Work to re-equip UK and US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has helped profits to soar at defence group BAE Systems.
The UK’s largest defence firm, BAE made a pre-tax profit of £657m ($1.4bn), compared with £378m a year earlier.
BAE said the “high tempo” of UK and US military operations was increasing demand for land systems to support armed forces overseas.
BAE, which is facing an anti-corruption probe by US authorities, saw its half-year revenues rise by 10%.
The firm said its sales had benefited from its US operations, which achieved organic sales growth of 12% during the period.
Overall sales at BAE’s Land & Armaments business, which includes everything from tanks to munitions, rose 43%.
Pensioners are finding it harder to save money as they are hit by rises in the cost of living, a new survey has shown.
One in four people aged over 65 said they were saving less now than they were three months ago, and nearly half claim this is because they can no longer afford to, according to Sainsbury’s Bank.
A fifth of retired people admit they are not saving anything at all on a regular basis, and just 4% claimed they had been able to increase the amount they set aside during the past three months.
Across all age groups, 25% of people are saving less than they were three months ago and only 14% are saving more.
Predictions for the prison population suggest government building plans may not provide enough cells for inmates.
The Ministry of Justice figures suggest there will only be enough cells in the most optimistic of circumstances.
More than 80,000 people are in prison and the government has pledged 9,500 extra spaces to ease overcrowding.
Ministers have also published separate figures showing 3,832 prisoners have been let out of jail since June under a special early release scheme.
The current prison population is hovering at just below a record 81,000, with police cells being used for some inmates as an emergency measure.
More ready meals are sold in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, and the country’s appetite for convenience food is still rising, a study has found.
The UK already spends £2 billion on ready meals, more than Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
And market analysts Mintel predict that the UK market will grow by another 25 per cent by 2011 to £2.6 billion.
Mintel’s Eating Habits study suggests the creation of healthier ready meal ranges – often called “good for you” – have tapped into a healthy eating trend which has boosted sales further.
Michelle Strutton, a consumer analyst for the company, said: “Mintel’s research shows that the UK is still king of convenience.
The ready meals market in the UK is by far and away the most advanced in Europe.”
The head of the British Army has warned of a “generation of conflict” ahead for troops if they fail in Iraq or Afghanistan.
It comes as 25 people were killed in fierce clashes between police and gunmen in the Iraqi city of Kerbala which erupted during a major religious event attended by hundreds of thousands of Shi’ites.
In a private address made in June – that has just been released under the Freedom of Information Act – General Sir Richard Dannatt ordered his senior staff to prepare for such an eventuality.
Sir Richard said success was vital in Iraq and Afghanistan: “If we fail in either campaign, then I submit that in the face of that strident Islamist shadow, then tomorrow will be a very uncertain place.”
About two million adults – around 7% of the population – are “very concerned” that they may not be able to pay their debts.
Despite the rises in the interest rate over the past year, a quarter of consumers have increased their borrowing over the past three months, while one in 14 owes an extra 20% or more, research has found.
Those adding to their debt could be heading for serious problems, says price comparison website MoneyExpert.com. A survey of more than 2,000 UK adults revealed that just under a quarter were debt free, with 40% saying they were not worried about their ability to manage the money they owe.
Serious concerns about housing inmates in court cells during the height of the jail overcrowding crisis were raised by watchdogs today.
The chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers, and the inspector of court administration, Eddie Bloomfield, criticised the Prison Service’s decision to keep inmates in court buildings for a weekend.
Facilities were inadequate and some prisoners in the middle of a trial had to reappear in court wearing clothes they had slept in, they said in their report on the overcrowding response.