Britain’s bus operators have called on the government to provide £ 1bn in immediate help to maintain critical services as passenger numbers fall away with the coronavirus.
Operators say passenger numbers have already fallen by more than half outside London, with a loss of £ 70 million per week in revenue, even before the closure of schools.
While the government had pledged to deliver £ 5bn in additional funding over five years to the industry, with the importance of bus services having risen up the political agenda before the coronavirus outbreak, bus firms now say they need a first tranche simply to guarantee income and support staff costs to maintain vital routes.
Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents bus companies, said: “Operators are under extreme pressure and facing impossible choices over which routes they have to cut and how many staff may have to go. Buses are crucial to keeping workers moving – and must remain a vital backbone of public transport once this crisis is over.
“We urgently need the Government to help bus workers and their employers now to secure the future of the industry.”
Firms collectively employ around , (drivers and , 11 support staff, whose jobs are at risk.
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European markets rise across the board
There is no sea of red in equity markets this morning .. instead all major European indices are higher (following gains on Wall Street on Thursday).
(Germany’s Dax: 5.5% at 9, (France’s CAC) : 4.6% at 4, (Italy’s FTSE Mib: 2.5% at) , 1417 (Spain’s Ibex: 4% at 6, (Europe’s Stoxx) : 3.7% at 440
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M&S: food business will benefit as people stay at home to eat
The company said that while it is not a destination for those consumers stockpiling food and other products, it does expect to benefit as people stay at home to eat instead of visiting pubs, cafes and restaurants.
We expect our food business to trade profitably throughout. At this stage we have benefited on a small scale as customers stock up but our heavy bias to chilled and fresh means we are not seeing the forward buying uplift experienced by the major grocers.
The significant shift to eating in home should however continue to benefit sales in the months ahead. Although there will undoubtedly be supply interruptions, we do not expect these to be prolonged or financially material.
There will be a substantial impact on Clothing and Home revenue at the very least in the first 3-4 months of the next financial year. Although it is possible that this may ease as we get into summer trading, margins are likely to be severely impacted by the surplus of unsold seasonal stock and probable clearance activity in the marketplace.
We are therefore taking all possible steps to defer supply. However, a very large part of our core business is less seasonal year-round essential product and this should provide some scope for carrying forward stock. At this stage we are not assuming a return to normal trading in the Autumn.
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