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What is the UK's inflation rate and why is the cost of living going up?

UK inflation is rising at its fastest rate for 30 years as fuel, energy and food costs surge.

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The price rises are putting increasing pressure on household budgets.

Which prices are going up?
From 1 April, fuel bills for about 18 million households on standard tariffs will go up by an average of £693 when the energy cap goes up.

Some 4.5 million prepayment customers will see an average increase of £708. Fuel prices may go up again in October when the energy cap is next reviewed.

The rate of VAT - the tax paid when buying goods and services - is also going up for some businesses. The government reduced the rate paid by hospitality and tourism firms to 12.5% in July 2020, to help them recover from the pandemic.

However, from 1 April, VAT returns to the standard rate of 20%. Some companies have said they will pass this increase on to customers.

Why are prices rising now?
The main reason is the rising global price of energy which is affecting companies across the whole economy.

Wholesale gas prices in particular have risen sharply over the past year, forcing energy prices up, and putting a number of suppliers out of business.

The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), which publishes economic forecasts twice a year, has warned that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could have "major repercussions for the global economy", and push energy, petrol and food costs even higher.

Asian shares gain as BOJ defends ultra-easy stance, oil eases on Shanghai lockdown

Japanese shares led gains in Asian stocks on Tuesday as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) defended its ultra-easy monetary policy stance, while oil slid on fears of lower demand from China as Shanghai shut down to combat a COVID-19 surge.

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Japan's Nikkei gained 1.1per cent, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.67per cent, also helped by the first direct talks between negotiators in the Russia-Ukraine conflict in more than two weeks, even as fighting raged on.

Futures pointed to a higher open in European markets. EUROSTOXX 50 futures jumped 1.1per cent and FTSE futures rose 0.6per cent. U.S. S&P 500 futures were more muted, up 0.17per cent.

The BOJ vowed to keep monetary policy ultra-loose, offering to buy unlimited amounts of 10-year government bonds to prevent yields in Japan from rising as they are doing elsewhere following U.S. Federal Reserve's moves to hike interest rates in the face of mounting inflationary pressures.

The central bank was finding it tough going, however, as the 10-year JGB yield stood at 0.245per cent hovering near the BOJ's implicit 0.25per cent cap.

This also weighed on the yen, which was at 123.54 per dollar even after staging a small recovery from its bruising the day before.

"Excess volatility and disorderly currency moves could hurt economic and financial stability," Japan's top currency diplomat Masato Kanda told reporters on Tuesday, confirming the resolve of Japan and the United States to closely communicate on exchange-rate issues.

Weak local currencies rein in India, Thai export rates

Export prices of rice in top exporters India and Thailand fell this week on the back of a decline in domestic currencies, while traders awaited an upcoming harvest in Vietnam.

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India's 5per cent broken parboiled variety was quoted at $367 to $370 per tonne, down from last week's $371 to $378, edging lower on a depreciation in the rupee amid steady demand from key buyers.

"Wheat, corn and other grains prices have rallied in the last few weeks. Comparatively, rice is stable, and that's why buyers are making decent purchases," said an exporter based at Kakinada in southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

A weaker rupee increases traders' margin from overseas sales.

Thailand's 5per cent broken rice prices fell to $408-$412 per tonne, from $410-$428 a week ago as the Thai baht declined against the dollar.

The weak baht is leading to competitive prices and boosting sales, with more than 7 million tonnes of rice this year to be exported, exceeding its target, as per the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

However, logistics remained a challenge with insufficient ships and high freight rates, a trader said.

Niger terms Mali ex-PM's death an ‘assassination’

Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum has termed the death of former Mali Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga an "assassination".

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Mr Maïga died on Monday in custody at a hospital in the Malian capital, Bamako, where he was undergoing treatment.

He had been in detention since last August over corruption allegations.

A court ruled against a plea by Mr Maïga's family for medical evacuation as his health condition reportedly deteriorated.

"[The death of the former Malian prime minister] in prison is reminiscent of that of President Modibo Keita in 1977. I thought that such assassinations were from another era," President Bazoum said on Twitter.

The president's reaction could worsen strained relations between the neighbouring countries.

The privately owned news website ActuNiger said President Bazoum "would have done well to limit" his reaction.

Mali's interim leaders sent condolences to Mr Maïga's family in a statement that hailed the former PM as a "great servant of the state".

Political parties have demanded an inquiry into the death of Mr Maïga. He served as prime minister for several years in late President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta's administration, before it was ousted by Mali's current military rulers in August 2020.

New Leicestershire prison to be named after Roman road

A new Leicestershire prison will be named HMP Fosse Way following a consultation with the local community.

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In December the Ministry of Justice invited residents to send in suggestions for the new 1,700-space jail.

Now a panel has chosen to link it to the Roman road originally built between Exeter, Lincoln, Bath and Leicester, parts of which lie under the A46.

The £286m facility, set to open in 2023, will replace HMP Glen Parva.

More than 130 suggestions were considered by the panel of local representatives, including council leaders and South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The Fosse or Fosse Way name already features in a number of local businesses and venues.

Mr Costa said: "I was delighted to hear that so many local people have engaged with HM Prison and Probation Service's competition to find a name for the new Glen Parva prison.

"The community has already played a central part in the creation of the new prison, and so I very much look forward to continue working closely with the Ministry of Justice, and the new prison's operator to ensure that they remain proactive in maintaining these close ties with the local community and the people of South Leicestershire."

The neighbourhood leading a green energy revolution

An ambitious target of using hydrogen to partly power homes in the UK within three years has been set by the National Grid, the BBC has learned. On the east coast of Scotland, a small neighbourhood is playing a key role in this energy revolution.

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From next year, about 300 homes in Buckhaven, and Methil, in the area of Levenmouth, will be powered by green hydrogen gas in a project called H100. Customers will be offered free hydrogen-ready boilers and cookers in the scheme, which will initially last five and a half years.

For the first time in its history, the National Grid (NG) plans to use something other than natural gas in its distribution network and start blending hydrogen with natural gas in the next three years.

Yet, standing in the former Fife coal mining village of Buckhaven as a cold wind howls round buildings made of local grey stone, it's hard to imagine this is the centre of a groundbreaking experiment working towards the NG's ambitions.

But as soon as you walk towards Buckhaven waterfront, it's impossible to ignore. A 200-metre wind turbine, astonishing in its size and generating green energy, stands just off the coast, making a loud swoosh every couple of seconds, as the wind is picked up and thrown into the sea.

The region has a long, proud history of energy production from its mines, but now the focus is on more environmentally friendly natural resources.

The huge wind turbine will generate electricity to power an electrolyser, which turns water into hydrogen gas and oxygen. The hydrogen will then be stored in pressurised secure tanks, before being pumped into people's homes.

Хочу продать / One-off support payment due to begin
« : 12 Марта 2022, 08:22:50 »
One-off support payment due to begin

One-off £200 payments to help people struggling with rising energy costs are due to be rolled out on Friday.

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The scheme was due to begin on Thursday, but was delayed by a day due to a technical glitch.

It is expected to go to about 280,000 people in Northern Ireland after being agreed by the NI executive in January.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said more people could be helped if power sharing was fully restored.

She told BBC NI's Good Morning Ulster programme: "There's £300m that could be allocated to meet the needs of many others.

"My scheme had targeted the lowest incomes, those on means-tested benefits, but I recognise that there are many others who need support and need it now."

The £200 payments will be issued automatically to people who received one or more of five qualifying benefits during the week beginning 13 December 2021.

Сдаю в аренду / Is internet on verge of break-up?
« : 09 Марта 2022, 07:38:20 »
Is internet on verge of break-up?

The world, both physical and digital, finds itself in unprecedented times as the conflict in Ukraine rages.

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Corporate giants such as Meta, Google and Apple, who have always framed themselves as neutral tech firms, are now pinning their political colours to the mast - banning products in Russia in response to its invasion.

Meanwhile the internet itself is changing for Russian users - with Twitter and Facebook blocked, TikTok not allowing Russian users to post, and the police reportedly stopping people in the streets to look at what they are viewing on their phones.

Now there are questions about whether the conflict may not just alter the world's geography, but fundamentally change the nature of the global internet.

Should Russia be cut off from the internet?
The Ukrainian government has singled out individual tech firms to ask them to ban services in Russia, and the list of tech firms refusing to do business or sell products there is growing by the day.

Now Ukraine's tech-savvy leaders are calling for something bigger - for Russia to be completely unplugged from the global internet.

The calls were answered with an emphatic "No" from ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which is in charge of internet governance. It was asked to revoke Russia's top-level domains such as .ru along with the nation's associated Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates.

What is a Splinternet and how does it work?
For many, the calls for the cut-off were a dangerous slippery slope towards what is known as the Splinternet - where different countries have different versions of the internet.

The Great Firewall of China, as it is known, is perhaps the most obvious example of how a country can create its own web.

But in Iran too, net content is policed, and external information is limited by the state-owned Telecommunication Company of Iran.

Spotify closes its office in Russia in response to attack on Ukraine

Spotify said on Wednesday (Mar 2) it has closed its office in Russia indefinitely in response to what the audio streaming platform described as Moscow's "unprovoked attack on Ukraine".

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Since July 2021, Russian legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin has obliged foreign social media companies with more than 500,000 daily users to open local offices or be subject to restrictions as severe as outright bans.

Ahead of the March deadline, only a few companies, including Spotify, had complied.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week, which Moscow calls a “special operation”, Western governments have urged companies to push back on Putin in any way possible.

"Our first priority over the past week has been the safety of our employees and to ensure that Spotify continues to serve as an important source of global and regional news at a time when access to information is more important than ever," Spotify said in a statement.

Spotify said it has reviewed thousands of pieces of content since the start of the war, and restricted the discoverability of shows owned and operated by Russian state-affiliated media.

Bolsonaro won't condemn Putin, says Brazil will remain neutral over invasion

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday (Feb 27) declined to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, while departing from his government's official stance at the United Nations to say Brazil would remain neutral.

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Bolsonaro, a far-right populist, recently snubbed US entreaties not to visit Putin in Moscow ahead of the invasion, and angered Western allies by saying he was "in solidarity with Russia", without elaborating.

On Friday, Brazil voted for a draft UN Security Council resolution that would have denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite reluctance by Bolsonaro.

At a press conference, Bolsonaro said he spoke for two hours with Putin on Sunday. Brazil will remain neutral in the conflict, he said, noting that Russia and Ukraine were "practically brother nations".

"We will not take sides, we will continue being neutral, and help with whatever is possible," Bolsonaro said. "A big part of Ukraine's population speaks Russian."

Bolsonaro declined to elaborate on the Ukraine aspect of his call with Putin.

Asked by a reporter whether he was willing to condemn Putin's actions, he said he would wait for a final report, or see how the situation is resolved, before giving his opinion.

He added that he was against any sanctions that could bring negative repercussions for Brazil, citing Russian fertilisers which are crucial for its giant agribusiness sector.

Хочу снять / What do the stats tell us?
« : 24 Февраля 2022, 08:44:46 »
What do the stats tell us?

What can different statistics tell us about coronavirus in Wales?

Here we update some of SLOTXO TRUE WALLET the key data for measuring the pandemic and try to explain some of the different measures being used.

The emergence of the Omicron variant in December 2021 led to record case numbers and fears that a surge in cases could put pressure on hospitals already struggling - as a result, tighter rules were imposed on 26 December.

By the second week of January, case numbers began to fall quickly. One week later, the Welsh government was confident the peak had passed and on 28 January Wales moved to the lowest level of restrictions - alert level zero, followed by plans to ease more restrictions, including the end of Covid passes.

Another review of restrictions is expected by 3 March.

How many people are in hospital with coronavirus?
We saw record numbers of Covid cases in the community in the days after Christmas, but this did not translate into a significant rise in hospital cases.

The number of Covid patients has levelled out after being on a downward trend since mid-January. We also know that considerable numbers - more than 70% - are being treated primarily for other conditions and happen to test positive when admitted.

There was a rolling average of 436 hospital patients with confirmed Covid on 21 February, down 8% on a week ago.

There were 71% more people in hospital with confirmed Covid at the same point in 2021.

How many Covid hospital cases are directly due to Covid?
Nearly 74% of patients in hospital with confirmed Covid in the past week were patients being treated for other conditions.

Only 26.2% of patients in acute hospital beds with Covid were being primarily or "actively" treated for the virus.

It does not mean these patients cannot have complications because of having Covid, and it can still present challenges for patient management.

Broken down by health board, 91.8% of patients with confirmed Covid in Hywel Dda in the last seven days were being treated for other conditions - only 8.2% primarily for Covid.

In Cardiff and Vale, at the other end of the range, it was 62.5% with "incidental" Covid.

Хочу снять / Welsh ex-pats in Australia emotional over reunions
« : 21 Февраля 2022, 07:05:41 »
Welsh ex-pats in Australia emotional over reunions

A former Welsh rugby player who settled in Australia says he feels emotional about seeing his family for the first time in two years.

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Ben Evans' father and sisters have not met his three-month-old son Alby or seen two-year-old Ivy since she was a few months old.

Like thousands of welsh expats, he has been waiting a long time to see his family.

Australia's borders were slammed shut in March 2020 because of Covid.

Cardiff-born Evans, 46, played prop for Neath, Swansea and Cardiff Blues and won 27 Welsh caps between 1998 and 2004.

"I do wait for that moment, the opening scene in love actually. You take that moment in an airport when family and loved ones reunite. It's a wonderful moment I cannot wait for," he said.

"It's quite emotional really isn't it. It's been such a long time. We're not the only ones and we're so, so aware of that."

"We've got friends and loved ones who lost people to Covid and whilst I get slightly emotional about it sometimes I make sure I have a bit of a reality check sometimes because we are the lucky ones we haven't lost anyone."

Ben's wife Liz's mother flew to Sydney before Alby was born after the family applied for special dispensation.

But other family members have relied on technology to keep in touch.

A year ago, Ben's father, Alan Evans, 78, was hospitalised for 10 weeks after suffering a severe heart attack but has since made a good recovery.

Сдаю в аренду / Airbus workers vote for strike action in pay row
« : 16 Февраля 2022, 08:48:40 »
Airbus workers vote for strike action in pay row

Workers at Airbus plants in north Wales and Gloucestershire have voted to go on strike in a row over pay.

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The union Unite said 3,000 members voted "overwhelmingly" on the walk-out after previously rejecting an "unacceptably low" pay offer.

It said strike action at the Broughton and Filton sites, which make wings for commercial aircraft, could begin in March unless the offer was improved.

Airbus said it was disappointed but was looking to reach a solution.

Unite said workers deserved a suitable rise after pay was frozen in 2020 and members rejected an offer of a 2.5% increase back-dated to 1 January, plus a one-off £400 lump sum payment.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "This vote makes it abundantly clear that our members are totally dissatisfied with Airbus' unacceptably low pay offer.

"Airbus needs to acknowledge that and table a sensible offer, one that amply reflects rising living costs, before this dispute escalates further.

"The deal simply does not reflect our members' hard work and dedication, nor the sacrifices they have made over the last two years.

"There is no excuse - Airbus can well afford to pay its workers the decent rise they deserve and it should move to do so without delay."

Airbus said strike action would have a damaging impact on the firm's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic after it managed to avoid compulsory redundancies through the first waves.

Хочу продать / So what are Wales' new Covid rules?
« : 12 Февраля 2022, 07:21:00 »
So what are Wales' new Covid rules?

Rules on face masks are being relaxed and Covid passes will no longer be needed.

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Wales remains at alert level zero, the lowest level of Covid rules.

Rules limiting socialising in pubs, bars and restaurants have already been removed and nightclubs are able to open, as social distancing rules were scrapped.

From 18 February, Covid passes for entertainment venues, nightclubs and large events will no longer be needed.

And from 28 February, pupils will not have to wear face masks in class.

Also from 28 February, the law requiring face coverings in most public places will be relaxed.

However, they will still be needed in shops, public transport, hairdressers, salons and health and social care.

Take-Two revenue view falls short of estimates on thin games lineup

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc on Monday projected fourth-quarter revenue below market expectations, a sign that its thin lineup of new titles would overshadow the boost from the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise.

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The publisher of "NBA 2K" and "WWE 2K" games also missed estimates for net bookings - the total amount products and services sold digitally or in stores - in the last three months of 2021, sending its shares 3per cent lower after the bell.

The company has relied on the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise to bring in much of its revenue in recent years and last week teased the latest entrant in its best-selling game series.

But the botched launch last year of the remastered versions of old Grand Theft Auto titles, called "The Trilogy", has disappointed many gamers.

"Very occasionally, we fall short. And I think The Trilogy was an example of that," said Chief Executive Officer Strauss Zelnick, referring to the glitches in the games.

The company's slate for the year includes "WWE 2K22", "Kerbal Space Program 2" and "Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy" for mobile.

"Although GTA: Online continues to post solid growth ... the lack of content on other franchises is limiting growth," D.A. Davidson & Co analyst Franco Granda said.

The weak results from Take-Two, which has made an offer to buy "FarmVille" maker Zynga, follow similar earnings from rivals Activision Blizzard Inc and Electronic Arts Inc.

The video-game publishers are grappling with a slowdown in the pandemic gaming boom after COVID-19 curbs eased globally.

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