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Wednesday newspaper round-up: Inflation, smart motorways, Unilever

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UK households have suffered the sharpest fall in the amount of cash they have available to spend for almost eight years, amid a worsening cost of living crisis driven by high inflation and rising energy bills. According to a report by the insurer Scottish Widows, increasing living costs at the end of last year hit people’s pockets and led to the steepest decline in cash availability since the start of 2014. – Guardian
The rollout of smart motorways has been suspended by the government until at least 2025 in response to safety concerns from MPs and motoring groups. Schemes to convert stretches of the M3, M25, M62 and M40 will be put on ice until five years’ worth of safety data from the controversial roads are available, ministers said. – Guardian

One of Britain’s best known investors has attacked Unilever for its “ludicrous” focus on sustainability, in a sign of growing City frustration at blue chip companies championing fashionable causes. Terry Smith, manager of the £29bn Fundsmith Equity fund, said that the consumer goods behemoth has become “obsessed” with its public image and mocked its efforts to imbue brands such as Hellman’s mayonnaise with a higher purpose. – Telegraph

Hedge fund chief Alan Howard earned over £55m after his business profited from a series of bets during the first year of the pandemic. Company filings show that Brevan Howard Asset Management’s 17 partners received £43.4m in remuneration and shared £79m in profits for the year to March, up from an £18.3m profit split between members a year earlier. – Telegraph

The former KPMG partner responsible for auditing Carillion, who is accused of creating false documents to mislead inspectors, has claimed he was “let down” by junior colleagues and was shopping with his wife on the afternoon of a key meeting, a disciplinary tribunal heard. Peter Meehan, 60, is defending allegations by the Financial Reporting Council that he, with former members of his KPMG audit team, conspired to create false documents and pass them off as contemporaneous audit records during an inspection of their work. – The Times

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