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Philip Hammond ‘listening’ to business rates concerns
The Chancellor Philip Hammond has told Conservative MPs he is “listening” to their concerns about an imminent re-evaluation of business rates. Rates are being updated for the first time in seven years.
Business groups and some Tory MPs have warned of high street store closures. Speaking ahead of next month’s Budget, Mr Hammond stopped short of committing himself to action.
The changes come into force on 1 April as a result of a revaluation of premises carried out by the government. As a result of the government’s revaluation, ministers say three quarters of businesses’ rates will either go down or stay the same, but there are claims that retailers in some areas could face rises of up to 400%.
Self-employment driven by higher earners, says report
The rapid growth of self-employment in the UK has been driven more by people in higher-paid than low-paid work, according to a new report. The analysis comes from the Resolution Foundation. It says the “privileged” self-employed, with good educational qualifications and higher earnings, made up 57% of the growth in self-employment after 2009.
Among them were people working in law, accountancy, health services and management consultancy. The think tank says they typically earned much more than the average worker, at between £45,000 and £65,000 a year.
Firms could reduce pension generosity, ministers suggest
Firms in financial trouble could be allowed to reduce the generosity of pensions, the government has suggested. As part of a discussion paper on the future of Defined Benefit (DB) pensions, financially “stressed” companies might be allowed to water down previous promises. About 5% of businesses are in that category, according to the green paper.
Britons say economy their top concern, overtaking immigration
Britons are now more concerned about the economy than they are about terrorism or immigration, a survey showed on Tuesday, another sign that consumers are feeling increasingly worried about Britain’s decision to leave the EU. The survey by data and information group Nielsen found that 28% of Britons named the economy as one of their top two concerns at the end of 2016, up 12 percentage points from a year ago. That compared with 20% of people who named terrorism or immigration in their top two concerns, representing falls of 12 points and 2 points respectively since the end of 2015.
UK on track to trigger Article 50 by end of March – David Davis
Britain remains on track to trigger the legal process for leaving the European Union by the end of March, Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Monday, although he would not name a specific date.
“We will complete by March 31 and trigger by March 31. When before then? I am not going to offer a view. I am confident we can meet that date,” Davis told reporters during a trip to Estonia.
VW boss tells ‘blatant lies’ about diesel emissions scandal
MPs condemned the boss of Volkswagen in Britain for telling “blatant lies” yesterday after he denied that the carmaker deceived customers during the diesel emissions scandal. Paul Willis played down the affair that led to the recall of 1.2 million vehicles in the UK as the German car company fights a potentially huge compensation claim from British motorists. He said that it had “not misled customers in any way” and denied that it fitted “defeat devices” to European cars to cheat emissions tests.
Clark makes jobs pledge at Vauxhall
The business secretary pledged the government’s “unbounded commitment” to protect jobs at Vauxhall yesterday amid fears for the British workforce if the business is sold. Greg Clark told MPs that every part of the country had a stake in Vauxhall and that ministers would do everything possible to ensure that the future of the plant in Ellesmere Port and its workforce was maintained. Vauxhall employs 4,500 people at plants in Ellesmere Port, in Cheshire, and Luton, Bedfordshire, but the retail and supply chain across the UK supports more than 40,000 jobs.
China’s Geely and France’s PSA bid for Lotus owner Proton
China’s Geely and France’s PSA are in the race to buy Proton, the struggling Malaysian carmaker that owns Lotus, with the two groups set to submit rival offers in the coming days. Geely, which owns Volvo, will table a bid for part or all of Proton this week, according to two people familiar with the timing, while Peugeot owner PSA is also preparing to make an offer. Proton is owned by DRB-Hicom, the Kuala Lumpur-listed conglomerate, and has been seeking a foreign strategic partner to expand. Renault has dropped out of the race.
Gender pay gap will take 24 years to close, study shows
The government has been accused by MPs of not doing enough to close the gender pay gap, as research shows it will take until 2041 at the current rate of progress to eliminate the shortfall in the UK. The women and equalities committee, a cross-party group of MPs, said the government would fail to achieve its goal of eliminating the gender pay gap in a generation if it continued to ignore the evidence put before it. The gender pay gap for all employees, both full- and part-time, was 18.1 per cent in 2016.
‘No deal’ Brexit would mean £6bn in extra costs for UK exporters
Guardian analysis shows falling back on WTO rules would mean steep bills for industries including fashion, agriculture, cars and ceramics. Crashing out of the European Union without a trade deal would saddle British exporters with more than £6bn a year of extra costs. Theresa May has insisted “no deal is better than a bad deal” suggesting the PM believes falling back on World Trade Organisation rules is a credible alternative if she cannot get her preferred option of a new free trade agreement with the EU. But the implications of such a dramatic plan B remain poorly understood, even within Whitehall.
The Guardian has analysed the latest international trade figures compiled by the UN and World Bank – showing that the $204bn-worth of British goods bound for Europe each year would be hit with $7.6bn in new tariffs under current WTO rules, equivalent to £6.1bn at today’s exchange rate.
Demand for UK-made goods hits two-year high but more firms expect to raise prices in the coming months
Demand for UK-made goods rose, but more firms expect to raise prices in the coming quarter as a weaker pound makes raw materials more expensive. The latest industrial survey of 471 manufacturers by the CBI has found that order books improved for the fourth consecutive month in February, mostly thanks to domestic demand rather than exports. Exports, despite remaining above the average, edged back slightly compared to January, with 19% of businesses saying export orders were above normal and 29% below, resulting in a balance of -10%.
Oil prices set to dive again as global glut continues
The short lived recovery of oil prices is already in danger as Opec and Russia fail to deliver on agreed output cuts and America’s shale industry roars back to life. Evidence from shipping data suggests that cuts are nowhere near the 1.8m a day pledged by Opec and 11 non-Opec in November.
Europe wants Britain to pay billions into EU schemes up until 2023
The European Commission wants Britain to be paying into EU projects for four years after it has signed a Brexit deal, with final payments continuing up until the end of 2023, the Daily Telegraph has learned. The plan is part of a European Union demand that Britain settles a €60bn “Brexit bill” before being granted a deal that will govern future trade relations. The aim of the payments would be to help smooth over the €10bn-a-year black hole left in the EU budgets by Britain’s departure from the EU, which could see richer countries like Germany and France paying more, or poorer countries, like Poland and Hungary receiving less.