News The over-budget decontamination of Sellafield by the NMP consortium has been the subject of repeated criticism

‘This is a massive indictment of NMP’s failure to deliver’ says environmental consultant after reading letters written to clean-up consortium

High street fears for festive season as sales collapse

Retail sales hit a six-month low in November as cash-strapped consumers curbed spending, including online, despite Christmas approaching.

Christmas fails to tempt consumers into spending

Even a late rush to the shops will not make up for the poor November sales figures

London firms still waiting for Olympics 'dividend'

Continuing economic gloom means businesses in the capital will take on fewer staff, warns CBI

Leading article: Scrutiny of the 'big four' is long overdue

Imagine what your accountant would say if you said you'd been with the same supplier for donkey's years, you never shopped around and if you did, you would look only at three other firms – despite many others to choose from.

Bargain Booze owners seek to sell for £100m

The private-equity owners of Bargain Booze have kicked off a sale of the discount off-licence group for up to £100m.

Building societies ride out the financial crisis

All but four of the UK's 48 building societies were profitable in the past year despite "highly competitive" conditions, a new report shows.

Most building societies made profit

All but four of the UK's 48 building societies were profitable in the last year despite "highly competitive" conditions, a report said today

Banks warn pay curbs will hit UK competitiveness

The City was again voicing complaints yesterday about the pay restrictions on some of Britain's wealthiest bankers.

North-South jobs divide is set to widen

The over the next year as manufacturers' confidence falters, a new report claims.

Sharp slowdown in jobs outlook suggests that recovery is slowing

Manufacturing is looking weaker, which will make it hard to build a recovery on exports, and weak consumer spending and public sector cuts are adding to the gloom

High streets facing 'spending paralysis' after weak July sales

Retailers have warned of a "spending paralysis" on the high street if confidence is not revived in the wake of the global slowdown and sovereign debt crisis, after the sector delivered anaemic sales growth in July.

At least two years before big banking deals return

Big ticket banking takeovers will not return for another two years at least, as global financial groups continue to feel the pressure in the wake of the downturn, according to a report out today.

D J Taylor: No weird food, please – we're British

We might not enter into the true holiday spirit, but we're determined to enjoy next year's Olympics extravaganza

Retail sales fall further as shoppers feel the squeeze

The high street suffered falling sales again in June and retailers remain under "huge pressure" from the squeeze on consumer spending, an influential survey has warned.

Sharp jump in level of company fraud

The level of fraud faced by British companies jumped to £1.1bn between January and June, according to accountants at KPMG, up from £609m in the same period last year.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform