Water regulators taken to task in damning report by MPs

England faces a serious risk of running out of water within 20 years because the three regulators failed to show leadership and took their “eye off the ball”, a cross-party committees of MPs has said.

In a damning report, the public accounts committee said the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, the financial regulator Ofwat and the Environment Agency had failed to be clear with the privatised water monopolies over how they should balance investment in infrastructure with reducing customers’ bills. 

As a result, more than 3bn litres, or a fifth of treated water, is lost to leakage every day: a situation the committee described as “wholly unacceptable”.

“Ponderous” water companies have made “no progress” in reducing leakage over the past 20 years, the MPs said.

Although Ofwat has set new targets for water companies to reduce leakage by 16 per cent between 2020 and 2025, the MPs said

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Huawei ban could lead to mobile phone blackouts, MPs warned | Science & Tech News

There could be mobile phone blackouts across the UK if the government forces phone companies to strip Huawei out of their networks, MPs have been told.

BT and Vodafone executives today warned parliament that if the government forced them to completely remove Huawei’s equipment from their networks suddenly, it would cost billions of pounds and lead to customers losing phone signal for several days.

The science and technology committee hearing follows reports that the government is set to order the phasing out of the Chinese company’s technology from the UK’s networks due to security concerns.

The UK is reassessing its previous decision to allow Huawei equipment a limited role within the country’s 5G networks following new sanctions imposed by the US government.

“If the current guidance were to be tightened and further restrictions were to be imposed, we would need to spend in the order of billions to change our

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Businessman arrested over job retention scheme fraud

A 57-year-old businessman from the West Midlands has become the first person to be arrested for an alleged £495,000 fraud of the UK government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.

HM Revenue & Customs said the man from Solihull was detained on Wednesday on suspicion of “cheating the public revenue, fraud by false representation, VAT evasion and money laundering.”

As part of the arrest, officers seized computers and other digital devices and froze funds held in a bank account relating to the suspect’s business, the tax authority said.

Richard Las, acting director, Fraud Investigation Service, at HMRC, said: “The vast majority of employers will have used the [job retention scheme] responsibly, but we will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse of the scheme.”

“This is taxpayer’s money and any claim that proves to be fraudulent limits our ability to support people and deprives public services of essential funding.”

Since it

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Coronavirus: Brooks Brothers joins US retail casualty list | Business News

It has clothed generations of Americans for more than 200 years, including 40 of the country’s 45 presidents, but Brooks Brothers has just become the latest US retailer – and probably the most high-profile – to turn up its toes.

The company, which for the last 19 years has been owned by the Italian businessman Claudio del Vecchio – whose father founded the Luxottica eyewear group – filed for bankruptcy protection late on Wednesday, revealing it has an estimated 25,000 creditors.

While in Britain a host of well-known retailers have gone into administration since the COVID-19 pandemic began, including Debenhams, Kath Kidston, TM Lewin, Oak Furnitureland, Monsoon, Oasis and Warehouse, the US has also been rocked by a number of high profile retail failures.

Image:
Claudio del Vecchio bought Brooks Brothers from M&S in 2001

They include the 113-year old department store operator Neiman Marcus, its rival JC Penney and

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