Here are the business stories making the headlines across Scotland and the wider UK this morning.

Lorna Slater announces overhaul of bottle return scheme

The minister charged with introducing Scotland's deposit return scheme (DRS) has announced an overhaul to its rules after it was delayed until 2024.

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater told MSPs that small containers and products with low sales would be exempt from the initiative.

She said the delay until 1 March was "unavoidable" due to a lack of engagement from Westminster. Tory ministers have called for a UK-wide approach to the recycling scheme.

In a statement to parliament, Ms Slater explained the delay, set out measures to help businesses adapt to the initiative, and announced further exemptions from the scheme - including a move to exclude many small producers.

She said all drinks containers under 100ml will be excluded from the recycling programme - effectively removing all miniature bottles of alcohol - as well as products of which fewer than 5,000 units a year are sold. The minister told MSPs the latter change will remove about 0.5% of articles from the scheme, but will eliminate about 44% of businesses from having to apply a deposit of 20p to products.

SNP still owes money to Peter Murrell, Humza Yousaf confirms

The SNP still owes money to its former chief executive Peter Murrell, First Minister Humza Yousaf has confirmed.

Mr Murrell, who is married to Nicola Sturgeon, gave the party a loan of £107,620 in June 2021. The SNP had repaid about half of the money by October of that year.

When asked whether the party still owed him money, Mr Yousaf told the BBC: "I think there is money still absolutely outstanding to Peter Murrell in terms of the repayment of the loan."

The first minister said he would lay out details of how much is owed after a review into the party's governance takes place.

Michael Gove warns firms who won’t fix fire-risk flats

Michael Gove warned investors who own £4billion of shares in Grenfell cladding companies of “severe consequences” if the firms do not pay to fix fire-risk flats across Britain.

The levelling-up secretary urged titans including Nicolai Tangen, the boss of Norway’s £1.1 trillion state-owned Norges Bank, to “use [their] position of influence” as investors in the manufacturers of flammable products on Grenfell Tower and thousands of other buildings. Blackrock, Vanguard and Fidelity Management and Research also received letters.

The Times reports that Only 8% of an estimated 374,000 fire-risk flats (in blocks taller than 11m) have been fixed — leaving almost 640,000 residents still in danger, analysis of the latest government figures shows.

Gove condemned “shocking practices” and “evidence of reckless behaviour” at Kingspan, Arconic and Saint-Gobain, which made the cladding and insulation that spread the Grenfell Tower fire, killing 72 people in 2017.

Sales at WH Smith soar as travel takes off again

The growing American business of WH Smith is set to generate more profit than its British high street shops as resurgent travel demand lifts sales.

The seller of products from sandwiches to stationery was hit hard during pandemic lockdowns as many of its shops are clustered in airports and railway stations. It announced 1,500 job cuts in 2020 as travel restrictions hampered the business.

With those lockdowns long since lifted, however, it struck an upbeat tone yesterday, revealing that its total revenue was up by 41% to £859million for the six months to the end of February, compared with the same period a year ago, and was 24% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Pre-tax profits rose to £45million from £18million in the previous half-year.

Beyoncé and Ronaldo among those to lose Twitter blue check

As of today, Beyoncé and Cristiano Ronaldo are no longer verified on Twitter.

The social media giant began removing the once-coveted blue tick verification from thousands of accounts on Thursday.

The BBC says the move comes as owner Elon Musk attempts to overhaul the social media company to turn a profit.

Users who wish to retain the check beside their name must pay $84 a year (£67) to subscribe to Twitter Blue.

Spy chiefs race to understand impact of hack on BBC licence fee collector

Spy chiefs are trying to understand if Russian-linked hackers had accessed critical national infrastructure after one of Britain’s biggest outsourcers was targeted in a cyber attack.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said it was seeking assurances from Capita after the outsourcer confirmed that sensitive data might have been stolen by criminals last month.

Capita - which collects television licence payments in addition to working on nuclear projects and handling IT for councils and the NHS - is also facing questions from the BBC over whether millions of households' data were put at risk, according to the Daily Telegraph.

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