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Pharma deals are ‘vote of confidence’, says government

Plans to build new biotech research centres come as the government announces its industrial strategy.

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The government has said two deals to invest in the UK’s biotech industry illustrate confidence in its industrial strategy, which it published on Monday.

MSD, known as Merck in North America, will support a new research centre in London creating around 950 new posts.

Germany’s Qiagen will expand its investment in a genomics and diagnostics campus in Manchester.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said it represented “a huge vote of confidence” in the government’s approach.

“People don’t make the investments of this scale that are for the long term if they don’t have the confidence that we are building in this country a very attractive base,” he said.

The industrial strategy white paper outlines the government’s plans to support more research and development, encourage firms to embrace new technology and boost the economy.

It includes:

The industrial strategy comes just days after official forecasting body the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) announced an aggressive downgrade of its UK growth forecast.

The OBR concluded that a slowdown in the growth of productivity – or the value that each worker produces – since the financial crisis will persist for several more years.

MSD’s managing director in the UK and Ireland, Louise Houson, linked the company’s investment to the government’s approach to the economy: “This investment presents a major opportunity for us to work in collaboration with the UK government to build on the forward thinking and ambitious industrial strategy white paper being published.”

Qiagen expects to sign a deal early next year to expand its presence in Manchester where it works on DNA-based diagnostics for personalised healthcare. The firm said it would add to its current staff of 270.

The government said the investment had the potential to create 800 skilled job overall in the Manchester life sciences hub at Qiagen and other firms.

The chief executive of Qiagen, Peer Schatz, said the involvement of the University of Manchester, the NHS Trust and the UK government were “essential” to the partnership they are investing in.

Mr Clark said the UK’s decision to leave the EU meant the strategy was “even more important” and he said political commitments to limit immigration would not hamper the development of research related industries. He said the government would “make it easier for more scientists to come and work in the UK”.

Analysis: Simon Jack, BBC business editor

Image copyright PA

Here’s the idiot’s guide to how it’s supposed to work.

Pick an industry that the UK is already good at and needs investment.

Chuck in a bit of government money, cluster the right institutions around it, commit to provide the skills base and give them somewhere to try their new stuff.

That could mean faster trials for drugs in the NHS or using public roads to test driverless cars.

Hey presto – private investment ensues.

Some will see this as another example of government’s dodgy track record in “picking winners” – the government insists it is backing excellence.

Of course, all of these new initiatives are being born under the star sign of Brexit which makes them children of uncertainty.

Read Simon’s blog in full

‘Time for consistency’

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, welcomed the industrial strategy, saying it showed the government “has its eye firmly on the horizon, not just the next few yards”.

But she added: “Today’s announcement must be the beginning of a strategic race, not a tactical sprint. And it needs to last. This is a time for consistency and determination, not perpetual change with the political winds.”

She commended the creation of an independent council to monitor progress.

However Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Labour’s shadow secretary for business, said the white paper contained “re-announced policies and old spending commitments”, and failed to provide certainty.

“What detail there is concentrates on a few elite industries in which Britain already has an advantage, and will do nothing to help the millions of people who work in low productivity and low wage sectors such as retail, hospitality and social care, or those based outside the “Golden Triangle” made up by London, Oxford and Cambridge.”

Extra funding

The government has already pledged to invest an additional £80bn in R&D over the next decade.

The white paper lists some of the government’s previously announced pledges to improve productivity including technical education and training, investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and faster broadband.

It also outlined four global trends which it believes the UK needs to take advantage of.

These are:

The government describes these as “grand challenges” and is inviting business, academia and civil society to work with the government to tackle them.

“More decisions about our economic future will be in our own hands and it is vital that we take them,” Mr Clark said.

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Business

How to buy Bitcoin, is it safe and what are the cryptocurrencies Iota and Ethereum?

THE cryptocurrency Bitcoin continues to dominate the news as the volatile currency keeps breaking records. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re thinking of investing in Bitcoin or one…

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THE cryptocurrency Bitcoin continues to dominate the news as the volatile currency keeps breaking records.

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re thinking of investing in Bitcoin or one of the other cryptocurrencies…

 Bitcoin is going from strength to strength - but how long can it last?Getty – Contributor Bitcoin is going from strength to strength – but how long can it last?

How do I buy Bitcoin?

The most common way to buy the currency is to download a broker app such as Coinbase and Blockchain.

These allow users to use a credit or debit card to exchange pounds for Bitcoin.

Users do not have to buy whole Bitcoins and can purchase a small percentage that matches the value of their cash investment.

Once a request has been made, online “miners” will decide whether to approve the transaction.

If approved, the money will be taken from a user’s account in exchange for Bitcoin.

When selling, users can use the same app to sell their Bitcoin in return for its cash value.

It is also possible to buy Bitcoin directly from sellers on other websites – bypassing the need for a broker.

There are fewer transaction fees in this case, but the process is a bit riskier and more complicated – especially for a beginner.

Investors can also buy Bitcoins by depositing cash at a nearby Bitcoin ATM.

These have been popping up in newsagents and can be found by Googling them or visiting Coin ATM Radar.

Is it safe to buy Bitcoin?

Anyone thinking of investing in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency should be very careful.

Their values are volatile, with the ability to plummet as quickly as they shoot up.

And investors are frequently targeted by hackers and other criminals who seek to steal their crypto-cash online.

Be especially careful if you are using direct, peer-to-peer platforms to sell and buy cryptocurrencies.

These are the equivalent of something like Gumtree for Bitcoin – you never know who you might be dealing with.

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Make sure you have the right ingredients to prepare a beverage for every guest this Christmas

It’s party season when friends and family love to drop in and have a drop. Here are some fantastic drinks recipes that will help you have a very merry Christmas. Mulled wine – 82p per s…

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It’s party season when friends and family love to drop in and have a drop.

Here are some fantastic drinks recipes that will help you have a very merry Christmas.

 These festive drinks are bound to please your guestsGetty – Contributor These festive drinks are bound to please your guests

Mulled wine – 82p per serving

(Serves 6)

 Nothing screams out Christmas like mulled wineAlamy Nothing screams out Christmas like mulled wine

Preparation time: 5mins

Cooking time: 5 mins

Each serving contains: 136cals (7% of an adult’s recommended daily allowance), 0g fat (0%), 0g sat fat (0%), 10g sugar (11%), 0g salt (0%)

YOU NEED:

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 60g demerara sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • grated nutmeg
  • 1 clementine, halved
  • 1 dried bay leaf

METHOD:

  • Put the wine in a saucepan with the clementine, sugar, bayleaf and the spices.
  • Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Taste to see if you want the wine sweeter, and add more sugar to taste.
  • Strain into heatproof glasses and serve at once.
  • For an extra kick you can add in some gin. After taking off the heat add in 60ml of sloe or damson gin

Bucks Fizz – £3.03 per serving

(Serves 6)

 Bucks fizz is so easy to make Bucks fizz is so easy to make

Preparation time: 5mins

Each serving contains: 51cals (8% of an adult’s recommended daily allowance), 0g fat (0%), 0g sat fat (0%), 14.5g sugar (16%), 0g salt (0%)

YOU NEED:

  • 1 bottle Champagne, chilled
  • 1 litre freshly squeezed orange juice, chilled

METHOD:

  • Half-fill 6 glasses with Champagne
  • Carefully pour in the orange juice until the glass is full
  • You can swap champagne for sparkling wine or non alcoholic wine

 Head down to Morrisons to get the ingredients you need Head down to Morrisons to get the ingredients you need

Christmas hot chocolate – 39p per serving

(Serves 2)

 Nothing could be more perfect then downing some hot chocolate on a cold winter night Nothing could be more perfect then downing some hot chocolate on a cold winter night

Preparation time: 8 mins

Cooking time: 2 mins

Each serving contains: 173 cals (9% of an adult’s recommended daily allowance), 9g fat (13%), 5g sat fat (25%), 16.5g sugar (18%), 0.5g salt (8%)

YOU NEED:

  • 200ml full-fat milk
  • 4tbsp drinking chocolate powder
  • 30g dark chocolate, finely grated
  • ¼tsp ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Canned squirty cream, marshmallows and decorations of your choice

METHOD:

  • Place the milk in a saucepan and heat gently until almost boiling hot. Alternatively heat in a microwave on HIGH/100% for 2-3 mins.
  • Meanwhile mix the drinking chocolate powder, grated chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg in a heatproof jug until well combined.
  • As soon as the milk is about to boil, pour it into the jug, whisking with a balloon whisk (or stirring with a wooden spoon) as you do.
  • Immediately pour into cups and squirt a swirl of cream over the chocolate and decorate
  • TIP: Add 2tbsp of brandy or dark rum before heating to warm things up

Brendan Cox launches appeal in memory of his wife Jo Cox encouraging people to share mince pies with lonely neighbours at Christmas

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More than 600,000 hard-up families at mercy of lending ‘sharks’ to cover the cost of Christmas

MORE than 600,000 hard-up families will take out extortionate payday loans to cover the cost of Christmas, a Sun on Sunday investigation can reveal. Some are being tempted into pocketing fast cash …

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MORE than 600,000 hard-up families will take out extortionate payday loans to cover the cost of Christmas, a Sun on Sunday investigation can reveal.

Some are being tempted into pocketing fast cash by festive-themed “introducer sites”, which coax them into the hands of lenders.

 Mum of four Sarah Carty who got stung with interest of 100% on a £600 payday loan she took out to cover the cost of ChristmasNorth News and Pictures Mum of four Sarah Carty who got stung with interest of 100% on a £600 payday loan she took out to cover the cost of Christmas

Borrowers can then be hit with huge interest rates — sometimes DOUBLE the loan amount — leaving them with terrible credit ratings, CCJs and crippling debt if they can’t pay.

The sites either host adverts for regulated loans companies placed by search engines, or pass details on to other genuine lenders with high interest rates.

One, Christmas LoansUK, hosts ads for lenders such as Cashflex.

ChristmasLoansUK owner Nicholas Massey, of Smethwick, West Mids, admitted to “misleading” people.

 Christmas Loans UK appears to be introducing customers into riskier deals Christmas Loans UK appears to be introducing customers into riskier deals

He said: “I’m not an official lender. I’m the middle man taking advantage of Google’s advertising programme.”

Britain seemed rid of Wonga-style payday lending after finance chiefs capped interest on loans of 30 days or fewer at £24 per £100 borrowed.

While this initially saw the number of borrowers fall from 1.4million to fewer than 500,000, the Money Advice Service expects a spike over Christmas.

Another site is MyQuick Loan, run by McCrory Finances Limited.

 Mum of three Debbie Hall took out a £500 loan with Wonga which she struggled to repay due to the high interest rates they chargedNorth News and Pictures Mum of three Debbie Hall took out a £500 loan with Wonga which she struggled to repay due to the high interest rates they charged

It offers a £400 loan for 90 days — outside the FCA’s 30-day cap — with interest of £161.92.

It warns rates could double if the customer is passed to another lender.

Owner John McCrory, of Macclesfield, Cheshire, said: “People know what they’re getting into — it’s clear.”

Mum-of-four Sarah Carty, 40, turned to a payday lender in December 2015.

 Is it taking out a loan this Christmas really worth the risk? Is it taking out a loan this Christmas really worth the risk? Lee Carter Lee is forced to take a payday loan in EastEnders

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