Unemployment rises for the first time in almost a year while the statistics point to a sharp fall in the number of women at work.
Wednesday 20 April 2016
Official figures show a rise in the number of people unemployed and wage growth flat, in a blow for the UK economy.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said its latest data, which recorded the first rise in the jobless total since last summer, could suggest that the recovery in the labour market was "easing off".
It reported a jump of 21,000 in the jobless total between December and February to 1.7 million - with the UK's unemployment rate unchanged at 5.1%.
There was the first monthly rise since last August in the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits.
British Gas to cut 684 jobs as it shuts Oldbury call centre
By Emily Gosden, Energy Editor
20 April 2016 • 12:59pm
British Gas is to cut 684 jobs in its services business as it shuts down its Oldbury call centre, under the latest stage of the energy giant's cost-cutting drive.
The job losses form part of parent company Centrica's plan to slash 6,000 jobs by the end of 2017 as it seeks to become more competitive.
The latest cuts come in the division offering services including boiler repair, plumbing and electrical engineering and are all "office-based roles" at the Oldbury office, which is a contact centre for customers to make appointments.
Claire Miles, managing director of customer operations at British Gas, said the decision was part of its strategy "to improve service and reduce costs, to ensure we can price competitively".
Economic forecasts for 2017:
◾UK: 4.9% unemployed; gross public debt 88.2% of GDP
◾Germany: 5.2% unemployed; gross public debt 66.8% of GDP
◾France: 10.3% unemployed; gross public debt 97.1% of GDP
◾Italy: 11.3% unemployed; gross public debt 130.6% of GDP
◾Spain: 18.9% unemployed; gross public debt 101.1% of GDP
◾Portugal: 10.8% unemployed; gross public debt 127.2% of GDP
◾Greece: 22.8% unemployed; gross public debt 181.8% of GDP
Up to 11,000 jobs face the axe as BHS is expected to announce collapse of chain after efforts to find rescuer failed
Collapse of the department store chain will put 11,000 jobs under threat
Company bought last year for £1 from family of billionaire Sir Philip Green
Chain has been trying to nail down a plan to keep afloat for the past month
By Neil Craven for The Mail on Sunday
Published: 02:51, 24 April 2016 | Updated: 08:22, 24 April 2016
Department store BHS is expected to announce to staff as soon as tomorrow morning that it has no option but to call in administrators after efforts to find a rescuer failed.
The collapse of the firm will put 11,000 jobs are under threat and could leave some of the biggest stores in Britain's town centres empty.
The company was bought by a little know group of investors last year for £1 from the family of billionaire Sir Philip Green, who also owns fashion chains Topshop and Dorothy Perkins. The investors were led by ex-racing driver and former bankrupt Dominic Chappell.
Under threat: BHS was sold by billionaire Sir Philip Green for £1 last year, has been in talks with liquidation specialist Gordon Brothers for a funding deal to borrow £60million
'The money has now dried up and the business will go under. The cash that the company was expecting to receive after the restructuring last month has not materialised,' a source said.
The company has been trying to nail down a plan to keep the chain afloat for the past month after landlords and suppliers agreed to support the firm by scrapping existing contracts.
But a £60 million plan to raise funds from lender Gordon Brothers stalled last week and a last minute bid to sell shop leases to Sports Direct is also understood to have floundered.
More of Cameron's 'strivers' to become 'skivers'? A month's wages away from the dole.
BHS heading for administration as rescue deal fails
Owner wrote to staff on Sunday saying that the department store had failed to find a buyer or emergency funding
Restructuring firm Duff & Phelps is set to be named as administrators for BHS. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Monday 25 April 2016 08.26 BST Last modified on Monday 25 April 2016 10.02 BST
The owner of BHS has told staff the struggling retailer will go into administration on Monday after failing to agree a last-minute deal to keep the business afloat.
Live/ BHS to put 11,000 jobs at risk with 'disastrous' administration - business live
All the day’s economic and financial news, with retail chain BHS expected to enter administration shortly
Dominic Chappell effectively confirmed that the chain will become the biggest high street name to fold since Woolworths failed in 2008.
In a letter to 11,000 employees on Sunday night, Chappell said: “It is with a deep heart that I have to report, despite a massive effort from the team, we have been unable to secure a funder or a trade sale.”
The restructuring firm Duff & Phelps is set to be named as administrators and is expected to try to find a buyer for the business as a going concern. Chappell indicated in the letter that staff wages for this month would be paid by the administrators.
Chappell led the Retail Acquisitions consortium which bought BHS from Sir Phillip Green for £1 last year but which has since struggled with falling sales at the same time as it was burdened with a hefty rent bill and a huge pension deficit.
His letter concluded: “I would like to say it has been a real pleasure working with all of you on the BHS project, one I will never forget, you all need to keep you heads held high, you have done a great job and remember that it was always going to be very, very hard to turn around.”
British retailer Austin Reed has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators, putting some 1000 jobs at risk. The company, whose customers include current IMF chief Christine Lagarde, has appointed insolvency experts AlixPartners to handle the process.
The move gives the company a 10-day protection period from lenders as it makes a last-ditch attempt to save the 116-year-old tailoring brand.
“Austin Reed is continuing talks with its stakeholders to resolve the situation and is exploring a range of options,” a source close to the company said, declining to provide any further details on what those options were.
He added that a notice for administration was a “bargaining tool of last resort and did not necessarily mean the company would go bust”.
Business | Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:31pm BST
Related: Business, UK
Shell to close BG head quarters near London by year end
Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) will close the head office of BG Group, the gas producer it agreed to acquire for $50 billion in February, by the end of the year, it said on Monday, as part of a plan to save costs and cut 10,300 jobs worldwide.
The oil major will also offer voluntary redundancy packages to staff at the BG headquarters in Reading, near London, and to Shell staff in the UK.
This follows a similar announcement made to Dutch staff earlier this month.
The oil company is under intense pressure to rein in costs as a slump in oil prices has hit its profits.
Shell also said on Monday it would close BG's Aberdeen office to focus onshore operations in the Scottish city at its own site. Shell will also close its Brabazon House office in Manchester by the end of 2017, it said.
The site closures and voluntary redundancy offers are subject to consultation with staff, Shell said.
As part of the 10,300 job cuts it has already announced, 2,800 will come from the integration of BG and 7,500 from its existing staff and direct contractor base.
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps and Ron Bousso, editing by Louise Heavens and Susan Thomas)
BP prepares deeper spending cuts as profits fall 80%
Oil prices touched a near 13-year low in the first quarter of 2016 contributing to a sharp fall in BP’s profits over the period
Tuesday 26 April 2016 09.24 BST
BP said it was prepared to slash capital spending if oil prices continue to slide, as the company announced an 80% fall in profits.
The oil and gas company said it had already cut spending in the first quarter of the year, and expected to spend a total of $17bn (£11.7bn) in 2016. However, this could be cut to $15bn “in the event of continued low oil prices”.
BP cut spending three times in 2015 to a total of $19bn as it faced the worst downturn in the oil sector for at least three decades.
Despite reporting record losses, cutting thousands of jobs, and freezing employees’ pay, chief executive Bob Dudley was awarded a £14m package for last year.
Results are dragged down by a £1.2bn payment to the Treasury in the latest stage of RBS's attempt to return to the private sector.
Friday 29 April 2016
FSA Report Poor Management Decisions Led To The Near Collapse Of RBS In 2008
RBS was rescued by the Government during the financial crisis
State-backed Royal Bank of Scotland has posted a loss of £968m for the first quarter of 2016.
The loss compares to a shortfall of £459m in the same period last year and includes payment of £1.2bn to the Government to cancel its Dividend Access Share (DAS) - which acted as a block on pay-outs to ordinary shareholders.
Stripping this and other smaller charges out, the lender - which includes NatWest - reported a pre-tax operating profit of £421m, up from just £37m in the first quarter of 2015.
RBS remains 73% owned by the taxpayer after its £45bn bail out during the financial crisis.
UK industry in recession for third time in eight years
7 hours ago
From the section Business
UK industry fell back into recession as it shrank for the second quarter in a row, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It is the third time UK industry has been in recession in eight years.
Although industrial production rose 0.3% from February to March, it fell 0.4% both in the first three months of 2016 and in the last three of 2015.
Compared with a year ago, manufacturing production in the first quarter fell 1.9%, the biggest fall since 2013.
The biggest fall in output came from the basic iron and steel sector which saw production drop in March by 37.3% percent compared with a year earlier.
However, the oil and gas industries saw sharp gains, increasing production 17% in February, and 10.9% in March from the same months a year earlier.
Manufacturing and construction is proving to be a drag on the whole economy, helping slow UK economic growth from 0.6% in the last three months of 2015 to 0.4% between January and March, according to the ONS.
Government cuts will see the Post Office "go the way of the steel industry", unions warn as they urge management to resign.
Tuesday 17 May 2016
The Post Office is to cut 600 jobs in its cash handling business, according to the Communication Workers Union.
The cash handling operation - Supply Chain - provides collection, handling and distribution of cash across the Post Office network.
The job losses being announced come alongside the expected loss of up to 500 frontline jobs from the franchising of 39 Crown Post Offices.
Fifty financial experts selling products in Post Office branches are also expected to be made redundant due to cost-cutting, unions said.
The CWU, which represents postal workers, and Unite, which represents managers, called on the Post Office management to resign in protest at Government funding cuts.
Dave Ward, general secretary of the CWU, said that the job losses showed the Post Office management "has to face the fact that it is in crisis and heading for ruin".
"If they care about the future of the network they should resign in protest at the straightjacket Government cuts have left them in," he added.
"The Post Office was split from Royal Mail in 2012 in the run-up to privatisation and we are yet to see a plan that will secure its future.
"With a cut in its funding from £210m in 2013, to zero in 2019, these job losses show that, under Business Secretary Sajid Javid's leadership, the Post Office is heading the same way as the steel industry."
Brian Scott of Unite, which has 79 members among the cash handlers being made redundant, said the losses would "tear the heart out of the Post Office" and "put it on the road to destruction".
He added: "The Post Office's business plan, which was agreed with the Government, has failed.
UK could need interest rate cuts even if voters shun Brexit, admits Bank of England official
By Szu Ping Chan and
19 May 2016 • 6:01pm
The Bank of England must stand ready to slash interest rates towards zero if the economy does not bounce back quickly from its current malaise, according to a top official.
Gertjan Vlieghe, an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), signalled that he would vote for more stimulus even if the UK voted to remain in the EU next month and he did not see "convincing evidence" of a rapid improvement in the economy.
Council closed libraries to cut costs, then spent more to guard them
Security at closed libraries in Lambeth, south London, cost up to three times as much as the price of keeping them open
Sunday 22 May 2016 14.46 BST Last modified on Sunday 22 May 2016 22.00 BST
A council that temporarily closed two libraries just before the exam revision season as a supposed money-saving measure has spent up to three times as much per day on private guards to secure the buildings as it would have cost to keep them open, it has emerged.
Details of the security costs at the libraries, run by Lambeth council in south London, were given to the Guardian following a freedom of information request.
The money spent on guards at one of the libraries was inflated as it was occupied for 10 days by local people protesting at the temporary closure plans. However, the figures show that even at another library not similarly targeted, the money paid for private security was almost twice the usual running costs.
The two sites – the Carnegie library in Herne Hill, south-east London, and the Minet library nearby – closed their doors on 31 March before planned works to turn each one into a “community hub”, a combination of a largely unstaffed library and a private gym. The Labour-run council said this was the only option to keep both libraries open amid massive central government cuts to local authority budgets.
When the libraries were closed no work was scheduled to begin for months. Opponents of the plans questioned why the sites could not remain open for longer, allowing students to use them for revision for summer exams. At the time the Lambeth cabinet member whose brief covers libraries, Jane Edbrooke, said this was impossible because the council needed to save money before the start of the new financial year.
The freedom of information response shows that from 31 March, when the libraries closed, until 15 April, when the request was made, Lambeth spent £35,392.68 on guards to secure both sites, a fraction over £2,212 a day. In contrast, the council’s 2014-15 budget gives a combined running cost for both of £874 a day. This excludes spending on books and computer services, but those are paid for centrally for all of Lambeth’s 10 libraries, and the council has said it has no plans to cut them.
Of the security costs, just under £25,000 was spent at the Carnegie, a figure made bigger by the occupation by several dozen local residents, which lasted from 31 March to 9 April. But even when this was over, the average daily security cost at the library was £1,382, nearly three times the daily running costs.
At the Minet library, which was not occupied, security costs averaged £677 a day over the 16-day period, almost double the £386 daily running costs.
1,000 jobs to be lost as Austin Reed buyer refuses to take on bulk of 100 stores.
By Ben Marlow
31 May 2016 • 10:58am
The majority of Austin Reed's stores will close with the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs after administrators to the collapsed menswear chain were only able to find a buyer for its famous brand and stock.
Sources familiar with the negotiations said Edinburgh Woollen Mill had refused to take the bulk of the shops as part of a deal, meaning administrators will now begin an orderly 'wind down' of the chain's estate in the coming days.
Although the survival of a brand that has been around for more than a century will be celebrated by the high street, its continuation will be over-shadowed by the loss of more retail jobs.
It is also a big blow after weeks of negotiations with several high profile names had fuelled hopes of a rescue deal. Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Sports Direct, and entrepreneurs Harold Tillman and Dragon's Den star Touker Suleyman, owner of Hawes & Curtis, had all expressed interest in saving all or part of the chain.
It will also mean another hit to the UK high street as BHS desperately tries to find a new owner, having collapsed at the end of April. The demise of the retailer, which employs 11,000 people, is the biggest failure on the high street since Woolworths went bust in 2008.