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Unemployment in the UK fell by 60,000 between October and December to 1.69 million, according to the Office for National Statistics. The rate of unemployment was unchanged from a month ago at 5.1%, maintaining a decade-low rate.
More than 31.4 million people are in work, the highest figure since records began in 1971.
British officials have entered the final phase of negotiations to change the UK’s relationship with the EU, the day before the European summit begins. David Cameron hopes to agree a deal at the Brussels summit, enabling a referendum on the UK’s EU membership to take place as early as June. European parliament president Martin Schulz has warned that MEPs’ backing for any deal cannot be guaranteed. On Tuesday, Downing Street said the deal had the backing of MEPs.
The Financial Times
The UK’s headline rate of inflation edged up to a 12-month high on Tuesday but has now stayed for a full two years below the Bank of England’s target. With petrol pump prices falling more slowly this January than last, the consumer price index rose to 0.3 per cent year on year.
Michelin has revealed an increase in net profits fuelled by a weak euro and higher sales in Europe as the tyre manufacturer confirmed that it was pressing ahead with its restructuring efforts. The Paris-based group, Europe’s largest tyremaker by sales, reported that net profit was up 13 per cent in 2015 to €1.17bn, with the group also highlighting the way that lower raw material prices and cost-cutting was helping to lift profitability.
The mobile phone-style finance deals that have sent new car sales to record levels in Britain are set to revolutionise the second-hand vehicle market, according to the head of the UK’s largest dealership by unit sales. Trevor Finn, chief executive of London-listed Pendragon, said that so-called personal contract purchases had risen from 3 per cent of used car finance deals in 2013 to 28 per cent last year at the company’s mass-market Evans Halshaw chain. At upmarket Stratstone dealerships, PCPs now represent the majority of used car finance deals.
The motoring and cycling firm said it aims to have a trainee in most of its stores across the UK, teaching them skills and preparing them for work. The eight week placements will be open to 16 to 24-year-olds who are unemployed or not involved in education or training. Halfords’ people director Jonathan Crookall said: “We wanted to go above and beyond the usual apprenticeship model, and by offering pre-employment training to our candidates, we’re raising the bar for training in the retail industry.