Tuesday newspaper round-up: Retailers, house prices, Co-op Bank

Almost 40,000 retailers in the UK were in “significant financial distress” even before the introduction of tighter restrictions over the weekend forced non-essential shops to shut. Research by the insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor found that 39,232 retailers – both online and bricks and mortar operations – were experiencing severe financial problems in the three months to 9 December. This was up 11% on the previous three months and 24% higher than the same period a year earlier. – Guardian

The government was operating an illegal “buy British” policy when it signed contracts with a small UK firm to supply Covid antibody tests, claim lawyers who have filed a case against the health secretary. The Good Law Project said there were a number of other companies in a better position to supply antibody tests in June and August, when the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) agreed deals worth up to £80m with Abingdon Health without going out to tender. – Guardian

Ministers are set to miss their target for a major overhaul of the UK’s creaking broadband network, MPs have warned – putting Boris Johnson’s ambition to level up the country at risk. The Government will fail to deliver on an already watered-down pledge to give 85pc of the UK gigabit-speed internet by 2025, according to members of the Culture select committee. – Telegraph

House prices will fall by as much as 5 per cent next year as unemployment chokes demand for new homes, analysts have warned. In its latest outlook for the sector, Halifax said that the property market would soon succumb to the wider economic downturn. It said that prices would fall by between 2 and 5 per cent next year. – The Times

The Co-operative Bank has ended takeover talks with the American private equity group Cerberus. The bank disclosed last month that it had received an approach, which City sources suggested was from Cerberus. Yesterday it said that discussions about a deal had ended. – The Times

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