8th October 2021
Good morning It may finally be time to dust off your passport and head to the airport. In a major step forward for international travel, the government has dramatically cut the travel red list, removing 47 countries including holiday destinations like South Africa, Brazil and Mexico.
- Heating up - Energy bills could get worse before they get better
- Cashing in - Google’s British AI lab finally makes a profit
Energy bills could get worse before they get better
What’s going on?
The current energy crisis could last well into next year with bills set to rise by as much as 30% in 2022, that’s according to research firm Cornwall Insight.
Why is this important?
Yesterday we reported that gas prices had risen by nearly 40% in the space of 24 hours before Russia said it would supply more gas into Europe. This pledge seemed to calm the markets but gas prices have still increased fivefold since the start of the year.
Cornwall Insight predict that if prices continue to rise then the next price cap, effective from April 2022, could be as much as £1,660 compared to £1,277 today.
But there are some who think even bigger increases could come. Price comparison site The Energy Shop warned that the price cap increase could be anywhere up to £800 higher if energy prices don’t cool down.
The government introduced the energy price cap in 2019 to protect the millions of households that don’t switch their energy provider and are on standard variable tariffs.
The cap means suppliers can’t immediately raise prices to reflect the higher wholesale costs. As a result, many operators are now losing out on servicing customers on unprofitable deals.
Nine suppliers (with nearly 2m customer) have collapsed since the summer as they were unable to maintain the tariffs in the face of rising wholesale gas prices. More supplier failures are forecast in the coming months.
Ofgem, the energy regulator, has advised households affected to wait for it to appoint a new provider and not switch in the meantime.
Energy bills won’t make for pretty reading over the coming months. The price cap used to be the insurance measure to protect that households that don’t switch, don’t get screwed over but now it’s the most attractive offer out there.
Unless energy markets moderate quickly the next price cap will most likely be significantly higher than it is today. So for now it’s a case of staying put, find ways to cut your energy consumption and budgeting for higher bills.
Google’s British AI lab finally makes a profit
DeepMind, Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) lab and one of the world’s leading research firms, has posted a profit for the first time ever.
AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems.
The London based start up made nearly £44m in profit in 2020 after accumulating hundreds of millions in losses over the past decade.
DeepMind was founded in 2010 and quickly gained a reputation as one of the best AI and machine learning research firms in the world. Google bought the business in 2014 for around $500m.
It’s best known for developing AlphaGo, an AI engine that beat the world champion of Chinese board game Go. More recently it has created software that can predict almost exactly where and when it's going to rain.
DeepMind generates all its revenue by selling its technology to other subsidiaries of Alphabet, Google's parent company.
Costs are incredibly high because it employs some of the world’s leading research scientists who often have PhDs from the likes of Oxford, Cambridge or MIT. These scientists can command packages of more than $1m.
Salaries reach that level as big tech companies compete to hire the best people in what is still a relatively new field but which has the potential to transform everything from healthcare to self driving cars.
Stat of the day
26 Korean words have been added to Oxford English Dictionary
Other stories to keep you in the loop
- NatWest pleads guilty to money laundering charges
- Council tax could rise by £220, say researchers
- House prices jump 7.4% in a year
- Fears of Quality Street shortage at Christmas as Nestle hit by supply chain crisis
- US Senate reaches short-term deal to raise debt ceiling
- Amazon-owned gaming platform Twitch suffers huge data breach
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