“Flybe pensioners risk losing all if Virgin takeover bid fails”

“Flybe pensioners could face financial ruin if a rescue takeover led by Virgin Atlantic falls through, after it emerged that the airline’s retirement fund is 
not protected by Britain’s pension 

Some £170m of benefits owed to 1,350 members of the British Regional Airlines Group pension scheme may be wiped out if the Exeter-based airline failed because Flybe’s pension fund is registered in the Isle of Man, rather than the UK.

This means scheme members are not entitled to payments from the 
Pension Protection Fund (PPF) in the event of an insolvency. Flybe had a £11.6m pension shortfall in November 2018. …”


Which? Report: USA sets out wish list for post-Brexit food trade deal

Which report
31 January 19

USA sets out wish list for post-Brexit food trade deal

“UK could be asked to accept chicken washed in chlorine and beef and pork fed with growth-promoting hormones.

The UK could be asked to accept more ‘flexible’ food standards if it wants to make a trade deal with the US after Brexit – including accepting practices banned by the EU.

Our research shows people do not want these foods and 90% think it’s important that UK food standards are maintained after Brexit.

Industry groups in the US have given their government wish lists for a post-Brexit UK-US trade deal.

The recurring theme is for the UK to move away from EU food standards and be more flexible on rules on imported foods.

• The US meat industry wants the UK to accept beef and pork from animals that have been fed growth-promoting hormones banned by the EU.

• It also wants the UK to accept imports of beef cuts and pork that have been washed in lactic acid, and chicken that has been washed in chlorine. Currently only whole beef carcasses washed in lactic acid are accepted into the EU.

• Farming groups and medicine manufacturers want to see rules over genetically modified crops changed and those for meat, fish and dairy treated with antibiotics dropped.

• They also want to see crops produced using pesticides and herbicides banned in the EU being allowed into the UK, and for maximum residue limits for pesticides and herbicides to be amended.

Consumers want standards maintained

Our research shows that people do not want these foods and 90% think it’s important that UK food standards are maintained after Brexit.

Other requests from US industry include limiting geographical labelling rules to enable US manufacturers to use EU-protected terms on their products such as prosecco, stilton and parmigiano reggiano.

Sue Davies, strategic policy partner at Which?, says: ‘The US food safety and standards system is weaker than the UK system, and provides a lower level of consumer protection. ‘One in six Americans are estimated to suffer from food-borne illness every year, much higher than in the UK. There must not be any relaxing of food standards – whether for domestically produced food or food that we import – and we should instead be looking at opportunities to enhance standards.’”

Why are some new-build houses so cold? Corner cutting

“Newly built homes are more energy efficient than ever, the government said this week. But thousands of buyers are finding that their expensive new homes are cold and draughty with heating bills far higher than expected. The culprit? The finger of blame is pointing towards builders rushing to meet targets, lax standards and poor inspection, with badly installed dry lining at the heart of the issue.

Dry lining became popular in the UK in the 1980s, replacing traditional “wet” plastering with ready made plasterboard attached to walls and ceilings. It means plastering can be done in a couple of days rather than weeks.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with dry lining, which is used commonly in Scandinavia and North America, where winter temperatures drop far below those of Britain. It gives a smooth finish and can be decorated straight away.

But what thermal imaging surveyors and other building experts are discovering is that widespread poor installation of plasterboard has resulted in the airtightness suffering badly.

Housebuilders rush to meet targets (their own and the government’s), often cutting corners, and airtightness suffers as a result. The plasterboard is attached to masonry with adhesive. But Paul Buckingham, a thermal imaging surveyor, says housebuilders often cut costs using “dot and dab” adhesive, rather than solid dabbing.

Thermal imaging often finds air pockets behind plasterboard walls, causing cold spots and reduced thermal efficiency.

“We don’t see any of this airflow in old houses,” he says. “In those built in the 60s and 70s, with concrete floors, the airtightness is pretty good.” (However, they may leak air elsewhere – through open trickle ventilators or fireplaces.)

Going even further back, case studies undertaken in 2011 by energy consultant Diane Hubbard found that most of the houses built before 1900 were more airtight than expected, and in some cases better than required by the 2006 building regulations, and “modern extensions may not be as airtight as the original building”. ….”