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UK inflation rate leaps to 2.3%
Inflation, as measured by the Office for National Statistics’ Consumer Prices Index, jumped to 2.3% in February – up from 1.8% in January. The rate is the highest since September 2013 and above the 2% target the Bank of England is charged with keeping inflation at. Rising fuel and food prices were the main factors pushing inflation higher. The Brexit vote last June prompted a steep fall in the value of the pound, making imported goods more expensive. The Bank of England has said it expects inflation will peak at 2.8% next year.
Low UK interest rates ‘hurt productivity but saved jobs’
Years of ultra-low UK interest rates probably hit productivity, but were a price worth paying to avoid higher unemployment, the Bank of England’s chief economist has said. Andy Haldane said low rates kept some “zombie” firms alive, but the trade-off was far more people stayed in work. A Bank modelling scenario found that years of 0.25% rates probably kept 1.5 million in jobs, he said in a speech. He would not have sacrificed those jobs for an extra 1% or 2% productivity.
Article 50: Theresa May to trigger Brexit process next week
Prime Minister Theresa May is to officially notify the European Union next Wednesday that the UK is leaving.
Downing Street said she would write a letter to the European Council, adding that it hoped negotiations on the terms of exit and future relations could then begin as quickly as possible. An EU spokesman said it was “ready and waiting” for the letter. Mrs May’s spokesman also rejected reports an early election may be held, saying: “It’s not going to happen.”
Under the Article 50 process, talks on the terms of exit and future relations are not allowed until the UK formally tells the EU it is leaving.
MPs debate £1,200 cap on insurance costs for young drivers
MPs are debating whether car insurance costs for young people between the ages of 18 and 25 should be capped at £1,200 a year. It follows an online petition that was signed by 185,000 people. So-called e-petitions that attract more than 100,000 signatures have to be considered for a debate in Parliament. It comes on the day that car insurance premiums are expected to start rising, as a result of a government decision to change the injury compensation rules. The changes mean that insurers will have to pay out more to accident victims, which in turn means they are expected to increase premiums.
Bentley Motors loses legal challenge against Bentley Clothing
Bentley Motors, the luxury carmaker, has lost a legal battle to prevent a small Manchester clothing company using the famous name on its products. Bentley Clothing, which is stocked by a handful of shops across Britain, defeated an attempt by the global car group to cancel its trademark and stop the use of its name. The victory is the latest in a string of David v Goliath trademark battles and an example of how luxury carmakers are seeking to tap into the aspirational nature of their brands by extending into new areas. While Ferrari and Lamborghini sell clothing ranges such as baseball hats and jackets, others are moving into upmarket accessories.
Fallout from hard Brexit could drive up cost of cars by £2,300
More than £2,300 could be added to the price of an average car under a “hard Brexit”, according to research. A study found that the cost of a new car was likely to rise by as much as 10 per cent because of the imposition of tariffs on cross-border trade between Britain and the European Union. The research, by PA Consulting, said that almost six in ten cars driven on British roads were imported directly from EU member states, with manufacturers likely to pass on any tax rise directly to customers. The report also warned that the cost of exporting British-built cars to the EU, estimated at £460 million for each carmaker, would render plants unaffordable and force most companies to consider relocating factories.
Fall in the pound makes London a cheaper city
UK cities are the cheapest they have been for 20 years to foreign visitors after a sharp decline in the value of the pound following the Brexit referendum, according to a global survey. Uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the EU has led London to lose its ranking as the sixth most expensive city in the world, falling to 24th place. However, while tourists have been reaping the benefits of the fall in sterling, a rise in import prices has meant that British households are paying more for their weekly shop.
Japan offers funeral discounts to elderly drivers who give up their licences
Elderly drivers in Japan have been offered discounts on funeral services if they hand over their driving licences, in a bid to cut down on dangerous road-users. The macabre incentive forms part of the Japanese government’s latest attempts to get geriatric drivers off the roads, following a series of fatal accidents. The country was particularly shocked by the recent case of an 87-year-old who killed a six-year-old boy after he lost control of his car and mowed down a line of children on their way to school.
Charge electric cars smartly to take pressure off national grid – minister
Electric cars are putting increasing pressure on the UK’s power grids, making it vital they are recharged at the right time of day, a minister has said. John Hayes, transport minister, said it was important that such battery-powered cars were topped up in smart ways to avoid unduly stressing the energy system. He said he hoped the accelerating uptake of electric cars, which registration figures show are growing faster than conventional new cars, could catalyse a wider debate on how best to manage the UK’s energy demand.