THE maximum fine for touts selling tickets to the London Olympics has been raised to £20,000 from £15,000. The increase follows criticism that the original fine was not high enough to deter networks of touts who, police say, can expect to make millions from the games. Many of the gangs are British and follow big sport events around the world.
It is illegal for anyone other than authorized agents to offer any of the 8.8 million tickets. Reselling for profit also is illegal.
BRITONS HOPE FOR BIG WIN
A record 5 billion lottery tickets have been sold this year. Bosses at Camelot have reported a 5 percent rise in playing, with the credit crunch helping sales increase by 18 percent in the last decade.
Ticket sales in the year ended March 31 are seen hitting a record £5.7 billion, and prize money is tipped to top £2.9. So far, lottery bosses have paid more than £37.5 billion in prizes, creating 2,500 new millionaires. Camelot Chief Executive Dianne Thompson said sales had risen steadily since the start of the second lottery licence in 2002.
FOREIGNERS TAKE OVER BRITISH FIRMS
FOREIGN takeovers of British firms have reached record levels. Two thirds of British companies sold between October and December last year were swallowed up by overseas predators, according to city law firm Wdlake Bell.
In 2010 as a whole, foreign firms bought a record 54 percent of the 113 listed companies that changed hands. The law firm blamed Britain’s recession for the ongoing fallout as a larger number of businesses succumbed to outside bids.
Wdlake Partner Tim Bird said, “We should be concerned that British firms do not have the firepower to be the hunter rather than the hunted.”
FAT RISE IN SALES
A QUARTER of all women’s clothes sold this year will be size 18 or over as obesity levels escalate demand for bigger clothes. Large clothing now is the fastest-growing sector on the High Street.
Retail experts at Verdict say clothes for tubby young women and teenagers are the driving force behind the expansion. They predict sales will increase 6 percent this year to £4.9 billion at a time when most other sectors are waning.
THE END OF PUBS?
BRITAIN’S pubs and bars face closing time for good as they come under intense pressure from supermarket bargain-booze deals encouraging consumers to drink at home.
The number of restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs giving up their alcohol licences rose by 13 percent over the last year.
According to one study, some 5,742 alcohol licences were surrendered in 2010–twice that of 2007 when 2,830 licenses were given up. In 2009, 5,102 licences were surrendered.
Legal analysts Sweet MaXWELL said the statistics demonstrated the effect of the recession on the sector. Accountancy firm Ilkins Kennedy found that more than one bar or pub went bust each day in 2010. The firm warned that bars, restaurants and nightclubs are under “intense competitive pressure” from supermarkets and big chains as well as the combined impact of the smoking ban, rising alcohol duties and shrinking disposable incomes.
The rate of losses is highest in London and the northwest, though all regions are suffering declines.
CANCER LINKED TO ALCOHOL
DRINKING is the cause of cancer in one in 10 men and one in 33 in women, according to research published in the British Medical Journal. While even small amounts of alcohol increase the risk of cancer, drinking above recommended limits causes the majority of cancer cases linked to alcohol in Western Europe, experts say.
RETIREES FACE POVERTY
MORE than a third of those retiring this year are set to live below the poverty line, research from Prudential finds. The minimum income standard for a single person is £14,000 a year, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says, but 35 percent of this year’s retirees will receive less.
PAY UP TO BE A BRIT
MIGRANTS should bid at auction to buy an entry visa to Britain. A leading think tank believes it would help solve Britain’s immigration problem and raise up to £600 million a year.
The Institute of Economic Affairs suggests that people willing to pay the most to live in the UK are likely to be the same people who would contribute most to the economy.
The plan was put forward by Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Gary Becker, who said, “The people most likely to be attracted by a fee are the most economically active migrants and those with a real commitment to the United Kingdom.”
NIGHT shifts are unhealthy and should be limited to eight hours, a new study concludes. Urging the Government to take action, the Young Foundation said night workers are more likely to suffer poor mental health, cancer and pregnancy problems.
They also are three times more likely to have accidents.
Around 1.3 million Brits work at night; the number is likely to grow.
UP WITH MILLIONAIRES
The number of millionaires in Britain is growing by more than 100 every day as the country emerges from the depths of the recession. Figures from Barclays Wealth show that there are currently 610,000 millionaires in the UK–up from 528,000 two years ago.
A combination of the stock market recovery, private enterprise and an influx of rich foreigners generated daily increases of 120 super-rich Brits a day. Of the total, about 86,000 have more than £5 million in assets–up 19 percent.
Alex Cheatle, founder of Ten Lifestyle Management, which looks after the leisure demands of the very wealthy, says his client base is booming. He charges £300 a month for a range of services from booking a table at Heston Blumenthal’s latest restaurant to finding a £10-million house in London.
“They are millionaires in their own right and can take advantage of the tax advantages of being non-domiciled,” Cheatle notes. “With all the political instability, London is a safe haven–and it’s fun.”
THE DECLINE OF MARRIAGE
MARRIAGE has fallen to its lowest level since records began (no reflection on the Royal Wedding). In England and Wales in 2009 there were 231,490 marriages, the fewest since 1895. That same year, there were 21.3 men marrying per 1,000 unmarried adult men, and 19.9 women marrying per 1,000 unmarried women over 16, according to the Office for National Statistics. Experts said the cost of living could be a factor.
Jenny North of Relate, the relationship counseling people, called the figures “worrying. Couples were buying a house, getting the perfect job, or buying a car before they wed.” She added, “As money gets tighter these things got harder to achieve.” The average age for first-time brides climbed to 30 in 2009 In 1981 it was 23.1 For grooms it was 32.1 in 2009, up from 25.4 in 1981.
Anastasia de Wall, director of family and education for the independent think-tank Civitas, said it was inevitable that as more women go to university, marriage ages rise. “What’s worrying,” she added, “is that unemployment and financial insecurity are thwarting aspirations.”
SECRET OF GOOD SLEEP?
IF you want a good night’s sleep switch off the TV, computer and mobile phone an hour before going to bed, say experts in America. Nine in ten people admit to using electronics in the hour before turning in, and it’s wrecking their sleep patterns, the study concludes.
They blame artificial light emitted by TV and computer screens and over-stimulation of the brain. The worst activities are playing video games, using mobiles and surfing the Internet, according to a major survey conducted by the U.S. National Sleep Foundation.
Dr. Charles Czeisler, Harvard University Medical School, points out that “Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts normal sleep patterns to a later hour.”
Technology is disrupting sleep even after lights out. Ten percent of people in their twenties say they are routinely awakened during the night by phone calls, text messages or emails.
Professor Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, notes that “even children aged five, six and seven have got video games in their bedroom. They need to settle down and relax before going to bed.”
FLAT BOOB TUBERS
BRITONS buy nearly twice as many television sets as their continental counterparts, and their model of choice is now the flat screen. An astonishing 43 million flat screen tellies were sold in the UK between 2004 and 2010. That figure far outstrips the 28 million sold in Germany and 27 million in France, it was reported.
British viewers spend many more hours in front of their TV sets than they realize. The average Brit now watches the tube about 28 hours a week–an increase of three hours over viewing habits in 2001. But official statistics showed the true figure is nearer 30 hours.
BIONIC EYE FOR THE BLIND
A BIONIC EYE that enables blind people to see has been approved after lengthy testing. Checks have shown that the device is safe, which could mean that it eventually will be routinely available on the NHS.
Specialists said that tests over almost three years had “impressed” beyond expectations.
Revolutionary retina implants work in conjunction with a camera mounted on a pair of glasses. They have already transformed the lives of 30 people during initial tests. Doctors now hope the “bionic eye” could be used to treat some 20,000 people in the UK who are blind because of failed retinas.
FAMILIES GET CLOSE
TWO THIRDS of people feel closer to their family now than five years ago, a story has revealed. Four in five say spending time with their loved ones is their top activity. And more than half of parents believe their relationships with their children have improved in the last five years, while 44 per cent of children say they get on better with mum and dad.
And nearly three-quarters of parents whose children have left home report they continue to see their offspring about once a month, according to the Disneyland, Paris report. A spokesman called it “encouraging that the picture of broken families is not necessarily true.”
SIX IN 1O SMOKERS CAN’T QUIT
MORE than half of those who vowed to give up cigarettes at New Year failed after just eight weeks. About 2.2 million Britons resolved to quit as 2011 was ushered in, but six in 10 (59 per cent} saw their plans go up in smoke.
Researchers among 2,000 people by Santander Bank for National No Smoking Day found giving up is not only good for your health but could also save an average smoker £1,004 a year.
Reza Attar-Zadeh of Santander Bank said, “Public awareness of the health benefits of giving up smoking is much higher now, but it seems this still isn’t enough.”
BLUEBERRIES IN; FAT OUT
SLIM down with blueberries. If you want to shed the pounds increase your intake of the nutritious fruit that scientists have learned can slash fat cells up to 75 percent.
Researchers discovered that the berries–hailed as a “super food” for their ability to help prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes–can breakdown fat cells in the body and prevent new ones from forming.