Ministers are set to delay construction of key sections of the HS2 rail line, with a statement expected imminently outlining the extent of budget overruns amid soaring inflation.
It is understood that parts of the high-speed network between Crewe and Birmingham are likely to be delayed or trimmed, while full running of trains into London Euston may also be held off further.
At least £2bn more will be needed for the first London-Birmingham stretch alone since the last official update in October, well above the contingency sums in the initial £44.6bn funding, casting doubt over prospects for the full network’s delivery.
While the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, and Downing Street reiterated in January that the government would build the line between London Euston and Manchester, the Department for Transport has been under mounting pressure to find cost savings from HS2 – or let other, non-HS2 rail investment projects lapse.
Ministers have repeated their commitment to a high-level £96bn rail plan drawn up last year, but less is likely to be built for that money than originally anticipated.
HS2 Ltd and the DfT have been working on cost-saving options under two tightly guarded initiatives, entitled Project Silverlight and Operation Blue Diamond. The … Read More
In a joint operation with the Metropolitan Police, the Financial Conduct Authority inspected several ATM sites, using its enforcement powers.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said: ‘Crypto ATMs operating without FCA registration are illegal and, as today shows, we will take action to stop this.
‘This operation, alongside last month’s action in Leeds, sends a clear message that we will continue to identify and disrupt unregistered crypto businesses in the UK.
‘Crypto products are not currently regulated and they are high risk. You should be prepared to lose all your money if you invest in them.’
Crypto ATMs allow people to buy or convert money into cryptoassets. There are currently no crypto ATM operators registered with the FCA, which they must be to operate legally.
The FCA is currently working with the National Economic Crime Centre to plan and coordinate action with law enforcement partners against operators of illegal crypto ATMs. This follows similar activity in Leeds, where the FCA inspected several sites suspected of hosting unregistered crypto ATMs, alongside West Yorkshire Police.
The FCA will review evidence gathered during these visits and consider taking further action where necessary.
Nicola McKinney, Partner at … Read More
Small Business Britain is teaming up with the Amazon Small Business Accelerator to help small firms navigate the cost-of-living crisis and threat of recession.
Consisting of a series of live breakfast events and mentoring, the programme is free to small businesses, focused on giving firms a helping hand to overcome mounting economic hurdles, from inflation and falling consumer confidence, to supply chain obstacles and hiring.
Kicking off today the project will launch a series of live breakfast events in London, Edinburgh, and Grimsby, which will explore themes from building resilience and overcoming financial challenges, to boosting confidence and opportunities, as well as managing costs and productivity.
“It isn’t easy for small businesses at the moment – they are facing challenges from all angles due to the cost-of-living crisis, and this comes on the back of an extremely tough period in the pandemic,” said Michelle Ovens CBE, founder of Small Business Britain.
“It is important that small businesses get support to navigate this tricky path ahead, and we are delighted to be teaming up with Amazon to explore the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis and share some really practical insight and guidance.”
Led by local business experts, and open to small … Read More
Pressure is mounting on the Chancellor to scrap changes to research and development (R&D) tax credits in next week’s budget as over 150 start-ups and Britain’s biggest small business body launch a fresh offensive on the Treasury.
In an open letter published last night, the group of start-ups wrote to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt warning that planned cuts to the R&D credits, outlined in the Autumn statement in November, will “significantly damage the UK’s start-up ecosystem”.
Hunt’s plans will see the the breadth of the existing scheme scaled back from the start of April and will slash the amount of R&D spend that start-ups can claim back from 33 per cent to 18.6 per cent.
… Read More
Jeremy Hunt is going to let a lot of people down at his budget next Wednesday as the Chancellor is poised to resist calls to save a flatlining economy by staying the course set in his November autumn statement of balancing the books.
Businesses. Families. Even former Prime Ministers are set to be disappointed.
Households want an extension of energy support into the summer. Companies are crying out for at least some softening to the six point corporation tax hike. There’s a risk neither will happen.
Bound by his fiscal rules of slashing the debt stock and capping day-to-day borrowing at three per cent of GDP, the 15 March budget will be a calm affair, focused on trimming down government support and sticking with tax rises.
There may be a small tax cut here or a slight spending rise there. But Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will save the meaty giveaways until the run up to the next election, which has to happen before late January 2025.
“With crowd-pleasing tax cuts likely to come far closer to the election, and further away from our current period of high inflation, the upcoming budget is not likely to be one where … Read More