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UK public finances show first current budget surplus in sixteen years, reports ONS

The current budget deficit for 2017-18 was in surplus, the first time this has happened since 2001-02
The UK’s public finances have registered their first current budget surplus in sixteen years, showing the progress made by the government on this measure of deficit repair since the last recession.
The Office for National Statistics reported on Tuesday that public borrowing was just £1.35bn in March, the final month of the 2017/18 fiscal year.
This was lower than the £3.25bn City analysts had expected and it took full year borrowing to £42.6bn.
This was below the £45.2bn forecast made by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) as recently as March – and was the lowest UK total annual deficit since 2006-07, before the financial crisis.
Income tax receipts in March were a record for that month.
And when stripping out capital spending, the “current” budget deficit for 2017-18 was actually in surplus, the first time this has happened since 2001-02.
However, the previous Chancello..

TSB under scrutiny from regulators as customers face fifth day of IT troubles

Both the financial and information rights watchdogs are looking into the issues
TSB is facing scrutiny by UK regulators after IT issues led to customers being unable to access their cash and, in some cases, able to see accounts belonging to other people.
A spokesperson for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the watchdog is “aware of the issue and liaising with the firm”, while a spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s Office said: “We are aware of a potential data breach in relation to the TSB and are making enquiries.”
Read more TSB apology after customers complain of online banking 'data breach' Meanwhile, TSB customers facing a fifth day of online banking issues, as problems which started on Friday continued into Tuesday, due to a planned upgrade which should have been completed by 6pm on Sunday.
In a statement on Monday morning, TSB said that there were still “intermittent issues” with its mobile and online banking services and that it was “working..

3 Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Needed, but Are Worth Buying

3 Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Needed, but Are Worth Buying Photo Credit Manu Fernandez/Associated Press It’s easy to forget how far technology has come within a few years. We went from praying our CD players wouldn’t skip to streaming music wirelessly to AirPods in our ears. But even some recently introduced devices have made the jump from being high-end, enthusiast tech to at-home must haves. Here are a few of them.
Photo Amazon Echo Dot . Credit Elaine Thompson/Associated Press The assistant we didn’t ask for, but can’t live without“Weird.” “Curious.” “Baffling.” “Quite Stupid.” These words all once described Alexa, the voice-activated digital assistant on Amazon’s Echo device. Now, according to Amazon, the Echo Dot, a smaller, less expensive version of the Echo was the “#1 selling Amazon Device” during the holidays last year.
Back in 2014, it was odd to consider even owning an Echo (and you needed an invite from Amazon to actually purchase one). Today, you can pick from five differ..

Carillion collapse contributed to 21% drop in Santander UK profits

The Spanish lender reported a strong performance elsewhere
Santander said the impact of Carillion’s collapse contributed to a 21 per cent drop in UK profits in the first three months of 2018.
UK pre-tax profit fell to £414m from £525m in the same period of 2017, while interest income dropped to £906m from £940m.
The Spanish-owned reported credit impairment losses of £60m in the first quarter, compared with a loss of £13m last year, driven in part by a drawdown by Carillion, which fell into liquidation in January.
Read more Carillion: Investors smelled a rat and then ran. Why didn't ministers? Nathan Bostock, UK chief executive, said: “Our first quarter results have been impacted by ongoing competitive pressures in the UK. We have maintained our investment in business transformation and growth initiatives even though regulatory, risk and control costs stepped up, given a number of major projects are due to be implemented during 2018.
“Cost discipline remains an area of pa..


IPOB PRESS RELEASE 23/04/2018 IPOB LAUNCH OPERATION COW DANCE 2 TO APPREHEND AND SUBMIT BUHARI TO DNA TEST DURING HIS UPCOMING TRIP TO WASHINGTON Following the successful completion of our Operation Cow Dance, beautifully executed by the United Kingdom IPOB family, that led to the premature and unscheduled exit of the person referred to as…

Google’s Parent Company Spends Like It’s Thinking of a Future Beyond Ads

Google’s Parent Company Spends Like It’s Thinking of a Future Beyond Ads Photo Alphabet, Google’s parent company, spent big in the first quarter on new data centers and services aimed at businesses. Credit Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times SAN FRANCISCO — Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is spending like it is beginning to prepare for life after advertising.
Currently, Alphabet makes nearly 90 percent of its money from selling advertising on the internet, and gobbles up heaps of data about its users to help marketers target those ads more effectively.
But a close reading of Alphabet’s financial results for the first quarter of 2018, which were announced on Monday, showed that the Silicon Valley giant is accelerating its efforts to diversify into other businesses.
Alphabet has made investments in areas like self-driving cars and online computer services for businesses for years, but spending in those areas was up dramatically in the first quarter. The company’s capital expendi..

UK's worst cities for mobile phone signal ranking topped by Birmingham, Leeds and London

Network operators focus too much on data speed at the expense of reliability, research shows
Birmingham, Leeds and London have the worst mobile phone signal in the UK, according to a new study.
Research by Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) showed O2 was the best performing network, with Vodafone ranked as the worst based on testing using both Android and iOS devices in 32 cities and towns across the UK. Telefonica-owned O2 was rated the most reliable network in 17 places, while Three was most reliable in 12 – including London – and EE came out on top in three.
Meanwhile, when it comes to criteria for selecting a network consumers are twice as likely to choose reliability over network speed, according to surveys and focus groups conducted by YouGov on behalf of GWS.
More than two thirds (69 per cent) of respondents said the most important phone function is making calls, while 53 per cent selected texting as the highest priority, followed by 43 per cent who chose internet browsing. ..

Deported to Libya, Ex-Gitmo Detainees Vanish. Will Others Meet a Similar Fate?

Deported to Libya, Ex-Gitmo Detainees Vanish. Will Others Meet a Similar Fate? Photo The system set up under President Barack Obama to send low-level Guantánamo detainees to stable countries is at risk of collapsing under President Trump, current and former officials said. Credit Lucas Jackson/Reuters WASHINGTON — In President Barack Obama’s drive to close the Guantánamo prison, his administration struck deals with about three dozen nations to take in lower-risk detainees from dangerous countries. Resettling them in stable places would increase the chances they would live peacefully, officials argued, rather than face persecution or drift into Islamist militancy.
But a decision this month by Senegal to deport two former detainees to their chaotic birth country of Libya has raised the prospect that the resettlement system is starting to collapse under President Trump. After a traumatic journey, the Libyans fell into the hands of a hard-line militia leader who has been accused of prisone..