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UK government borrowing falls slightly in May

Government borrowing fell slightly in May compared with the same month a year ago, according to official figures, but it was still higher than expected.

The Office for National Statistics said borrowing, excluding support for state-owned banks, was £9.7bn in May, down £0.4bn from the same month last year.  Economists had forecast a lower figure of £9.5bn for May.

The ONS also revised down its estimate of the amount borrowed in the financial year to March to £74.9bn. For the financial year so far, borrowing has reached £17.9bn, £0.2bn higher than the same period a year ago.

The ONS says annual borrowing has been falling in general since the peak reached in the 2009-10 financial year.

UK population increased by half a million, official figures show

The UK population grew by half a million last year to 65.1 million, according to the latest Office for National Statistics official estimate.

The increase, in line with average annual rises, was driven by “natural growth” (excess of births over deaths) of 171,800 people, and net migration of 335,600, according to the ONS. The largest percentage increase was in England and the lowest was in Wales.

An increase in immigration (up 53,700) and a smaller decrease in emigration (down 22,300) have both contributed to a growth in net international migration – the difference between the numbers of people coming to live in Britain and those emigrating.

The Financial Times

EU urged to introduce industry regulator

The EU has been urged to establish a pan-European regulator to police the car industry and prevent repetition of recent scandals, according to a Margo Orge, former senior official at the powerful US environmental watchdog.

This independent regulator would prevent national interests stifling the exposure of wrongdoing. Under current EU rules, vehicles can be certified in the countries where carmakers are based and then sold across the bloc.

The European Commission has proposed some improvements to EU regulations, including plans to enable one national car certification authority to challenge another’s findings.

Toyota changes gear up with push into AI

The world’s largest carmaker had previously taken a cautious stance on autonomous vehicles, however, following incursions into the sector by Google, Apple and other tech groups, a sense of urgency has appeared.

Toyota is struggling with the need to strengthen its software and data capability to survive the race to build intelligent cars that can act on their own to prevent accidents, but changes won’t be only restricted to the field of autonomous driving and AI.

Despite Toyota’s new focus, its strategy differs from Goggle’s. The Japanese group thinks that humans, supported by an increasing degree of automation, should stay at the wheel for a long transition period.

The Daily Telegraph

Driverless cars promise fewer accidents, UK survey suggests

More than a quarter of UK adults believe that the main benefit of driverless cars will be a reduction in the number of road accidents, according to a survey carried out by Research firm Opinion Matters.

Over 1200 respondents were quizzed about their attitudes to self-driving vehicles and other aspects of automation on behalf of the EPSRC’s UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network.

Of those questioned, 26.1% said the main advantage of autonomous vehicles will be reduction in the number of accidents. A fifth (20.7%) expect they will help reduce levels of road rage. Among other key findings, 71.8% said they feel autonomous driving would have a positive impact on everyday commuting. Also, more than half of people surveyed (56.4%) believe robots will be driving cars in the next 25 years.

Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, chair of the EPSRC UK-RAS Network, warned that as technology changes the nature of the workforce, replacing certain types of jobs whilst creating new opportunities, public engagement on a national level is essential to ensure people have a clear understanding of robotics and artificial intelligence.



Posted by Sue Robinson on 24/06/2016