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The UK economy grew 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2015, higher than the previous estimate of 0.5%.
As a result, the economy grew by 2.3% for the whole of 2015, rather than 2.2% as previously thought, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The figure came as a surprise to analysts, who had forecast that it would remain unchanged. Other figures showed the UK’s current account deficit widened to a record high in the final quarter of last year. The deficit in the three months to December was £32.7bn, the equivalent of 7% of GDP, said the ONS.
For the whole of 2015, the deficit came to £96.2bn or 5.2% of GDP. Both figures were the highest since official records began in 1948.
A significant challenge will be posed to small businesses by the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW), the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has said. The £7.20 hourly rate becomes law on Friday. Across the UK 1.3m workers over 25 are set to benefit immediately. “Not only do they have to afford the living wage, but they also have to pay for auto-enrolment,” Glyn Roberts said. “And many of them have experienced quite a big hike in business rates.”
The Financial Times
Complaints over payment protection insurance are rising again as a cut-off date for claims looms over the UK’s costliest consumer mis-selling scandal. New figures from the city watchdog show PPI was the most complained- about product — and Lloyds the most complained-about banking group — in the second half of last year. PPI was the cause of more than 900,000 objections — up 6 per cent from the first half, when complaints dropped. Current accounts, the second most unpopular financial product, received about half that number. The surge comes as the Financial Conduct Authority nears the end of a review over a potential deadline for consumer PPI redress, which has so far forced the UK’s biggest banks to set aside more than £30bn.
The Daily Telegraph
Concerns about Britain’s referendum on EU membership dampened consumer confidence in March as Brexit fears “hit home”, according to a survey. While Gfk’s poll showed households were more optimistic about their personal finances than a year ago, expectations for the wider economy remained subdued. It’s general economic index was unchanged at -12 in March compared with February. However, this is 18 points lower than the same point a year ago. Its overall confidence barometer was unchanged at zero in March compared with the previous month. February’s reading was the lowest since December 2014.
Based on analysis of accident claims figures for 2015, the insurer 1st Central has concluded that the drivers the rest of us would be best advised to give a wide berth to fit none of the stereotypes and are typically middle class, middle aged, professional and – in all likelihood – male.
DOZENS of firms are offering to slash cars’ mileage in a modern version of the “clocking” scam. Mechanics ask as little as £40 to knock tens of thousands of miles off digital odometers and boost resale values. It does not break the law because while knowingly selling a clocked car is fraud, it is not illegal to alter the odometer’s mileage.
Business Minister Anna Soubry yesterday pledged a law change to close the loophole. She said: “I congratulate The Sun on this important investigation. I am grateful. We will stop it.” Clocking used to be common because it was easy to manually alter mechanical odometers. The dawn of digital meters was supposed to have ended it.
But experts now say up to ten per cent of the UK’s 32 million vehicles may be clocked.