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Unemployment rate falls to 4.3% as wages stagnate
UK unemployment fell by 75,000 in the three months to July, bringing the jobless rate down to 4.3% from 4.4% in the previous quarter. The rate remains at its lowest since 1975, but a squeeze on real incomes continues, according to the Office for National Statistics figures. Wages in the period were 2.1% up on a year earlier, little changed from the previous months’ growth rates. With inflation hitting 2.9% in August, wages are failing to keep up.
Chancellor Philip Hammond sets date for next Budget
The next Budget will be held on Wednesday 22 November, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has said.
It will be the first Budget since the Conservatives lost their majority in the House of Commons in the snap election in June. Mr Hammond delivered another Budget earlier this year in the spring. But he has previously indicated that the main date for the annual speech, which outlines fiscal forecasts and tax changes, will move to the autumn.
The chancellor said the Budget was an opportunity for the government to “set out our thinking on how to keep the economy strong and resilient and fair”.
Public sector pay cap to be lifted
The cap on public sector pay rises in England and Wales is to be lifted. Ministers will now get “flexibility” to breach the longstanding 1% limit. The announcement came as the government said police officers would get a 1% rise plus a 1% bonus, with prison officers getting a 1.7% rise – both funded from existing budgets. Unions reacted angrily to the pay awards, branding them a real-terms cut, and the Prison Officers Association threatened industrial action. There was also a warning from police chiefs that making forces pay for the increase themselves would put “financial pressure on already stretched budgets”.
Tesla Autopilot ‘partly to blame’ for crash
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that Tesla’s Autopilot system was partly to blame for a fatal accident in which a Model S collided with a lorry. Federal investigators say Tesla “lacked understanding” of the semi-autonomous Autopilot’s limitations. The NTSB recommended that car manufacturers and regulators take steps to ensure such systems are not misused. It said the collision should never have happened.
Trump administration promises light touch on driverless cars
The Trump administration promised not to let excessive regulation get in the way of the development of self-driving cars, warning state governments on Tuesday not to adopt inconsistent rules that could hamper progress in this field. Announcing new safety guidelines for autonomous vehicles to replace those the Obama administration issued last year, transportation secretary Elaine Chao emphasised the need for a light touch in regulating the industry, to give the US a jump on global competitors in developing the technologies that will revolutionise transport in coming decades. “This is a guidance document; it is not a regulatory document,” she said. “This technology is so new and it is evolving so quickly that we wanted to give guidance to people involved in the sector” while protecting “the creativity and innovation that is a hallmark of America”.
Rebel MPs propose 136 changes to Brexit repeal bill
Theresa May is facing a concerted attempt by Conservative rebels and Labour to tie her hands on Brexit, after MPs tabled 59 pages of amendments to her key EU withdrawal bill. The prime minister secured a second reading for the bill — which shifts some 12,000 EU regulations on to the British statute book — by a comfortable majority of 36 on Monday night. But the scale of the task ahead became apparent as MPs put down 136 amendments, including an attempt to prolong Britain’s stay in the customs union and single market.
Will inflation rise see interest rates go up?
Under normal circumstances, today’s inflation figures would very likely be the precursor to a rise in interest rates this Thursday. Whenever the headline rate of inflation strays one percentage point either side of the 2% rate that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is mandated to target, the Governor is obliged to write to the Chancellor, explaining why. With the consumer prices index at 2.9% in August, we are moving close to letter-writing territory.
Bell Pottinger declared bust after racism scandal
The main arm of Bell Pottinger, the corporate PR company, was officially declared bust last night after failing to find a rescuer prepared to take on its tarnished reputation. The London-based company, once favoured by Margaret Thatcher, was put into administration by the accountants BDO after a racism scandal in South Africa cost it dozens of corporate clients. Some of its 250 staff were made redundant yesterday after the earlier departure of several senior executives. “The administrators are now working with the remaining partners and employees to seek an orderly transfer of Bell Pottinger’s clients to other firms in order to protect and realise value for creditors,” BDO said.
Frankfurt Motor Show: Thousands of Vauxhall jobs at risk amid Brexit concern
The future of more than 3,000 Vauxhall workers remains in the balance after their new boss said that he was nowhere near making a decision on whether the plants would remain open. Carlos Tavares, chief executive of PSA, the company behind Peugeot and Citroën, blamed the impasse on the government’s prevarication over Brexit. Two of Britain’s most important car factories — the Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire making the Vauxhall Astra and the facility in Luton building the Vauxhall Vivaro van — have been in limbo after this year’s takeover of the European division of General Motors by PSA.
Council fines 5,000 motorists in 25 days after installing CCTV above bus lane
A “sneaky” council raised nearly £300,000 after fining close to 5,000 motorists in just 25 days after installing a CCTV camera above a bus lane. Essex County Council introduced its ‘bus gate’ in Chelmsford city centre in 2011, with cars banned from using it to help ease congestion. But officials at the authority only installed traffic enforcement cameras last month.