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The UK economy grew faster than expected in the three months after the Brexit vote, official figures have indicated. The economy expanded by 0.5% in the July-to-September period, according to the Office for National Statistics. That was slower than the 0.7% rate in the previous quarter, but stronger than analysts’ estimates of 0.3%. The economy was boosted by a strong performance from the services sector.
Earnings rise fastest for the low-paid, says ONS
Earnings have risen fastest among the lowest paid owing to the introduction of higher minimum wage levels. A 6.2% rise for the lowest paid UK workers meant pay inequality narrowed between April 2015 and early April 2016, the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate. The pay gap between men and women has also shrunk slightly, it said. Pay overall rose at its joint highest rate since the financial crisis, driven by wage rises in the private sector.
Updated government plans for apprenticeship funding in England have been welcomed by critics who feared they would exclude the poor. From April 2017, a new levy on company payrolls will help to double government spending on apprentices, say ministers. Under the scheme, businesses will be able to use vouchers from the levy to pay for apprenticeships. Labour says the revisions are a U-turn by ministers, after a “huge outcry” and a “sustained campaign”. From next April, firms will pay into the apprenticeship levy, a new tax based on the number of people on their payroll in England.
Scottish retail sales rise after Brexit vote
Scotland experienced slightly better retail sales growth than Great Britain as a whole in the three months after the Brexit vote.
Official figures showed that the value of sales increased by 2.1% between July and September – slightly above the 2% growth recorded in Britain. The volume of sales also rose by 2.1% north of the border, compared with 1.8% in Britain. The amount of goods sold in Scotland was 4.9% up on the same period of 2015. However, Britain as a whole achieved growth of 5.4% over the year.
The sharp drop in the value of the pound since the UK voted to leave the EU has hit the French automotive sector, with PSA reporting falling revenues on Wednesday as price increases failed to offset the currency impact. Europe’s second-biggest carmaker, with brands including Peugeot and Citroën, said automotive revenue shrank 6.3 per cent year-on-year to €7.5bn in the three month period to end of September.
Sadiq Khan joins CBI in call to counter Brexit jitters
The mayor of London and the CBI employers’ group are urging Philip Hammond to increase public spending as a way of reassuring businesses fearful of the consequences of leaving the EU. Sadiq Khan will accuse the government of being “blasé” towards the impact of Brexit and will call on the chancellor to dispel some of the uncertainty over negotiations with Europe. The CBI wants Mr Hammond to expand public investment by £6bn a year in next month’s Autumn Statement in an effort to create “a short-term boost to business confidence”, its director-general, Carolyn Fairbairn, said.
Britons are taking advantage of record low interest rates to borrow at the fastest rate since December 2006, according to the British Bankers’ Association. Strong demand for personal loans as well as a steady rise in credit card spending and overdraft lending has driven the annual pace of consumer credit up to more than 6 per cent in September, despite only moderate retail sales growth.
Car hire extras still come as a surprise
Car hire companies are still smuggling hidden extras into the small print of contracts, leaving holidaymakers with higher bills than expected, a consumer investigation has found. Despite promising to make fees more transparent, several big rental companies, including Avis, Budget and Alamo, continue to add on costs that were not made clear at the time of booking, the study by Which? magazine found. Nearly a third of the price of car hire extras, from additional drivers to dropping the car off at a different point, were not set out during the booking process online.
The decline of full-time jobs in the retail sector is speeding up and is only set to worsen, according to the industry’s trade association. The number of full-time jobs in retail fell by 3 per cent between July and September compared with the same period last year, a survey by the British Retail Consortium revealed. It is the third consecutive quarter that the number has fallen and the latest figures suggest the decline is accelerating, following a 2.4 per cent fall in the previous quarter. Store closures also accelerated, with the number of outlets falling by 1.2 per cent in the third quarter compared with a year ago.
Drivers are paying almost £82 more for car insurance than a year ago and are likely to see premiums rise further, according to the latest figures from the Automobile Association (AA). The average annual cost of a new policy rose to £586 in the three months to the end of September, a 16.3% increase on the same period in 2015, the motoring group said. The AA said premiums were driven up by continuing problems with whiplash claims and consumers’ growing tendency to shop around for a new policy each year.
Pensioner, 89, whose Mercedes was wrecked by pothole outside his house wins nearly £5,000 from council in case that could unleash flood of claims
A pensioner whose Mercedes was damaged by potholes has won almost £5,000 from the council – in a landmark case that could spark hundreds more claims. Ken Jones, 89, has won a £5,000 settlement after taking Cheshire East Council to a small claims court over the damage a pothole caused to his Mercedes C-class. He was left with a £4,000 repair bill for his vehicle after its automatic transmission needed replacing when he hit a pothole near his home in Knutsford, Cheshire. But unhappy with the process, he decided to take the council to the small claims court and has now won the substantial damages sum. The council had hired a barrister and vigorously defended Mr Jones’s claim but must now pay him almost £5,000 after the judge ruled that the authority must cover the cost of the £4,400 repair bill and pay him an extra £520. It could now face a flood of similar actions.