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Warning over illegal cigarettes 'containing excrement'

The black market trade of illegal cigarettes is hampering efforts to reduce smoking, council officials have warned.

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Some fake cigarettes were found to contain human excrement. Credit: PA Wire

The Local Government Authority (LGA) said the illegal products posed a fire risk, damaged genuine businesses and cost the UK economy around £3 billion a year in unpaid duty.

Fake cigarettes have been found to contain human excrement, rat droppings, asbestos and dead flies, the LGA said.

Councils have launched a crackdown on the practice, with hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes seized in Wolverhampton, Bristol and Nottingham.

Trading Standards Officers reported finding cigarettes inside vacuum cleaners, under floorboards and in toilet cisterns.

Rocket explodes shortly after take off

A prototype rocket exploded shortly after launching on a test flight from a base in central Texas, according to the company that launched it.

A statement on the SpaceX website said: "During the flight an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission."

The explosion was wintessed by one Twitter user.

No one was hurt during the experiment which the company said had pushed the vehicle to limits further than any previous test.

They added: "With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program."

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'Confusing' financial jargon explained

New research suggests financial jargon could be driving customers away from banks and building societies.

Here are definitions of the terms that prove most confusing for customers.

  • FSCS stands for Financial Services Compensation Scheme. This is a safety net for people whose bank or building society goes bust that will compensate a consumer by up to £85,000
  • AER stands for the annual equivalent rate, which is used to help people compare returns on savings accounts means
  • Bacs is a central payment system used to process several different types of electronic payment, such as wages and pensions
  • Gross interest refers to interest that is paid before the deduction of tax

May: UK may struggle against extremism for decades

Britain may struggle against extremist ideology for decades, the Home Secretary has warned.

Announcing plans to toughen laws to tackle British jihadists, Theresa May said Britain needed to introduce all the legal powers necessary to combat extremism.

We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly extremist ideology

We will be engaged in this struggle for many years, probably decades. We must give ourselves all the legal powers we need to prevail.

I am looking again at the case for new banning orders for extremist groups that fall short of the legal threshold for terrorist proscription, as well as for new civil powers to target extremists who seek to radicalise others.

For those who have dual nationality, I have the power to strip them of their citizenship and exclude them from the country.

Following the recent Immigration Act, I can, in certain circumstances, remove citizenship from naturalised Britons who are fighting overseas and exclude them too.

– Theresa May

Banking customers 'bombarded' with financial jargon

Consumers are being "bombarded" with financial jargon by banks and building societies, according to the director of retail at National Savings and Investments (NS&I).

While new research has found that jargon is driving customers away from banks and building societies, Julian Hynd said it was important for people to check the information supplied to them.

He said: "It's clear that customers are being bombarded with financial jargon, not only from their bank/building society but other financial service providers too."

He added: "But it's important for customers to remember that although the information supplied to them won't be a riveting read, it will provide essential information relevant to them."

Theresa May announces new laws to combat extremism

Theresa May is to introduce new laws to combat Islamist extremism following the murder of US journalist James Foley, allegedly by a British jihadist.

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Theresa May has announced new plans to combat the threat of Islamist extremism. Credit: PA Wire

The Home Secretary said Britain must introduce all the legal powers necessary to fight "deadly extremist ideology" which could take "decades" to eradicate, in an article for the Daily Telegraph.

Mrs May's plans include: an "anti-social behaviour order" for extremists, making it illegal to join extremist groups that are not directly involved in terrorism, and stripping dual nationals of their citizenship.

Britain was "in the middle of a generational struggle" against extremism, she added.

May's intervention comes amid growing calls to toughen terror laws in the wake of James Foley's death.

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Financial jargon 'drives banking customers away'

Financial jargon is driving customers away from banks and building societies, new treasury backed research has found.

Financial jargon drives customers away from banks, new research has found.
Financial jargon drives customers away from banks, new research has found. Credit: PA

Three-fifths (60%) of consumers said they are likely to stop saving with a particular bank or building society if they cannot understand the way they explain their terms and conditions, according to the study by National Savings and Investments (NS&I).

More than half (54%) said confusing language would make them consider switching their custom to another firm.

Call centre staff were responsible for 41% of consumer confusion, while almost half (49%) said terminology in application forms had left them baffled.

Jargon used on company websites had also confused 50% of those polled. One quarter (25%) said they had stopped saving with a particular bank or building society as a result of website jargon.

Patients 'shouldn't endure unfair parking charges'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said hospital patients and their families should not have to deal with "unfair" parking charges.

Mr Hunt has previously spoken of his concern about parking fees at some hospital, following calls from Conservative backbenchers to end the "rip-off" costs.

Patients and families shouldn't have to deal with the added stress of unfair parking charges.

These clear ground rules set out our expectations, and will help the public hold the NHS to account for unfair charges or practices.

– Jeremy Hunt

Research 'shows government policy is working'

Research showing that first time buyers pay £1,300 less than renters show that government policy is working, according to the Housing and Planning minister.

We've cut the deficit to keep interest rates low, built half a million homes and helped thousands of responsible, hard-working people purchase properties with smaller deposits through Help to Buy.

– Brandon Lewis

Research shows first-time buyers pay less than renters

First-time buyers are now paying around £1,300 less than people who rent, new research has found.

First time buyers pay £1,300 less than renters according to Halifax.
First time buyers pay £1,300 less than renters according to Halifax. Credit: PA

Running a three-bedroom house for someone taking their first step on the property ladder now costs £677, which is £110 lower than the typical monthly rent paid on a similar property, according to the Halifax bank.

They said that while the typical monthly cost of buying a home has increased by £25 compared with a year ago, typical rental costs have have risen by £42 a month to now stand at £787 a month on average.

Five years ago, the average cost of owning your first property was around £37 a month more expensive than renting, they added.

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