Saturday, 30 January 2010
Compensation culture is partly to blame for a record rise in car insurance premiums in the last year, the AA has said.
Personal injury claims were becoming "increasingly embedded in British culture" often as a result of lawyers' adverts, it claimed. The typical annual comprehensive car insurance premium rose 18.7% in 2009 to above £1,000, the AA's figures show. That was the biggest jump since the index started in 1994.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said that insurers had been struggling to deal with disappearing reserves at a time when settlement costs and personal injury claims had risen. "Many people seem willing to pursue claims for even minor injuries, such as mild whiplash pain that in the past they would not have bothered claiming for," he said. "This is encouraged by personal injury claims lawyers whose marketing urges people to make claims and whose costs, as well as compensation for the claim, are met by the third party insurer. This is becoming increasingly embedded in British culture and, ultimately, feeds back to premiums."
Friday, 29 January 2010
Ford has posted an annual profit for the first time in four years.
The carmaker made $2.7bn (£1.7bn) in 2009, compared with a loss of almost $15bn in 2008, and said it expects to be profitable this year as well. For the final three months of last year, the company made $868m, a dramatic improvement on the $6bn loss it made a year earlier.
Ford said its return to profitability was in part due to cutting costs and reducing debt levels.
Thursday, 28 January 2010
Toyota has announced the recall of vehicles in the US, Europe and China over concerns about accelerator pedals getting stuck on floor mats.
The firm has announced plans to recall 1.1 million more cars in the US a day after saying it was suspending sales of eight popular US models. According to an application to China's quality control office, it wants to recall 75,552 RAV4 vehicles there.
Car maker Nissan is to create 400 jobs at its Sunderland plant to meet demand for the Qashqai model.
The fixed-term manufacturing posts are needed for a night-shift production line due to begin in May. Up to 160 temporary staff will also be retained. Last year the company cut 1,200 of 4,300 jobs at the plant amid falling overall sales.
Trevor Mann, senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, said the Qashqai was bucking market trends.
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
The UK economy has come out of recession, after figures showed it had grown by a weaker-than-expected 0.1% in the last three months of 2009.
The economy had previously contracted for six consecutive quarters - the longest period since quarterly figures were first recorded in 1955. There have been recent recovery signs - last week, UK unemployment fell for the first time in 18 months. The UK's had been the last major economy still in recession.
Europe's two biggest economies - Germany and France - came out of recession last summer. Japan and the US also emerged from recession last year.
Monday, 25 January 2010
The chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover, David Smith, is to stand down, the carmaker has confirmed.
The firm said his departure was not linked to the recent breakdown of talks with unions over pay and pensions. Jaguar Land Rover, part of India's Tata Motors, is seeking to reduce wages and pension provision for new staff.
BBC business editor Robert Peston said Mr Smith's departure would "raise concerns about possible disagreements over strategy".
Friday, 22 January 2010
Toyota is recalling 2.3 million cars in the US to correct sticking accelerator pedals, just the latest in a string of recalls the firm has had to announce.
Company spokesman Brian Lyons said the move was due to the vehicles' pedal mechanism becoming worn and, in some cases, getting stuck. It is not yet known if the recall will affect Toyota cars in other countries. Back in October, Toyota recalled 4.2 million cars in the US due to pedals getting lodged under floor mats.
Scams, online theft, insurance cheats and tax fraud is costing the UK £30bn a year, according to an official estimate.
The National Fraud Authority (NFA) has calculated the figure for the first time and said it equated to £621 per adult in the UK. Some 58% of fraud was in the public sector, at a cost of £17bn, it added. It said the losses were paid for through taxes and rising prices of products and services.
The highest sector was losses from tax fraud - estimated at £15.2bn - although this was only 3% of tax liabilities, consumer scams were estimated at £3.5bn, insurance fraud at £2bn and some 31% of losses came in the private sector, with the financial services sector suffering the biggest hit.
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
European car sales rose by 16% in December, marking signs of recovery in the sector after another tough year.
However, total sales for 2009 were down 1.6% on 2008, according to figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). Some countries with scrappage schemes saw rises in sales in 2009, including France and Germany.
Sales in the UK were down 6.4% for the year as a whole, though December sales were up 39% compared with a year ago. A total of 14.5 million cars were sold across 28 European countries in 2009.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Average-speed cameras are to be introduced on a major urban road for the first time, Transport for London (TfL) has announced.
The 84 special cameras are to be installed on a 7.5 mile (12km) stretch of the A13 in east London, ready for use by next summer. They will operate between Canning Town and the Goresbrook interchange. However, the speed limit will be raised from 40mph to 50mph on a section of the route once the cameras are in place.
Nearly 500 collisions, including three fatal and 34 serious accidents, were recorded on this stretch of road between 2006 and 2008. TfL said half of these incidents were caused by speeding.
Friday, 15 January 2010
Around 900 jobs will be lost after the motor parts manufacturer Bosch said it is to close its south Wales plant.
Management of the German-owned company spent Thursday informing the workforce, following three months of consultation. Plans being considered at the site in Miskin, near Cardiff, had included the option of 300 job cuts or complete closure.
The firm said it had now decided to recommend closure to its board, transferring work to Hungary in 2011. In a statement, it said consultations are now being extended until February, as unions and staff attempt to thrash out redundancy terms.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
The biggest ever shake-up to the costs of taking cases through the civil courts is contained in proposals in a report by one of the most senior judges in England and Wales.
The civil courts deal with personal injury claims, disputes over goods and services, and landlord and tenant actions, among others. Lord Justice Jackson's Review of Civil Litigation Costs is a result of a recognition that it is simply too expensive for many people and small companies to bring or defend civil cases.
His proposals are radical. He has looked at the factors forcing costs up in civil actions, and in particular he has focussed on Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs), more commonly known as "no win, no fee" agreements. They have proved controversial in personal injury and defamation and privacy cases where the winning party can recover, in addition to damages, a hefty lawyer's "success" fee and "After the Event" (ATE) insurance premiums taken out by the claimant to protect against the costs of losing.
He proposes that success fees and ATE insurance premiums should cease to be recoverable from unsuccessful opponents in civil litigation. This will have particular significance for personal injury claims where no win no fee agreements are most common.
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
The place of supply rules for VAT changed on 1 January 2010 – now VAT is payable in the country in which the customer is established, rather than the supplier. Supplies to private individuals will follow this approach from 1 January 2013.
As a result of the BVRLA's lobbying efforts, all rental agreements lasting 30 days or less will remain unaffected. In practical terms, this means that rental staff will not be required to check the VAT status of each customer in order to decide whether to issue a zero-rated VAT invoice.
In conjunction with HM Revenue and Customs, the BVRLA has produced a fact sheet on the new rules, particularly how they affect agreements lasting longer than 30 days.
Monday, 11 January 2010
Efforts to ration salt supplies will be necessary for councils to cope with continuing cold weather, Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has warned.
He insisted that "all main transport networks are operational" during "the most prolonged spell of freezing conditions" in the UK since 1981. But shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers accused the government of making "inadequate preparations".
Forecasters predict a "slow, erratic climb" out of the freeze. There has been a slight thaw in places but more snow in parts of central England.
Roads managers say milder weather could improve safety, amid salt shortages.
A number of schools are to close on Monday as Northern Ireland remains in the grip of severe winter weather.
Snow is continuing to affect parts of Northern Ireland on Monday, particularly on higher ground. A thaw has begun in some parts but icy weather in many areas is continuing to make driving treacherous.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally will announce on Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that the automaker is incorporating a Twitter application into its next-generation Sync in-car communication system.
It is one of three free apps — the others are online entertainment services Pandora and Stitcher — in the first wave of what Ford hopes will become a portfolio of mobile-phone-like apps available for tech-minded motorists. "It's about bringing the Internet to the car," said Charles Golvin, principal analyst at Forrester Research. "What they're doing is making it really easy."
Sync, co-created with Microsoft, is a system that lets drivers operate their Bluetooth-enabled smartphones and music players with voice commands and have text messages read to them, among other functions. Since Sync was unveiled three years ago, Ford has sold more than 1 million vehicles with it.
Encouraging outside developers to create apps — useful and fun applications sold or offered free — for the system seemed a logical next step. The goal is to get in on the apps revolution that has helped make mobile devices such as Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch so popular.
source: USA Today
People are battling with treacherous conditions after sub-zero temperatures followed days of heavy snow to leave icy roads and pavements across the UK.
Thousands of schools remain shut and travel problems continue, while power cuts are affecting thousands of homes. UK-wide severe weather warnings of ice are in place amid freezing temperatures and "nightmare" side road conditions.
The mercury fell to -18C overnight in places and temperatures were typically between -8C and 0C at lunchtime. The Arctic conditions are expected to continue for up to a week. The National Grid has issued its second gas alert in three days, with demand expected to hit a new record of 454 million cubic metres on Thursday.
source: BBC News
In many parts of the UK there are warnings not to drive unless it is absolutely necessary, but if you do have to get in the car, what is the best way to drive in snow?
Karlene Pinnock, a BBC Newsbeat reporter, has some top tips from driving instructor Tim about how to make your journey safer.
source: BBC Newsbeat