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Friday newspaper round-up: Working from home, UK population, Stamp Duty

(Sharecast News) – The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, has said companies must redouble efforts to ensure employees work from home unless their work is critical and cannot be done offsite, as the TUC urged the government to step up enforcement. Calls are growing for the government to rethink allowing construction sites to continue as normal and to permit only those whose operations are vital, with several industry employees telling the Guardian that safe practice has become impossible on sites. – Guardian
The UK’s service sector suffered the biggest fall in growth in November, contracting by 3.4%. Unsurprisingly, the hospitality sector shrank the most – with pubs and restaurants forced to close during the November lockdown. – Guardian

The UK population may have fallen by as much as 1.3m – the biggest decline since the Second World War – in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, academics have said. A study by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence highlighted an “unprecedented exodus” of foreign-born workers following the outbreak of the virus as well as shortcomings in official surveys inflating the number of UK workers. – Telegraph

A group of 50 Tory MPs in the party’s new Northern heartlands is calling on the Chancellor to extend the stamp duty cut in a major boost for The Telegraph’s campaign against the tax. The Northern Research Group (NRG) urged Rishi Sunak to continue a stamp duty holiday on properties worth less than £500,000 for a further 12 months. They also want him to extend a £20 increase to weekly Universal Credit payments until lockdown ends. – Telegraph

London-based start-ups raised more than $10 billion in funding last year, cementing the capital’s status as Europe’s leading technology hub. Investors continued to flock to London despite the shockwaves from Covid-19, as it received more venture capital funding than any European city, a new study has shown. – The Times

The bribery scandal at Petrofac deepened last night when a former senior executive at the oil services group pleaded guilty to three offences related to $3.3 billion of work that it secured in the United Arab Emirates. The Serious Fraud Office said that David Lufkin had pleaded guilty at Westminster magistrates’ court to three counts of bribery, which related to “corrupt offers and payments made between 2012 and 2018”. The timing is significant, since it implies that offences were committed even after the SFO had begun its inquiry into suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering at Petrofac in May 2017. – The Times

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