Electric vehicle being charged, via PAElectric vehicle being charged, via PA

News Round-Up

Sep 21: Motor industry left ‘high and dry’; Interest rates rise ahead; Housing targets at risk; Amazon previews AI

Here are the headlines for Thursday, September 21


Time 6:55 am, September 21, 2023

Motoring industry left ‘high and dry’

Rishi Sunak has been accused of leaving the motoring industry ‘high and dry’ after delaying a ban on new petrol and diesel cars.

Speaking in Downing Street on Wednesday, the Prime Minister confirmed the plans alongside a raft of changes to how the government tackles greenhouse gas emissions.

Reacting to the news, Ian Plummer, commercial director at Auto Trader, said: ‘The PM has left the industry and drivers high and dry by sacrificing the 2030 target on the altar of political advantage.’

Bank of England still tipped to raise rates

The Bank of England is still likely to hike interest rates on Thursday, but this week’s lower-than-expected inflation figures give decision-makers a little more leeway than they otherwise would have had, economists said.

The Monetary Policy Committee had been widely expected to hike rates again, from 5.25 per cent to 5.5 per cent, which would be the highest base rate since February 2008.

Wednesday’s inflation figures did not change this outlook, economists said, but did make it less likely than before.

Inflation hit 6.7 per cent in August, down from 6.8 per cent in July, and significantly lower than the 7.1 per cent that had been expected.

Housing targets at risk due to ‘haphazard government approach’

Housebuilding targets are at risk of being missed and environmental ambitions unmet due to ‘haphazard’ implementation of policy, a group of peers has warned.

The government is ‘failing to deliver for either side’ in its approach to competing demands for new homes and environmental protection, according to a report by the Lords Built Environment Committee.

The cross-party group is calling for housebuilding to be given statutory weight which ensures it has equal status to environmental goals.

Legal challenge over car emissions testing in Northern Ireland

A legal challenge has been launched against the Department for Infrastructure (DFI) for its alleged failure to carry out emissions testing on cars.

Environmental justice groups and the Northern Ireland children’s rights watchdog are taking the case to the High Court later on Thursday, claiming the lack of emissions testing was impacting air quality.

Hundreds of thousands of diesel cars in Northern Ireland have never received a legally compliant exhaust emissions test at government-controlled MOT vehicle testing centres, those behind the legal challenge have claimed.

Amazon previews new AI with ‘more personal’ Alexa

Amazon has previewed a new, more powerful and conversational version of its Alexa voice assistant as the focus on AI-powered computing intensifies among the tech giants.

Microsoft and Google have both launched text-based generative AI apps this year, which use artificial intelligence to respond to prompts in a way barely distinguishable from humans’ output.

The sudden rise of such technology has sparked greater scrutiny of AI from regulators, given its explosion into general use and concerns over its potential impact on human life as well as industry, jobs and education.

Disabled people have finances hit ‘by lack of ease contacting firms’

Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of people with disabilities have delayed contacting an essential service provider because it seemed too daunting, a survey indicates.

This could mean they are potentially missing out on much-needed support and important information, according to credit information company Experian, which commissioned the research.

On average, people with disabilities said they waited more than two months (82 days) before contacting a provider.

They cited feeling emotionally drained (37 per cent), anxious (34 per cent) or demoralised (27 per cent) after interactions with organisations.

Shares in housebuilders rise to top of FTSE 100

The surprise drop in inflation in August gave a boost to the country’s pressured housebuilders on Wednesday as hopes rose that the Bank of England’s rate-hiking cycle might finally be coming to a close.

House-building investors seemed keen on the news, despite separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which showed that the growth in house prices slowed to just 0.6 per cent in July when compared to a year earlier.

It pushed Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey to the top of London’s FTSE 100 index on Wednesday. The FTSE rose 71.45 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 7,731.65 by the end of the day.

Mainly showers

Today will be mostly fine and dry in the east, according to the Met Office, but elsewhere will have showers and possibly some heavy rain and thunder.

These showers will be more prevalent in the north where it will also stay windy.

Tonight those showers will ease across most of England but they will persist in the far west and southeast.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

More stories...

Server 108