Business Briefing

Bank of England and Treasury consider ‘Britcoin’ plan

Tesco fined £7.56m for selling out-of-date food, 813,000 jobs lost, and other breaking business news

1

Banking 

Taskforce will explore potential of new digital currency

A taskforce has been created by the Bank of England (BoE) and the UK Treasury to explore the possible launch of a “Central Bank Digital Currency” (CBDC). The new form of digital money would be issued for use by households and businesses, and would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them, the BoE said in a statement

The “Britcoin” would basically be a digital version of sterling and could change the payments system, “the plumbing of the financial system”, says the BBC’s economics editor Faisal Islam. However, it would not be a “Bitcoin-style speculative asset with wild fluctuations in value” and there would be “limited appeal for the fans of crypto”.

2

Jobs 

Unemployment rate drops to 4.9%

Britain’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 4.9% from December to February, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This was 0.9 percentage points higher than a year earlier but 0.1 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.

The number of employees on company payrolls fell by 56,000 in March 2021, compared with February 2021. This means the total number of jobs lost since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 has now reached 813,000.  

3

Economy 

Working from home

PxHere

Home workers start later and had longer shifts, study reveals 

People working from home in the UK in 2020 worked longer than those who worked away from their homes, according to a new study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Last year home workers did 32.3 hours per week compared to the 27.7 hours average, The Independent reports. Home workers also did double the amount of overtime each week on average, around six hours, and took fewer sick days, equivalent to just two days per worker.

As the pandemic wore on, start times for home workers got later, Sky News says. By September last year home workers “increasingly hit the snooze button” and set up their laptops in kitchens and spare rooms on average at 10.45am.

4

Environment 

Carbon emissions set for ‘shocking’ rise in 2021

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that a rise in carbon dioxide emissions will put climate hopes “out of reach” unless governments act quickly, The Guardian reports. A surging use of coal, the “dirtiest fossil fuel”, for electricity is largely driving the emissions rise and it’s forecast to jump this year by the second biggest annual increase in history.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol said the rise in emissions was “shocking and very disturbing”. “On the one hand governments today are saying climate change is their priority,” he told the Guardian. “But on the other hand, we are seeing the second biggest emissions rise in history. It is really disappointing.”

5

Retail

Tesco fined £7.56m for selling out-of-date food  

Supermarket giant Tesco has been handed a £7.56m fine for selling out-of-date food at three stores in Birmingham. The offending items were discovered at two Tesco Express stores, in the city centre and the Bournville area, and a Tesco Metro in Bristol Road South.

After admitting 22 breaches of the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations between 2016 and 2017, the judge at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court also ordered Tesco to pay prosecution costs of £95,500 and a £170 victim surcharge. 

“Disappointed” that the out-of-date products had made it to store shelves, Tesco said it took “immediate action” to resolve the issues, Sky News reports. 

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