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George Osborne will set out £4bn in extra spending cuts and announce investment in the UK’s infrastructure when he presents his Budget to MPs. The Budget will “choose the long term” the chancellor will say, warning that the “storm clouds are gathering again”. His eighth Budget will include a £1.5bn education package to turn all state schools in England into academies and allow some to open later in the day. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell called for an end to “cruel cuts”. Mr Osborne will deliver his Budget at 12:30 GMT, after Prime Minister’s Questions, setting out the latest economic forecasts and the state of the public finances.
UK unemployment fell to 1.68 million between November and January, down 28,000 from the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics says. The rate of unemployment remained at 5.1%, maintaining a decade-low rate.
Some 31.42 million are in work, 478,000 up on a year ago. The employment rate is 74.1%, the joint highest since current records began in 1971. Average earnings went up by 2.1% in the year to January including bonuses, 0.2% higher than the previous month. Excluding bonuses, the increase was 2.2%.
The Financial Times
George Osborne’s plan to force up minimum wage will be “stretching” for the economy and could threaten the viability of some social care providers, government advisers have warned. The Low Pay Commission, the independent body charged with recommending minimum wage rates to the government, told ministers in a letter that social care was the sector most likely to struggle with the policy.
Don’t get rid of your driver’s license just yet. BMW, the self-declared leader in autonomous driving, has just said truly autonomous cars aren’t something we are likely to see this decade. BMW, which sold a record 2.24m premium vehicles last year, said autonomous cars will, “at most”, be confined to pilot tests in restricted settings this decade, writes the FT’s Patrick McGee. Whether it’s the technology — or society’s reaction to it — wasn’t completely clear. “We believe that, at the moment, the technical and social challenges involved are still too great,” said Klaus Froehlich, a BMW board member responsible for development, at BMW’s annual accounts press conference in Munich. “In addition, adjustments must be made to the legal implications for customers and manufacturers.”
Renault and Nissan have named Nicolas Maure as the new boss of AvtoVAZ, Russia’s largest carmaker.
The Frenchman — who currently runs Renault’s operations in Romania — will replace Bo Andersson, the Swede who was ousted earlier this month. AvtoVAZ is more than 50 per cent owned by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, with Russian state owned Rostec — which is run by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s former KGB compatriot Sergei Chemezov — holding 25 per cent.
The Daily Telegraph
Fuel duty is being cited as one area where the Chancellor could look to raise taxes in today’s Budget. Such a move has already attracted heated opposition. Robert Halfon, the minister without portfolio, has spoken out against the idea.