Going green and keeping it local on the road to recovery

How does Scotland's economy get back on track as we emerge from the pandemic?

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“We completely rely on the economy doing well.”

It might seem like an obvious statement, but it is one that’s true for all of us.

Lochter Activity Centre in Aberdeenshire relies on people being able to congregate in large groups and – like many businesses of its type – has barely traded during the pandemic.

With businesses often using the firm to host corporate events, if the wider economy is suffering, then the impact on trading is huge

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“We need companies to want to come and do team-building days or family barbeque days, looking after their staff and, even on a smaller level, family groups,” says John Webster from the centre.

“People need to have spare income to come and enjoy themselves.”

The economy will be a key battleground in the Scottish election and after the past year it will take some repairing.

Highly respected research institute the Fraser of Allander Institute has scheduled 2024 as the worst-case scenario date for a real recovery.

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But how will the recovery look? Many believe it could be ‘green’.

In Dundee, for instance, the construction of a new tidal turbine which could power up to 2000 homes is being hailed by the Orkney firm behind it as a contributor to the solution.

Scotland aims to reduce its climate footprint and reach net-zero emissions within the next 25 years, but if a greener economy is to be achieved, the jobs and skills need to be created first.

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Orbital Marine Power

“We need to recover the economy, we need to create wealth and jobs but we also need to tackle climate change,” says Orbital Marine Power boss Andrew Scott.

“With British technology we have the ability to generate jobs and at the same time generate low-carbon electricity.”

While it will be difficult to win back overseas contracts that often exist for building wind turbines, he hopes with political support that tidal could produce a Scottish renewables jobs boost.

“There is no real obstruction to growing an indigenous supply chain,” he says.

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“It is going to be work in progress in terms of how we can scale, but to my mind that represents a very much lower hurdle to creating sustainable entrenched industries here in Scotland.

“That ultimately will respond to a domestic market here in Scotland and the UK, but will be entrenched such that we can export this technology around the world.”

‘Invest in tourism’

We might pride ourselves on our hospitality offering in Scotland, but few industries have been harder hit over the past 12 months than tourism.

Caroline Millar’s family runs a farm on the outskirts of Dundee, where they also own a number of luxury self-catering cottages.

She wants to see more focus on how rural businesses can help the recovery.

“We need a thriving rural economy and policies that support that,” she says.

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Caroline Millar

“That could be anything from investment in infrastructure, digital connectivity, roads, rail and allowing people to get to the rural economy for tourism.”

Caroline has seen shoppers’ habits change during the pandemic, with more spending their money locally, and she wants to see that continue.

“As a farmer we really welcome this, but we need policies which will continue to support the development of local food,” she says.

‘People are looking local’

Hers is a sentiment that extends up the coast to Johnshaven, from where family seafood firm Murray McBay & Co exports to Europe and other parts of the world.

The fallout from Brexit made business tougher and they’ve turned to the local market, with a new shop providing freshly prepared lobster for customers on their doorstep.

“People are starting to look more at where their food comes from, where it originates, who is involved, food miles, all the different stuff,” the firm’s Loren McBay says.

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Loren McBay

With a one-year-old child to keep her busy, Loren’s family have helped her return to the business, but she wants more help for other working mothers.

“A few of my friends are in the same position as me, trying to balance,” she says.

“You need to encourage people to do a variety of work and in a variety of ways and balance out that mum-and-working environment.”

While the economic headlines have been gloomy of late, not all investment has stopped.

Glencairn Crystals has just completed a £1.5m expansion and upgrade of its East Kilbride base, but wants to know how politicians will support ambitious firms.

Sales director Jason Kennedy says: “We want to be able to find out how we are going to be able to put the growth into that expansion, recruit new people and bring jobs to the area as well.”

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Glencairn Crystals

He wants any future government to help grow Scotland’s overseas exports.

“We do a lot of business overseas, so what they can do in international markets to support?”

What route to recovery are the political parties offering?

Scottish Greens

  • Create tens of thousands of jobs;
  • Invest in renewable energy.

Scottish Conservatives

  • Additional business grant support for those affected by travel restrictions;
  • Exempt high street firms from pay business rates.

Scottish Labour

  • Guarantee a job or training opportunities by investing in a National Training Fund;
  • Specific programmes aimed at regenerating the high street.

SNP

  • Ensure all 16-24 year olds get the opportunity for work, education or training;
  • Invest additional £500m to support new jobs and re-skill people.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

  • New re-training support for those who need it;
  • Reform business rates to take burden off high-street retailers.

Who’s in charge as Glasgow becomes UN territory at COP26?

Everything you need to know about the law, policing and security during the crunch climate summit.

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Police Scotland officers can only enter the blue zone with UN agreement.

The COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow is being hosted by the United Nations, which means the venue will come under its control.

The summit will take place across two sites – the ‘blue zone’ at the Scottish Event Campus and the ‘green zone’ at Glasgow Science Centre.

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The blue zone is a UN-managed space that hosts the negotiations, bringing together delegations from 197 countries. It will become an international territory subject to international law, in the same way the UN headquarters in New York and its offices in Geneva and Vienna are not subject to domestic law.

The UN will have administrative control of the Scottish Events Campus and will be responsible for security during COP26. While it will be supported by Police Scotland, the UN will remain in charge of all security in the blue zone.

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Police mounted units have been training for COP26.
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Police Scotland may only enter with the consent of the UN secretary general, a standard arrangement for such conferences.

‘Complete freedom of expression’

UN officials, representatives and experts all have immunity from legal process – including prosecution (diplomatic immunity) – inside the blue zone.

Natasha Durkin, a senior associate in Shepherd and Wedderburn’s regulation and markets team, told STV News: “It is a foundational principle of the UN that its property is ‘inviolable’, meaning that UN property is immune from any legal interference wherever it is situated.

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“The main reason for this is to allow the UN full control of its international functions and activities without interference, and reflects the immunities UN personnel have from legal process.

“One important aspect of the blue zone is that it allows the UN to guarantee complete freedom of speech to those participating in UN meetings, regardless of the (possibly restrictive) laws applying in the host state.

“Complete freedom of expression for participants is agreed in Article 2 of the COP26 agreement.”

Year of planning

Police Scotland has been planning and preparing for over a year, alongside the United Nations, UK Government and Glasgow City Council.

Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins said: “We have engaged with the United Nations and this is common practice for UN conferences.

“In consultation with a range of partners, our policing plan takes into account all factors to ensure an appropriate response will be delivered.” 

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Police carry out a training exercise on the ‘Squinty Bridge’ in Glasgow.
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All attendees within the blue zone must be accredited by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Ms Durkin said: “Consistent with having full control of the blue zone, the UN is ‘in charge’.

“However, the COP26 agreement (and again, as is standard) requires the UN to cooperate with UK authorities to ensure the proper administration of justice and to prevent any abuse of the blue zone. 

“In addition to the UN being required to cooperate with the UK in relation to the administration of justice, and to prevent abuse, the secretary general of the UN can waive any immunity applying to the blue zone. 

“As such, if an offence is committed, there are mechanisms for both cooperation between the UK and UN, and the possibility of waiver of immunity. The disposal of an alleged offence committed in the blue zone would ultimately depend on circumstances.”

So what is the green zone?

The green zone is managed by the UK Government and is a platform for the general public, youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, business and others to have their voices heard.

It will host events, exhibitions, workshops and talks promoting dialogue, awareness and education.

Normal domestic law applies there.

Study calls for more tutoring to close school attainment gap

Research by the Poverty Alliance found free tutoring provision for children and young people in Scotland was 'sparse'.

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Report: High-quality tutoring could significantly reduce educational inequalities.

More tutoring and mentoring of pupils should be used in Scotland to help close the attainment gap, a study says.

Research by the Poverty Alliance found free tutoring provision for children and young people in Scotland was “sparse”.

The report, released on Wednesday, said high-quality tutoring could significantly reduce educational inequalities.

In February the Scottish Government announced a £45m fund for educational recovery, however the report said there was no published information on how much of this went towards catch-up tutoring programmes.

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The Poverty Alliance’s research also found there were geographical gaps in the provision of mentoring for children in poverty.

Dr Laura Robertson, lead author of the report, said: “The Scottish Government has put tackling the poverty-based attainment gap at the heart of its agenda. However, inequalities in education attainment remain stark.

“Covid-19 has not only tightened the grip of poverty on the lives of many children and young people, but has also exacerbated these inequalities.

“Now, more than ever, children and young people need access to additional support.

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“This report reveals that – despite the evidence that it works – young people living in poverty still don’t have equal access to high-quality tutoring free of charge.

“In a just society, all children and young people should have access to support that allows them to reach their potential, so the Scottish Government must – if it wants to end the attainment gap – respond with action.”


Inquest set to open into death of MP Sir David Amess

The MP was stabbed to death in Essex on October 15.

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David Amess: Attacked at constituency surgery.

An inquest into the death of MP Sir David Amess, who was stabbed to death during a constituency surgery at a church, is due to be opened and adjourned.

Sir David, 69, was attacked at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on October 15.

The father-of-five was pronounced dead at the scene at 1.10pm and a preliminary postmortem examination report gave the cause of death as multiple stab wounds to the chest.

An inquest into the death of the Conservative MP for Southend West is due to be opened and adjourned at County Hall in Chelmsford on Wednesday.

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A 25-year-old man is charged with the terrorist murder of Sir David.

Ali Harbi Ali appeared before the Old Bailey last Friday, where he was not asked to enter pleas to charges of murder and preparing acts of terrorism between May 1 2019 and September this year.

He faces a trial in March next year.


Man left with ‘life changing injuries’ after car collides with bus

The incident took place on the A8 when a car crashed into a double decker bus.

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Ambulance: Man left seriously injured.

A man has been left with potential life-changing injuries after a car crashed into a double-decker bus in Glasgow.

The 52-year-old was driving a blue BMW 3 Series when the crash took place on the A8’s Maybury junction, near the Marriot Hotel, at around 6.50pm on Tuesday.

The car was driving east when it crashed into the passenger bus on the other side of the road.

Emergency services attended and he was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where medical staff have described his injuries as serious and say they are “potentially life changing”.

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The 44-year-old bus driver, and one of the six passengers who were onboard, also suffered minor injuries.

Police are now appealing for witnesses.

Inspector Roger Park, of the Road Policing Unit, said: “We’re appealing to anyone who witnessed this collision or has dash cam footage to contact us.

“Those with information should contact Police Scotland on 101.”


Forbes calls on Sunak to reinstate universal credit uplift in Budget

Finance secretary wants chancellor to help Scots facing ‘real cost of living crisis’.

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Rishi Sunak will deliver his second Budget of the year on Wednesday.

Scots are facing a “real cost of living crisis”, finance secretary Kate Forbes has said, as she urged the chancellor to reinstate the £20 a week recently removed from Universal Credit.

Forbes made the plea ahead of Rishi Sunak delivering his second Budget of the year to the Commons on Wednesday.

In a letter to the chancellor, she called on him to use the keynote address to “provide certainty to the wider public sector, boost the economy and support our most vulnerable at this challenging time”.

Forbes, who will set out the Scottish Government’s draft budget for next year in December, stressed that ministers at Holyrood were “strongly opposed to any return to austerity”.

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The finance secretary appealed to the chancellor to re-think the Government’s recent decision to end the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

She told Sunak: “A real cost of living crisis is emerging as a result of this cut, combined with the escalating energy costs and upcoming rise in National Insurance contributions.

“The Universal Credit cut alone will push an extra 60,000 people in Scotland, including 20,000 children, into poverty and hundreds of thousands more into hardship, whilst also reducing social security expenditure in Scotland by £461m by 2023-24.”

She insisted it was not justifiable for UK ministers to introduce these “cuts to individual income”.

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Instead, she said, the Budget should “prioritise spending that supports the financial security of low-income households, the well-being of children and young people, and delivers good, green jobs and fair work”.

With the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow getting under way in just a few days, she added that “significant investment is required from the UK Government in reserved areas” to help ensure that Scotland meets its emissions targets.

And here Forbes urged the chancellor to match the £500m the Scottish Government has pledged to spend over 10 years to help the north-east of Scotland transition away from oil and gas.

The finance secretary told Sunak: “Given the UK Treasury has, over decades, benefited from billions of pounds of revenue from activity in the North Sea, I ask that you at least match our commitment to help secure jobs in the north-east of Scotland, support the energy transition, and reduce emissions.”

Scottish Labour finance spokesman Daniel Johnson also demanded the Chancellor use his Budget to deal with the “cost of living crisis” many are facing “due to spiralling prices and the damage done by callous Tory cuts”.

Johnson said: “The pandemic has shaken our economy to the core and if we do not act now to put fairness at the heart of our recovery, thousands of people will be thrown into hardship this winter.

“This Budget must deliver real and tangible support for those struggling to make ends meet.

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“The Tory government must wake up to the cost of living crisis unfolding due to their disastrous governance and act now.”

Sunak, meanwhile, is expected to announce details of a new £150m fund aimed at helping smaller businesses in Scotland.

The fund, to be delivered through the British Business Bank, will be similar to existing schemes in England and Northern Ireland, which have provided investment and loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Sunak said it would show the UK Government was “continuing to support businesses across the UK”.

More on:

Obituary: Ex-Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith

Walter Smith was one of the most successful Scottish football managers of all time.

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Walter Smith, the former Scotland and Rangers boss and one of the most successful managers in Scottish football history, has died aged 73.

Smith’s career in professional football spanned 45 years, taking him to international level and cementing a position among the elite of the club game.

As manager of Rangers over two spells, he won ten league titles, five Scottish Cups, six League Cups and guided his side to the UEFA Cup final in 2008.

Smith was also awarded an OBE in 1997 for his services to association football.

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Born in Lanark in 1948, his football career started in earnest when the defender signed for Dundee United in 1966 after a spell in Junior football. Smith played for the Tannadice club over two spells, and also had two years at Dumbarton, the highlight being a Scottish Cup final appearance in 1974.

By the time he hung up his boots in 1980, Smith had already begun a coaching career that would far surpass the success of his playing days.

Starting out at Dundee United under the guidance of Jim McLean, the young coach combined his duties at Tannadice while working with Scotland’s Under-18 team. He was alongside Andy Roxburgh when Scotland won the European Youth Championship in 1982, the country’s first international title at any level.

His growing reputation as a coach grew and he was appointed manager of Scotland’s Under-21 side, and then acted as Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand man at the World Cup in Mexico in 1986.

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That year brought another pivotal moment in Smith’s career, when he moved to Ibrox to become assistant manager at the club he supported as a child. Acting as assistant to Graeme Souness, he was a central figure in a dramatic and impactful time at the club and in Scottish football as Rangers brought in high-profile players from England and targeted success at home and abroad.

Smith was alongside Souness as Rangers won three league titles and four Scottish Cups and, when Souness suddenly left Glasgow to return to Liverpool in 1991, the Ibrox club made the decision to elevate the assistant to the top job. It would prove to be a move that delivered one of the most successful spells in the club’s history.

Under ambitious owner David Murray, Rangers spent big and won big. Smith signed a number of the best players from across Scotland and supplemented them with stars from across Europe, including Alexei Mikhailichenko, Brian Laudrup, Basile Boli and Paul Gascoigne.

Rangers had won the previous two titles under Souness, and Smith delivered seven more, dominating the domestic game as Rangers equalled rivals Celtic’s record of nine successive league trophies. Three Scottish Cup wins and three League Cup wins in that time added to the trophy haul, but Smith’s tenure was also marked by some big moments in European football, including a run in the 1992-93 Champions League that saw them beat English champions Leeds United and go unbeaten in the group stage, missing out on a place in the final by a single point.

Smith stepped down in 1998, his final season seeing Celtic win the league title on a dramatic final day, and Rangers lose to Hearts in the Scottish Cup final.

He returned to management shortly after his Ibrox departure, succeeding Howard Kendall at Goodison Park. Though his four years in charge didn’t bring success, Smith was a steady hand at the wheel as spending at Everton was restricted while rival clubs splashed the cash.

After leaving the Toffees, Smith had a brief spell at Manchester United, reuniting with Alex Ferguson as assistant at Old Trafford, but he was soon to return to front-line management.

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Scotland needed a change of direction after the tumultuous Berti Vogts era and Smith answered the call, taking the manager’s job in 2004. Though the team missed out on qualification for the 2006 World Cup, the Scot brought marked improvement to the side and a climb up the world rankings was proof of his success.

Smith and Scotland were part-way through the Euro 2008 qualifiers when Rangers asked him to return to the club in January 2007 after Paul Le Guen left Ibrox.

The second spell at Rangers saw Smith underline his iconic status with the Rangers support. Three further league titles, three League Cups and three Scottish Cups added to his formidable trophy haul, but a European run against the odds was the highlight in 2008.

Smith’s side began the season in the Champions League but could only finish third in a group that pitted them against Barcelona, Lyon and Stuttgart. That brought the consolation prize of a place in the knockout stage of the UEFA Cup and Rangers took on that challenge and excelled.

A disciplined side with a miserly defence saw off Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen, Sporting Lisbon and Frioentina, conceding only one goal along the way, to reach the final.

At the showpiece match in Manchester, Smith’s side came up against Zenti St Petersburg, but fell short in a 2-0 defeat.

Smith retired in 2011, having amassed 21 domestic trophies as Rangers manager, second only to Bill Struth in terms of silverware at Ibrox and with his prominent place in the club’s history books assured.

He later had brief spells as a director and chairman at the club but also offered guidance and advice to those who came after him as Rangers boss.

Rangers chairman Douglas Park said on Tuesday: “It is almost impossible to encapsulate what Walter meant to every one of us at Rangers. He embodied everything that a Ranger should be. His character and leadership was second to none, and will live long in the memory of everyone he worked with during his two terms as first-team manager.”


Man seriously injured after being attacked on city street

The 29-year-old suffered a serious neck injury in the attack.

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Ambulance: The man was taken to the Royal Infirmary.

A man has been left seriously injured after being attacked on a Glasgow street in brad daylight.

The 29-year-old suffered a neck injury in the incident that took place on Burnhouse Street at Collina Quadrant in Maryhill at around 1.30pm on Saturday.

Emergency services attended the scene and the man was taken to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary where his injuries have been described as serious.

Police are now appealing for witnesses as they look to trace the person responsible.

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Detective Constable Katrina Keogh said: “I am appealing for information from the public to help with our investigation. I would ask anyone with dash-cam footage or any witnesses to come forward.

”Anyone with information can contact Police Scotland on 101.


Hackers targeted Sepa for second time during recovery bid – report

The environmental watchdog was targeted in a ransomware attack on Christmas Eve.

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Hackers: SEPA targeted for second time.

Cyber-criminals who attacked the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) tried to sabotage recovery operations with a second attack, according to a new report.

Around 1.2GB of data, amounting to at least 4000 files, was stolen in the ransomware attack on Christmas Eve last year.

An investigation by Police Scotland concluded it likely that an international serious organised crime group was responsible for the extortion attempt.

The environmental regulator did not respond to the ransom request.

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The attack “displayed significant stealth and malicious sophistication”, a report by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) found.

SBRC noted that back-ups were taken in line with best practice in that there were three copies of the data, kept in two separate locations, with one copy stored offline; however the design of the network meant that both sites were affected.

The report said: “This attack displayed significant stealth and malicious sophistication with a secondary and deliberate attempt to compromise Sepa systems as the team endeavoured to recover and restore back-ups.”

Sepa commissioned independent audits from Police Scotland, SBRC and business advisory group Azets following the attack.

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The Azets review found that Sepa’s response following the triggering of the ransomware on December 24 2020 was “effective”.

However it also noted that emergency management and incident management procedures were not stored offline and offsite.

This meant that procedures became inaccessible when system access was lost, and staff had to rely on their knowledge and experience to carry out emergency management and incident management steps.

Sepa chief executive Terry A’Hearn said: “Ten months ago, on Christmas Eve, Sepa was the victim of a hideous, internationally orchestrated crime which impacted our organisation, our staff, our public and private partners and the communities who rely on our services.

“The audits make it clear we were well protected but that no cyber security regime can be 100% secure. A number of learnings have been identified that will help Sepa further improve its cyber security. All have been accepted.”

He added: “The majority of organisations hit by cyber attacks around the world do not publicise much about the attack, and that is their right. We know we have taken an unusual approach, but we are convinced it is the right thing for us to do.

“We are publishing as much as we can of the reviews so that as many organisations as possible can use our experience to better protect themselves from this growing scourge of cybercrime and have committed to supporting Police Scotland and Scottish Business Resilience Centre in their work on highlighting the support available to organisations to be cyber-ready, resilient, and responsive.”

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The SBRC report determined Sepa’s cyber maturity assessment as “high” and said that sophisticated defence and detection mechanisms were implemented and operating correctly prior to the incident.

Detective Inspector Michael McCullagh, Cybercrime Investigations, Police Scotland, said: “Police Scotland has been consistently clear that Sepa was not and is not a poorly protected organisation. The organisation had a strong culture of resilience, governance, incident and emergency management and worked effectively with Police Scotland and others.

“Recent attacks against Sepa, the Irish Health Service and wider public, private and third sector organisations are a reminder of growing threat of international cyber-crime and that no system can be 100% secure.

“They’re also a reminder of the growing importance of organisations being ready, resilient, and responsive.”


Higher shop prices ‘likely’ in run-up to Christmas

A survey showed three in five retailers expect prices to increase in the run up to Christmas.

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Checkout: Shop prices 'likely' to rise.

Higher shop prices are likely in the run-up to Christmas as ongoing global shortages and supply problems result in cost pressures, figures suggest.

Shop price annual deflation eased to 0.4% in October from last month’s decrease of 0.5% – a slower rate of decline than the 12 and six-month average price decreases of 1.3% and 0.7% respectively.

Overall prices are still lower than this time last year but food prices this month saw their highest rate of year-on-year inflation, at 0.5%, since November 2020, according to the BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index.

Fresh food prices rose for the first time in 10 months, by 0.3%, following 10 months of deflation, while ongoing global shortages of materials and supply issues with logistics and shipping continued to put cost pressure on products such as furniture.

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Non-food deflation was steady at 1%, a slower rate of decline than the 12 and six-month average price declines of 2.3% and 1.1% respectively.

A British Retail Consortium (BRC) survey showed three in five retailers expect prices to increase in the run up to Christmas.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “It is now clear that the increased costs from labour shortages, supply chain issues and rising commodity prices have started filtering through to the consumer.

“Tight margins mean retailers may not be able to absorb all of these new costs, so prices will continue to rise. Retailers continue to do all they can ensure value for money for customers and are looking to work with Government to find a long-term solution to these shortages, otherwise it is the British consumer, who already faces higher energy bills this winter, who will suffer the consequences.”

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Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ, said: “With food prices slowly increasing we can expect shoppers to start to rebalance basket spend over the next few weeks, particularly with increased concerns about discretionary spend.

“And with consumer sentiment now more cautious we cannot ignore that availability issues are still top of mind. So consumers will be uncertain about when and where to spend and with Christmas promotions about to kick in, competition will intensify in both food and non-food retailing.“


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