Category Archives: Business

Teenagers wrongly approached about PPI

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Nearly a fifth of 15 to 18-year-olds have been contacted about PPI claims – despite never having access to the product, research has found.

Teenagers are being exposed to financial crime and 62% worry about money, the London Institute of Banking and Finance also found.

And the institute, which provides personal finance qualifications, raised concerns about gambling.

It said 12% of 17 and 18-year-olds had gambled.

“This is a significant increase from the younger age group, potentially indicating that 18-year-olds are likely to quickly take up opportunities to gamble formally, such as through a bookmaker or by using online gambling,” the report concluded.

It said the 12% figure “is a significant proportion of young people in this age group and, while the monetary cost of their gambling is not captured by this survey, the prevalence of gambling may be a cause for concern.”

‘Troubling’

The report draws attention to financial products being offered inappropriately to young people.

The institute said it was “troubling” that 11% of young people had been offered a credit card, despite it being an offence to offer credit to someone under the age of 18.

Ever more have been contacted about PPI claims – compensation for loan insurance that no people of this age would ever had access to.

It does show that education in money issues has risen in recent years.

But girls are less likely to access financial education in school or college, and are more likely to worry about money and feel less confident in their knowledge.

Those from more disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to receive such information.

Alison Pask, from the institute, said: “While efforts made so far are commendable, more work is needed across the sector to ensure that the delivery of financial education consistently does what it is meant to do – equip all young people with the skills they need to get good outcomes when managing their money.

“The findings also show that parents too have a key role to play.”

What youngsters should know

  • Understand a payslip and check whether a tax code is correct, rather than an emergency tax code for a first job
  • Be aware of which bills to pay first, primarily council tax
  • Know that failing to pay could affect a credit rating for six years, with consequences such as difficulty getting a new mobile phone contract

What parents should do

  • Help children to be aware of bills that need to be managed, how to pay, and when
  • Show youngsters your payslip to help understand tax and national insurance, and tax codes
  • Talk to children about budgeting and savings decisions and how this pays for holidays

Source: Money Advice Service

GoCompare spurns takeover offer

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Price comparison website GoCompare has rejected a £460m takeover bid from rival ZPG.

GoCompare, said it had “unanimously and unequivocally” rejected the unsolicited offer from the Zoopla and uSwitch owner.

GoCompare shares jumped 10% after news of the approach, while shares in ZPG edged up 0.4%, valuing it at about £1.5bn.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 share index closed flat.

Sir Peter Wood, GoCompare’s chairman, said of the approach: “ZPG’s proposal is highly opportunistic and fundamentally undervalues the company and its prospects.”

ZPG also made an all-shares bid on May 26 that had been pitched at the same price and was rejected on the same grounds, the price comparison firm said.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 share index closed down 0.76 points at 7414.42.

Tesco was the biggest riser on the index, up 6.24% after the competition regulator provisionally cleared its £3.7bn bid for Booker.

CPI inflation held steady at 3% last month, the Office for National Statistics said, whereas analysts had expected it to rise to 3.1%.

Vodafone was another strong performer, up 5.12%, after it raised its profit growth forecast.

The mobile giant said it now expected its full-year earnings to grow by about 10%, compared with a previous target of between 4% and 8%.

Its forecast came as the company reported a 13% in half-year underlying earnings to €7.4bn (£6.6bn), which beat analysts’ forecasts.

Group chief executive Vittorio Colao said: “Revenue grew organically in the majority of our markets driven by mobile data and our continued success as Europe’s fastest growing broadband provider.”

EU preparing for possible collapse of Brexit talks – Barnier

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The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, says he is planning for the possible collapse of Brexit negotiations with the UK.

Mr Barnier was talking to French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche days after giving the UK a two-week deadline to clarify key issues.

Failing to reach an agreement was not his preferred option, he stressed.

The UK’s Brexit Secretary David Davis has said it is time for both sides “to work to find solutions”.

On Friday, Mr Davis insisted good progress was being made across the board, and that the negotiations had narrowed to a “few outstanding, albeit important, issues”.

Discussing the likelihood of the talks collapsing, Mr Barnier said: “It’s not my option, but it’s a possibility. Everyone needs to plan for it, member states and businesses alike. We too are preparing for it technically.

“A failure of the negotiations would have consequences on multiple domains.”

Mr Barnier has asked the UK to clarify its stance on its financial obligations to the EU if future trade talks are to go ahead in December.

But Mr Davis has made conflicting remarks, suggesting the UK would not have to give a figure for a financial settlement before it could move on to talks about a future trading relationship.

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, he said: “In every negotiation, each side tries to control the timetable. The real deadline on this is, of course, December.”

Mr Davis was referring to the next EU summit which will take place in Brussels in December.

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He said British taxpayers “would not want me to just come along and just give away billions of pounds”.

He added: “We’ve been very, very careful, and it’s taking time and we will take our time to get to the right answer.”

His comments followed a sixth round of talks between Mr Davis and Mr Barnier in Brussels.

Speaking after the talks on Friday, Mr Davis said any solution for the Irish border could not be at the expense of the constitutional integrity of the UK.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Gove under fire for comments

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Michael Gove has come under fire for saying he didn’t know what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran when she was arrested in 2016.

Mr Gove told Andrew Marr he would “take her husband’s assurance” that the British-Iranian citizen was on holiday.

He was defending the foreign secretary, whose own comments have caused concern that her sentence could be extended.

Labour said he “was more interested in protecting (Boris) Johnson’s job” than Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s liberty.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said Mr Gove had “compounded” Mr Johnson’s “cavalier approach to international diplomacy”.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport with her 18-month-old daughter in April 2016, one of several Iranians with dual nationality to be detained over a period of months.

She was accused of trying to overthrow the Iranian regime – charges she has always denied – and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

She says she was on holiday in Iran so relatives could meet her young daughter.

The arrests were seen as part of an attempt by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to undermine President Hassan Rouhani and the process of thawing relations with the West.

Last week UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was criticised for suggesting she had been training journalists on the trip – causing concern it could cause her sentence to be lengthened.

Mr Johnson has since said the government has “no doubt” she was on holiday “and that was the sole purpose of her visit”.

‘Big mistake’

Asked on Sunday by Mr Marr what she had been doing in Iran, Mr Gove replied: “I don’t know” adding there was “no reason Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe should be in prison in Iran so far as any of us know”.

He went on to say her husband was the person who would know and he would take his assurance that she was on holiday.

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He said: “We make a big mistake if we think the right thing to do is to blame politicians in a democracy who are trying to do the right thing for the plight of a woman who is being imprisoned by a regime that is a serial abuser of human rights.”

“Who is in the dock here? Iran. It should be the actions of their judiciary and the revolutionary guards.”

He added the UK should not “play their game”.

‘Undermining our country’

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have both called for Mr Johnson to resign for putting Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe at risk.

Mr Corbyn told the Observer Mr Johnson should be sacked as foreign secretary for “undermining our country” and “putting our citizens at risk”.

And Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, who is Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s MP, told the BBC that she had repeatedly raised the details of the case in Parliament

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“For Michael Gove to go on TV today and say he wasn’t sure … he should know that Nazanin was on holiday and in compounding the lie that was told about training journalists, he is only going to make life worse for my constituent.”

It is understood that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard spoke to the foreign secretary on Sunday. Mr Ratcliffe told the BBC he hoped he might be able to travel to Iran with Mr Johnson to meet his wife and see his daughter, who he has not seen in person since the arrest.

Brexit: Environment watchdog planned says Gove

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A new environment watchdog to protect UK wildlife, land, water and air once Britain leaves the European Union is being planned by the government.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the body would hold the powerful to account and deliver a green Brexit.

The plans come amid concerns that environmental regulations enshrined in EU law could be lost after Brexit.

Mr Gove told the Andrew Marr Show standards would not be sacrificed as part of a potential US free trade deal.

Wildlife prioritised

Mr Gove wants the watchdog to be independent of government – able to speak its mind freely, he said, with clear legal authority.

Writing in The Telegraph, he said the watchdog would have “real bite” but did not outline exact planned powers.

He said it was important that environmental enforcement and policymaking remained bound to a clear set of principles once Britain leaves the EU.

He added that the watchdog would make a national policy statement to ensure policymakers protect the environment, and remain grounded by rigorous scientific evidence.

Speaking to Andrew Marr, Mr Gove rejected suggestions from US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that the UK may relax its policies to secure an agreement post-Brexit.

“While we do want a trade deal with the United States, we will not lower environment or animal welfare standards,” he said.

“Free trade is a good thing, but free trade flounders on the rocks of public opinion if it is used as a Trojan horse for lowering environmental standards, so we’re not going there.”

Some MPs are worried Brexit poses a risk to UK wildlife and habitats – with the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee calling for the creation of new environmental protection law.

Labour’s Mary Creagh, chair of the committee, told BBC News earlier this year: “European law protects huge amounts of the UK’s environment, farming and countryside.”

The government has said the EU Withdrawal Bill – which goes before MPs for debate this week – will incorporate many of these regulations.

Supporting British farmers

Mr Gove also outlined his vision for British agriculture and wildlife once Britain leaves the EU.

Describing British farmers as the “best in the world”, he said he wanted to “help support farmers produce food in a sustainable and productive way”.

Mr Gove told Marr that in the event of a no deal scenario, British food would still be “increasingly in demand worldwide”.

“The trend overall globally is toward greater quality and British farmers are in the best position to meet that,” he added.

He also revealed plans to plant 11 million trees over the next decade, and encourage a “wider range of species”.

“I want the number of birds to increase – particularly farmland birds,” he concluded.

‘Bullying and toxicity’ in Welsh Government, says ex-aide

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Fresh claims about bullying in the Welsh Government have been made by a former adviser to Wales’ first minister.

Steve Jones said he agreed with former cabinet minister Leighton Andrews, who has described a “toxic” atmosphere at the top of the administration.

They spoke out following the death of sacked former communities minister Carl Sargeant who was found dead on Tuesday.

The Welsh Government said it did not recognise Mr Jones’s claims.

Mr Sargeant was found dead at home four days after being sacked by First Minister Carwyn Jones over allegations of improper conduct towards women.

Before leaving the Welsh Government in September 2014, Steve Jones was a media adviser for the first minister and also worked on his Labour leadership campaign.

In a statement, he said he agreed entirely with Mr Andrew’s description of “toxicity” in the government and said that the behaviour of some was “pure poison”.

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“Ministers were undermined by senior advisers playing power games and seeking to exert unreasonable control over government and the first minister himself,” he said.

Some ministers, including Mr Sargeant, “would have their diaries unreasonably monitored and questioned, their policy proposals shelved and direct access to the first minister blocked”.

“It went way beyond any ‘office politics’ or personality clashes,” he said.

Mr Jones said at one stage he intended to resign because of the effect on his wellbeing but changed his mind when the first minister urged him to reconsider.

“Things improved for a few months, then the poison returned and it began to engulf others – advisers and ministers alike.

“It was clear that all this was getting Carl down.”

The Welsh Government said: “We do not recognise these comments. All complaints regarding staff and special adviser conduct are taken seriously and dealt with accordingly.”

Former communities secretary Mr Sargeant was being investigated over claims of “touching or groping” and was also suspended by Welsh Labour.

The first minister has said he will order an independent inquiry into his handling of his dismissal.

On Sunday, Wales’ health secretary Vaughan Gething said he did not believe Mr Jones would resign following anger and criticism of his actions.

But Bernie Attridge, a lifelong friend of Mr Sargeant and the deputy leader of Flintshire council, has called on the first minister to step aside.

Richard Desmond ‘plans National Lottery bid’

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Richard Desmond, the owner of the Daily and Sunday Express newspapers, plans to bid for the right to run the National Lottery when it comes up for renewal.

The plans by Mr Desmond, who runs the Health Lottery, have been reported in the Financial Times.

Camelot has held the UK’s lottery franchise since it was set up in 1994.

A challenge to its monopoly would be the first since Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group failed to win the franchise in 2000.

Camelot has the right to run the National Lottery until 2023 – after securing a four-year extension to its contract in 2012. It expected the franchise renewal process will begin in 2019.

A bid would be made through Mr Desmond’s company, Northern and Shell, which owns his newspaper and magazine titles.

He has run the loss-making Health Lottery since 2011. It is not a national lottery but a collection of 51 local society lotteries that raise funds for health-related good causes.

However, they collectively pay out less in winnings than the National Lottery.

Camelot failed in a 2012 High Court bid to have the Gambling Commission’s licence for the Health Lottery revoked.

Martin Ellice, joint managing director of Northern and Shell, told the FT the company would make a bid, saying: “We’re in the lottery business now.”

Mr Desmond sold Channel 5 to Viacom, the MTV and Nickelodeon owner, for £450m in 2014 and is in talks with the Mirror Group to sell the Express and Star titles.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, one of Canada’s biggest pension funds, bought Camelot for £389m in 2010.

Northern and Shell is expected to highlight its UK ownership in its bid.

Paul Ashford, the company’s group editorial director, told the FT: “The British people would not mind a British company doing the British lottery.”

Earlier this year Camelot announced a strategic review after ticket sales fell by 8.8% to just under £7.6bn for the 12 months to 31 March.

Camelot has argued that greater competition would reduce the share of ticket sales that go to winners, good causes and in tax. That figure stood at 95%, the company said.

The National Lottery has awarded more than £63bn in prize money, making some 4,600 people millionaires.

Camelot declined to comment further.

Northern and Shell could not be reached by the BBC.

The BBC broadcast the Saturday National Lottery draws on BBC One until January this year, but now shows them on iPlayer.

The National Lottery Awards, which recognises recipients of National Lottery Good Causes funding, will continue to be shown on BBC One.

Brexit: Gove ‘wouldn’t block’ PM over EU divorce bill

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Michael Gove has said the PM must be given “flexibility” to negotiate a Brexit deal and he would not stop her if it meant paying more to the EU.

“I would not block the prime minister in doing what she believed was right,” he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show.

The so-called divorce bill has been one of the main sticking points in Brexit negotiations so far.

Theresa May has said the UK will honour commitments made but has not put a final figure on what will be paid.

But there have been reports that some Brexiteers are prepared for the UK to pay more than the 20bn euros (about £18bn) that has previously been suggested.

The money is among issues that must be resolved before the EU will agree to move on to talking about a transitional deal and future trade deal.

Last week, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK had two weeks to clarify what it would pay to settle its accounts, if the talks were to make “sufficient progress” before the next big EU leaders’ meeting in December.

‘Walk away’

On Sunday, he told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche he was making plans for the possible failure of talks, adding: “It’s not my (preferred) option… but it’s a possibility. Everyone needs to plan for it, member states and businesses alike. We too are preparing for it technically.”

Leave campaigner and entrepreneur James Dyson, also interviewed on the Marr programme, said it was “quite outrageous” for the EU to demand “billions and billions” before agreeing to negotiate on a future deal.

“I would walk away. I think that’s the only way to deal with them,” he said.

‘Good deal’

But Environment Secretary Mr Gove, who headed up the successful Vote Leave campaign during the EU referendum, said: “I can understand James’s point of view but on this occasion, respectfully, disagree with him.

“I think it’s far better for us to be engaged in these negotiations.”

Asked if he would block the prime minister if securing a deal meant the UK had to offer more money, he said: “I certainly would not. I would not block the prime minister in doing what she believed was right.”

“We have to make sure that when we are negotiating on money or anything else that we both respect Britain’s interests but also make sure, as the prime minister has said, that no EU country is out of pocket as a result of the decisions that we have made.”

“My view is the prime minister and [Brexit Secretary] David Davis should be given the flexibility that they need in order to secure that good deal.”

Asked about a Mail on Sunday story reporting that both Mr Gove and Mr Johnson had written to the prime minister expressing their “worry” that “in some parts of government the current preparations are not proceeding with anything like sufficient energy”.

He told the BBC: “As a departmental minister I have a responsibility .. to make sure that we are ready for any eventuality.”

He stressed the cabinet wanted to achieve a “good Brexit deal” but added: “We are also making sure that whatever may happen in these negotiations, that Britain can make the best of them.”

Dubai Airshow: Boeing wins $15bn order from Emirates

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Boeing kicked off the first day of the Dubai Airshow by announcing the first big sales news of the five-day event.

Emirates has ordered 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in a deal worth about $15bn (£11.3bn) at list prices.

The Dubai airline’s chairman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, said the aircraft had been chosen over the Airbus A350.

He had been expected to announce a big order for the Airbus A380 superjumbo at the media briefing.

Airbus desperately needs more orders for the A380, the biggest passenger aircraft in the skies.

The Franco-German company and Emirates were understood to be in intense final negotiations to have an announcement ready for this week’s show.

Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, is already the biggest customer for Boeing’s 777, with 165 in service and another 164 on order.

Sheikh Ahmed said Sunday’s order raises the cost of its purchase of Boeing aircraft to $90bn. Some of the new 787s will be used to replace older planes, while others will be used to expand the airline’s network.

Boeing welcomed the deal, which Kevin McAllister, head of its commercial aviation division, said would sustain many jobs in the United States.

Deliveries of the aircraft are scheduled to start in 2022.

Also on Sunday, Azerbaijan Airlines said it was buying five Dreamliners, as well as two Boeing freighters, in a deal worth an estimated $2bn.

Amid the display of military hardware and the latest civil aircraft, it is the traditional rivalry of Boeing and Airbus that grabs the airshow headlines.

So far this year, Boeing has won about 65% of the new orders placed for aircraft globally.

Neither Emirates nor Airbus would comment on the status of the rumoured A380 order, which would help protect jobs at the aircraft manufacturer’s plant in north Wales, where the wings are made.

Emirates has been the biggest customer for the A380, having bought 142 of the almost 320 that are in service or on the production line. The last order for the superjumbo came two years ago, when Japan’s ANA purchased just three planes.

In July Airbus said it would again cut annual production of the A380 from 12 to eight. Two years ago Airbus was making 28 planes a year.

Borth zoo lynx killing defended by Ceredigion council

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A council which ordered an escaped Eurasian lynx to be shot dead by a marksman has defended its decision.

Ceredigion council said it sought expert advice before ordering Lilleth be ‘humanely destroyed’ on Friday.

She escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, near Aberystwyth, three weeks ago and on Saturday the zoo’s owners said they were “outraged”.

Meanwhile, Dyfed-Powys Police said it was investigating threats against the marksman.

In a statement on Sunday evening, the council said Lilleth was “not afraid of humans” and had entered a populated area.

They said that the shooting had been approved beforehand by the police, the Welsh government and the chief veterinary officer for Wales.

A council spokeswoman said: “It was not possible to assess the condition or temperament of the lynx but there were concerns about its likely behavioural response if it was startled or inadvertently confronted by a member of the public, especially by a young child.

“It must be remembered that the lynx is classified in legislation as ‘dangerous and wild’ and the authorities were dealing with an unmanaged escape situation.”

She added that using a tranquiliser instead was “specifically discussed” but the terrain and vegetation in the area meant they were told it was “not an option”.

She said: “On other occasions and in different circumstances it may be fitting to attempt to tranquilise an escaped animal but, based on the factors involved with this incident, it was decided that it was not appropriate.”

The council has been investigating the animal’s escape “to establish whether there have been any breaches of the operating licence and other related matters”.

She is believed to have escaped after making a “giant leap” over an electrified fence.

There had been a number of sightings but she evaded capture and was at one point thought to be hiding in bushes near the zoo.

Ceredigion council and Dyfed-Powys Police said they had tried a “range of measures” to capture the Lynx, including baited traps.

The local authority has previously said it would carry out an inspection of the zoo later this month.