Insurers propose driving ban for under-25s

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has stated that drivers under the age of 25 should hold their license for two years before being able to drive between the hours of 11pm and 4am, however allowing certain exemptions such as work.


The ABI have also said in their proposed changes that young drivers shouldn’t drink any alcohol before taking to the wheel.


Added changes include a minimum learning period of a year before being able to take their driving test, and scrapping intensive driving courses.


The ABI believe these new changes will lower the amount of young drivers involved in serious injuries on the road and death from road accidents.


Drivers under the age of 25 are twice as likely to fail a breathalyser test and when driving late at night and early in the morning are more at risk.


Statistics show that one in four people killed or seriously injured in a road accident is a young driver or one of their passengers. However only 12 per cent of all driving license holders are under 25.


Nick Starling, ABI’s director of general insurance and health said: “Our proposals are not designed to drive young drivers off the road, but to ensure that they become safer drivers”.


“We must act to reduce the tragic loss of young lives on our roads”.


AA insurance have welcomes ABI plans to tackle the number of injuries and deaths on the roads, however disagree with a ban on night time driving or a zero-tolerance alcohol limit.


Simon Douglas, director of AA insurance said: “While we welcome the debate, the suggested night driving ban up to age 25 is just not practical”.


The AA instead said it would be better to reduce the drink-drive limit for everyone.


The insurance company have agreed with the ABI that telematic or ‘black box’ insurance can also help to place responsibility for driving within the law. Technology is used to measure driving performance including speed, braking and cornering.


In the New Year the AA is expected to launch telematics insurance, which will be aimed at new drivers.


Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Tougher times ahead for disability car cheats

Cheats who abuse the Motability Car Scheme are in for a tougher time.

The warning comes as the disability car charity moves to fully implement changes following a review of the car scheme earlier this year.

During the last financial year, more than 7,000 allegations of fraud or abuse were investigated and action taken in over 2,000 cases. More than 800 customers had their leases terminated and their cars withdrawn.

The charity reached a milestone a couple of months back with the addition of its 3 millionth car, and Motability chairman Lord Sterling took the opportunity to hit back at confusion and criticism surrounding the scheme and its relationship with the government.

Lord Sterling said, “Following a number of recent press articles, I would first like to clarify the relationship between Motability and the Disability Living Allowance . DLA is a government benefit to help with the extra costs arising from disability. The Department for Work and Pensions determine who is eligible for DLA, based on an application completed by a disabled person.

“Motability is an independent charity and is not part of government. It has no role in determining who should receive DLA; that is solely the responsibility of the DWP. Once in receipt of the higher rate mobility component of DLA, the disabled person is able to join the Motability Scheme. When a customer applies to lease a car from the Motability Scheme, we confirm with the DWP that they are in receipt of the allowance for at least 12 months and therefore eligible to join the scheme.

“Motability has close to 600,000 cars on the road today. As the DWP recently stated, Motability plays a key role in ensuring that disabled people who most need help getting around and living a normal life can do so. At present, DWP is reforming DLA to ensure that those disabled people who most need this vital support continue to receive it. As we have done with every government over the last 33 years, we are working closely with the current government to ensure that Motability supports those disabled people with the greatest need.”

Lord Sterling conceded with any organisation with almost 600,000 customers there was always going to be a small minority who would try and abuse the scheme.

And he added, “Motability works with a range of partners, including for example motor dealers, the DVLA and the police, to ensure that effective procedures are in place to protect the scheme and to ensure that we respond effectively to all allegations of scheme misuse. During our last financial year, a number of steps were taken to further improve liaison with the police, including a memorandum of understanding signed with the Association of Chief Police Officers.

“Over this period, we dealt with 7,144 allegations relating to fraud or abuse of the scheme. These included cases of uninsured driving, unauthorised use of scheme cars, drink-driving and even criminal activity, many of which led to prosecution by the police.

“Enforcement action was taken by Motability in 2,139 cases, including 829 customers who had their agreements terminated and their cars withdrawn. In addition, 486 applicants were suspended or permanently excluded from the scheme. We will continue to invest in this activity to protect the reputation of the scheme and of the vast majority of our disabled customers.”

Falklands war surrender documents to go under the hammer

FOUR incredibly rare artefacts from the Falklands War are to go under the hammer, including surrender documents which would normally be housed in government archives.

The lots, three ‘instruments of surrender’ and a map of the Falklands, are key relics from the 1982 British-Argentine war.

All four documents bear the signatures of high-ranking military officials from both sides of the conflict and then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Though the surrender documents – one for the Falklands Islands themselves and one for South Georgia – are facsimiles, they are graced with the genuine signature of the Iron Lady and Major General Sir Jeremy Moore, commander of the British Forces during the conflict.

The lots will go under the hammer on November 17, and could fetch up to £16,000 in total.

And auctioneers say that this is the closest collectors will come to owning the real versions of the state documents, the originals of which are most likely stored in the National Archives.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, historical documents experts at Mullock’s Auctioneers, in Ludlow, Shropshire, said that he believes the documents are faxes or copies of faxes sent to Whitehall.

Because state documents are usually archived and stored under heavy protection, it would be impossible for a collector to get their hands on an original.

Mr Westwood-Brookes said:”I’ve never seen one of these state documents come up for auction before.

“The originals may be kept somewhere in Whitehall or even in the Imperial War Museum, but they will be unobtainable to the average person.

“It’s the nearest you’re going to get to the original thing.

“Even though they were produced on modern technology or modern technology of the time, at least, and faxed over to London, they are still state documents in the way that the original documents for Agincourt are state documents.

“Like any parliamentary document, they are kept from way back, but you’d never ever be able to buy the original.”

He said that the map – which is an original and bears the signature of Sir Rex Hunt, Civil Commissioner for the Falkland Islands at the time of the war – was produced by the British in 1966.

But it also bears an Argentine stamp, suggesting that it was used operationally by the invading forces.

Mr Westwood-Brookes said: “Although they are copies the map is original, I am certain that is from the original conflict.

“When we left the island when the Argentines invaded, we tried to trash everything, tried to destroy everything that would have been useful to them to prevent it falling in to the hands of the enemy.

“This one slipped through the net and gave the Argentines a detailed map of the Falklands that they could use.

“I’m fairly certain it would have been their campaign map for the war.”

He added that he expected the documents to generate a lot of interest due to the ‘unique’ nature of the war.

“It was the last war that we fought on our own.

“Everything else recently we have only been part of a combined force which inevitably involves the American army.

“In fact, it was the only war that we fought in the 20th century on our own – the last throe of the British Empire, and a conflict like it will never happen again.”


Primark exceeds expectations and plans expansion

Further Primark stores will continue to open, despite the retail giant seeing a dip in full-year profits.

However although the stores profits are thought to have fallen 8 per cent, like many of its competitors – it decided to absorb increases in costs.

The low-priced clothing store decided to absorb not only the increased rate of VAT , but also the almost doubling cotton prices.

Primark saw like for like sales increase 3 per cent – luring shoppers in by focusing on value and increasing promotions.

Despite tough times Primark’s chef executive, George Weston said there are ‘exciting’ opportunities to expand and open new outlets in all of the coutries where is trades, including Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany.

Over the past ten years Primark has doubled store numbers to 223, with 19 opening last year – 11 of these in the UK.

ABF (Associated British Foods) which also makes Twinings tea, Silver Spoon sugar and Kingsmill bread, said group profits were up 1 per cent to £920million as it benefited from higher margins in its sugar production arm.

The grocery division saw profits increase 9 per cent to £249million, driven by a strong performance from Twinings, which is the fastest growing tea brand in the United States.

Martin Deboo, an analyst at Investec, said ABF’s profits were better than the City expected, driven by a strong performance from its sugar division.

‘This reflects a difficult year by Primark’s standards, driven by margin pressure from weak consumer demand and rampant cotton prices.’

Shares rose 26p (2.3 per cent) to 1,138p after it said it expects further growth in the current year.

Carphone Warehouse to close UK Best Buy Stores

Carphone Warehouse have announced that 11 of their Best Buy consumer electronics stores will be closing. This is less than two years after they opened.


Stores will be axed across the southeast and Midlands with the likely loss of around 1,100 jobs. The company had hoped to create 8,000 jobs and open stores throughout the UK and Europe.


Charles Dunstone the founder of Carphone Warehouse is in line for a substantial windfall as he prepares to sell the mobile phone retailer’s US business for up to £1billion.


The British retailer owns a 50 per cent stake in the joint venture, with a value between £620 and£1billion.


Shareholders are expected to receive a portion of the proceeds made in the form of a special dividend.


In partnership with Best Buy, 11 warehouse-sized stores were opened in Britain two years ago as a predecessor to 100 outlets around Europe. However following a strategic review of the ‘Big Box’ shops, which are set to lose a staggering £80million this year, they will be closed.


Stores are located in Aintree, Bristol, Croydon, Derby, Enfield, Hayes, Hedge End, Merry Hill, Nottingham, Rotherham and Thurrock.


This information comes following results published by accountants BDO, which shown that non-food high street sales dropped by 3 per cent in October compared to the previous year’s figures.


Non-store sales including Internet and catalogue orders however were up to 20.7 per cent compared to last October. This information shows a further rise in online shopping which has hit high street retail badly.


Best Buy Europe was formed in 2008 when the company spent £1.1billion in a deal with Carphone Warehouse to buy 50 per cent of their retail shops, launching their own branded stores across the UK.


However the company’s problem is an example of a wider crisis of consumer confidence that has swept the high street.


This move has meant other electronic retailers such as Comet and Argos are continually under pressure following the drawback on customers buying big-ticket items or choosing to shop online.


By Charlotte Greenhalgh 





99p bra hits the struggling high street

WITH the economy in crisis and the days getting darker it’s a depressing time of year, but one company is hoping to give cash-strapped punters a lift – with a 99p BRA.


Customers can snap up the recession BUST-ing lingerie for less than the price of a cup of coffee.


Its makers claim that the bra, the first to be sold for under a quid, has a ‘silky, satin smooth feel’ to rival its higher-priced counterparts.


Discount retailer 99p Stores will start stocking the padded bra, available in black, white and ‘natural’ colour from today (FRI).


Made mostly from polyester, it also features a decorative bow at the front.


The store is hoping the budget bra, available in sizes 32-36C, will match the success of its ‘itsy bitsy teenie weenie 99p bikini’, launched in 2009.


Its release comes just a day after US lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret unveiled a USD2.5 million, diamond-studded bra to be worn by supermodel Miranda Kerr at its annual fashion show.


And in a further attempt to set itself against luxury brands, the cheeky retailer is about to open a store next door to a branch of posh department store Harvey Nichols.


Boss of 99p Stores, Hussein Lalani, said that the company decided to launch the garment nationally after a successful trial in a few of its stores.


He said: “The response has been very good. Obviously, due to the tough economic times everyone is looking to save money where ever they can and I guess this bra has hit the market at the right time.


“I’m confident we’ve produced the best value bra in the country.”


He added that the company, which already produces a range of lacy knickers, was working on a design a matching bra.


He said: “Who knows? We might see the first 99p lingerie set soon.”


Model NAME, AGE was one of the first to try out the new bra.


The pretty blonde/brunette from PLACE said that she was surprised at how the bra compared to department store and high street equivalents.


She said: “I was a bit apprehensive at first because I’ve bought low-priced bras before and they were very uncomfortable.


“But this one was actually really pleasant, and I could see myself wearing it to work.”


NAME even said that the sassy black version of the garment might not just be reserved for during the day.


She said: “I’d feel confident wearing this for my boyfriend in the bedroom – although I doubt he’d care much about how much it cost!”