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Parliament ratifies Crossrail project
The Crossrail project has successfully completed its path through Parliament, paving the way for work to start on the largest civil engineering project in Europe. The line will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the West to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. ... more

Big jump in struggling firms
The number of companies experiencing ‘critical problems’ – those with county court judgements totalling over £5,000 or winding-up petition-related actions – in the second quarter of 2008 increased by 30% from the first. According to data released by business recovery company Begbies Traynor, there was also a seven-fold increase in the amount of companies experiencing such problems in ... more

Energy efficiency ‘main priority’
Reducing energy wastage is the main priority for UK businesses looking to lessen the impact of the economic slowdown, according to research by the Carbon Trust. The research found that energy efficiency scored higher than recruitment freezes, redundancies, salary freezes or giving below-inflation pay rises as a potential cost-saving measure. ... more

Google is top consumer brand
Search engine Google has become the UK’s top brand for the first time, beating Microsoft and Mercedes Benz into second and third place respectively. The survey of consumers, conducted by YouGov, follows a similar poll earlier in the year of marketing professionals, which also listed Google as number one. ... more

Business confidence at 12-year low
Confidence among employers has fallen to its lowest level since 1996, according to the Institute of Directors. Taken in conjunction with a report by the Ernst & Young Item Club, which forecast growth of just 1% in 2009, the news is gloomy reading for business owners hoping to avoid recession. ... more

Call for Equitable Life payout
The government should compensate Equitable Life policyholders who were hit by the pension provider’s near-collapse in 2000, which left thousands of people with reduced savings for retirement. The Parliamentary Ombudsman accused various government regulators of failing to use the powers that were available to them to safeguard the assets of policyholders. ... more

High street retail sales down
High street retail sales suffered in June as the impact of the credit crunch and unpredictable weather kept customers away from stores, the British Retail Consortium claims. The body said retailers had been unable to retain the surprise rise in sales that had been seen in May, and attributed that to a seasonal blip. ... more

Firms told to cut water waste
Businesses are being warned they face increased water bills if they fail to cut down on the amount they waste every day. Water bills have risen by an average of 18% over the past five years but government body Envirowise is encouraging firms to reduce the amount they waste if they want to avoid even more expensive bills in the future. ... more

Warning on extended maternity leave
Extending maternity leave to a year could adversely affect women’s career prospects, the chief executive of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has warned. Nicola Brewer warned that employers would be wary of recruiting women of childbearing age or offering them promotion to more senior roles if they thought they might disappear for a year on maternity leave. ... more

FSB backs local VAT plans
The Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed plans by the European Commission to allow VAT cuts on labour intensive and locally provided services. The move will allow national governments to cut tax in areas such as housing, domestic care services, personal care, gardening and restaurants. ... more

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