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Posts posted by Ignorantbliss

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/oct/15/foreign-lorry-drivers-to-be-allowed-to-make-more-uk-deliveries-cabotage


    Foreign lorry drivers will be able to make an unlimited number of pick-ups and drop-offs in a fixed period in the UK under changes to rules proposed by the government to prevent shortages of products in the run-up to Christmas and into the new year.

    On Thursday, ministers announced a consultation on a plan to increase deliveries in the UK by temporarily changing so-called “cabotage” rules, which govern how many trips foreign transport firms can make within another country.

    Currently, hauliers from the EU can only pick up and drop off goods in the UK twice in a seven-day period, but the proposals would allow them to make an unlimited number of deliveries across two weeks.

    If approved, the plans would come into force before the end of the year and last for six months.

    But lorry drivers reacted strongly against the move, saying “we don’t want cabotage to sabotage our industry”.

    The lorry driver shortage in the UK – caused by the effects of Brexit, the pandemic and other factors – has affected petrol stations, supermarkets and has led to containers stacked up at Felixstowe port unable to be moved.

    The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said the effect of the proposed change to cabotage rules was the “equivalent of adding thousands of extra lorry drivers to the road, but we don’t have to do anything with visas in order to do this”.

    I suspect a career change to HGV driver has become a lot less attractive for many in the UK, who honestly believes they will not keep extending the scheme....

  2. 3 minutes ago, Tiger131 said:

    That's no cheap trailer.

    Amazing actually just how expensive they are round here, this is the cheapest on the market at 69k.  Dread to think the heating costs for that in the winter, or do you just wear multiple thick jackets instead with the added bonus of them cushioning you if you trip over.  Quality of life over quantity looks more and more attractive.


  3. 7 minutes ago, scottbeard said:

    The classic HPC anecdotalism strikes again.  Rather than picking a single product over a slightly odd choice of 54 week period, and assume it's meaningful.

    Maybe it would be more meaningful to look at a wider basket of goods and services, and look at them every single month?

    Except the ONS already does that, and then people ignore it as "massaged" or "lies" 🙄

    Oh, so sorry for making an observation based on what I've seen/heard, I'll shut up now seeing as observations are not apparently allowed.  

    That "odd choice" is down to when I have receipts with that product showing a price change.

  4. Was shopping in Lidl last night and overheard two different groups complaining at how prices are going up quickly, so inflation is being noticed by joe public.

    Lidl have an app for discount coupons etc.  What is interesting though is that it keeps a digital receipt for every transaction you make.  Thus, tracking price changes over time for specific products you buy is easy to do.

    As example, trend over last year for a 1kg pack of 5% fat steak mince (bought in North Scotland, not sure if Lidl do any regional price differentials).

    28th Sept 2020 = £4.75

    19th July 2021 = £4.79

    20th Sept 2021 = £4.89

    11th Oct 2021 = £5.09

  5. Quote

    Plentiful gas supplies could have been secured at a reasonable price if the Government had proceeded to exploit the massive reserves of shale gas on which Britain sits. But two years ago, after almost a decade of failure and running scared of powerful environmental lobbies, it turned its back on 'fracking', a process of getting gas out of the ground which had ended America's dependence on Middle East fossil fuels and turned it into a net exporter of energy.

    Really wish commentators would make the effort to get to understand more the fracking experience in the USA before spouting out about how easy it would be to replicate here.
    What commentators always forget to mention is that fracked wells are not like "traditional" oil and gas wells.
    Traditional wells take many years to become uneconomic to produce from (decades in fact for a lot of them in the North Sea).  
    Fracked wells in complete contrast have extremely high production rates (which look great in PR graphs) - but that only applies for the first few months.
    Thereafter the production rates decline extremely rapidly, making wells uneconomic to produce from within just a few years.
    So the cost of gas production from fracked wells is a lot more than "traditional" gas wells producing from natural reservoirs as the fixed costs of drilling/producing the well have to be recovered over a much shorter period of time (i.e. cost of drilling the well, the cost of decommissioning the well etc).  
    The really big issue though is that fracking for gas is utterly dependent on people being willing to tolerate the almost continuous drilling of multiple wells in close proximity to each other - directional drilling from a single drilling pad as Cuadrilla has been doing only helps a bit in mitigating the number of drilling locations needed.
    Now, are local communities here going to put up with that?
    They can get away with it in the USA for one simple reason - very low population densities in the drilled areas, where the other associated issues (pollution, seismicity) are of limited concern as there are few people affected by it.
    The geology here in the UK also doesn't help - the basins being drilled in the US are more homogeneous with less tectonic fracturing.
    Fracked gas is a valuable resource, but the economics behind it are dubious unless hydrocarbon prices are very high. 
    The amount of debt racked up by the fracking companies in the US ($300bn+) is eye-watering and I do wonder if it's another potential black swan event as interest rate increases will absolutely kill the industry unless its supported by high oil/gas prices.
    It's a classic example of how quantative easing over the past decade+ has had interesting consequences - https://www.oilystuffblog.com/single-post/2017/10/30/us-oil-floated-on-cheap-money


    In a normal world, some of the oil producers who signed long-term drilling contracts in the good years would have gone bankrupt from 2011 on, but they kept getting refinanced. As Tom Ward, a longtime exploration and production person from Oklahoma City, says: “Quantitative easing really was driving the whole energy market after 2008. The producers had three- to five-year contracts for rigs left from 2014 and before, and they had to pay whether they drilled or not.” So they continued to drill until this past year.  

    This blog site is really interesting if you want to get a old-book oilman's view of the industry these days - https://www.oilystuffblog.com/

    Not that the debt issue has not been unreported over there, some recent articles... - https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/energy/shales-bust-shows-basis-of-boom-debt-debt-and-debt/2020/07/22/0e6ed98c-cc41-11ea-99b0-8426e26d203b_story.html


    Also note that fracking in the US is mainly for oil, not gas (this is commonly burnt off as a byproduct as it cannot be brought to the market economically).

  6. https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2021/oct/04/bridgerton-emmy-winner-marc-pilcher-dies-covid


    Marc Pilcher, the Emmy-winning hair stylist and makeup designer known for his work on Bridgerton, has died of Covid at the age of 53.

    News of Pilcher’s death comes just weeks after he won a Creative Emmy for his work on the Netflix hit.

    He was double-vaccinated and had no underlying health conditions, as confirmed to Variety by his agency, Curtis Brown.


  7. Interesting BBC article, goes to show the Scottish housing market is a bit different from elsewhere with the removal of government props.

    Note the begging plea from the builders to keep subsidising new houses.



    BBC Scotland's Disclosure has been hearing from young people either priced out of home ownership in the city or unable to find affordable rent.

    As well as the increase in average house prices, Edinburgh has seen steeper rises in rent prices - around 46% - than any other part of Scotland.

    "The market just now is absolutely frantic," said Gary Middlemass, an Edinburgh estate agent with 40 years' experience.

    "There is simply not enough properties coming on. When something does come on the market there tends to be a lot of interest, which pushes up prices."

    However, two Scottish government schemes to aid first-time buyers are coming to an end.

    The Help to Buy scheme, which supported more than 17,000 new build house sales over the last eight years, is closed to new applications and will end in March 2022.

    Last year, 80% of those accessing the scheme were first-time buyers, more than half of purchases involved two people and the average household income of applicants was £42,000.

    Meanwhile, the First Home Fund, which assisted 9,000 buyers in just over a year, has been closed despite its early success.

    The Scottish government has said the decision to scrap the schemes is a result of cuts to its financial transaction budget by the UK government.

    'Limited resources'
    House builders say their cancellation will "limit the life choices" of young people hoping to buy a home.

    "I've got real concerns about the people in the middle, those who can't get on to the housing market," said Nicola Barclay, chief executive of industry body Homes for Scotland.

    "They're earning just a little bit too much, so they can't get a social house. And private rent is stopping them from saving up the kind of deposits that they need to then move onto the housing ladder.

    "Their choices are just really limited now."

    She highlighted that in England the Help to Buy scheme still exists and is targeted at first-time buyers. Another initiative has also been introduced in England called First Homes, which is a form of shared ownership.

    "We have nothing equivalent in Scotland now," said Ms Barclay.

    "I think it is so unfair that a young adult who has chosen to live and work in Scotland, is unable to buy a house whereas if they had exactly the same job in England, they could do."

    Housing Secretary Shona Robison described first purchase figures as "very buoyant" but defended the decision to close both initiatives.

    "The evidence was showing us that actually people using that [Help to Buy] scheme could afford to buy their own home," she said. "But with government assistance they were perhaps buying a bigger property and a more expensive property.

    "We have a judgement to make with limited resources. We believe the best investment for those resources is to help those who could not afford to buy their own home without government assistance."

    'Forever home'
    In 2007, the Scottish government predicted house price inflation would cause problems for lower income families. Then Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said 35,000 homes of all types had to be built a year to reset the balance.

    However, Scotland's house building industry has yet to return to the pre-financial crash levels of 25,000 a year.

    The rising costs in Edinburgh has also put pressure on the city's social housing stock, with 21,000 applicants currently on the waiting list.

    Families find themselves either priced out by rising rent costs, or given notice to leave their homes as landlords looking to sell take advantage of the increase in house prices.

    "I'm not going to pretend it is easy for people, " said housing convenor, councillor Kate Campbell.

    "We have 6,000 people who are currently homeless and we don't have a huge supply of social housing, that's why we're building more."

    In the last decade, 8,390 affordable homes have been built in the city. Another 2,100 are currently under construction.

    Meanwhile, the city is also seeing a growth in so-called "Build to Rent" properties - private rented flats aimed at those unable to afford a mortgage but unlikely to get into social housing.

    Across Scotland, nearly 10,000 are in the pipeline, with more than 3,000 in Edinburgh.

    The Scottish government has pledged to build 110,000 affordable homes - 70% of which will be social rent - before 2032


  8. https://theferret.scot/north-sea-oil-250-billion-tax-break/



    Really surprised the media does not discuss more the decommissioning costs for North Sea oil, a lot of this is financed via tax reliefs.  Now is that a form of subsidy?  The oil companies look at it as a tax refund, example below from Shell....


    Shell and Esso will be paying the decommissioning costs for the Brent Field. The tax relief we will get back is not a subsidy or a new cost to the taxpayer – it’s a refund – i.e. the tax has already been paid by Shell and Esso in previous years

  9. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-house-price-index-scotland-july-2021/uk-house-price-index-scotland-july-2021


    Annual price change by local authority for Scotland

    Local authorities


    July 2021


    July 2020



    Aberdeenshire £193,078 £176,721 9.3%
    Angus £157,026 £147,396 6.5%
    Argyll and Bute £164,361 £138,538 18.6%
    City of Aberdeen £148,431 £140,454 5.7%
    City of Dundee £143,374 £125,473 14.3%
    City of Edinburgh £309,227 £285,179 8.4%
    City of Glasgow £158,450 £138,686 14.3%

    All positive figures for this neck of the woods, awaiting now the ramping from the P&J.

  10. Aberdeenshire NE Scotland.

    Definitely more houses coming on for sale in the last month compared to earlier in the year and selling fast (couple of weeks) if they are in good nick and in the country.  Not monitoring Aberdeen.

    Have to wait for the pricing information to make its way through to the land registry.  Houses we viewed in May (around Banchory) have come up as going for the asking price.  That in itself is a change as last few years they have normally sold just under the asking price.

  11. https://www.scottishhousingnews.com/article/highland-council-agrees-short-term-lets-limitations


    This is basically a mirror of the situation in Cornwall with short term holiday lets destroying the rental market for locals.

    Going forward, looks like a change of usage will require planning permission.  The local council seem to have the support of the Scottish Government so this will go through in the months ahead.  What will be interesting to see in the long term is how many conversions they will actually allow, there are a lot of VI's in that area so risk of it being just a PR exercise.

    Also be fascinating to see if they roll it out to other parts of the Highlands - Skye in particular.


    Members of the Highland Council have agreed to progress a motion to use planning laws to limit the number of short-term lets in communities.

    The proposal, put forward by the four Badenoch and Strathspey councillors, received overwhelming support from members of the council.

    Bill Lobban, who presented the motion, urged that issues with the housing stock have reached “crisis point”.

    The proposal, if approved by the Scottish Government, would give the Highland Council the right to limit the conversion of homes for short-term lets.

    Councillors cited the rising number of properties for use as Airbnbs and “party houses” as a concern and barrier in allowing young people to climb onto the property ladder.

    The new legislation would allow for greater scrutiny in the change of use of properties, The Press and Journal reports.

    If approved, the area of Badenoch and Strathspey will become a let control area, meaning planning consent would be required for change of use. Locals would also be given the opportunity to comment on applications.

    Mr Lobban said that there have been instances where “new supposedly affordable homes” are being “bought off plan to become holiday lets”.

    He added that tourism is the “lifeblood” of Badenoch and Strathspey with the whole economy depending on it.

    However, Mr Lobban said that there must be a balance. He said the proposal will “allow people to feed into the planning system and be part of the decision-making process for something which is having a massive impact on their community”.



  12. Surprised this has not been put up already (or did I miss it).


    Some interesting comments as well, must have been reading this forum..


    The pandemic accelerated a shift towards remote working, and has meant big savings for some parts of society. If you add in to the picture government support through stamp duty holidays, as well as historically low mortgage rates, you have a rapid increase in the number of buyers.

    "We have definitely got a supply and demand issue. We have gone weeks, just like other agents, listing just one or two. People are reluctant to put their house on the market because they have nowhere to buy," she says.

    "Any tax incentive is now all but gone unless you are a cash buyer, so the group of buyers in the market right now are motivated by other things, with low mortgage rates a key driver, along with a new group reviewing what their longer term working pattern means for where they could live," says Tim Bannister, director of property data at Rightmove.

    Pity they are not allowing comments on the article.

  13. 4752.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=forma



    Disastrous season means UK shoppers could pay 50% more for pasta

    Shoppers can expect to pay more for their pasta in coming months amid shortages of its key ingredient following a disastrous growing season.

    A scramble for durum wheat has pushed the price up nearly 90% this summer after drought and soaring temperatures hit farms in Canada, one of the biggest producers.

    There are also supply issues in Italy, with one food industry expert predicting a packet of spaghetti could end up costing up to 50% more.


  14. Had a browse of the local rescue centres and Pets4Home site just now and the most obvious change from a few weeks ago is that there are a lot more dogs appearing on the rescue sites.  Most with behavioural issues as well, good luck in rehoming them...

    What does surprise me a bit more is that the prices are still very high for puppies in the local area (50 mile or so radius of Aberdeen) with the vast majority of listings being £1k+ and the fashionable mongrel types still going for £1.5k+.  I was expecting prices to be getting back to 2019 values now that schools are back and furlough is ending (combined with the tepid local economy).

    Also had a look at some of the charity sites that specialise in importing rescue dogs from Europe.  Some very slick websites - £600 for some gorgeous setters for example.  https://www.settusfree.org.uk/available-setters/

  15. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9958491/Bank-England-staff-uproar-woke-Governor-Andrew-Bailey-says-work-home-WEEK.html


    The Governor of the Bank of England has put himself at odds with Chancellor Rishi Sunak by ditching a requirement for his staff to work in the office for at least one day a week.

    Despite calls by Mr Sunak for people to return to traditional working patterns, Governor Andrew Bailey has told workers they will not be compelled to abandon their working from home habits.

    The move has angered many City workers – including some frustrated staff at the Bank of England – who argue that they are losing dealmaking and networking opportunities, with younger workers missing out on mentoring by their more experienced colleagues.


  16. https://www.insider.co.uk/news/shell-confirms-plan-move-north-24901073


    Shell confirms plan to move North Sea base to Aberdeen city centre

    Shell has announced it will be moving its North East headquarters to the Silver Fin Building on Union Street in the heart of Aberdeen city centre.

    The premises will provide its staff of more than 1,000 with a modern workplace which is “fit for the future”.

    The Anglo-Dutch energy giant opened its first office in Union Street in 1965 and in 2018 it marked 50 years of production in the North Sea.

    It will be moving out of its current base in Tullos, Aberdeen, which has been its North Sea base since 1973. The future of the Tullos site has not yet been specified.

    The group has not confirmed the date for its move to the new office, but the lease for its new premises will begin next year. It is understood to be occupying six floors at Silver Fin.

    Simon Roddy, senior vice president for UK upstream at Shell, said: “This is the right move for our teams as we help shape that lower-carbon future, supporting the UK’s journey to net zero, while continuing to provide the energy the country relies on through the transition.”

    Councillor Jenny Laing, Leader of Aberdeen City Council said: “Shell’s announcement of its relocation to Silver Fin is positive for the city and signals their confidence in Aberdeen and the city centre to other businesses and investors.”

    In January, Shell announced plans to cut 330 jobs from its operations in the North Sea.

    Most of the roles were based at its office in Aberdeen and will be lost over the next two years.

    Good news for the coffee/sandwich shops nearby. 

    Sign of the demise of the O&G majors in Aberdeen though, moving to an ugly office block at the wrong end of Union Street.

    Neighbour works for Shell and they are hating the move as the commute will be a lot worse, so making childcare a lot more difficult for them.  They expect employee dissent to be low due to the ongoing layoffs plus lack of other employment opportunities.

  17. 1 hour ago, kzb said:

    The complaint is because someone who has done the right thing, saved and bought a house, ends up in the same position as someone who's p*** ed it up instead.

    What is more, many care homes are charging the paying inmates extra to subsidise the state-funded inmates, who they say are not having their full cost paid by the local authority.

    So there is a burning sense of injustice for both these things.

    Indeed.  Was the guardian for my aunt (North Scotland area) and it was a real eye-opener dealing with the care home - god help you if you have to go into one of them.  Better to enjoy high living now and die of a heart attack than rot away in there with Alzheimer's. 

    Over the 4 years she was in the home the monthly fee went from £3500 per month to £4700 per month at the end (2018), all self-funded through sale of her house. 

    Every year she undoubtedly subsidised the council funded residents who paid the home £2800 per month at the end (vs the £4700 my aunt was paying).  And that was for the same size room.  When you challenged the home owners about the fee differential (all solicitors with new BMW X5's every year....) they would just say that the fee difference was down to "market conditions".

    Each year the care got worse, with the good staff leaving the industry completely to go back to the NHS, as the working conditions and pay were better there going by the ones I spoke to.

    The best care used to come from non-profit carers like the Church of Scotland, but they are pulling out due to the costs involved to leave just profiteers that care nought of the patient.  To them, the people under their care are just commodities to be milked for as much money as possible, whilst providing just the legal minimum level of care required to stop closure by the care inspectorate. 

    That is what worries me about all this new funding, the industry at the moment is too lightly regulated as the care inspections are so infrequent, and there is such a severe lack of capacity that there is no real competition to force standards up.  Not a lover of government interventions but I would favour NHS non-profit homes being set up, as the free market as I've experienced it is morally bankrupt.

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