Stricter measures ‘could be needed very soon to tackle Omicron spread’
Tougher pandemic measures could be brought in to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, reports have suggested, as ministers debate how to tackle the rising number of infections.
The Financial Times reported that Boris Johnson was presented with a number of options yesterday under a so-called Plan C, ranging from ‘mild guidance to nudge people, right through to lockdown’.
And leaked minutes from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, seen by the BBC, said scientists had told ministers that tougher measures needed to be brought in ‘very soon’. They recommend moving to restrictions seen in step one and two of the easing of lockdown restrictions in the spring, which included a ban on indoor mixing and indoor hospitality.
TUC calls for increase in statutory sick pay
Unions are stepping up calls for an increase in statutory sick pay, after new research suggested it was at its lowest level in almost 20 years.
The TUC said its study showed that the last time statutory sick pay (SSP) was lower was in 2003, adding it was worth £3 per week less in real terms now than it was at the start of the pandemic.
It also claimed that the UK has the least generous SSP in Europe, worth £96.35 a week and only available to employees earning £120 a week or more, meaning two million workers, mostly women, don’t qualify.
Train passengers face largest fares rise in nine years
Train passengers will be hit with the largest fares rise in nearly a decade next year.
The Department for Transport announced that ticket price increases in England will be capped at 3.8 per cent from March 1. In Scotland, the increase will be implemented on January 24. The figure is in line with July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation.
The Welsh government said it was ‘considering the options available to us’, while rail fares in Northern Ireland are set by state-owned operator Translink, which doesn’t use RPI.
France wants EU legal action over fishing dispute with UK
French authorities have said they will seek European Union legal action against the UK over a months-long fishing dispute.
The decision was announced yesterday after a meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and a delegation of fishermen at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris.
‘Deputy God’ takes over Whitehall lockdown parties probe
A top civil servant once described as ‘deputy God’ has been tasked with rooting out the truth over ‘endemic’ parties across Whitehall during coronavirus restrictions.
Cabinet secretary Simon Case yesterday quit his role leading the inquiry into a number of alleged gatherings, after it emerged that a quiz was held in his own department that he was aware of and at which he spoke.
Sue Gray – second permanent secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – has been installed in his place to carry out inquiries into three alleged gatherings at Downing Street and the Department for Education in November and December last year, when indoor mixing was banned.
SMMT gives wary welcome to Australia free trade agreement
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has given a cautious welcome to the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the industry body, said: ‘The announcement of the first full and all-new post-Brexit trade deal provides the UK automotive sector with tariff-free access to Australia, one of the main global growth markets. It also creates an opportunity to diversify supply chains to build the batteries essential for our transition to zero-emission motoring.
‘Britain’s automotive manufacturers will, however, still face challenges in trading with our sixth-largest market, given Australia’s tax policies are more punitive towards foreign-made premium cars, a segment in which the UK – with its array of famous brands – is one of the world leaders.’
New film shows Lotus Emira V6 First Edition in action
Lotus has released a short film showcasing its new Emira sports car as it’s put through its paces on track.
The video shows Gavan Kershaw, director of attributes and product integrity at Lotus Cars, taking the V6 First Edition for a few laps of the firm’s Hethel test track to demonstrate how the car handles at the limit.
The sports car – revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July – will replace the Evora, Exige and Elise. It’s intended to be the manufacturer’s final vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine and is expected to be available by spring 2022, costing from £75,995.
Friday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed
- Mercedes-Benz agrees agency sales deal with European retailers and aims for UK roll-out by 2023
- Consumer demand for used cars remains high despite government’s ‘Plan B’ announcement
- Citygate Automotive’s flagship VW dealership gets £2m-plus transformation to bring in Skoda
- Peter Vardy sells digital retailing solution SilverBullet to Keyloop
- Independent Garage Association donates £20,000 to Ben
- Lookers ramps up service for online car buyers with new valuation tool and fleet of home delivery vans
- Man stole truck from dealership then drove it while naked for nearly 30 miles, say police
- Sign in for early access: Car Dealer issue 166 features the 2021 Used Car Awards, the UK’s 100 most profitable dealerships, this year’s manufacturer winners and losers – and a whole lot more
Peat compost sales to gardeners might be banned by 2024
The use of peat for gardening could be banned by 2024 to protect the climate and nature under plans being put out for consultation by the government.
Under new proposals, the sale of compost containing peat would be phased out in the amateur horticulture sector in England and Wales by the end of this Parliament, to cut carbon emissions and conserve wildlife habitats.
Peatlands are a key carbon store – the largest in the UK – and extracting peat for use in horticulture releases carbon emissions, as well as damaging key wildlife habitats and reducing the landscape’s ability to absorb water and curb flooding.
The FTSE 100 rose by 9.31 points yesterday to end the week on 7,269.92.
Meanwhile, the French Cac 40 was down 78.44 points, finishing on 6,926.63, the German Dax fell by 104.71 points to close on 15,531.69, while the Dow Jones dropped by 532.20 points to finish at 35,365.44.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng dipped by 282.87 points to 23,192.63, while in Tokyo the Nikkei 225 was down 520.64 points at 28,545.68.
Low cloud, mist and fog will be around for a lot of today in England and Wales, says BBC Weather, but there’ll be sunny spells further north and in some of Northern Ireland.
Sunday will continue to be dry, thanks to a dominant high-pressure system. The north is more likely to have sunshine, but it’ll stay mainly cloudy and cooler in the south.