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The number of people without jobs and looking for work fell by 39,000 to 1.63 million between May and July, official figures show.
The unemployment rate was 4.9%, down from 5.5% a year earlier but unchanged from last month’s report, the Office for National Statistics said. Average weekly earnings including bonuses increased by 2.3% on last year, down slightly from the previous report.
The proportion of people in work hit a record high of 74.5%.
UK inflation rate holds steady at 0.6%
The average cost of everyday household goods and services went up by 0.6% in the year to August. The UK inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), was unchanged from July. Rising food prices and air fares pushed prices higher, the Office for National Statistics said, partly offset by cheaper prices for hotel rooms. Economists had forecast inflation would rise to 0.7%, predicting the cheaper pound would push prices higher.
Scottish retail sales down despite food recovery
Retail sales in Scotland fell again last month with non-food sales dropping 3.7% compared with August 2015, according to monthly figures. Clothing and footwear sales were “sluggish”, despite average weather and back to school purchases, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and KPMG said. Total sales fell by 2.2% in August, but the food sector is showing signs of a recovery, with sales falling just 0.3%. Groceries recorded their best three-month average performance in two years.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said the bloc is not at risk from Brexit, in his first State of the Union address since the UK’s unexpected vote to leave the EU. And he warned the UK that it could not expect access to the EU’s internal market without free movement of people. There could be no “a la carte access”. Mr Juncker also called for the formation of a common military force. “We must have a European headquarters,” he added. The UK has always resisted the idea of a so-called EU army because of the potential conflict of interest with Nato. But its decision to leave the bloc has given added impetus to plans for greater defence co-operation.
Sadiq Khan will announce measures on Tuesday to protect London’s black cabs, as new figures show how they are being edged out of the market by private taxis such as those working with Uber. The average number of black cabs entering central London on a weekday in June has fallen by 8 per cent to 11,259 compared with last November. By contrast, the average number of private hire cars rose 11 per cent over the same period to 18,453. The numbers, obtained from Transport for London by a Freedom of Information request, track the cars entering the congestion charge zone, a rough proxy for central London. TfL started collecting separate figures from last November for black cabs and private hire cars.
Electric car charging points could appear alongside petrol pumps at Shell’s UK service stations as soon as next year, the oil giant confirmed after emails between the company and government officials revealed discussions on introducing them. The company also asked the government how serious it is about wireless charging roads which could top up an electric car without the need to plug in, as mooted by Conservative MP Oliver Letwin. The diversification into infrastructure for battery-powered cars would mark a new departure for the company, which has largely backed biofuels as a greener alternative to petrol and diesel in the past. It could also suggest a softening of stance from an industry which Telsa co-founder Elon Musk has accused of using misinformation campaigns against electric cars.
Bargain-hunting car buyers hoping that the VW diesel scandal would lead to cheaper second-hand motors have been left disappointed as two of its most popular models have maintained their appeal, say experts. Friday marks 12 months since Volkswagen was outed for cheating emissions tests in the US. But despite the case still rumbling on today and the carmaker embroiled in recalls of all diesel cars equipped with defeat devices worldwide, resale values haven’t seen a big shift downwards, says What Car?