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Peugeot Citroën's half-yearly sales tumble 13 per cent

The steepest drop was seen in the Italian market, which shrank by 21.5 per cent.

Sales declined by 13 per cent in the first half of 2012 for PSA Peugeot Citroën. The French car maker sold 1,619,000 units of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles worldwide, compared to 1,860,000 units for the same period last year.

The company’s European market was down by 10 per cent, largely due to the unfavourable country mix. Demand for cars and light commercial vehicles declined over the period by a steep 7.2 per cent in Europe. The Italian market declined by 21.5 per cent; the French by 13.3 per cent; the Spanish by 10.2 per cent and the central and eastern European markets by 1.6 per cent.

The company’s German and the UK market, however, improved by 0.6 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively. 

Frédéric Saint-Geours, executive vice-president of brands at PSA Peugeot Citroën, said:

In a very tight automotive market environment in Europe, our strategy of moving upmarket and globalising our operations is proving to be more relevant than ever.

With our recent model introductions – the Peugeot 208, the Citroën DS5 and the diesel hybrid versions of the Peugeot 3008 and 508 and the Citroën DS5 – and the launches scheduled over the rest of the year – the Peugeot 301, the Citroën C-Elysée and C4L, as well as the new C3 in Latin America – we have the vehicles to defend our positions in Europe and to pursue our expansion in emerging markets.

As well as launching new models, the group vehicles emitted less than 110g CO2/km during the first half of the year.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.