- Here are the headlines on Thursday, February 18
Lockdown driving down coronavirus rates but they’re still high
Lockdown measures are driving down coronavirus infection levels but the overall rate remains high, according to new figures.
The research, which saw more than 85,000 swab tests carried out across England between February 4 and 13, show that the R number is 0.72 and the number of infections is halving every 14.6 days.
Researchers say there is a strong decline in the prevalence of coronavirus in England among the general population five to six weeks into lockdown, but prevalence remains at levels similar to those observed in late September 2020.
PM expects new data on vaccines this week
Boris Johnson is awaiting new data on the impact of vaccines on coronavirus after stressing he will take a ‘cautious and prudent approach’ to easing England’s third national lockdown.
The Prime Minister is understood to be expecting evidence on the impact of the UK’s jabs programme on hospital admissions and deaths by the end of Friday, ahead of setting out his ‘road map’ next week.
But it was unclear whether the early data would include the impact on transmission, with the results of two key Public Health England studies potentially not ready until next month.
Lockdown savers ‘have put away more than £1,000 on average’
Savers have put away more than £1,000 on average since the coronavirus lockdowns first started, a survey has found.
Those who have been able to squirrel some money away have put £1,085.90 aside on average, Nationwide Building Society found.
Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of people said they have had to cancel or postpone plans because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and around two-fifths (41 per cent) have funnelled this unspent cash into their savings. Nearly four in 10 said they have been able to save more.
Jeremy Clarkson seeks licence to sell alcohol
TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson has applied for a licence to sell alcohol at his Oxfordshire farm shop.
Clarkson has been running the shop at the 1,000-acre farm since last year with the story set to feature in a forthcoming Amazon Prime show, called I Bought The Farm.
The former Top Gear and now Grand Tour stalwart applied to West Oxfordshire District Council for permission to sell alcohol for consumption on and off the premises in Chadlington, near Chipping Norton. The farm shop is currently closed, but Clarkson and partner Lisa Hogan are hoping to reopen in March.
London markets drop on gloomy global sentiment
The FTSE 100 continued to give back some of its big gains from Monday as the index was hit by a midweek drop sweeping the globe.
A change in the outlook for government bond yields in the US helped worry traders on Wednesday, said David Madden, an analyst at CMC Markets.
It meant that London’s top index closed down 37.96 points, ending the day at 6,710.9, a reduction of 0.6 per cent.
850 retail jobs lost each working day in 2021
Retail experts have warned that recent job losses will be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ without further support from the Treasury, as new figures reveal about 850 jobs have been lost from the sector each working day since the start of the year.
New analysis from the Centre for Retail Research shows 27,096 jobs have been shed and 1,023 stores have been earmarked for closure so far in 2021.
The research, which covers insolvencies by retailers with 10 or more stores, highlights the turmoil on the high street, which has seen the recent collapses of Debenhams and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.
Average UK house price hits new record high
The average UK house price reached a record high of £252,000 in December 2020, official figures show.
Property values surged by 8.5 per cent year on year – marking the highest annual growth rate since October 2014, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
In November, house prices had increased by 7.1 per cent. As buyers searched for bigger properties, detached property prices rose by 10 per cent in the year to December – double the five per cent rate at which the average price of flats and maisonettes increased.
BAT sees profits rise despite Covid-19 sales hit
British American Tobacco has posted higher annual profits despite seeing the pandemic wipe 2.5 per cent off global sales growth.
The Lucky Strike and Camel maker reported a 10 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £8.7bn in 2020.
On an underlying basis, pre-tax profits lifted one per cent to £10.2bn.
UK inflation bounces higher on rising food prices
UK inflation increased last month on the back of higher food prices and more expensive household goods, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics said Consumer Prices Index inflation increased to 0.7 per cent in January from 0.6 per cent in December.
Cost differences across UK’s EV public charging network revealed
A new study has revealed a significant difference in how much electric car drivers are required to pay to charge their vehicles across the country.
The research – conducted by WhatCar? – found that electric vehicle owners could pay around four times as much for the same amount of charge when they use different public chargers operated by different companies.
It found that the fees for a 10-80 per cent charge on a BMW iX3 with an 80kWh battery could vary by as much as £31 between different operators owing to the various speeds and fees.
A lot milder
The BBC reports that outbreaks of rain will sweep eastwards across the UK this morning. The rain will be followed by brighter skies from the west, but with showers in places, these most frequent in the northwest.
This evening, showers will continue in the north-west for a time, however these will clear, leaving a largely dry and clear night for the UK. Later, cloud will begin to build over western areas.
Tomorrow will be quite windy with blustery rain from the south-west affecting mostly western areas of the UK. Strong gusts for Irish Sea coasts. Eastern parts of England will be mostly dry.