A round-up of the main news stories this week. [Apologies for poor audio quality!]
Record Numbers in Employment
Unemployment fell by 50,000 in the recent quarter, the Office of National Statistics has said, adding further weight to suggestions that the UK economy is set to return to growth. The number in employment has risen to a record high figure of 30 million, while the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.9%, the lowest since early last year. The government has praised the private sector, which, it said, is continuing to create opportunities.
Inflation Drops to 2.2% in September
The rate of inflation fell to 2.2% in September, it was announced this week, offering further good news for the economy. This has increased the number of savings accounts and ISAs that offer real term gains after tax. It also brings price inflation much closer into line with wage inflation, which means that the squeeze in living standards may be beginning to ease. However, not all are set to gain from the fall; benefits, tax credits and pensions, which are typically set by the inflation level in September, are expected to rise by less next April.
Ofgem Unveils New Strategy For Energy Prices
The energy regulator, Ofgem, has unveiled new proposals that would force energy suppliers to inform customers about the cheapest tariffs they have available. Ofgem hopes to bring an end to a system that sees hundreds of tariffs at different prices, which makes it difficult for customers to work out the best deals to suit their needs. The regulator’s chief executive, Alistair Buchanan, said that consumers needed a “simpler, cleaner, fairer and more competitive energy market”.
Star-Broke? Anger as Starbucks Post Losses to Avoid Tax
And finally, there has been a furious reaction after it was revealed that coffee giant Starbucks has paid remarkably little tax on its UK earnings. The firm has used a number of creative measures, including the payment of royalties to other divisions, to post a £33 million loss in its latest financial year. This allows it to eschew corporation tax on profit. Figures show that the firm has only paid £8.6 million in 14 years despite making over £3 billion from UK coffee lovers during that period.
Perhaps some of us will be changing our habit of a lifetime.
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