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FORESIGHT METERING APPOINTS EX NPOWER CEO, VOLKER BECKERS, AS NON-EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN TO LEAD SMART METER FUNDING DRIVE

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FORESIGHT METERING APPOINTS EX NPOWER CEO, VOLKER BECKERS, AS NON-EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN TO LEAD SMART METER FUNDING DRIVE

Foresight Metering Limited (“Foresight Metering”), a second-generation meter asset provider (“MAP”), is delighted to announce the appointment of Volker Beckers as Non-Executive Chairman. MrBeckers has most recently held executive roles at RWE where he was Group CEO at RWE npower until 2012, following a six-year stint as Group CFO.

Volker joins Foresight Metering with significant experience working at key industry stakeholders including roles at Danske Commodities, Albion Community Power, Reactive Technologies and PwC’s Advisory Board. Volker’s experience includes Non-Executive Directorships in both the public and private sector including Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Elexon as well as close links with academia and think tanks. He was presented with the Outstanding Contribution Award at the 2012 Energy Awards in London.

Foresight Metering was launched not only to disrupt the energy metering market with innovative solutions and value for money prepositions but also to help households and energy suppliers alike manage services with flexible financing offerings and transparent risk management.  Foresight has a five-year track record of funding smart meter installation in the UK, having to date invested £75 million of debt and equity into more than 205,000 smart meters across the UK.

Foresight Metering has started a programme of regular Smart focused events at its offices across the UK, to assist energy suppliers (both large and small) and key stakeholders with untangling the challenges of smart meter roll outs to December 2020 and beyond. Themes include keys differences between SMETS1 and SMETS2, energy suppliers’ pre-installation responsibilities and SMETS2 installation and congoing management challenges.

Volker Becker’s wealth of knowledge and expertise will be key as Foresight Metering looks to work with some of the country’s leading energy providers in the nationwide installation of smart meters. In addition, Foresight Metering has aspirations to become a leading smart meter financier in international markets such as Australia and India. Foresight believes smart metering is the future and in the context of the Government’s most recent planned introduction of price caps for Standard Variable Rate tariffs to protect the most vulnerable of consumers, the lower household bills will become a very attractive option.

Tom Thorp, CEO of Foresight Metering, said: “We are delighted to welcome Volker to the Board of Foresight Metering as Non-Executive Chairman.  His extensive experience in the UK energy sector will be invaluable as we continue to work alongside the challenger energy suppliers to facilitate the low-cost roll-out of smart meters in UK residential, commercial and industrial premises.”

Volker Beckers, Non-Executive Chairman of Foresight Metering, added: “I am thrilled to accept the appointment. Foresight is a specialist in energy infrastructure and energy efficiency and has a long track record of delivering innovative financing and management solutions to its energy supply partners.  Foresight Metering’s established position in the meter market enables it to be well placed to capitalise on the growing number of meter rollout opportunities created by GB’s smart meter revolution.  I am looking forward to working closely with the team at this exciting time.”

Foresight Metering cites five key features which it believes sets smart metering apart from the traditional gas and electricity metering.

  1. Control – The rollout of the new generation of smart meters (SMETS2) offer consumers an in-home display (IHD) that allows consumers to view and control their energy usage. The IHD provides consumers with the cost of their usage in “pounds and pence” with access to daily, weekly and monthly summaries. The SMETS2 Home Area Network created by the smart metering system also provides consumers with the ability to connect other devices to aid in their ‘in home’ energy management.
  2. Efficiency – consumers can make real time decisions on their gas and electricity usage to aid in keeping bills under control. The SMETS2 meters also send back data to key Industry parties such as Network Distributors to better match supply and demand and drive the creation of Smart Grids
  3. “Granular” Consumption Data –  SMETS2 meters will enable energy suppliers to collect regular consumption data from meters allowing customers to be billed for their actual usage resulting in no more estimated bills. The consumer can also pass this consumption data to other Industry parties, such as price comparison websites to allow them to shop around for the best tariff for their usage profile.
  4. Market Innovation – SMETS2 meters and the wealth of data they hold, will drive Industry to offer new and innovative products to consumers. “Pay as you Go” payment options for both domestic and non-domestic customers, “Time of Use” tariffs in the domestic market and microgeneration/battery storage are all expected to become readily available as the number of SMETS2 meters installed in Great Britain increases.
  5. Switching – SMETS2 will be connected to new, dedicated and secure communications networks and systems. This will allow energy suppliers to offer faster, less onerous switching to enable consumers to move to the best deal for them.

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England 1

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.

Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.

The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.

Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.

Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.

Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.

“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.

Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.

“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.

“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”

Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.

He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.

“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.

Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.

“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of State’s (Dowden’s) assertion that the government’s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.

It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.

The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.

Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)

 

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.

“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.

Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.

Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.

The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.

“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.

Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.

The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.

It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.

“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.

“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”

SCALING UP

Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.

“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.

A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.

“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.

The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).

“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)

 

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