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Consumers will NOT see energy bills rise amid £21bn upgrade, Ofgem says

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Ofgem has said Britons will not see their energy bills rise as a result of the regulator’s plans to pump £21billion into upgrades for the nation’s electricity networks.

The proposed package of £20.9billion, which will be paid for by levies on the energy industry, includes £2.7billion worth of upfront funding to boost grid capacity. 

Ofgem’s aim is to help create greener and more sustainable energy grids across Britain, thereby boosting grid capacity, improving customer service and building resilience against power outages.

Investment injection: Ofgem has said Britons will not see their energy bills rise amid plans to pump £21bn into upgrades for the nation's electricity networks

Investment injection: Ofgem has said Britons will not see their energy bills rise amid plans to pump £21bn into upgrades for the nation’s electricity networks

‘Flexible funding arrangements will also mean that investment can dial up to reflect changing demands over time’, Ofgem said. 

Ofgem said in its statement today: ‘Consumers will not see any additional costs as result of this investment as efficiency savings and reduced investor returns deliver the cash needed.’

The upgrade, according to the regulator, would also enable consumers to be given more control to save money through regularly updated prices for peak and off-peak demand. 

Ofgem also said more support and guidance for vulnerable and low-income households would be available in future ‘to ensure no one misses out on the benefits of a net zero energy system’.

The regulator also revealed how much the companies in charge of the nation’s energy networks will be allowed to earn.

The regulator is proposing to reduce the cost of equity allowance for the companies to 4.75 per cent, down from 6 to 6.4 per cent for the current period, which ends next year. 

The average customer currently pays around £100 a year to operate, maintain and reinforce grids.

Ofgem said: ‘The 2023 to 2028 plan will boost grid capacity, improve customer service and resilience to prevent power outages, and prepare the way for increases in the generation of cheaper, greener, home-grown energy to bring down bills in the long-term.’

Ofgem boss Jonathan Brearley said: ‘Ofgem’s job is to ensure energy networks have achievable and affordable plans that will attract the investment needed for a more resilient energy network and achieve the government’s net zero ambition at the least cost to the consumer.

‘These are challenging times, and this is the path out of relying on expensive and polluting imported fossil fuels and moving to a home-grown energy system, that exploits the best of modern technology to level out demand and reduce costs for consumers.

‘We’re determined to get the best possible deal for consumers and the proposals we’ve published today will mean that substantial additional investment can be made to deliver net zero without placing any further pressure on bills.

‘We’re confident that the five-year vision we’ve outlined will help build the world class energy infrastructure needed to connect consumers to reliable, cleaner energy at an affordable price.’

Electricity giant SSE said the plans were ‘tough and stretching’, while National Grid said it will ‘work hard’ with Ofgem on the plans ahead of final determinations expected in December. 

Ofgem will hold consultations on the proposed plan until 25 August with a final decision to be confirmed in December. 

Last week the National Audit Office confirmed consumers will need to pay £2.7billion to cover the costs of 28 energy suppliers failing since June 2021.

The NAO said energy bill payers had ‘borne the brunt’ of the failures and accused Ofgem of creating a market ‘vulnerable to large-scale shocks’. 

The government is also spending taxpayer funds to support green energy supplier Bulb, which collapsed last November. 

Ofgem and the Government should create a process for considering the impact of new interventions in the retail market, according to the NAO, including the price cap. It also said Ofgem should establish a set of objectives for its regulation of the retail market and report on its performance. 

Average energy bills have surged to £1,971 a year and are expected to top £2,800 a year in October, before hitting £3,000 in January 2023. 

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: ‘Utility companies are not exactly jumping with joy at Ofgem’s new electricity distribution price control proposals, with SSE calling them ‘tough and stretching.

‘Energy providers would argue they are under pressure to invest heavily to improve infrastructure, make sure the supply network is resilient, and that everything is being done to hit net zero targets.

‘On the other hand, the regulator has long had its eye on the amount of money these companies make, and whether their profits and dividends should be so high.

‘National Grid says it will work ‘hard’ with Ofgem to agree a price control suitable for both sides, but you can bet behind the scenes those discussions are going to get quite heated.

‘Politically this is a sensitive issue, with consumers under considerable financial pressure from a sharp rise in energy bills.

‘The regulator will have to tread a fine between making sure the country’s energy network is robust and efficient, while also being fair to the operators that they can do their job and make a small bit on the side. It’s the size of that cake that remains the sticking point.’

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Bluewater grows its entertainment offer (GB)

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Landsec has announced the opening of a third ‘UK first’ attraction at Bluewater, Kent as the destination expands its partnership with Hangloose Adventures. Skydive, a free-fall experience not found anywhere else in Europe, and the UK’s only outdoor skydive machine has opened at the centre. It follows on from Europe’s biggest purpose-built giant swing, standing at 46-metre tall, which opened at Bluewater earlier this month.  

 

The announcement builds on a successful first year for Hangloose’s initial attraction Skywire, the longest zip wire in England, which has welcomed 30,000 guests since launching at Bluewater last June. Landsec will continue to work with Hangloose to expand its offering, with up to five more experiences set to open at the centre by 2024: a bungee tower, giant slide, clip and climb, waterdrop boulding wall, and Via Ferrata, a route-marked climb using metal rails and rungs embedded in Bluewater’s cliff walls.

 

Mark Warne, Brand Account Director F&B and Leisure at Landsec commented: “Delivering new experiences which are unique to Bluewater is central to our overall offer for guests. Hangloose’s innovative concept raises the bar when it comes to leisure attractions and draws guests from across the UK to Kent. By partnering with Hangloose to grow their business and create shared value, we’ll be able to give guests even more exciting experiences every time they visit.”

 

Brian Phelps, MD of Hangloose Adventure, said: “Since the beginning, we’ve worked closely with Landsec to grow our leisure concept and drive performance, putting us in a unique position where we’re able to expand our offer after only a year. We’ve enjoyed great success at Bluewater so far and are already thinking about how we can provide even bigger and better experiences in the future.”

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Author with immaculate house offers ten tips for a clean home

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Is this the secret to NEVER having to clean? Houseproud author claims she saves hours by sticking to a ten-step mantra – including banning chairs in bedrooms, wiping as you cook and only ironing shirts and dresses

  • UK writer Natali Juste Simmonds says she’s cracked keeping a home clean, by sticking to a few simple ground rules – and making sure family members comply
  • She shared top ten tips for keeping a home spotless with her 20,000 followers
  • Among them are ditching a toilet brush in the bathroom, not having a chair in the bedroom and cleaning  the kitchen while you cook

A houseproud author has revealed her ten essential tips for keeping a house spotless – saying simple ground rules for family members and cleaning as you go means never wasting time on dull chores. 

Writer Natali Juste Simmonds, who was born in the UK but now lives in the Netherlands, penned her top ways to keep on top of cleaning on Twitter, saying she has time to focus on her writing because she follows her own advice about dodging ‘thankless’ cleaning tasks. 

The author of a series of paranormal romance novels told her 20,000 followers on Twitter: ‘I know so many people who spend hours cleaning up after their family every day, but I refuse to. 

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UK writer Natali Juste Simmonds says she's cracked keeping a home clean, by sticking to a few simple ground rules - and making sure family members comply

UK writer Natali Juste Simmonds says she’s cracked keeping a home clean, by sticking to a few simple ground rules – and making sure family members comply

‘It’s boring and thankless. I prefer to write. Yet my house is spotless. Here are 10 ways to keep on top of s*** so you don’t have to clean for hours.’ 

Sharing her ‘tough love’ mantra, she said that the key to keeping a home clean is making sure every family member is engaged, saying learning how to tidy is a lifeskill that everyone needs – and no-one should get away with not doing it. 

Natali wrote: ‘Train everyone in the house to do the following (cats are the exception). After a while these habits will become routine, but you MUST stick to them and make sure no one is let off the hook.’ 

Among the tips are filling a bag with things that are in the wrong place at the end of every day and placing them back where they belong. 

Tidy home, tidy mind: The Netherlands-based writer shared her top ten tips for keeping a home spotless with her 20,000 followers on Twitter - saying that making sure everyone in the house pulls their weight is key (Pictured: An office area in Simmonds' home)

Tidy home, tidy mind: The Netherlands-based writer shared her top ten tips for keeping a home spotless with her 20,000 followers on Twitter – saying that making sure everyone in the house pulls their weight is key (Pictured: An office area in Simmonds’ home)

The writer also claims having a toilet brush doesn’t help keep a loo clean and dousing it with bleach instead is a more reliable way to ensure it’s sparkling. 

And getting used to wiping down mirrors after using a sink also helps, she claims, writing: ‘Keep a dry cloth next to the bathroom sink. Every time someone uses the taps or brushes their teeth, wipe down the counter and mirror. Takes literally 2 seconds. No cleaning toothpaste stains off counters.’

Teaching kids to pull their weight around the house is key to success, and equality reigns supreme in the Simmonds house. 

Among her top tips are ditching a toilet brush in the bathroom - using just bleach instead; not having a chair in the bedroom - to prevent people leaving clothes on them - and cleaning the kitchen while you cook (Pictured: Simmonds' very tidy office)

Among her top tips are ditching a toilet brush in the bathroom – using just bleach instead; not having a chair in the bedroom – to prevent people leaving clothes on them – and cleaning the kitchen while you cook (Pictured: Simmonds’ very tidy office)

‘If one kid lays the table, the other clears. If one hangs out the washing, the other collects. I don’t say “I need help with dinner” I say “who will chop the veg and who will wash up?” Its called a presumed close. I have no option, why should others in my house?’

The author, who has written books including the Indigo Chronicles trilogy and the Blood Web series, admits that having a cleaner is still useful…because they can help keep on top of areas where grime quickly builds, including fridges and ovens – but she suggests ditching a takeaway a week to cover the cost. 

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DIA Group closes 25 Minipreco stores in Portugal

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DIA Group has closed 25 Minipreco stores in Portugal, resulting in the loss of approximately 159 jobs. The retailer said the closures are the result of ‘the effort to adapt, modernise and balance the operations of DIA Portugal, with the aim of better preparing the company for current and future challenges arising from the current economic situation in the country,’ according to media reports. In the last two years, the multinational company operating in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and Argentina, accumulated losses of over €620m.

 

In Portugal, net sales reached €283.1m in the first half, 4.5% below the €296.3m generated in the same period last year, due to the reduction of stores and mobility restrictions. DIA Group confirmed its intention to continue to invest in Portugal. The company hopes to adjust its operation to the current reality in order to ensure the future success of the company.

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