Interest Rates to Rise Twice this Year

Interest Rates to Rise Twice this Year
The Bank of England is likely to raise interest rates twice this year and twice in 2019, despite a sluggish economy, says a forecasting body. Bank governor Mark Carney has said a rate rise is “likely” this year, but any increases will be gradual.

However, the EY Item Club said a tight labour market and firming earnings growth were likely to fuel “hawkish instincts” at the Bank.

The forecaster predicted GDP growth of 1.6% this year and 1.7% in 2019. It said the expected rate rises would allow the Bank to “gradually but steadily normalise monetary policy”.

UK interest rates currently stand at 0.5%. Many economists and investors in the markets believe that the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will vote for a 0.25% rate rise at its May meeting.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said there was a risk that two rate hikes this year would exert “unnecessary pressure” on consumers. However, he added that the growth of fixed-rate mortgages meant that fewer homeowners would be affected by a rate rise.

“In addition, the burden of interest payments to the average household was at a record low at the end of 2017, and so consumers are in a relatively healthy position to cope with dearer money,” he said.

Mr Archer said the UK economy was “chugging along at a fairly steady but uninspiring rate”, with inflation continuing to fall and a tight jobs market expected to “deliver some uptick in pay growth”.

At the same time, separate research by Deloitte showed an improvement in UK consumer confidence, but said this had “yet to translate into an overall increase in spending”.

Deloitte’s latest quarterly Consumer Tracker survey said UK consumers were feeling “more upbeat” about their personal finances.

However, people were still prioritising essential spending over luxuries, with the retail and casual dining sectors facing “unprecedented challenges”.

Social Media Threatened with Child Protection Laws

Social Media Threatened with Child Protection Laws
Social media firms are being threatened with new laws if they don’t do more to protect children online. In a letter to companies including Facebook and Google, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt accuses them of “turning a blind eye” to their impact on children. He gives them until the end of April to outline action on cutting underage use, preventing cyber bullying, and promoting healthy screen time.

Google and Facebook say they share Mr Hunt’s commitment to safety.

The age requirement to sign up to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat is 13. To use WhatsApp or to have a YouTube account, you must also be at least 13.
In his letter to the internet firms, Mr Hunt said: “I am concerned that your companies seem content with a situation where thousands of users breach your own terms and conditions on the minimum user age. I fear that you are collectively turning a blind eye to a whole generation of children being exposed to the harmful emotional side effects of social media prematurely. This is both morally wrong and deeply unfair to parents who are faced with the invidious choice of allowing children to use platforms they are too young to access or excluding them from social interaction that often the majority of their peers are engaging in.”

Mr Hunt met social media companies six months ago to discuss how to improve the mental health of young people who use the technology.

He told the Sunday Times, there had been “warm words” and “a few welcome moves” since then, but the overall response had been “extremely limited” – leading him to conclude that a voluntary, joint approach would not be good enough. “None are easy issues to solve I realise, but an industry that boasts some of the brightest minds and biggest budgets should have been able to rise to the challenge,” said Mr Hunt.

The National Bullying Helpline, a charity which deals with online bullying, said the government needed to introduce legislation to govern the social media companies. “Asking Facebook and other social media giants to regulate themselves is like asking the press to regulate themselves. It won’t happen,” it added.

Mr Hunt said the government would not rule out introducing new legislation to tackle the issue when it publishes its response to the Internet Safety Strategy consultation in May. He has also asked the chief medical officer to launch a review into the impact of technology on the mental health of children and young people.

Katie O’Donovan, public policy manager at Google UK, said the company had shown its commitment to protecting children by developing its resources – such as an online safety course which has been taught to 40,000 schoolchildren.

Facebook said it welcomed Mr Hunt’s “continued engagement on this important issue” and shared his ambition to create a safe and supportive environment for young people online. “We continue to invest heavily in developing tools for parents and age-appropriate products to meet this challenge and we look forward to continuing to work with our child safety partners and government to make progress in this area,” said Karim Palant from Facebook.

Billion Euro Cyber Suspect Arrested in Spain

Billion Euro Cyber Suspect Arrested in Spain
A cyber-crime mastermind suspected of stealing about £870m (€1bn) has been arrested in Spain. The individual is alleged to be the head of the organised crime gang that ran the Carbanak and Cobalt malware campaigns that targeted banks.

Europol said the group had been active since 2013 and infiltrated more than 100 banks in that time. Cash was siphoned off via bank transfers or dispensed automatically through cash machines. The arrest was a “significant success” against a top cyber-crime group, Steven Wilson, head of Europol’s Cyber-Crime Centre (EC3), which co-ordinated the long-running, cross-border investigation into the group. said in a statement.

“The arrest of the key figure in this crime group illustrates that cyber-criminals can no longer hide behind perceived international anonymity,” he said.

The cyber-thieves got their malware on to bank networks by sending key staff booby-trapped phishing emails, said Europol. The gang used three separate generations of malware, each one more sophisticated than the last, to penetrate and then lurk on financial networks.

Once the machines of key staff were compromised, the gang used their remote access to banking networks to steal money in several different ways.

  • cash machines were ordered to remotely dispense money at specific times – letting mules and other gang members scoop up the notes
  • inter-bank money transfer systems were instructed to move cash into criminal accounts
  • databases were altered to increase account balances. Mules then removed the money via cash machines

Money was laundered via crypto-currencies and payment cards, which were used to buy luxury goods including cars and houses.

Europol, the FBI, cyber-security firms and polices forces in Spain, Romania, Belarus and Taiwan all collaborated to track down the gang, said the European policing agency.

Zuckerberg asks ‘Authoritative’ Person to Answer MPs Questions

Facebook: Zuckerberg asks ‘Authoritative’ Person to Answer MPs Questions
The BBC are reporting that Facebook have said ‘no’ in response to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee’s request that its co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg appear to answer questions over users data.

It its letter to the committee’s chair Damian Collins, it says: “Facebook fully recognises the level of public and parliamentary interest in these issues and support your belief that these issues must be addressed at the most senior levels of the company by those in an authoritative position to answer your questions.

“As such Mr Zuckerberg has personally asked one of his deputies to make themselves available to give evidence in person to the committee.”

First & Second Class Stamp Prices Increase

First & Second Class Stamp Prices Increase
The 2p price rise in the cost of first and second class stamps has now taken effect. A first-class stamp now costs 67p and a second-class stamp now costs 58p, under the price rises that came into force on Monday.

Stamps bought before the price rise can still be used without any need to top-up the cost.

Royal Mail said the squeeze on consumer finances was considered when setting the new price. But it added that the price rise was needed to maintain the universal postal service, which means that the price of a stamp is the same irrespective of where in the UK the letter is sent from and to.

If the price of a first-class stamp had risen in line with inflation since 1989, it would now cost 41p.

Executive Search and Interim Management in the UK

Executive Search and Interim Management in the UK

Using a specialist employment agency that offers executive search services is an ideal option if you are looking for senior and interim management posts, especially within cities such as Manchester, Leeds and London where competition can be so fierce.  Not only will you be able to be among the first to find out about exciting new opportunities in top organisations but you will also be able to benefit from a range of other services as well, designed to help you really make your career go places.

If you have begun to feel that your career needs a change or you want to gain experience within your chosen industry but have been finding it difficult to find roles that really interest you approaching an agency can be the ideal way to find vacancies that are relevant to your job search.  With a team of dedicated staff working to create links with prospective employers to ensure that they can offer the best range of management and middle management vacancies possible, a good agency will often have new and varied jobs coming in daily from their variety of established clients.

A reputable agency will always make sure that every role they fill is totally suited to a prospective client’s talents and experience so they have the chance to add relevant experience to their CV and really improve their chances of landing their dream job.  Whether you are looking for part time, full time, permanent or temporary work using the services of an agency will definitely improve your chances of finding a suitable role in management regardless of your circumstances.

Being able to not only get the latest information about new vacancies but also have the agency staff match you with prospective jobs and recommend your work to new employers they will also be able to greatly reduce the time required by the application process.  As they will already have copies of your certificates, CV, identification and other paperwork you won’t need to spend hours filling in applications and arranging references, and with the opportunity to build ongoing relationships with companies if you work regular short term contracts you may find that you are never short of opportunities to work in a variety of interesting roles.

Whether you are returning to work, newly qualified or just looking for a change from your current role being able to undertake short term roles is the perfect way to build experience within your chosen field and a well-established agency will often have plenty of clients approach them immediately to find staff to cover sickness, holidays and busy periods without advertising anywhere else.  This can give you the perfect opportunity to get a chance to work in a role that you have limited experience within, making you far more attractive to new employers when you come to seek a more permanent position, they are also a really good  answer if you require a more flexible working pattern.

So if you want to find a new job with management and are interested in taking up interim management roles why not contact an employment agency offering executive search services?  Instead of searching for the roles you want, spending hours filling in applications and eating to hear back from interviews you could find yourself working in a role that is perfectly suited to your needs in no time at all.

Executive Recruitment in Manchester, Leeds and London
So whether you are looking for a role in middle management or interim management or you is a business seeking to find suitable employees to help support your company when it grows why not consider finding out more about how a recruitment agency offering executive search can help you?  With some of the best agencies having some very prestigious clients and constantly looking out for up and coming talent within a range of industries they have real potential to help businesses go from strength to strength by helping them to find motivated and dynamic staff that have all the skills and knowledge required to really fulfil their role in a job that they love.

Toys R Us to Close all US Stores

Toys R Us to Close all US Stores
Toys R Us will close or sell all its 885 stores in the US after failing to find a buyer, putting about 30,000 jobs under threat. Chief executive Dave Brandon said it was a “profoundly sad day” for the retailer. The giant toy-store chain was already in the process of closing one fifth of its shops after filing for bankruptcy protection last year.

Toys R Us will also close all its UK stores by the end of April.

The UK collapse will put more than 3,000 people out of work as a dismal period for the retail sector continues.

However, the company said it could resurrect 200 of the best-performing US stores if talks to combine these with its Canadian operations prove successful.

Mr Brandon said in a statement released late on Wednesday: “This is a profoundly sad day for us as well as the millions of kids and families who we have served for the past 70 years. I have always believed that this brand and this business should exist in the US.”

Toys R Us said it would provide more details about the plans in the near term. The company is trying to sell its Canadian and international operations in Asia and Europe, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Australia, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain are considering their options, including potential sale processes in their respective markets, but the retailer is likely to go into liquidation in France, Spain, Poland and Australia, Mr Brandon said.

The US parent company filed for bankruptcy in September.

The business was bought in 2005 by a group of investors, including private equity firms Bain Capital and KKR, which loaded it with about $5bn (£3.6bn) in debt. The company was landed with interest payments that were as much as $400m a year.

In the UK Toys R Us joins a long list of high-street retailers, including Maplin and Claire’s, that have run into difficulties this year. Many have been hit by changes in consumer spending habits, a squeeze on disposable income, higher inflation and the extra cost of the national living wage, and the prospect of increases in business rates in April.

 

MP’s Call for Unpaid Shifts to be Illegal

MP’s Call for Unpaid Shifts to be Illegal
Some MPs and lawyers have called for a blanket ban on unpaid shift work. Companies can currently invite prospective employees to do trial shifts with the carrot of a job at the end.

But there has been a six-fold increase over three years in complaints over unpaid shifts, trade union Unite said.

The Federation of Small Businesses said unpaid shifts are a valuable part of the recruitment process, but shouldn’t cross the line into exploitation.

On Friday a private members bill which seeks to make unpaid trials illegal will get its second parliamentary reading.

A New Heating Boiler for Your Home?

Do You Need a New Heating Boiler for Your Home?

If you have noticed that your home has seemed colder recently no matter how often your turn on the heating or have been having problems with mould and damp it may be that your combi boiler is beginning to loose efficiency. Having an ineffective boiler not only makes it difficult to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home it will also increase the amount of energy you use, causing your bills to soar and increasing the impact that your home has on the environment.

So investing in a new heating boiler that includes the latest modern energy saving features might be a really good investment for your home and at Arktek Heating they have an excellent range to choose from.

At Arktek they offer a full service so getting a new combi boiler with them is completely straight forward from beginning to end.  They offer a free quote on request and a pre-install assessment and once you are totally happy with the boiler you have chosen they will install it for you and take your old boiler away with the minimum of disruption to your family.  With a wide range of boiler replacements available from some top manufacturers at Arktek they will be happy to discuss the various options and answer any questions that you may have.

Having a new and well fitted combi boiler is the perfect way to make your whole home more comfortable to spend time in, and you will have lower bills and give your property added value so you will enjoy other benefits as well. By deciding to have your boiler supplied by Arktek you will have the additional advantage of knowing that your new heating boiler is covered by a complete warranty and fitted according to all legal safety standards so you can have total peace of mind.

If you have decided the time has come for a new heating boiler get in touch with Arktek with professional engineers, competitive prices and a great range of top quality boilers to choose from they are the true experts in boiler replacements.

So you want to enjoy the benefits of a properly fitted new combi boiler and take advantage of reliable heating and hot water along with lower bills and would like a little more information take a looks at the gas replacement boiler services on offer from Arktek Heating, with competitive rates and some of the latest models of gas boilers available at great value prices you may be surprised how affordable getting a new combi boiler can be without having to compromise on quality.

For further information about the range of replacement gas boilers available from Arktek Heating Services, please call 0191 516 6911 or visit our heating & plumbing services website. We will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Charles Darwin Paper £10 Notes Out

Charles Darwin Paper £10 Notes Out
Bank of England paper £10 notes are being accepted in shops for a final day before being officially withdrawn. The Charles Darwin notes have been gradually replaced by the polymer Jane Austen note since September.

From Friday, anyone with the banknote will need to deposit it at their bank as shops will be entitled to refuse it.

At the same time, a collection of new 10p coins featuring 26 designs celebrating Britain – from cricket to queuing – are entering circulation.

Millions still out there

Officially, any bank, building society or retailer is within their rights to refuse an old paper £10 note from Friday. Only the Bank of England in London will accept them without question in the future.

Yet all the major banks and the Post Office have said they will continue to accept deposits of these notes, featuring the portrait of naturalist Charles Darwin, from their own customers. They have been under pressure to do so from the Federation of Small Businesses, which said this would help get the older versions out of circulation quicker.

At the last count, the Bank of England estimates that 211 million of these old notes are unreturned.