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UK manufacturing is suffering a “hangover” from the credit crunch of 2007-08 that is hampering investment, according to industry body EEF. It said that while most manufacturers are confident of securing finance, only a third are more likely to borrow money than they were two years ago. EEF also revealed that 53% of firms would postpone or cancel investments if they couldn’t use their own funds. A separate BDO LLP report found there was a lack of confidence in the sector. Manufacturing accounts for about 10% of the output of the UK economy.
Japanese carmaker Toyota has reported a 15% drop in its first quarter net profit with the strong yen weighing down the company’s exports. For the months from April to June the firm posted 552.5bn yen ($5.4bn, £4bn) in net profit, down from 646.4bn yen. Global economic uncertainty has seen the yen become a safe haven currency, making Japanese products more expensive on international markets. It means earnings abroad translate into fewer yen when repatriated.
Toyota also lowered its forecast for full-year operating profit, predicting a 44% slide to 1.6tn yen – which would be the lowest in four years.
Businesses are trying to persuade the government to slow or even abandon its policy to raise the “national living wage” to one of the highest rates in the developed world by 2020. At least 16 trade associations have written jointly to Greg Clark, the new business secretary, recommending that he “exercise caution” on the national living wage in light of the “economic uncertainties the country faces” after the Brexit vote. Ideally, they would like the government to drop the 2020 target and restore the original powers of the Low Pay Commission, the committee of experts tasked with recommending minimum wage rates each year.
Trading standards officers have accused the government of failing to protect consumers after it emerged that the local council budget for policing rogue traders has fallen to just £1.99 a year per citizen. The warning follows a recent wave of high-profile consumer safety scandals, including diesel emissions cheating at Volkswagen, injuries from exploding hoverboards and fires caused by thousands of unsafe tumble driers. “We have a situation where trading standards teams in local councils are tasked with holding multi-million-pound firms to account, with just a handful of staff,” said the institute’s chief executive, Leon Livermore. “Spending so little on market surveillance and consumer protection, with an economy as large as ours, simply does not make sense.” During the last six years, total spend nationally has fallen from £213m in 2010 to £124m today, the survey found. Teams have been slashed, with a 12% drop in staff working in trading standards since 2014. This came on top of the 45% drop identified over the previous five years by an earlier survey.
Car sales level off after a record 2015 and strong growth this year, with a rise of just 0.1% last month, new figures show
Further signs that the Brexit vote is depressing consumer confidence have arrived with a brake applied to previously booming car sales. After a record 2015 and a strong first half of the year, new vehicle registrations rose by just 0.1% in July, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Industry analysts said uncertainty created by the referendum outcome was one of a number of factors behind a slowdown that will send tremors through Britain’s large and growing car production sector.
“After a healthy start to 2016 and record registrations in 2015, the market is showing signs of cooling,” said Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive.
Northern Ireland business confidence has declined for the first time for more than a year following the Brexit vote. The number of new orders decreased in July for the first time since April 2015 as the decision to leave the EU rocked local companies, according to a survey from Ulster Bank. Firms in the service economy had the most difficult month – with activity and new business falling at the sharpest rates since early 2013.The weakness in sterling also increased costs, as the price of imported items rose.
U.S. authorities have found three unapproved software programmes in 3.0 litre diesel engines made by Volkswagen’s Audi unit, German weekly Bild am Sonntag reported, without saying where it had obtained the information. The software allowed the turbocharged direct injection (TDI) engines used in Audi’s Q7, Porsche’s Cayenne and VW’s Touareg models to shut down emissions control systems after about 22 minutes, the paper said. Official methods to measure emissions usually last about 20 minutes, it added. Volkswagen has admitted it cheated on U.S. diesel emissions tests for years and said in June it would spend as much as $15.3 billion (£11.71 billion) buying back vehicles from consumers and providing funding that could benefit makers of cleaner technologies.