Recently in David Bailey Category
Hastily set up in the wake of the coalition government's knee-jerk scrapping of the Regional Development Agencies, the government's much trumpeted 'Regional Growth Fund' (RGF) appears still beset by problems.
Sadly, much of the RGF remains unspent and the cost of actually creating jobs through it has rocketed, the National Audit Office has claimed in a recent report.
In a further progress report on the much troubled fund, Parliament's official spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) concluded that the government faces "a significant challenge, particularly in 2014-15 where the budget is £1.4bn, to spend money as quickly as originally expected."
After considerable public pressure (and following an online petition signed by over 400 people), the Capita Service Birmingham Contract (or rather one of the contracts at least) has been partly published.
'Partly' is the key word, as still hidden from the public's view are those key and important parts of the contract which Capita's lawyers consider to be 'commercially sensitive'.
The most commercially sensitive thing about these contracts is that Birmingham's Citizens have been paying £345,000 per day to Capita Service Birmingham under this contract.
Gaydon-based Aston Martin, makers of sports cars for the rich and cool (and a secret agent by the name of James Bond of course), recently announced that it is recalling most of its sports cars built since late 2007 after discovering a Chinese sub-supplier was using counterfeit plastic material in a part supplied to the firm.
Aston Martin is recalling around 17,600 cars according to a report by Reuters. That's tiny in car industry terms but huge for a small firm that makes just a few thousand cars a year. The recall includes all of its left-hand-drive models built since November 2007 and all right-hand-drive models built since May 2012, affecting about 75% of the sports cars made in that period.
There's a very real risk that another tranche of motor industry history and several hundred jobs - in the form of Dunlop Motorsport - are about to disappear from Birmingham. Oddly, that risk hasn't come about through business failure, but rather success.
The rapid growth of Jaguar Land Rover has meant the latter has (understandably) acquired the Ashold Farm Road site that Dunlop leases so as to expand its burgeoning Castle Bromwich plant. And while Dunlop Motorsport has been granted a three-month extension to stay on its current site until September, production is set to cease in May.
One of my key criticisms of Sir Albert Bore and Ian Ward, the current Leader and current deputy leader of Birmingham City Council (BCC) respectively, has been about a lack of openness and frankness about the Capita Service Birmingham contract and the wider state of the city's books. The £120 million-a-year Service Birmingham contract is the vehicle through which Capita PLC delivers the outsourcing of BCC's ICT, Call Centre and Billing.
The last month has done little to dispel this sense of a lack of openness and frankness. If anything, it's got worse. Sir Albert Bore and Ian Ward have on one level been dragged kicking and screaming in to 2014, and forced by an online petition into a commitment of sorts to publish the contract. They have also publicly admitted for the first time that this contract costs £120million. On another level they have shown a quite deliberate lack of candour.
Fiat will buy out the remaining stake the profitable US car maker Chrysler, it has emerged today. Fiat shares jumped today after it reached a $4.35 billion deal to take complete control of Chrysler.
Under the deal Fiat will buy the 41.5% stake of the third largest US car maker that it doesn't already own. It has been able to do so without having to raise funds from the stock market.
Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne has run both auto firms since Chrysler's 2009 Obama backed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructuring, and will now combine the two firms into the seventh largest auto firm in the world.
While budget players like Hyundai and Kia continue to do well in Europe, as do the premium brands like BMW and JLR, the 'squeezed middle' of Ford Europe, GM Europe, Peugeot-Citroen and Fiat are expected to lose a combined $6.4bn this year.
That has left firms scrabbling to find ways to restore profitability, including plant closures and tie-ups to cut the costs of developing new models.
The spin given to Birmingham City Council's budget consultation highlights that 'the biggest single saving' proposed to the budget is the £20m cut from the £50m Capita Service Birmingham contract.
Er no. To suggest to the people of Birmingham that Capita Service Birmingham costs them just £50m and that 40% is being cut from that cost really takes the biscuit.
Had the consultation document stated that there would be a £20m cut from the 'core contract' with Capita Service Birmingham then it might have been an acceptable, if still very partial presentation.
Despite supposedly being broke, Birmingham City Council has just found another half a million quid down the back of the municipal sofa to hand over to Capita, this time to come up with an 'education services transformation programme' for education (see here for a piece by Paul Dale at the Chamberlain Files on this).
Quite why anyone in the council - including the Leader himself or a cabinet member - couldn't have come up with such a 'model' isn't at all clear.
Couldn't a local university have done this at a much lower cost? Or is it just too convenient to pick up the phone to our old friends Capita? It seems like the Council has gone for the Rolls-Royce model yet again.
Premium car maker Jaguar Land Rover today announced a £240m investment in Brazil to set up a new manufacturing plant there. The new facility will be based in the city of Itatiaia in Rio de Janeiro state.
The latter has been negotiating with JLR since the start of this year, with a package of tax breaks and fiscal incentives likely to be on offer to help lure the JLR investment.