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Inflation has soared to a new 30-year high of 7%

   News / 13 Apr 2022

Published: 13 April 2022
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight

Inflation has soared to a new 30-year high of 7%, official Office for National Statistics (ONS) data confirmed this morning. Prices rose annually by an average of 7% in March, up from 6.2% in February, and exceeding economists’ predictions of a 6.7% rise. The ONS said rising energy bills and fuel costswere largely behind the rise, however these statistics do not include the average 54% increase in energy bills applied to around 22 million households two weeks ago, as these will not appear in inflation figures until next month. The March statistics are the first to capture the economic effects of war in Ukraine, which has sent the price of oil and gas soaring and disrupted supply of goods such as wheat and sunflower oil. Meanwhile, US inflation has also soared to levels unseen since Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, also exacerbated by the Ukraine war and higher prices.
Prices for wind and solar power in major global markets have climbed nearly 30% in a year as developers have struggled with chaotic supply chains and surging costs for everything from shipping to parts to labour, according to quarterly index by LevelTen Energy that tracks the deals, known in the industry as power purchase agreements (PPAs). Contract prices for renewables jumped 28.5% in North America and 27.5% in Europe in the last year, according to the data, reported by Reuters. In the first quarter alone, prices rose 9.7% in North America and 8.6% in Europe, LevelTen said.
The Telegraph has revealed that Home Secretary Priti Patel was warned a month ago that there could be chaos at airports because passport control staff were sent to deal with the Dover migrant crisis. Trade body Airlines UK, which represents major airlines, wrote to her a month ago saying urgent action was needed to prevent massive passenger queues at terminals across Britain as summer schedules began in April. The letter suggested that the Border Force - which is responsible for immigration and customs checks - had also raised concerns internally. Patel was urged to “to address the challenges ahead”. The Easter getaway has since been marred by dozens of flight cancellations and lengthy waits as passengers try to board their aircraft, driven by severe staff shortages at check-in desks and among flight crews. The Home Office responded by saying its “number one priority was maintaining a secure border”. Last night the Cabinet Office also insisted that there are “absolutely no delays to security vetting of applicants,” adding that it is “for the aviation industry to manage resourcing at airports and staff absences.”
British Airways is offering a £1,000 “welcome bonus” paid in two instalments for cabin crew who already have security clearance, hold “a current Heathrowor Stansted airside ID,” and who can commence training prior to July 2022, in what looks like a blatant attempt to poach staff from other carriers. Referencing and vetting to obtain an airside pass usually takes between 14 and 15 weeks to complete, but The Telegraph revealed a week ago that the process is now taking substantially longer with some delays taking twice as long. BA made around 12,000 members of its 43,000 strong workforce redundant during the covid pandemic because of severe government restrictions placed upon the travel industry.
Three hospitality industry veterans have called for a more in-depth probe into the “wide-reaching damage” caused by lockdowns and other covid-related restrictions on the sector, claiming the Government’s draft Covid-19 inquirydoes not go far enough. Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns, Sacha Lord, founder of The Warehouse Project and Parklife festival, and Michael Kill, chief executive officer of the Night Time Industries Association(NTIA) criticised the initial draft terms of the government’s Covid-19 inquiry, published last week. They say they do not believe there will be sufficient focus on how pandemic restrictions impacted firms, not the economic impact of closing hospitality, and expressed fears repeat closures could make the sector “un-investable,” especially if the timing of the report meant further restrictions had also been put in place.  The three also called for specific hospitality related policies, such as enforced table service, substantial meal requirements, Eat Out To Help Out and the 10pm curfew, be assessed as part of the process, and for the inquiry to produce a framework to assess whether future proposed restrictions are justifiable.
The UK labour market has lost hundreds of thousands of people since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic because a growing number of older workers have chosen to give up their career, new figures show. A total of 32.5 million people were in employment in the three months to February this year, down from 33.1 million in the same period two years earlier. The number of economically inactive working-age people in the UK stood at 8.9 million in the three months to February, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), up 76,000 on the previous quarter and a jump of nearly half a million on the three months to February 2020. Analysis by the PA news agency shows the rate of economic inactivity among older workers has climbed to its highest level for six years.
Around 60 Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters have forced the closure of the Lloyd’s of London building after using superglue, chains and bicycle locks to block entrances to the building. Lloyd’s, the world’s biggest insurance market, said it had asked employees and other people not to come to the building since 7am yesterday. It said the market remained open and trading was taking place online. The protestors want Lloyd’s to stop insuring fossil fuel projects. XR protestors have also forced Birmingham airport to ask aircraft to ensure they land with enough fuel for their return trips, because of fuel shortage fears. Protests at oil depots by XR have led to jet fuel deliveries being held up in recent days and caused petrol forecourts to run dry.
A spate of foreign takeovers risks damaging the UK economy and weakening London’s status as a global financial hub, one of the world’s biggest fund managers has warned. Schroders said more than half the British businesses that have vanished from the stock market over the past decade have been bought by overseas buyers. It called the number “striking” and said the proportion of foreign buyers was much higher than in France and Germany. Duncan Lamont, head of strategic research at Schroders, said there was a danger that British investors were “selling out too soon” and the “drip, drip, drip” of sales was “cutting off future success stories at the knees”.
The cost of renting a room in London has jumped 12% to reach an all-time high of £794 in the first three months of 2022. The most expensive area was South Kensington/Knightsbridge, with an average monthly rent of £1,384, and the cheapest Abbey Wood (SE2) with rents sitting at £567, according to figures from flatshare site SpareRoom.
Another P&O Ferries ship has been detained after failing a Maritime and Coastguard Agency d inspection because of a "number of deficiencies". The Spirit of Britain, which normally serves the Dover to Calais route, cannot set sail until the issues have been addressed. The Pride of Hull and European Causeway have been cleared to sail, but the Pride of Kent, which normally serves the Dover to Calais route, remains under detention.
HSBC now offers a ‘safe space’ for domestic abuse victims in every UK branch, the bank says. The move is part of domestic abuse charity Hestia’s‘UK says no more’ campaign, which was initially launched in pharmacies and means victims will be able to phone a helpline, contact a support service or talk to a friend or family member from the branch. Some 4,000 HSBC employees have received specialist training as part of the scheme.
Sri Lanka has said it will temporarily default on its foreign debts amid its worst economic crisis in over 70 years. The BBC says officials in the country are saying the impact of the pandemic and the Ukraine war made it "impossible" to pay its creditors, and it will begin talks with the International Monetary Fund(IMF) next week on a loan programme to get its economy back on track. Sri Lanka's finance ministry said it otherwise had an "unblemished record" of paying its dues since independence from the UK in 1948. "Although the government has taken extraordinary steps in an effort to remain current on all of its external indebtedness, it is now clear that this is no longer a tenable policy," it said. "A comprehensive restructuring of these obligations will be required."
A Twitter shareholder is suing Elon Musk for failing to disclose he had bought a substantial stake in the company within legal time frames required, thereby affecting share prices. The Tesla CEO bought his 9.2% stake in Twitter on 14thMarch but did not reveal this until 4th April, despite  federal trade laws requiring investors to notify the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after surpassing a 5% stake in a company within 10 days. In the time between passing the 5% threshold and publicly reporting, Musk was able to buy up additional shares at a deflated price, the lawsuit alleges. Shares in the social media company soared when his stake was revealed, hence it is claimed the delay may have illegally netted Musk $156m. The suit seeks class action status on behalf of investors who sold Twitter stock during that time and lost out on gains they would have realised had Musk disclosed his stake earlier.

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