26th November 2008
European Commission €200bn Recovery Plan Announced
The European Commission has presented a €200bn Recovery Plan based on getting the European economy kickstarted in the short-term, boosting demand, saving jobs and helping restore confidence. The Plan calls for every Member State to take major national measures and a timely, targeted and temporary fiscal stimulus in 2009-2010 of 1.5% of EU GDP. Commission President Barroso said "If Europe acts decisively to implement this Recovery Plan, we can get back on a path of sustainable growth and pay back short-term government borrowing. If we do not act now, we risk a vicious recessionary cycle of falling purchasing power and tax revenues, rising unemployment and ever wider budget deficits". Read the Communication and Barroso's Speech.
26th November 2008
Labour Cuts Back Conservative Poll Lead
A YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph shows the Conservatives with a reduced lead of 4 points over Labour. The poll was conducted after the Pre-Budget Report, and shows the improved Brown Bounce as the Tories have 40% to Labour's 36%. The Liberal Democrats are on 14%.
26th November 2008
Government Think-Tank's Energy Management Report Published
A report by the Government's futures think tank, Foresight, has criticised delays in UK moves towards sustainable energy due to old ways of thinking and concluding that the UK is 'locked-in' to using certain forms of energy due to historical domination over other options. The report, sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government, 'Powering Our Lives: Sustainable Energy Management and the Built Environment' has looked at the evolution required to buildings and spaces in order to cut carbon emissions. Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, said "The Government has set a target for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and central to that goal is greening the energy we use in our homes and becoming more energy efficient. We will be building on current policies supporting individuals and communities as they develop secure, low-carbon energy supplies and retrofit buildings. Already, we're introducing legislation to provide real incentives for those installing small scale renewable electricity and heat technologies".
25th November 2008
Government Tackles Local Level Economic Recovery
The Government has announced new powers making it easier for action to be taken at the local level to boost jobs and skills and support businesses in tackling the local impacts of the credit crunch and to aid recovery from the economic slowdown. The reforms come out of the Government's response to the consultation on the Sub National Review of Economic Development and Regeneration - Prosperous Places: Taking forward the Review of Sub-National Economic Development and Regeneration and include: a new duty on local authorities to assess the economic conditions of their area; new legal powers to help local authorities work together on economic development; and a streamlined process for regional planning. Local Government Minister, John Healey said "Every community, town, city and region needs to play its part in dealing with the current economic climate and also prepare for economic growth in the future. As part of Government's comprehensive response to the international economic situation, these reforms will bring together the expertise, the will and the decision-making powers to plan effectively for sustainable economic growth in all our English regions".
24th November 2008
Darling Delivers Pre-Budget Report
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling has delivered his Pre-Budget Report speech to the House of Commons. With clear intent to provide a much needed boost to the economy, he announced a £20bn fiscal boost between now and 2010. VAT is to be cut by 2.5% from 17.5% to 15% from 1st December, lasting until the end of 2009 and Darling said he "would like retailers to pass this on as soon as possible" in order to encourage consumer spending. Fuel duty will be increased to offset the VAT rate cut. The extension of the 10p tax rebate is to be made permanent. A new 45% rate on earnings over £150,000 is to be brought in from April 2011, together with an increase of 0.5% on all national insurance contributions. The 1p rise in small business corporation tax has been deferred for a year. Shadow Chancellor George Osborne responded that this was 'tax savings for Christmas paid for by higher taxes for life". Read the full Pre-Budget Report
24th November 2008
Toughening up proposals for Data Sharing rules
Tougher powers are to be handed to the Information Commissioner under new proposals for regulating the Data Protection Act which will include: imposing financial penalties on data controllers for deliberate or reckless loss of data; publishing guidance on when organisations should notify the ICO of breaches of the data protection principles; and a statutory data sharing Code of Practice providing practical guidance on sharing personal data. Justice Secretary Jack Straw said "As new technologies have developed, the secure storage and careful sharing of personal information held by both the public and private sectors has become paramount. Strong regulation and clear guidance is essential if we are to ensure the effective protection of personal data". Read more about the proposals contained within the Government's response to the Data Sharing Review report published today.
24th November 2008
Political Heavyweights Address CBI Annual Conference
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Opposition Leader David Cameron and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson have addressed this year's CBI Annual Conference. Gordon Brown pledged to business leaders that the Government will provide a “comprehensive plan” that would to tackle the financial crisis and the ongoing economic downturn “For the way forward is not just one isolated initiative or one individual measure, not even a set of measures for a few months. It is a concerted and comprehensive plan that will give real help to businesses and families while at the same time preparing our economy for the future”. David Cameron set out Conservative plans to build an economy that is “genuinely built to last” and attacked the Prime Minister for leaving Britain ill-prepared for the economic downturn “This is the real story of today’s [Pre-Budget Report]: higher debts in the future; higher taxes just as the economy starts to grow again; more of the same policies that got us into this mess - when we desperately need a change in direction". Lord Mandelson included that "We rightly describe this financial crisis as global, but its impacts are local. Behind the headlines are tens of thousands of companies fighting for cash-flow or credit. Looking for the investment and orders they need to survive. Depending on each one of those businesses are workers in families that are now trying to stretch household budgets. This government is determined to support business through these tough times. Indeed, the best way in which we can stand up for workers and their families is by standing up for business. It is not one or the other. We stand or fall together". Read the CBI response to Brown and Cameron
19th November 2008
Sergeant Quits Strictly Over Concerns He Might Win Competition
Award-winning political journalist, John Sergeant, has announced he is quitting the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. The veteran broadcaster has been dancing in this season's show to mixed reviews but, partnered with Siberian dance professional Kristina Rihanoff, the pair repeatedly have been saved by the public's telephone voting. Sergeant said "It was always my intention to have fun on the show and I was hoping to stay in as long as possible. The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me that would be a joke too far. I would like to thank Kristina and all those viewers who have been rooting for me through the series". His farewell dance will be this Saturday.
18th November 2008
Fall in UK Consumer Inflation & G20 Summit
The Office for National Statistics has released year figures to October for the consumer prices index showing that consumer inflation has fallen to 4.5% (from 5.2% in the previous month). The all items retail prices index is also down to 4.2% from 5% in September. Yesterday in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister reported on progress from the G20 Summit, noting that four key steps had been laid out: 'reform of financial supervision in line with key principles such as transparency and integrity; globally coordinated action on economic stimulation through fiscal and monetary measures; a 12-month moratorium on protectionist trade measures; a commitment to consider in detail the reform of international institutions such as the IMF at a follow-up summit'. Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron attacked the Government's handling of the UK crisis stressing that “More discretionary borrowing now, without knowing where the money is coming from, is bound to mean higher taxes later".
18th November 2008
CBI Forecasts close to 3 million UK Unemployed
The CBI's revised economic outlook for 2009 forecasts that the recession will now run for most of 2009, with unemployment anticipated to peak close to 2.9 million. 2008 GDP growth has also been revised downwards from 1.1% to 0.8%, and in 2009 the CBI expects the economy to contract by 1.7%, against its forecast in September of 0.3% growth. CBI Deputy Director-General John Cridland said "What is clear is that the short and shallow recession we had hoped for a matter of months ago is now likely to be deeper and longer lasting. An unwelcome consequence of the downturn will be a significant loss of jobs, many of them in sectors that have been relatively insulated until now”. Read the full press release