Small firms in hunt for staff

One in 10 small firms plans to recruit new staff in the first three months of the year.

The Small Firms Association (SFA) revealed another 64pc of companies hope to hold current staffing levels this year.

Avine McNally, SFA director, said: "While firms may be reluctant to recruit based on a number of issues, mainly economic and financial uncertainty, these figures are a positive move in the right direction and hopefully these figures will increase as the year progresses."

A total of 677 companies employing 14,237 people responded to the winter jobs survey in December.

Corrie's Ashley leaves the ice

Former Coronation Street actor Steven Arnold bowed out of this year's Dancing on Ice competition, admitting he was "not a natural skater".

Arnold, who played Ashley Peachock on the Street, took to the ice for a second time in the skate-off against cricketer Dominic Cork.

Both ended up in the bottom two after the viewer votes and judges' scores were combined. Judges Jason Gardiner, Robin Cousins and Emma Bunton all opted to save Cork for a "cleaner" performance.

Portugal prices best for holiday

Holiday hotspots such as Spain and Portugal are becoming more affordable, a new survey has shown.

Prices have fallen 49pc in Portugal over the last 12 months, making the country the cheapest for typical holiday spending items in a 10-nation list.

Including a three-course meal, suncream and drinks, the items cost just €38.62 in Portugal, with Spain the next-cheapest country at €43.12.

Of the 10 countries surveyed, the most expensive for the items was Malaysia.

Fitness guru dies aged 96

Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired US television viewers to trim down and pump iron for decades before exercise became a national obsession, has died at 96.

Mr LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia yesterday in California.

He ate healthily and exercised every day until he died, his agent said.