Childcare crisis hurting economy, say small firms ahead of Spring Budget

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on the Chancellor to tackle the childcare crisis and take proactive measures to help more people work in his Spring Budget.

Childcare providers are facing insufficient Government funding are currently caught in a tough spot – either having to shut for good or pass the costs onto already-struggling parents and carers.

The economic impact is far-reaching as it becomes unviable for some parents to work, forcing them to choose between childcare and their careers, holding back economic capacity in the short and long term.

FSB’s five-point plan to tackle the issue head on will help small businesses in the early years sector run sustainably, while enabling parents to stay in the workforce:

  • Stop the funding gap: the Government funds 30-hours of free childcare for 38 weeks of the year, but providers struggle with a shortfall and are forced to pass the extra
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Octopus hits back at challenge to Bulb deal arguing it was more ‘nimble’ than rivals

Octopus Energy has hit back at the energy firms challenging its takeover of Bulb Energy, with the supplier’s lawyer arguing in court today that the company was simply more “nimble” and “saw an opportunity that others missed” in its deal-making with the government.

Its lawyer argued that the rival suppliers were not concerned about how to advance public interest in the energy crisis, and were challenging the deal because it went against their commercial interest – with Octopus proving to be an increasing threat to their market share.

“These claimants are members of what is known as the Big Six, and by contrast Octopus was established in 2016 and its market share has steadily increased,” he said.

The company was defending its takeover of Bulb in the final session of a three-day judicial review at the Royal Court of Justice in London, which has involved three other Big Six suppliers … Read more

Nationwide limits crypto exchange payments as consumer risk fears grow

Several UK banks have restricted their customers from buying crypto assets as concern grows about the risks posed by digital currency to customers.

In an email to customers earlier this week, Nationwide said it would not allow payments to crypto exchanges using its credit cards and would impose a £5,000 daily limit on current account crypto spending.

The building society cited concerns from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) over possible risks to consumers.
A Nationwide spokesperson said: “To help protect our members from cryptocurrency scams, the Society has introduced a daily limit on debit card payments to crypto assets of £5,000 per day.”

“Members will also be prevented from using a Nationwide credit card to purchase crypto assets.”

HSBC also introduced restrictions on the purchase of crypto currencies, with customer prevented from purchasing cryptocurrencies using an HSBC credit card from February.

HSBC said this was because of the possible risk … Read more

Matt Hancock leaked Whatsapps not ‘a matter’ for data breach inquiry, says regulator

Matt Hancock’s leaked Whatsapps about the Covid-19 pandemic are not a subject for a data breach investigation “at this stage”, a top regulator has said.

Journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who worked with former health secretary Hancock on his book, Pandemic Diaries, handed over thousands of Whatsapp messages to the Telegraph.

The paper published claims including that Hancock rejected care home test advice and that then-education secretary Gavin Williamson said teachers wanted an “excuse” not to work.

But watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – which monitors data protection regulation compliance, including GDPR – said the disclosures were not a “matter” for them.

A spokesperson said: “At this stage we do not see this as a matter for the ICO but there are questions around the conditions on which departing members of government retain and subsequently use official information which need to be considered by organisations such as the Cabinet Office.”

In … Read more

Drivers offered share in EV charging start-up Bonnet

Bonnet, an electric vehicle charger aggregator in the UK and Europe, is inviting its more than 150,000 strong driver community to join top-flight global investors in taking a stake in the company, as it accelerates its popular service across the continent.

This news comes as Bonnet has more than doubled its coverage in Europe in just three months, and now boasts over 200,000 chargers where EV drivers can easily start charging through its award-winning app in 12 countries.

Since launching in 2021, Bonnet has rapidly expanded its user-friendly and reliable way to charge electric cars for an ever-increasing number of drivers. With its success, the London headquartered start-up now wants to give its users an opportunity to take a stake in its mission to make charging accessible for all.

Over the next year, Bonnet plans to build on its unique product with a large focus on reliability and to further … Read more