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UK wages in June fall at fastest rate for 20 years

UK wages in June fall at fastest rate for 20 years

Real pay continues to be outstripped by soaring inflation amid a continuing cost of living crisisThe real value of UK workers? pay continued to fall at the fastest rate for 20 years in June as wage increases were outstripped by soaring inflation amid the cost of living crisis.The Office for National Statistics said annual growth in average pay, excluding bonuses, strengthened to 4.7% in the three months to June against a backdrop of low unemployment and high job vacancies. Continue reading...

Why aren’t banks passing on interest rate rises to customers?

Why aren’t banks passing on interest rate rises to customers?

Rates have gone up six consecutive times, yet very few savers are benefiting, researchers findMillions of people are being short-changed on savings rates, with banks and building societies failing to pass on this month?s 0.5 percentage point interest rate rise, research has claimed. Continue reading...

Despite climate, war and Covid, is everything actually … getting better?

Despite climate, war and Covid, is everything actually … getting better?

The psychologist Steven Pinker has long believed we should be more optimistic ? and even current crises do not dissuade himReading and watching the media over the past year, you might be forgiven for thinking that we are facing the collapse of civilisation. We have a shrinking economy, a fuel crisis that may bring on energy rationing and forced blackouts, extreme weather events, the increased chance of nuclear war, and risk of the growth of a new pandemic riding on the back of the last. The Doomsday Clock ? a symbol created by scientists to represent the likelihood of a human-made catastrophe ? places us at just 100 seconds before midnight, the closest we?ve been to Armageddon in the project?s 75-year history.In the face of these threats, it may be hard to maintain a rose-tinted view of the future ? unless, that is, you are the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. In 2018, his book Enlightenment Now argued that our interpretations of news events make us far too gloomy. There has never been a better time to be alive, he said, thanks to the social, economic, political, technological, and medical advances of the past 300 years. Continue reading...

Walmart Reports Rise in Sales

Walmart Reports Rise in Sales

Profit at the nation?s largest retailer fell as inflation raised costs and altered shopping habits, but the company issued a slightly improved outlook for the rest of the year.

Truss v Sunak: how do Tory PM contenders differ on policy?

Truss v Sunak: how do Tory PM contenders differ on policy?

What promises are leadership rivals making in terms of economy, climate, education and levelling up?Either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will become the next prime minister after Tory MPs put them into the final round of the Conservative leadership election. Here we look at how they differ on key areas of policy. Continue reading...

Annual grocery bills in Great Britain will soar by £533, experts predict

Annual grocery bills in Great Britain will soar by £533, experts predict

Basics such as butter, milk and poultry show biggest increases in figures from market research groupAll the day?s business news ? liveSupermarket bills in Great Britain will soar by ?533, or more than ?10 a week, as grocery price inflation hits its highest level since at least 2008.The price of a weekly shop rose 11.6% in the four weeks to 7 August, compared with a year before, according to the latest figures from Kantar. Continue reading...

Labour’s energy bill freeze makes more sense politically than economically

Labour’s energy bill freeze makes more sense politically than economically

Criticisms of proposals are many, and price tag of ?30bn assumes it will be needed for only six monthsPolitics live: latest updatesThe politics of Labour?s plan to freeze energy bills for all households this winter are simple. With Boris Johnson?s government in its death throes and the two candidates to succeed him at loggerheads over what to do, Sir Keir Starmer has come up with proposals that are big, costed and timely. They will put pressure on Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak to come up with something equally ambitious.The economics of the package are less clear cut, and have already been attacked by critics on the left and the right. Continue reading...

Like Thatcher, Truss wants radical change – but could she avoid a crisis? | Larry Elliott

Like Thatcher, Truss wants radical change – but could she avoid a crisis? | Larry Elliott

Whether she or Rishi Sunak becomes prime minister, challenge looks as daunting as it did for James Callaghan in 1976In Britain, the year 1976 was marked by three big events ? a summer heatwave, a change of prime minister and a sterling crisis. In 2022, we have had the first and will soon get the second. Few would be entirely surprised if the third arrived by the end of the year.As has been the case this year, in the summer of 1976 people enjoyed the sunshine and seemed not to care much about high inflation. According to a 2004 report from the New Economics Foundation thinktank, the UK has never been happier than it was in the year when Denis Howell was made the drought minister, Concorde made its first commercial flight and the Sex Pistols released Anarchy in the UK. Continue reading...

Liz Truss’s economic plan is ruinous nonsense with no reference to reality | Will Hutton

Liz Truss’s economic plan is ruinous nonsense with no reference to reality | Will Hutton

Nothing in her pledges will foster the growth that this country so urgently needsLiz Truss has observed the dynamics of today?s Tory party ? and the media and thinktank ecosystem that supports it ? as a minister under three prime ministers. It is the Brexit right?s Taliban-like belief in the righteousness of its cause that drives the party. To win, she has resolved to be its uncompromising representative, but her decision has not stopped there. The only way for a Tory leader to sustain the leadership of what is ever more obviously a deranged and factionalised political movement is to govern from the hard right. It will end in failure.The epicentre will be the economy. Her uncontroversial stated aim is growth of 2.5%. Consensus stops there. All the mechanisms to achieve growth are drawn from the evidence-free but prejudice-rich rightwing playbook ? persistently anti-Europe, obsessed with tax cuts, buying into the faith that nameless regulations are shackling business and, above all, that a weak political class, deep state and obeisance to technocrats have combined to make Britain quasi-socialist ? despite 12 years of Tory rule. Truss is the insurgent carrying the Thatcherite flame who will put the world to rights. Continue reading...

Glass half empty or full? The two ways of viewing latest UK jobs figures

Glass half empty or full? The two ways of viewing latest UK jobs figures

Analysis: While chancellor says unemployment has rarely been lower, Bank of England predicts recession will push up jobless rateAll the day?s business news ? liveThere are two ways of looking at the state of Britain?s labour market. In one it is a case of the glass being half full, in the other half empty.If you are a government minister you take the former view. Nadhim Zahawi said the unemployment rate of 3.8% has rarely been lower in decades and the chancellor is right about that. Continue reading...

UK industry’s heavy energy users fear enforced winter shutdowns

UK industry’s heavy energy users fear enforced winter shutdowns

With their bills already soaring, fuel-intensive firms are now on notice that they may have to cease operationsAt Dreadnought Tiles? factory just outside Birmingham, specialist staff monitor its nine kilns 24 hours a day. The furnaces reach temperatures of 1,130C and are capable of churning out 40,000 roof tiles a day. Now Alex Patrick-Smith, the 217-year-old company?s managing director, faces the prospect of being forced to switch this nonstop operation off.Dreadnought belongs to a select group of the UK?s heaviest power users, manufacturers that employ about 210,000 people and contribute ?29bn to the economy. Continue reading...

Six interest rate rises in a row? Blame greedy City bankers

Six interest rate rises in a row? Blame greedy City bankers

Higher mortgage costs will hit homeowners and tenants, investment and consumer spending. In a recession. I hope they?re proud of their acquisitive selvesCity bankers are ruining your life again. They just can?t help it. Rescued from collapse in 2008 and force fed a healthy financial diet ever since, the industry is now in fine fettle. And with a deluded display of arrogance only they can muster, bankers have come to see themselves as a force for good, especially in these troubled times.Their sizable reserves are largely intact and the hazardous operations that caused so much trouble more than a decade ago are overseen by tough regulators. Continue reading...

Bank of England under fire over £23m bonus payouts

Bank of England under fire over £23m bonus payouts

Anger as thousands of Bank staff enjoy ?performance awards? after governor urged other British workers not to demand big risesThe Bank of England, which has been criticised for underestimating the threat of rising inflation, last year paid out bonuses to its staff amounting to more than ?23m, the Observer can reveal.This bonus pot was at its highest level for at least two years, with more than 4,260 employees receiving performance awards. Andrew Bailey, the bank?s governor, was widely criticised earlier this year after telling Britain?s workers that they should not be asking for big pay rises because inflation had to be kept under control. Continue reading...

Severe rail disruption across Great Britain as train drivers strike over pay

Severe rail disruption across Great Britain as train drivers strike over pay

Members of Aslef union on 24-hour strike, affecting services in England, Scotland and WalesRail passengers are facing disruption as train drivers at nine operating companies stage a 24-hour strike, halting services in many parts of England, Scotland and Wales.The strikes on Saturday affect nine train companies and come after the union said operators had failed to make a pay offer in line with the increase in the cost of living. Continue reading...

Oil prices hit lowest level since Ukraine invasion on China growth fears

Oil prices hit lowest level since Ukraine invasion on China growth fears

Chinese recovery from lockdowns shows signs of fizzling out as central bank cuts interest ratesGlobal oil prices have dropped amid concerns over weaker growth in the Chinese economy caused by repeated Covid lockdowns and a downturn in the property sector.A barrel of Brent crude fell by about 5% to below $94 (?78) on Monday, hitting the joint lowest levels since the Russian invasion of Ukraine as traders reacted to weaker figures from the world?s second-largest economy. Continue reading...

Boris Johnson told to tackle rising energy bills to avoid ‘extreme suffering’ this winter

Boris Johnson told to tackle rising energy bills to avoid ‘extreme suffering’ this winter

Ex-chief scientist David King says outgoing PM must deliver fiscal policies to support poorer peopleBoris Johnson should intervene urgently to start insulating British homes and introduce fiscal policies to reduce bills, as further delay will mean more people face ?extreme suffering? this winter as energy bills soar, a former government chief scientific adviser has warned.David King said: ?This could be the worst possible time for the leadership of this country to be simply sitting back. We?re waiting until what? We have an energy crisis right now and we need good leadership. We need alert leadership, leadership that is thinking about this ? and that is missing.? Continue reading...