Category: National News

Too cold to lay bricks, says FMB

A number of construction sites across the UK have ground to a halt due to heavy snow, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).Sarah McMonagle, Director of External Affairs at the FMB, said: “Heavy snow showers have led to many construction sites across the UK grinding to a halt. Some construction bosses have told their staff to take the rest of the week off and not return to work until Monday. But it’s not just the snow that’s playing havoc with construction projects – some firms are reporting that the freezing temperatures mean it’s too cold to lay bricks. The overall impact of bad weather on construction growth remains to be seen but this situation is concerning given that the FMB’s latest research shows that growth among construction SMEs slowed in the final three months of 2017. We hope that the cold weather we have seen this week is just a blip and that all workers will be able to get back on site in coming days.


Brits will throw out 108 million rolls of wrapping paper, 54 million platefuls of food – and use 189 million batteries over Christmas, a study has found.

But eight in 10 admit they don’t bother to try and justify the huge amount of waste they produce, with six in 10 saying they don’t feel at all guilty about what they throw away over the festive period.

A poll of 2,000 adults found the nation will also get through more than 40 million rolls of sticky tape and bin almost 100 million black bags full of packaging from toys and gifts.

Seven in 10 admit to buying far more food than they need, with two thirds saying at least some of the turkey usually ends up in the bin.

And rather than recycling where possible, many simply throw their wrapping paper, packaging and old Christmas cards out with the rubbish.

A spokesman for GP Batteries, which commissioned the research, said: “Christmas is a time of great celebration, but this can result in a huge amount of waste – many of which we don’t always do the right things with.

“And it seems many don’t worry about the amount of their Christmas produce that ends up in the bin, despite the nation as a whole trying to do all we can to cut down on waste at other times of the year.

“Reusing things, such as Christmas Cards or wrapping paper, or using rechargeable batteries are small things to most people but will drastically reduce the amount you end up throwing away.”

The study of 2,000 adults found the average household will get through four rolls of wrapping paper and throw away seven batteries over the Christmas period.

A roll-and-a-half of sticky tape will be used per household, while three-and-a-half black bags full of packaging will be thrown out.

The equivalent of a whole plateful of food will end up going to waste on Christmas Day, along with another plateful in the following days.

An average of 24 Christmas cards will also be discarded once the festive period is over, while 14 per cent will even be binning their fake Christmas tree this year.

But researchers, from, found many aren’t recycling or reusing their waste with one in five admitting to throwing their used wrapping paper into the bin.

More than one in four throw batteries into the bin, despite knowing they shouldn’t, while three in 10 still use disposables instead of rechargeables.

Others admit to throwing out leftover food rather than trying to use it in other meals and binning cards and packaging instead of recycling or reusing.

But one in six often try to justify the amount of waste they produce, with 34 per cent of those believing it’s just part of Christmas.

One in five think it’s OK as everyone else does it while 43 per cent believe it is impossible to avoid waste over the festive period.

It also emerged one in ten have even had rows with their family because of the amount of waste they produce.

As a result, many are trying to cut down on the waste they produce, with 48 per cent turning their Christmas dinner leftovers into other meals in the following days.

Forty-two per cent buy a fake tree instead of having to dispose of a real tree every year while a third simply buy less food than usual.

Others reuse Christmas cards as gift tags the following year, buy rechargeable batteries and even avoid wrapping presents at all.

A spokesman for GP Batteries added: “These days a battery is for life, not just for Christmas.

“A modern rechargeable battery can be used up to 1,500 times and over its lifetime – saving a fortune in cash and waste. Once you go rechargeable you never go back.”

Top ten things people have done to try and reduce their waste at Christmas:

  1. Turn leftovers into other meals

  2. Buy a fake tree to reuse every year

  3. Buy less food

  4. Reuse Christmas cards as gift tags the following year

  5. Use rechargeable batteries

  6. Order online but in one order to reduce the amount of packaging

  7. Send e-cards

  8. Buy fewer toys

  9. Order less online to cut down on packaging

  10. Don’t wrap presents at all                                                                                                                                                   Source: 


The Manufacturing sector has seen a dramatic fall in confidence in the third quarter, as Brexit talks stall and business organisations warn of increasing uncertainty across the UK.


Figures in the Q3 2017 UK Credit Managers’ Index (CMI), a quarterly barometer from the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM), shows a 10.6-point fall in confidence for Manufacturers from 64.0 to 53.4, despite a continually improving position in the previous two quarters.


The fall contributes to a Headline Index that is also in decline, settling 4.5 points down to 55.6, which includes a 1.4-point drop in Services. The positive impact of currency fluctuations on UK exports, seen as positive news in Q2, appears to have had only a temporary beneficial effect.


The Headline Index is also more pessimistic than the market; the FTSE All Share suggested an increase in business confidence, though the figures are far from convincing.


The CMI is important because it gauges nationwide levels of credit being sought and granted by credit professionals across the UK and acts as a primary indicator of actual levels of business being conducted. Certain ‘favourable’ and ‘unfavourable’ factors are measured to provide an overall view of confidence.


Perhaps most significantly, the ‘unfavourable’ factors (e.g. rejected credit applications, Days Sales Outstanding, overdues, disputes etc.) are all getting worse, with a particular lengthening in DSOs and overdues.


Philip King, Chief Executive of the CICM, says this is often the first sign of potential trouble: “When situations become tough, businesses hang on to their cash for longer, and that means the DSO and overdues figures will rise.”


Every single unfavourable factor experienced a decline, the overall index falling from 57.2 to 49.9 and below the critical 50.0-point threshold.


In Q2, Mr King warned that confidence, and the economy, were still fragile at best. ‘Favourable’ factors witnessed a small improvement, rising from 66.8 to 68.8, and certain sectors, notably construction, also reported improving conditions.


Confidence within the regions suggest a clear divide: many regions in the west (including Wales) and the North (including Scotland) were in decline, with the exception of certain pockets of resistance, such as the North West and Northern Ireland; most regions within the East, and notably the East Midlands, the South East and London remain positive.


The CMI is a diffusion Index, producing scores of between one and 100 (typically in a range of 40 – 60). Ten equally weighted factors are included – three favourable and seven unfavourable and the Index is calculated on a simple average of the 10 factors.

NFU urges Farmers to share best practice and reduce risk on farm

 The NFU has today hosted a Safe and Healthy Farming for All Ages event in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to improve health and safety within the farming sector.

 As part of the NFU’s latest health and safety initiative, 75 farmers and delegates attended the workshop held in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, which highlighted the importance of a proactive attitude towards minimising risk. A discussion focused on ways farmers can take a more preventative approach to health and safety.
NFU Vice President and Farm Safety Partnership Chair Guy Smith opened the event, alongside HSE Chair Martin Temple.
Mr Smith said:  “By far the most difficult part of my job as NFU Vice President is when the HSE notifies me of fatalities or injuries on farms.
“It is particularly disheartening that most of these accidents involve similar and reoccurring circumstances such as working in enclosed spaces with animals or on live machinery.”
“All industries involve an element of risk that must be managed, but at the moment we recognise the farming sector has a very poor safety record and we are doing all we can to address this.”
“In most instances, it only takes a bit of thought or simple precaution to make safe what could be a fatal or life-changing situation.”
“I don’t believe that farming is inherently dangerous, yet every day we farmers place ourselves in situations of unnecessary risk.”
“We need to adjust this culture as a matter of urgency, learn from each other and our past mistakes, and start preventing the risk from forming in the first place. I think younger farmers are leading the way here, and that everyone working in agriculture can learn a lot from their younger counterparts.”
“Accidents are not inevitable. By sharing ways to prevent or minimise risk with friends and neighbours we can drastically improve the safety record within the farming sector.”

New domestic policy can enhance home-grown food production says NFU 

A new domestic agricultural policy should ensure British farming continues to deliver for the economy, environment, and public well-being post-Brexit, the NFU President will tell the Green Conservatism Conference today.
NFU President Meurig Raymond will address the conference, organised by think tank Bright Blue, and say that Government and the industry must seize the opportunity to develop a bespoke deal once we leave the EU.
Mr Raymond said: “Brexit offers the farming industry the opportunity of a lifetime to develop a domestic policy that can meet, and go beyond, the expectations and needs of the public. Leaving the EU should be a catalyst for a clear vision and a much needed food plan and Government must take advantage of this.
“Farming already provides 61% of the food for the nation but we are confident a new domestic agricultural policy can give us the opportunity to enhance our ability to provide home-grown food for the nation while continuing our care for the countryside.
“It is crucial that we seize this opportunity and create the right policy framework for Britain. There is recognition that it is important to have a productive farming sector, 89% of the public believe this is the case, so it is vital that we get this policy right.”
The NFU’s vision for a domestic agricultural policy demonstrates how increasing productivity, managing volatility and enhancing the farmed environment is vital to delivering a bold and ambitious future for the farming sector.
“Improving farm productivity post-Brexit can have benefits that extend far beyond the farm gate,” Mr Raymond continues. “It can allow farmers to create more space for nature, further invest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and better manage nutrients.
“British farming is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, worth £109 billion and employing 3.8 million people. I am confident we can build on that if we make our domestic agricultural policy a success.”