Friday newspaper round-up: Energy companies, work from home, challenger audit firms

Energy companies face deepening scrutiny over their response to Storm Arwen after the opening of an official investigation into their handling of the crisis, which left almost a million homes without power for up to 12 days. The government’s review into the “unacceptable” power cuts, which followed the storm, aims to identify any issues with the resilience of the electricity network companies worst affected, and how they communicated with households after of the outages. – Guardian
Britain’s biggest white-collar employers have sent staff home after the government tightened its coronavirus guidance, but some companies have told workers they can continue to come to the office if required for their mental health. Although the government instruction that people in England should work from home where possible from Monday is advice and not legally mandatory, organisations across the country are switching to home working where possible. – Guardian

Sadiq Khan has warned that ministers have no choice other than to bail out Transport for London because new Covid curbs will spark a collapse in commuter numbers. The mayor of London blamed Boris Johnson for wrecking the finances of the capital’s transport authority, despite new research showing that Londoners were less willing to return to the office compared with the likes of Paris, Hong Kong, New York and Berlin before the latest restrictions were announced. – Telegraph

Rishi Sunak’s plans for pre-election tax cuts are at risk of being trashed by the return of Covid restrictions, economists have warned. The Chancellor already has extremely limited headroom to meet his borrowing targets, according to analysts at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), and any slippage caused by the reaction to omicron slashes this room for giveaways even further. – Telegraph

Kwasi Kwarteng has signed off on plans to force FTSE 350 companies to give work to challenger audit firms as the government faces pressure to show it has taken action to prevent corporate scandals before the fourth anniversary of the collapse of Carillion. The business secretary is seeking a legislative slot in the next parliamentary session to bring forward reforms that would aim to halt KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte’s dominance of the accountancy industry. They include forcing FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies audited by one of the Big Four firms to appoint a smaller firm to work alongside them, The Times has learnt. – The Times

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