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The British central bank could deal with the fast rise in inflation without damaging the economy

   News / 25 Apr 2022

Published: 25 April 2022
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey said on Friday that the British central bank could deal with the fast rise in inflation without damaging the economy, but the path was a narrow one. Asked at an International Monetary Fund event in Washington whether the BoE could pull off a "soft landing" for the economy, Bailey said: "Yes, but as I said it is a narrow path...there is a lot of uncertainty around it .”
 
A letter coordinated by autonomous vehicle (AV) company Wayve and the insurer AXA, and seen by Sky News, urges the Prime Minister to include legislation supporting driverless cars in next month’s Queen's Speech or risk seeing investment in the sector flee overseas. The letter is signed by some of Britain's leading business people - including the bosses of Ocado and Virgin Group – and the signatories tell Boris Johnson that Britain "has a unique opportunity to be a global leader in the development and deployment of AVs, or self-driving vehicles", and lead the way in “technology [that] is the most exciting innovation for transport in decades and has the potential to level-up every corner of the UK, improve the country's productivity, create jobs, reduce emissions, improve road safety, and bolster opportunities everywhere". The UK AV market alone is forecast to be worth £44bn by 2025, Sky says, and could create 49,000 highly skilled green jobs and a further 23,000 jobs from AV technologies, adding that the transition to driverless cars was "essential to meet the government's Net Zero target". The letter also cited research suggesting a shift to AVs could eliminate more than nine out of every ten road accidents by 2040 and is also understood to have been sent to other Cabinet ministers, including Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, and Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary.
 
The Civil Service is still advertising jobs that require staff to be in the office less than half the time, despite Jacob Rees-Mogg’s and Steve Barclay’s push to get people back to work. Telegraph analysis found that at least three roles that paid up to £100,000 were being hired for by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which require them to be in the office only 40 per cent of the time. It emerged on Friday that Rees-Mogg has left notes on the desks of civil servants who were not in the office saying: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon”.
 
The Telegraph also claims that Housing Secretary Michael Gove is on the cusp of approving Britain's first coal mine in decades to provide vital supplies for steel plants. A “senior Conservative party source” told the newspaper: “I don’t know for certain, but I get the impression he [Gove] is going to approve it.” Woodhouse Colliery, the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years, was given the go-ahead by local councillors in October 2020, but ministers launched an inquiry six months later after opposition from activists ahead of the Cop26climate change conference.
 
The Guardian says thousands of people, including pensioners and the self-employed, are locked out of filing their tax returns, or applying for rebates online, after HMRC changed the way taxpayers sign into its services. Previously, they signed into their accounts via Gov.uk Verify, a government service that allows users to confirm their identity using a British driving licence or credit records. However, last month, the taxman withdrew unexpectedly from the service, a year earlier than planned, leaving no option but to gain access via the Government Gateway, which requires them to hold two acceptable ID options from a list including a UK passport, a recent payslip or P60, a tax credit statement or a Northern Ireland driving licence.  
 
The Commons transport select committee says international travel should not be singled out in response to any future pandemics, and described the Covid restrictions imposed by the UK government as confusing, arbitrary and “disproportionate to the risks to public health”. The cross-party committee said restrictions should be comparable to those applied domestically, and international travel should not be “singled out”. The report also concludes that the “decision-making process was not transparent or consistent, nor based on scientific consensus”, resulting in rules that caused “a severe financial shock to the sector”. The committee also criticised ministers for abdicating all responsibility for the queues, cancellations and delays seen this Easter as airlines and airports struggled to recruit staff in time for a resurgence in passenger demand, after the sudden lifting of all Covid isolation and testing requirements.
 
The coronavirus pandemic has not drastically changed the UK labour market, with around 20% more job vacancies than there were before pre-Covid, according to data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The overall amount of change in the occupational mix of vacancies is no greater than would be expected over a normal two-year period, the study says. However, the IFS did highlight that there has been a shift towards vacancies in lower-skilled, lower-paid occupations. Among unemployed workers without a degree, 70% have seen the number of job opportunities for which they might have the appropriate prior experience increase by more than 40%.  Job openings for warehouse workers in the five months to February 2022 were more than double their pre-pandemic level, and vacancies for drivers were 80% higher than in the same months before the health crisis. By contrast, fewer than half of those with a degree compared have seen an equivalent increase in opportunities.
 
The average price tag on a home has hit a new record high for the third month in a row the Independent reports. Over the past three months, the average asking price has surged by £19,082 – the biggest cash jump property website Rightmove has recorded in any three-month period since its records started. It said the average asking price has jumped by £5,537 in the past month alone. Across Britain, the average asking price for a home in April is now £360,101, up from £354,564 in March.
 
Against a backdrop of soaring inflation in Britain's food retail sector, supermarket group Morrisons said this morning it was reducing prices on over 500 products, 6% of its total volume sales. It said the price cuts were in essential items such as eggs, baked beans, rice, coffee, cereals, chicken, sausages and nappies, and that the average saving was 13%. The group has also introduced new "multi save" promotions, such as two boxes of cereal for 1.80 pounds ($2.30) and a "Compare & Save" campaign to help shoppers identify savings that can be made by swapping branded items for Morrisons' own brand products. Surging prices are causing the biggest squeeze on UK household incomes since at least the 1950s, Reuters says.
 
Two fraudsters have been jailed for their part in a series of scams in which 245 people lost more than £13 million in pension savings. Alan Barratt, 62, and Susan Dalton, 66, tricked people into transferring savings to schemes supposedly investing in property or truffle farms. Most of the money was funnelled to the mastermind of the criminal enterprise, David Austin, from Guildford in Surrey, who banked it offshore and used it to live a life a luxury. He killed himself in 2019, before the criminal investigation was completed.
 
The first P&O ferry operating across the Dover to Calais route has been cleared to sail again.
The Spirit of Britain had been detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The Pride of Kent remains under the detention and two other P&O ferries on the route have yet to be inspected.
 
Sky News says it understands that Brookfield Property Partners, the Canadian property giant, is close to appointing Barclays to advise on the future of Center Parcs UK - an investment it has held since 2015. The review could lead to a sale of the business, which is valued at around £4 billion, the broadcaster says. 
 
Ventilation systems manufacturer Titon Holdings revealed on Friday that Alexandra French had been tapped to take over as CEO. French, who will take up the position and join the board on 3 May, comes to Titon from FTSE 250-listed catalyst system manufacturer Johnson Matthey, where she spent more than 20 years working in a variety of commercial, operational, technical, quality, and sales and marketing roles.
 
B&M European Value Retail CEO Simon Arora said on Friday he planned to retire in 12 months’ time, after 17 years at the helm of the variety goods chain. Arora bought the group in December 2004 with his brother Bobby Arora and expanded its estate to more than 1,100 stores from just 21.
 
Heinz is releasing limited-edition bottles of "HM Sauce" and "Salad Queen" to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. They will be on supermarket shelves from this week - ahead of parties, picnics and parades over the four-day bank holiday in June.
 
Italian luxury carmaker Ferrari has issued a recall plan with Chinese regulators over potential brake problems in its vehicles, an official notice said Friday. The recall affects 2,222 vehicles over a brake fluid issue, said a notice by China's State Administration for Market Regulation. This figure is almost the total number of cars Ferrari sold in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan over the past three years, based on the company's annual report, Reuters says.


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