivery in London, Birmingham and some surrounding areas for £6.99 or select a free two-hour, same-day delivery slot between 08:00 and midnight. Prime membership is £79 a year.
  • John Lewis: Free delivery on orders over £50, delivered in three to five working days. £3.50 for orders under £50. Larger items can take seven days to deliver.
  • Currys and PC World: Same day, next day evening and Sunday afternoon delivery to London, Greater London and other selected postcodes. Same day, next day evening and Sunday PM all £9.99 – Sunday between 8am and 5pm £7.99.
  • Boots: Free home delivery on orders over £45, delivered in four working days. Order before 7pm for next day delivery.
  • M&S: Standard home delivery £3.50; free delivery on orders over £50. Order by 22:00 for next day delivery (£3.99).
  • Toys R Us: Free delivery on orders of £29.99 or more.
  • Next: Same day home delivery for £4.99, order by noon Monday-Thursday, order by 11:00 on Friday.

Source: Argos

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Call for watchdog to investigate MP

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Call for watchdog to investigate MP

Call for watchdog to investigate MP Michelle Thomson

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Ms Thomson denies acting illegally

MP Michelle Thomson has been referred to the Commons standards watchdog over allegations regarding property deals being investigated by the police.

The BBC understands that the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen made a complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards about the SNP member for Edinburgh West.

Ms Thomson has denied any wrongdoing or illegal activity.

She has resigned from the SNP whip in the House of Commons.

A police inquiry is being carried out into a solicitor who was struck off by the Law Society of Scotland over property deals carried out on Ms Thomson’s behalf.

Mr Bridgen, who represents North West Leicestershire, has written to Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary commissioner for standards at Westminster, asking for her to look into the matter.

He said the case raises “serious questions regarding the professional integrity required from a prominent public servant”.

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Goodyear to definitely shut factory

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Goodyear to definitely shut factory

Goodyear to definitely shut Wolverhampton factory

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Closure would take place on a phased basis, the firm said

Tyre company Goodyear will definitely close its only UK manufacturing plant, bringing to an end nearly 90 years of history in Wolverhampton.

Plans were first announced in June and all 330 workers at the Wolverhampton site were expected to lose their jobs.

The first redundancies were likely on 31 December and closure would take place on a phased basis, the firm said.

Production at the plant is anticipated to end no earlier than January 2017, it said.

The company said it had decided to implement its proposal to close the Wolverhampton facility following a consultation period with unions.

It said it was “important to understand that no alternatives to the company’s proposal have been made”.

History of Goodyear tyres in Wolverhampton

  • According to its website, Goodyear was founded in 1898 in Akron, Ohio, USA
  • The company began to expand internationally and in 1913 plans were announced to open a branch in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Goodyear bought the Wolverhampton premises in July 1927 and the first tyres were manufactured in December that year
  • In 1939 the company switched to war production. Factory employees worked 20 days on and just one day off
  • At its height, the factory employed 7,000 workers

The company said during the coming months its focus was to find “responsible and fair solutions for the employees affected” including the opportunity to apply for vacancies at its other locations.

It said it would continue to work closely with unions and the taskforce group – led by Wolverhampton City Council and set up to support staff – to put together support for employees who cannot transfer to other roles in the company.

In a statement, it said: “We have not, however, reached an agreement with the union on the redundancy settlement for those affected by this decision.

“The company has recommended involving Acas in order to finalise the settlement.”

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Production at the plant was anticipated to end no earlier than January 2017, the firm said

BBC Midlands Today Black Country reporter Ben Godfrey

It is the news that thousands of people in Wolverhampton feared. It is the end of Goodyear, a company that has been in the city for up tor 90 years.

It is akin to the demise of MG Rover in Birmingham. There will be a big impact.

A lot of the workers found out today. Emma Reynolds, the MP for Wolverhampton North East, said she was “bitterly disappointed”.

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Morgan: Schools must offer childcare

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Morgan: Schools must offer childcare

Morgan: Schools must offer working-day childcare

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Ms Morgan used her speech to outline what the Conservatives had achieved in education so far

Parents in England are to be given the right to request schools provide childcare for the full working day during term time and in the holidays.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said schools must take “reasonable steps” to ensure this is provided.

Ms Morgan said her party must champion the interests of children and parents.

Head teachers warned that the idea would have to be handled “extremely carefully to ensure it is not just a populist gimmick”.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference, Ms Morgan said: “We’re going to give more working parents something the best schools already do.”

“We will be giving families in thousands of schools a ‘right to request’ their school provides childcare for a full working day, before and after school and during the school holidays.

“If enough parents call for childcare at their local school, we will expect the school to take reasonable steps to accommodate it, in a way that works for them.

“Because we want working parents to have the confidence their child is in a happy and safe environment.”

‘Populist gimmick’

But Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, warned that while wraparound childcare in schools was generally a good idea, there were many reasons – such as budget cuts or recruitment issues – why some schools were not in a position to offer it.

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Victor De Jesus

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Russell Hobby says not all schools will be in a position to offer wraparound care

He added: “Extending provision beyond 38 weeks, providing care outside of term time, can also prove very difficult for schools because of staffing and a lack of private provision.

“Parents can ask but the government must guarantee that a school’s decision is respected. Otherwise, it is merely going to provoke conflict between schools and their communities and would undermine the decision-making of head teachers.

“This needs to be handled extremely carefully to ensure it is not just a populist gimmick.”

‘Rigour revolution’

Ms Morgan also used her speech to tell the conference that the Tories had “raised the bar on standards in schools with a rigour revolution”, for example by ending grade inflation and introducing a “tough new national curriculum”.

She said politicians and bureaucrats had been taken out of the classrooms, with 3,000 head teachers in good and outstanding schools trusted with the freedom to run those schools.

A thousand failing schools had been transformed under the leadership of strong sponsors, she said, and more than 300 free schools had been set up by parents, teachers and community groups.

Ms Morgan also told the party-faithful the Conservatives had speeded up the adoption process to help young people find a loving home and provided “joined-up support” for children with special educational needs and their parents.

Ms Morgan told delegates that what united every Conservative was a belief in meritocracy.

“That commitment to meritocracy means nothing if we don’t give every child the chance to succeed,” she said.

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Every council ‘happy’ to take refugees

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Every council ‘happy’ to take refugees

Every single council is happy to take refugees, says minister

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Tens of thousands of displaced Syrians are living in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

All 22 local authorities in Wales have now agreed to accept refugees from Syria, Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths has told assembly members.

17 councils were “happy” to do so when a Wales summit on resettling refugees was held in September, she said.

Ms Griffiths said a “task force”, holding its first meeting in November, would assess how many Wales could take.

She told AMs she refused to “set an arbitrary number today as to how many refugees we should be welcoming”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said up to 20,000 refugees will be accepted in the UK over the next five years, under his government’s expanded resettlement scheme.

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Most asylum seekers are dispersed to Wales’ main population centres

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Immigration policy hasn’t worked – PM

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Immigration policy hasn’t worked – PM

Immigration policy ‘hasn’t worked so far’, says David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron has told the BBC the government’s policy on immigration “hasn’t worked so far”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Cameron said immigration needs to be controlled in order to have a cohesive society.

He shared people’s “frustration” at the failure to cut net migration adding: “There’s more we need to do.”

It comes after Theresa May told the Tory party conference high migration made a “cohesive society” impossible.

Mr Cameron remains committed to getting net migration – the difference between the numbers entering and leaving the UK – below 100,000 a year.

But despite some initial progress caused by a crackdown on non-EU immigration it has now climbed to record levels – reaching 330,000 a year, according to the latest figures.

‘Multi-racial democracy’

Mr Cameron told BBC News: “Yes people are frustrated. I’m frustrated by this.”

“I want to see immigration come down. That’s why we’ve taken all the steps that we have. It hasn’t worked so far because of the large numbers coming from inside the EU.”

Responding to the home secretary’s warnings about the impact of mass immigration on communities, he said: “If you want to build a more integrated and cohesive society – and that is our aim and I think we should be proud of the fact that we’ve got the most successful, multi-racial, democracy on earth – if you want to continue with that you need well controlled immigration.”

Asked if it was embarrassing to watch a parade of potential successors setting out their credential on the conference stage, Mr Cameron, who has said he will step down before the 2020 general election, he said: “No, not in the slightest. Why should it be?

“I’m very proud that I run a team, a team with some real stars.”

He also confirmed that Boris Johnson, one of those thought to be in the running to replace him, would be offered a ministerial job next year when he had completed his term as London mayor.

“We’ll have to see which one but definitely,” he told Laura Kuenssberg.

Mr Cameron also claimed the Conservatives now faced “a Labour Party that has said they should be no limit on immigration”.

He added: “Jeremy Corbyn has said he doesn’t want to see any controls on immigration so just at this conference we need to make some quite fundamental points about why it’s right to have our nuclear deterrent, why it’s right to keep tax rates low, why it’s right not to nationalise industries, and it’s right to have this debate, very different from Labour, to say it’s right to have controlled immigration.”

At last week’s Labour conference. shadow home secretary Andy Burnham signalled a tougher stance on immigration, saying his party’s previous claims that EU migration did not keep wages down for the low paid was “wrong”, although Mr Corbyn was at pains to stress the benefits of migration to the British economy and society.

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PepsiCo profits beat expectations

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PepsiCo profits beat expectations

PepsiCo’s third quarter profits beat expectations

  • 6 October 2015
  • From the section Business

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PepsiCo has reported better than expected quarterly profits after seeing rising demand for its drinks and snacks in North America.

Falling commodity costs also helped the company to report third quarter profits of $533m (£350m).

However, that was down from last year’s profit of $2.01bn, after the firm took a $1.4bn charge related to its Venezuelan operations.

PepsiCo also raised its earnings growth target for 2015 to 9% from 8%.

In a statement, PepsiCo chief executive Indra Nooyi said she was “pleased” with the company’s performance.

She added that “despite ongoing volatility in many of our key international markets”, PepsiCo had delivered “strong organic revenue growth”.

PepsiCo said that, beginning with its fourth quarter results for 2015, it would no longer include the results of its local Venezuelan subsidiaries and joint venture in its financial statements.

Many companies’ operations in Venezuela have been struggling, with the economy plagued by hyperinflation.

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Tory welfare reforms ‘restoring lives’

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Tory welfare reforms ‘restoring lives’

Iain Duncan Smith: Tory welfare reforms ‘restoring lives’

Iain Duncan Smith has insisted the government must “rededicate itself” to its shake-up of welfare, saying its mission is to “restore people’s lives”.

The work and pensions secretary told the Tory conference the party was tackling the “something for nothing” benefit culture inherited from Labour.

He warned “the job was not done” and vowed to ensure to make work pay and reduce numbers on sickness benefits.

He also denounced the “bile” of protesters outside the conference.

Addressing Conservative activists, many of whom have said they have been subject to personal abuse from anti-austerity protesters as they entered the Manchester venue, Mr Duncan Smith said his party would “not be moved” and challenged Jeremy Corbyn and other senior Labour figures to disassociate themselves from such behaviour.

“You’ve had to come through the line up outside of the bile and hatred of what is now the Labour Party,” he said. “That is who they really are. That is what they represent.”

‘Value of work’

Proposed curbs to working tax credits have caused unease among some Tory MPs but Mr Duncan Smith defended the policy, saying the existing tax credit bill had become unsustainable and accused the last Labour government of using the benefit as an electoral “bribe”.

Since 2010, he said, the Conservatives had delivered “against the odds” in terms of boosting employment by every measure and, with the party now no longer in coalition with the Lib Dems, it would go much further in reshaping the welfare state.

Conservative welfare philosophy, he told his audience, was “rooted in human nature, not utopianism nor empty pity” and its reforms, such as the cap on household benefits, the introduction of Universal Credit and the national living wage, were driven by the objective of “ending poverty, not entrenching it and restoring lives, not parking them”.

Fairness must be at the heart of the welfare state, he insisted, not just for the most vulnerable but for the taxpayer as well.

The party, he said, did not regard those unable to work as “victims”, insisting that many of the long-term sick and those with disabilities wanted to return to employment and the government would help them to “work their way out of poverty”.

“We have to raise the value of work – but not as Labour tried to do with the taxpayer subsidising wages through tax credits,” he said.

“As Conservatives we don’t want people to work just for tax receipts. We want people to work because it’s best for them, their family and their communities… all our reforms have a simple principle at the heart of them: to restore lives.”

He added: “Surely, we want to know that what we do in government rebuilds and restores the least of us. That is our purpose, not to rejoice at victory, no matter how hard won but to re-commit, even re-dedicate ourselves to this simple yet vital task.”

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Libor trial of six City brokers begins

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Libor trial of six City brokers begins

Libor trial of six City brokers begins

  • 6 October 2015
  • From the section Business

Six City brokers have gone on trial, accused of rigging a lending rate used between banks.

The Libor rate is used to carry out trillions of pounds worth of financial deals.

All six men, who have pleaded not guilty, are accused of conspiracy to defraud by trying to move the rate linked to the Japanese yen.

The trial at Southwark Crown Court is set to last 12 to 14 weeks.

The men – Noel Cryan, Darrell Read, Danny Wilkinson, Colin Goodman, James Gilmour and Terry Farr – have been accused by prosecutors of “widespread manipulation” of rates.

They are alleged to have assisted another bank trader called Tom Hayes and others at banks UBS and Citigroup.

Hayes was convicted of rate-rigging in August.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Muhul Chawla QC said all six defendants conspired with Mr Hayes and others and that they were “rewarded in various ways to corrupt the system”.

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What’s the direction of Tory immigration policy?

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What’s the direction of Tory immigration policy?

What’s the direction of Tory immigration policy?

  • 6 October 2015
  • From the section UK
  • comments

Theresa MayImage copyright

Home Secretary Theresa May has delivered an uncompromising speech to her party conference pledging to crack down on immigration.

But it comes after some very challenging years for the Conservative Party in government which, like its predecessor, has struggled to find policies that have delivered exactly what the public were told to expect.

How did we get here?

The British immigration system is a hybrid: in some respects it is extremely tightly controlled. But in others it is almost entirely open.

In 1986 the late Baroness Thatcher, then prime minister, signed the Single European Act which created the European single market.

In 1992, her successor John Major agreed the Maastricht Treaty with other member states, allowing EU citizens to live and work elsewhere according to the single market principle.

Finally, when the EU began expanding eastwards, the then-Labour government did not impose transitional controls on workers from the former communist states, leading to the massive influx of eastern European workers.

People from other parts of the world find it far more difficult to arrive. They must apply for work visas and entry is dependent on their qualifications and, theoretically, whether there is a demand for their skills.

Students are treated differently. Universities can bring in foreign students and they can then apply to stay at the end of their courses.

How has the Conservative policy developed in recent years?

In the run-up to the 2010 general election, the party lambasted Labour for a litany of immigration failures. It said the system was failing after net migration reached a record 320,000 in 2005. Net migration is the balance between the number of immigrants arriving minus the number of people leaving – and the Conservatives said they would get it down to “tens of thousands”.

When it came to power, the coalition government placed an annual limit on the number of immigrants allowed into the UK from outside the European Union but it could not do anything about EU workers. It also raised the bar for family settlement by creating a minimum income threshold for anyone who wanted to bring their spouse to the country.

In its last bill before the 2015 general election, the government created measures which it said would make illegal immigration harder.

Did the government hit the net migration target?

No. Net migration began dipping in the early part of the last parliament but when the crisis in the eurozone deepened and, at the same time, the British economy began to expand, workers started arriving here in greater numbers.

In August this year, official statistics showed that a new record for net migration had been hit – 330,000 people in the year to March. The Conservatives stand by their pledge to get it down to tens of thousands.

So what do they propose to do about it?

Ministers keep talking about reforms to the single market itself. They want to prevent newly arriving workers from poorer EU countries claiming income-related benefits. They predict this will make the UK less attractive.

But some in the party argue that the only answer is to restrict EU free movement itself – something that other governments, up until now, have opposed.

The evidence for whether migrants choose their destination because of the benefits on offer is really limited. We simply don’t know in any great detail whether this is a real factor in their decisions.

Is immigration good or bad for the UK ?

There’s no single simple answer because you can pick and choose which factors you want to include in your calculation.

The NHS would collapse if it suddenly lost the third of its workforce that is born abroad. Those workers keep costs down because many are cheap and, in the cases of medical professionals like doctors and nurses, another country coughs up to train them.

But do these workers create pressures elsewhere, such as costs of extra housing or education of their children? These are the factors that have to be balanced.

In her conference speech, Mrs May said evidence from the OECD and the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee puts the net economic effect of high migration as close to zero.

The Lords report she cites goes on to say that while overall fiscal impact of immigration is small, “this masks significant variations across different immigrant groups”.

This table shows how widely different the estimates can be. One of the estimates comes from the government and another from a leading academic in the field. The other two come from the Institute of Public Policy Research, a left-leaning and broadly pro-migration think tank, and campaign group Migrationwatch UK:

How immigration may impact the UK economy
Report author Net gain/loss to the economy
Home Office estimate 2002 +£2.5bn
IPPR think tank 2005 -£0.4bn
Migrationwatch UK 2006 -£5.0bn
Cambridge University study (Rowthorn) 2008 +£0.6bn
Source: Migration Observatory, Oxford

Theresa May says there’s “no case, in the national interest, for immigration of the scale we have experienced over the last decade” – but in 2013, the Office for Budget Responsibility arguably found one.

It estimated that high immigration would ease the burden of national debt over 50 years, suggesting it could rocket if net migration was cut to zero.

These projections were based on the fact that immigrants tend to be young and healthy. But those young workers would eventually age – begging the question: who would pay for them?

The economic effect can also vary by region. London is booming and many business leaders say that immigration is playing a key part in that growth. But in some poorer parts of the country, there is anecdotal evidence that cheaper workers from Europe not only undercut local people for the lowest-paid jobs, they also suppress wages.

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IMF cuts forecast for global growth

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IMF cuts forecast for global growth

IMF cuts forecast for global growth

  • 6 October 2015
  • From the section Business

Image copyright

Image caption

Oil exporters such as Nigeria have been hit by the fall in commodity prices

The International Monetary Fund has downgraded its forecast for global economic growth this year.

It has reduced its figure to 3.1% from the 3.3% it predicted in July. The 2016 forecast is down to 3.6% from 3.8%.

“A return to robust and synchronized global expansion remains elusive,” the IMF says.

The report also warns that the risks of an outcome worse than its forecasts are more pronounced than they were just a few months ago.

The sharpest downgrades are for emerging economies, especially Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa and Russia.

So the IMF is still predicting growth, but it is distinctly lacklustre growth, especially for the current year.

Modest recovery

The developed economies are expected to manage slightly stronger growth than before, reflecting the modest recovery in the eurozone and the return of growth in Japan, though that looks tentative at best.

Receding legacies from the financial crisis are elements in that story, as is the long-lasting support from central bank policies – low and zero interest rates and also quantitative easing, which continues in the eurozone and Japan.

The emerging and developing economies still account for what the IMF calls the lion’s share of global growth, but they are slowing, in 2015 for the fifth consecutive year.

One important factor is China’s economic transition – from very rapid growth driven by investment and industrial exports to moderate expansion based to a greater extent on Chinese consumer spending increasingly on services.

The IMF mentions that shift as one direct factor behind the emerging world slowdown. But China is also a key element behind other forces,

Commodity prices

Oil producers have been hit by the decline in the price of their exports. Nigeria and Russia are striking examples. China’s slowdown is one of the underlying forces, along with abundant supplies of crude oil.

The report also mentions the declines of other commodity prices as a factor, especially in Latin America. Some countries also have domestic political issues that have encroached onto economic performance; Brazil for example.

The other downbeat element in this report is the view of risks – how the global economy might perform differently from this forecast.

Financial market volatility is a possible danger, if interest rate rises in the US encourage investors to move funds out of emerging economies more rapidly than they have done already.

Increased debt in the emerging economies, lower commodity prices and slower growth could undermine their financial stability, which could in turn hit wider economic performance.

China’s slowdown is another possible trouble spot, if it does not manage its economic transition reasonably smoothly.

There is also the possibility of lower potential growth – that’s a wide-ranging term for factors that govern the maximum capacity of an economy to grow if nothing much goes wrong. Weak investment (though not in China) and the effect of longer-term unemployment on workers’ skills are examples of forces that could do further damage.

And there’s one more risk we have heard about before: Greece. In terms of the international economic impact the situation has calmed greatly. But the IMF warns there is the potential for renewed financial stress in Europe if there is fresh political uncertainty there.

Still, the IMF’s main forecast is for growth to pick up somewhat next year – globally and in the emerging economies. It’s just that it is still not all that convincing a recovery.

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Time is running out to make money from wasted roof space

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Time is running out to make money from wasted roof space

Leading renewables company Redsky Solar is advising companies considering switching to solar power to act now after the Government announced cuts to the money it pays those who generate solar energy.

The Government currently pays a Feed-in Tariff to those generating solar electricity and this can be particularly profitable for warehouses, distribution centres and others with large premises who can install large solar arrays on wasted roof space.

However, the Feed-in Tariff rate is set to be cut by up to 87 per cent to around 1.63p per unit from January 2016 onwards.

AV Dawson 2

Managing Director of Redsky, Paul Smith said: “The Government’s announcement that Feed-in Tariffs will be cut drastically in January means that time is running out for those considering switching to solar to profit from these incentives.

“Installing solar panels is a great way to make money from wasted roof space but companies only have until around late October to sign up so that installation can take place in time to secure the higher rate and fix it for 20 years.

“We would encourage anyone considering solar to act now and secure maximum profit from their system.”

redsky logoRedsky Solar installed a 1000 panel solar array on the warehouse roof for distributor AV Dawson. The Solar PV system was designed to generate 194,250 kWh in its first year, resulting in an income of  around £23,844 from government subsidies and a pay back period for the system of six years.

Redsky Solar is a subsidiary of leading roofing contractor Longworth Group and is a member of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors.

For more information about Redsky Solar please visit or call 0151 556 0535

About Redsky Solar:

  • Redsky Solar is a subsidiary of one of the UK’s leading envelope contractors, the Longworth Group, and benefits Longworth’s 150 years of experience in the roofing industry.
  • Redsky Solar offers a complete service from initial consultation and design advice to installation, monitoring and maintenance in the commercial and public sectors.
  • Redsky is a member of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors and is affiliated to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) – an industry-led and internationally-recognised quality assurance scheme supported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

· Redsky Solar shares the UK’s short term commitment to meeting 15% of energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. Long term, Redsky believes that renewables have a crucial role to play in the future of the planet and will continue to strive towards making the most of natural resources.

The original article can be found at

LuxLive 2015

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Warehouse & Logistics News is the UK’s only fortnightly magazine for the warehousing and logistics industry and has a circulation and frequency which is unrivalled in the industry.

The magazine is distributed 21 times a year in printed, digital and online formats, which suits the needs of today’s generation of industry professionals. We combine the best of printed and new media to get your message to the senior buyers and decision makers in the warehousing and logistics industry.

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