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John Lewis to close eight UK stores
John Lewis is to permanently close eight of its stores, putting 1,300 workers at risk.
The John Lewis Partnership said the decision was made to “secure the business’s long-term future and respond to customers’ shopping needs”.

It said department stores in Birmingham and Watford will be affected, along with four At Home stores in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, and travel sites in Heathrow and St Pancras.

Prior to the pandemic, the eight outlets were already “financially challenged” but customers have moved away from stores and towards shopping online faster as a result of coronavirus, it said.

The group estimated that between 60% and 70% of John Lewis sales will be made online this year and next, compared with 40% before the coronavirus crisis.

Around 1,300 of its workers, known as partners, will now enter consultations over the cuts.

The company said that, if redundancies are confirmed, “every effort” will be made to find new roles where possible across the group.

The shift towards online has seen the company double capacity at its Waitrose supermarket arm, while it also plans further investment in John Lewis’s online business.

However, it stressed that John Lewis shops have a “vital role” within the business.

John Lewis Partnership chairwoman Sharon White said: “Closing a shop is always incredibly difficult and today’s announcement will come as very sad news to customers and partners.

“However, we believe closures are necessary to help us secure the sustainability of the partnership – and continue to meet the needs of our customers however and wherever they want to shop.

“Redundancies are always an absolute last resort and we will do everything we can to keep as many partners as possible within our business.”

Ms White added that the partnership will soon announce the results of a recent strategic review to help boost the performance of its brands.

Former John Lewis boss Andy Street, who is currently mayor of the West Midlands, said the group’s decision to shut its Birmingham store is a “dreadful mistake”.

He added: “There is no question that the coronavirus pandemic has caused severe economic damage and uncertainty, but I still have enormous faith in Birmingham as a place to do business.

“Against this backdrop it is extremely disappointing that John Lewis & Partners has not been able to make a success of its flagship store.

“But my belief in its potential is unwavering, and I still believe the store cannot only be a great success, but can also provide a brilliant retail offer for the city and for the wider region.”

The announcement came hours before fellow high street retailer Boots announced plans to slash more than 4,000 jobs after being hit hard by the pandemic.

Published: 09/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Thousands of taxi drivers, cleaners and shop workers to have Covid-19 tests
Tens of thousands of people who work in high-risk jobs, such as taxi drivers, cleaners and shop workers, will be tested for coronavirus.
That's even though they have no symptoms, the Government has announced.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the pilot study, which begins immediately, would improve understanding of the prevalence of the virus in asymptomatic people in higher-risk jobs.

It is believed that people without symptoms can spread coronavirus to others without being aware that they are infectious.

Firms included in the trial are taxi firm Addison Lee, BT, services firm Mitie and pharmacy giant Boots.

Workers will be given a one-off test to see how common asymptomatic Covid-19 is among these groups.

Local authorities in Bradford, Newham, Brent and Oldham will also select groups of people for asymptomatic testing who are deemed to be high-risk.

The DHSC said each business will receive thousands of tests for staff via home-testing delivery or a mobile testing unit.

Local authorities will book tests for people at walk-in test sites.

Those who test positive will need to self-isolate and results will be shared with the NHS Test and Trace programme so contacts can be traced, the DHSC said.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson missed his target for all in-person tests to be turned around within 24 hours by the end of June.

On June 3 he told MPs in the Commons: “I can undertake to him (Tory MP Jeremy Hunt) now to get all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that.”

But the latest NHS Test and Trace data shows that 91% of in-person tests at regional and mobile testing units were returned in less than 24 hours for the week ending July 1.

Overall, 31,421 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their case transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system during the first five weeks of its operation, the figures also showed.

Of this total, 23,796 people (76%) were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts, while 6,645 people (21%) were not reached.

A further 980 people (3%) could not be reached because their communication details had not been provided.

The figures cover the period May 28 to July 1.

During that time, 144,501 people who had been identified as recent close contacts of people who had tested positive were reached and asked to self-isolate.

This was 85% out of a total of 169,863 identified close contacts.

The number of people identified as close contacts fell in the last week of the data, with officials saying this was due to fewer contacts being in care homes.

The percentage of contacts reached has gone down from 74.2% in the week ending June 24 to 70.8% in the week ending July 1.

When combining the figures for all methods of community testing – home test kits, regional test sites, mobile testing units and “satellite” test centres – a total of 54.9% of people received their results within 24 hours in the week ending July 1, up from 41.3% in the previous week.

Some 34.9% of people waited between 24 and 48 hours (down from 44.6%), 7.5% waited between 48 and 72 hours (down from 10.6%) and 1.8% waited longer than 72 hours (down from 2.5%).

Baroness Dido Harding, executive chairwoman of NHS Test and Trace, said: “We are committed to continually improving NHS Test and Trace, to reach more people at risk of passing the virus on as quickly as possible.

“This week we have seen test turnaround times improve further, with the majority of positive cases reached by contact tracers in under 24 hours.

“Anyone with symptoms can easily book a test, expect rapid results, and will hear promptly from NHS Test and Trace if they are tested positive.

“I continue to applaud all those who have played their part, got a test after experiencing symptoms, and responded to the service.

“I urge anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace to follow the advice they receive to protect their families and communities.”

Published: 09/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Guardiola hails Silva in impressive Manchester City display
Pep Guardiola claimed David Silva could still play anywhere as he saluted a masterful display in Manchester City’s 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle.
The 34-year-old playmaker, who is leaving the club at the end of the season after a decade’s outstanding service, starred with a goal and two assists as the Magpies were outclassed at the Etihad Stadium.

Silva teed up Gabriel Jesus to begin the rout, curled home a brilliant free-kick for the fourth and then played in Raheem Sterling to wrap up the scoring in a one-sided Premier League contest.

Unfortunately for the Spaniard there were no fans in the ground to appreciate his performance, but Guardiola is determined a fitting tribute will be paid to Silva’s when the time is right.

The City manager said: “What we want is, when people come back to the Etihad Stadium, to do a farewell game for him, and to say hi to one of the legends of the club.

“When we need to play in small spaces he is maybe the best. Moving between the lines I have never seen someone like him.

“He came back from lockdown in incredible top form and with incredible rhythm. Of course if he decides to play, he can play anywhere. There are no doubts about this.”

The result did not seem in doubt from the moment Jesus opened the scoring on 10 minutes. Riyad Mahrez added the second 11 minutes later and Federico Fernandez diverted into his own net before Silva and Sterling finished the job.

After Sunday’s loss at Southampton, City were back showing the ruthlessness that saw them hammer new champions Liverpool last week.

This is the level Guardiola demands as he prepares for crunch games in the FA Cup and Champions League.

He said: “I don’t know how many times we have scored five goals since I have been here but I think it was a lot. That is the way we want to play – scoring goals, to respect this game, and prepare well for our FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal and the second leg against Real Madrid.”

Of concern to City maybe recent rumours linking their impressive 19-year-old centre-back Eric Garcia with his boyhood club Barcelona.

Guardiola said: “We’re going to try to convince him to stay here for many, many, many years. I’m confident he will stay but, at the end, it’s his decision.”

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce admitted his side were outclassed.

He said: “We have got to be brutally honest and say we did not do enough to lay a glove on them.

“They were far too good for us in all departments but the manner of it upsets me greatly. We have to be better than that”.

Published: 09/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Burger King could be forced to permanently shut one in 10 UK outlets
Burger King UK’s boss has warned that up to 1,600 jobs could be lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Only about 370 of the restaurant chain’s 530 UK stores have reopened since the nation went into lockdown.

Chief executive Alasdair Murdoch told the BBC’s Newscast that the economic damage stemming from the crisis could ultimately force the company to permanently close up to 10% of its stores.

He told Newscast: “We don’t want to lose any (jobs). We try very hard not to, but one’s got to assume somewhere between 5% and 10% of the restaurants might not be able to survive.

“It’s not just us – I think this applies to everyone out there in our industry.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday unveiled a £30 billion support package to help boost the nation’s economic recovery, which included plans to subsidise restaurant bills throughout August to encourage people to dine out.

However Mr Murdoch added that Government schemes do not do enough to compensate restaurants for the combination of fixed costs and lost sales throughout the pandemic, telling Newscast: “I don’t think you can ever get over the top of this problem.”

Published: 09/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Ministers must act to prevent Eurostar cuts, union boss says
The Government is being urged to offer support to cross-Channel rail firm Eurostar after union leaders said they have been told of cuts which will hit jobs and services.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said cuts could lead to a 20%‎ reduction in costs with an impact on jobs and services.

The union said it has entered into talks with the aim of protecting staff employed across the Eurostar operation.

The RMT warned that any cuts at Eurostar, alongside proposals to axe ferry jobs, would hit Kent particularly hard.

The union called on Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to intervene as a matter of urgency.

RMT assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: “RMT is demanding Government support to protect Eurostar jobs and services from the fall-out of the Covid-19 pandemic and to recognise the long-term importance to the British economy of these cross-Channel transport services as we look to the future. Short-term cuts would have dire long-term consequences.

“The Eurostar announcement mirrors similar cuts plans coming out of the ferry sector and would have particularly serious implications for the economy of Kent.

“RMT will be seeking urgent talks with the Government to stop this cull of jobs and services which would leave Britain ill-equipped to kick-start the economy with cross-Channel tourism and trade.”

A Eurostar spokesman said: “The impact of Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented fall in demand across the travel industry.

“We are taking steps to protect Eurostar for the long term by reducing costs across the business, and are taking a considered approach to reducing our payroll costs, working closely with trade union partners.

“We are looking to introduce reduced hours and part-time working wherever possible throughout 2021 to protect as many jobs as possible and retain the knowledge, skills and experience of our people for the recovery, keeping any potential redundancy to a minimum.”

Published: 09/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Nicola Sturgeon expected to announce move to phase three of easing lockdown
Nicola Sturgeon will confirm if Scotland can move into the third phase of its plan for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Phase three would see customers able to return to hairdressers, restaurants and drink inside pubs, although the First Minister has suggested that not all restrictions would be lifted at the same time.

Ms Sturgeon said she was “hopeful” Scotland could move to phase three of its route map for easing lockdown and is expected to give a statement to the Scottish Parliament outlining when and how measures will be lifted.

She previously announced plans for hairdressers, indoor pubs, museums, galleries and libraries to open on July 15.

According to the Scottish Government’s route map, offices and call centres will also be able to reopen in phase three, while universities and colleges can begin a phased return of in-person teaching – all with physical distancing measures in place.

Depending on the latest public health advice, the First Minister could also announce an easing of restrictions for live events – both indoor and outdoor events – as well as the reopening of gyms.

Non-essential shopping centres could also be able to reopen, along with holiday accommodation, museums and libraries.

Public transport is due to resume more services, albeit with reduced capacity and mandatory face coverings for most passengers.

Places of worship are also expected to be able to reopen during phase three for congregational services and communal prayer, while an easing of restrictions on attendance at funerals, marriages and civil partnerships could also feature in the First Minister’s announcement.

Ms Sturgeon has already confirmed that, from Friday, Scots will be able to meet in extended groups outside and a maximum of two other households indoors – if physical distancing is maintained – and that children will be able to play organised outdoor sports from Monday.

Main

00:109 Jul 2020

HEALTHCoronavirus

More lockdown restrictions set to be eased to boost UK economy

More parts of the UK’s economy could be given the green light to reopen, a day after the Chancellor announced an emergency support package to protect against the coronavirus

Published: 09/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

On today’s News Chat from Radio News Hub, Paul Reilly is joined by Dan Britton from the NHS Business Services Authority, Senior Economist Carsten Jung and Gareth Belsham of building surveyors Naismiths. Our news partners, Radio News Hub, are now producing a programmes discussing the news of the day, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Watch online […]

Chancellor outlines post-Covid plans in mini-budget statement
Rishi Sunak unveiled a plan for jobs in a £30 billion mini-budget he said was designed to get the country through the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here are the main points of the package.

Jobs Retention Bonus

The Chancellor stuck firm to the October deadline for the job retention furlough scheme to end but said it would be replaced with a new Jobs Retention Bonus.

Employers who bring back furloughed staff and continuously employ them through to January we be paid a £1,000 bonus per employee as long as they are paid at least £520 on average a month.

Apprenticeships

Mr Sunak said employers will be paid £1,000 to take on trainees and up to £2,000 to hire young apprentices.

He also outlined a kickstart scheme which will directly pay employers to create “decent” new jobs for any 16 to 24-year-old at risk of long-term unemployment.

Mr Sunak said employers will need to provide training and support to find a permanent job and in return the Government will pay the young people’s wages for six months.

VAT cut for hospitality industry

And there was more for the hard-hit hospitality industry as Mr Sunak announced a VAT cut on food, accommodation and attractions from 20% to 5% from July 15 to January 12.

Green deal

The Chancellor confirmed a £2 billion “green homes grant” to help homeowners and landlords with vouchers to make their properties more energy efficient.

Dosh for nosh

Mr Sunak announced an ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ discount among measures to get customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs.

Meals eaten at any participating business from Monday to Wednesday during August will be 50% cheaper, up to a maximum discount of £10 per head for everyone. Businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within five working days.

Stamp duty slashed

For the housing market, the Chancellor confirmed that stamp duty was being abolished on transactions below £500,000 until March 31, 2021 – effective immediately.

He said the average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500 as a result and nearly nine out of 10 people buying a main home this year will pay none at all.

And the bill

The Chancellor said the package would cost up to £30 billion. And he did not announce any new revenue raising measures.

So the new spending will add to the amount the Government has been borrowing during the pandemic.

And pressure is likely to mount on Mr Sunak to set out how it is all going to be paid for in his next big set piece – the Autumn statement.

Published: 08/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Patients deserve fulsome apology, review recommends
The Government should issue a “fulsome apology” on behalf of the healthcare system to the families caught up in NHS scandals which have affected three groups of patients, a damning review has concluded.
“Harrowing” accounts of patient pain and suffering have been detailed in the review into the hormone pregnancy test Primodos, the anti-epilepsy drug sodium valproate and pelvic mesh.

The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review investigated whether the response of the healthcare system to concerns raised about the issues was sufficiently robust, speedy and appropriate.

It concluded that the response was not adequate and resulted in “avoidable harm”.

The review made a series of recommendations to prevent further suffering.

These include:

– The Government should immediately issue a “fulsome apology” on behalf of the healthcare system to the families affected by Primodos, sodium valproate and pelvic mesh.

– The appointment of an independent Patient Safety Commissioner to champion patient voices.

– Reform of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – including improvements of its Yellow Card reporting system and stronger regulation of medical devices.

– More transparency over payments to doctors – the register of the General Medical Council (GMC) should be expanded to include a list of financial and non-pecuniary interests for all doctors.

– In addition, there should be mandatory reporting for pharmaceutical and medical device industries of payments made to teaching hospitals, research institutions and individual clinicians.

– Pelvic floor education should be “encouraged where appropriate” in schools and antenatal classes.

– A new independent “Redress Agency” for those harmed by medicines and medical devices should be created.

– A call for separate schemes for hormone pregnancy tests, valproate and pelvic mesh to be developed to meet the cost of providing additional care and support – not those already available for free – to those who have experienced avoidable harm.

– Specialist centres should be developed to provide comprehensive treatment, care and advice for those affected by implanted mesh; and separately for those adversely affected by medications taken during pregnancy.

– A central database on all patients fitted with medical devices.

Baroness Julia Cumberlege, chair of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, said: “We are urging the system to do what it should have done years ago, to help those who have suffered and put in place the processes that will enable it to learn from past mistakes so that we spare other families from such anguish.

“The system’s response – or lack of one – has added to the pain – both physical and mental – of those affected.

“The system and its leaders need to acknowledge what has gone so badly wrong. Our major recommendations, together with a number of actions for improvement we call for in our report, are wide ranging and radical. Given what we have witnessed, we are clear that is what is needed now.”

Published: 08/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Sunak to unveil £2bn youth unemployment scheme in coronavirus recovery package
The Chancellor will announce a £2 billion scheme aimed at alleviating youth unemployment by subsidising work placements when he sets out his coronavirus recovery package.

A three-point plan to boost the ailing economy by helping job creation will include a plan to help pay for six-month placements for some under-25s facing long-term unemployment.

Rishi Sunak will set out the measures in his summer economic update in the House of Commons on Wednesday, as he faces pressure to assist those who are most at vulnerable to the effects of a financial crisis.

Meanwhile, Labour will push Mr Sunak to “avoid additional floods of redundancy notices” by developing a “flexible” furlough scheme in areas where local lockdowns are put in place.

Mr Sunak will also offer an immediate stamp duty “holiday” to temporarily exempt the tax on the first £500,000 of homes purchased in England and Northern Ireland, according to unconfirmed reports.

The Treasury acknowledged that young people are more likely to be furloughed under the job retention scheme which is being wound up and is due to end in October.

So a “kickstart scheme” hoped by the Treasury to create hundreds of thousands of jobs will be unveiled for 16 to 24-year-olds who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term employment.

Government funding would cover 100% of the minimum wage for 25 hours a week in the scheme that will be open to all employers across Great Britain, with bosses able to top up wages.

Ahead of the announcement, Mr Sunak said: “Young people bear the brunt of most economic crises, but they are at particular risk this time because they work in the sectors disproportionately hit by the pandemic.

“We also know that youth unemployment has a long-term impact on jobs and wages and we don’t want to see that happen to this generation.

“So we’ve got a bold plan to protect, support and create jobs – a plan for jobs.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the Government is “yet to rise to the scale of the unemployment crisis” and said the priority should be to abandon its “one-size-fits-all” approach to ending the job retention and self-employment schemes.

“In addition, older people who become unemployed, and those living in particularly hard-hit areas, will also need tailored support,” she added.

Lib Dem leadership candidate Layla Moran said the package “will sadly be too little too late for many of the corona class of 2020”.

“Eighteen-year-olds could be left being paid just £161 a week under this scheme, which in some parts of the country would barely cover rent and transport costs,” she added.

However, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O’Grady, welcomed the measure as a “good first step” to prevent mass youth unemployment.

“But we’ll be checking the small print to ensure every job provides proper training and a bridge to steady employment,” she added.

And Confederation of British Industry director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said the plan “will be a much-needed down payment in young people’s futures”.

“By investing in skills, the Government can lessen the potential scarring impact of the pandemic for the next generation,” she added.

Among the job measures already announced are a £111 million scheme for firms in England to get a £1,000 bonus if they offer unpaid traineeships.

Thousands of jobs have been cut as businesses struggled through lockdown, with Royal Mail, Centrica, Easyjet and British Airways among those affected.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the speech, the Unite union said 2,200 DHL workers involved in the production of Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicles are being told that they could lose their jobs.

The 2,200 proposed redundancies comprise just under 40% of the entire DHL workforce on the contract, it added.

In his speech, Mr Sunak will also detail a £3 billion green package with grants for homeowners and public buildings to improve energy efficiency.

It will include £2 billion for households to insulate their homes and make them more energy-efficient, but campaigners said the funding pales in comparison to the economic and environmental crises.

There has also been speculation that Mr Sunak will raise the threshold for stamp duty payment for property sales where it applies in England and Northern Ireland from £125,000 to £500,000.

But housing market experts have argued it is home-buyers in southern England who stand to benefit the most from the move.

Mr Sunak has also been urged to consider an emergency VAT cut to stimulate consumer spending and stem the 14% slump in GDP forecast by the Bank of England this year.

The UK’s unemployment rate could also soar to 14.8% with job losses comparable to the 1930s, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Published: 08/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub


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