NEWS DIGEST 08.01.2022: The UK’s energy crisis, other stories

Good morning and Happy New Year 2022. After the new year’s break, HEMNA is back to normal publishing schedules and today we bring our news direct from Google News‘ Business section.

Aston Martin sales surge, Valkyrie delays hit profit

One of Scotland’s two nuclear power plants has shut down after almost 46 years of generating electricity. Over its lifetime, Hunterston B had produced enough energy to power every home in Scotland for nearly 31 years. The plant was originally scheduled to only be in operation for 25 years, but investment meant its lifespan could be extended. WWF Scotland’s Lang Banks said its closure was “inevitable” – and growth in renewable energy means nuclear power is no longer required – Hunterston B: After 46 years, Scottish nuclear power plant shuts down (Sky News – Climate)

A year ago, a typical British household was paying £1,042 a year for its energy. By April this year, soaring wholesale gas and electricity prices are expected to push that bill to £2,000. As ministers try to mitigate the crisis in the cost of living, the immediate focus is on how to ease financial hardship for people this spring — but with analysts warning that high wholesale costs could be here for several years, questions are mounting, too, over what, if anything, can be done to address the root cause. The energy crisis has been made worse by the closure of nuclear plants, such as Hunterston B in Ayrshire, which has further increased reliance on gas-fired generation – ‘No quick fix’ to solve worsening energy crisis (The Times)

There lots of examples, but to pick one at random, here’s Stephen Crabb MP back in 2007: ‘Does the Minister agree that as the UK becomes steadily more reliant on imported natural gas, we will need substantially more gas storage facilities to provide a buffer against the risk of supply interruption?’. That would be the long-term effect of starting to unravel the system of levies applied to energy bills to help fund things like insulation and low-carbon energy generation and use. Ofgem, the energy regulator, reckons these add around £160 a year to an energy bill of £1,300. Some Conservative MPs dislike these levies, in some cases because they dislike the wider Net Zero agenda. Joining the chorus calling for levies to be removed are a couple of energy firms, who say the money concerned should be raised from taxes instead. This sounds fine in principle, but in reality would mean that long-term energy efficiency and decarbonisation would have to fight for funds alongside every other call on the Treasury’s general funds. Will he remain resolute as energy prices rise and the cost of living crisis bites deep? – The energy crisis is a failure of politics (The Spectator – Money)

Sainsbury’s is increasing hourly pay by more than 12% for grocery delivery drivers and more than 5% for its lowest-paid shop workers as staff shortages continue to affect British businesses. Basic pay for shop workers, at Sainsbury’s supermarkets and the Argos catalogue chain, will rise to a minimum of £10 an hour from the current £9.50 from 6 March. Argos drivers will receive an extra 25p an hour on top of basic pay in addition to a 75p existing supplement, taking their total to £11 an hour. Lidl announced in November that it would increase minimum pay from £9.50 to £10.10 an hour outside of London, a more than 6% increase, from March and £10.85 to £11.30 within the M25. Workers at the discounter can earn up to £12.25 an hour in London depending on length of service. Aldi is one of the few retailers to continue to pay staff for break times, making its overall pay deal even more generous – Sainsbury’s to increase shop workers’ pay to at least £10 an hour (The Guardian UK edition – News – Business – Retail)

Sainsbury’s is lifting its basic rate of pay to at least £10 an hour as part of a £100m investment aimed at retaining staff. The 5.3pc rise, which comes into effect in March and also applies to Argos workers, takes the chain’s pay to above the National Real Living Wage. Workers in central London will see their pay rise from £10.10 to £11.05, while for those in outer London it will increase from £9.75 to £10.50. Sainsbury’s will also roll out further pay rises for drivers as the battle to attract and retain staff intensifies. It comes after Lidl said it would lift wages for around 21,000 staff members – or 80pc of its workforce – Sainsbury’s gives workers 5.3pc pay rise to above national living wage (The Telegraph – Business)

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