Britain’s low pay culture traps people in poorly paid jobs and prevents them from escaping into full-time work with better pay, according to a major study by the government-backed body that tracks social mobility. Only one in six workers on low pay managed in the last 10 years to push themselves up the pay ladder and stay there, while most remained stuck in a cycle of part-time and insecure jobs. – Guardian.
Sainsbury’s is axing 2,000 store and back office roles as the supermarket chain looks to slash costs by £500m amid an intensifying price war with Aldi and Lidl. The retailer is restructuring its HR departments, getting rid of 1,400 store-based clerks and another 600 staff based in the back offices that serve the chain as well as Argos and Sainsbury’s bank. - Guardian.
Theresa May's hopes of breaking a deadlock in Brexit talks appeared to be given a boost after she and Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to "accelerate" negotiations. The Prime Minister flew out to dinner with Mr Juncker, the President of the European Commission, after a Brexit charm offensive with other EU leaders ahead of a summit on Thursday. - Telegraph.
Global banks and international bond strategists have been left stunned by revised ONS figures showing that Britain is £490bn poorer than had been assumed and no longer has any reserve of net foreign assets, depriving the country of its safety margin as Brexit talks reach a crucial juncture. A massive write-down in the UK balance of payments data shows that Britain’s stock of wealth – the net international investment position – has collapsed from a surplus of £469bn to a net deficit of £22bn.
Ministers have been forced to postpone next week’s debate on the EU withdrawal bill on a chaotic day that saw Michel Barnier warn of a “disturbing deadlock” in the divorce talks in Brussels and a growing whispering campaign against the chancellor in Westminster. Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons, told MPs the key piece of Brexit legislation would not be debated next week, as they had planned, as the government struggles to respond to a deluge of hostile amendments.
More than 300,000 people on low incomes were given a pay boost by the government’s new “national living wage”, dispelling fears that the move to raise minimum salary levels would trigger widespread job losses. The Resolution Foundation said Britain had experienced its biggest fall in low pay since the 1970s following the introduction of the national living wage (NLW), which imposes a floor of £7. 50 an hour for employees aged 25 and over. The thinktank found that 5.
The sheer scale of supermarket firm Tesco meant the financial picture could change “overnight”, a court has heard. Nicholas Purnell QC, for the defence, gave the example of March 2014 when the finance team forecast a monthly sales shortfall of £108m versus internal targets for the UK food business – only for that figure to be reduced by £32m some 24 hours later. – Guardian.
Theresa May has revealed detailed plans for quitting the EU with “no deal” in a move designed to pile pressure on Brussels to begin trade talks. The Prime Minister decided to “focus minds” by publishing draft legislation showing how the UK will implement independent trade and customs arrangements from “day one” after Brexit in March 2019. - Telegraph.
Pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates may be building more rapidly than first thought after a mistake by the Office for National Statistics led to domestic inflation being understated. On Friday, the ONS published an error in one of the critical data points used by the Bank of England to gauge domestic price pressures. In a correction to be released today, the nation’s official statisticians are expected to reveal that companies’ employment costs have been rising faster than previously believed.
Royal Bank of Scotland has been accused of pursuing “unrealistic” business lending targets that risk incentivising reckless lending. The taxpayer-owned bank, which is under intense political pressure to boost support to the economy, has set strict targets for small and medium-sized enterprise lending to its around 800 lending managers, who are each expected to lend close to £2m a year. - Sunday Telegraph.
A severe revision to UK growth forecasts will drastically cut Phillip Hammond's wiggle-room in the upcoming Budget. A dramatic over-estimation of the UK's productivity levels over the past seven years by fiscal watchdog, the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), means the Chancellor of the Exchequer's room for spending could be reduced by as much as two-thirds. - Telegraph.
A top official at the Bank of England has warned the government it has less than 12 weeks to agree a transition deal with the EU to prevent City firms starting to move jobs and business out of the UK. Sam Woods, a deputy governor at the Bank, said City firms would activate their Brexit contingency plans if there was no deal on a transition period by Christmas which would mitigate the impact of a hard Brexit in March 2019. Woods also repeated his warning of the strain being put on the Bank’s ability to police the financial sector as a result of the changes firms needed to make.
Only a fifth of households can afford to buy the average new home in the south-east of England, according to research, which said affordable properties in the region should cost no more than £250,000. Savills, the property firm, said the housebuilding industry was on track to deliver the government’s target of 1m new homes by 2020 – but there remained an annual shortfall of 104,000 homes in the areas with the highest demand, London and the south-east. – Guardian.
David Davis plans to retire in 2019 and leave Boris Johnson to steer the UK through the transitional period. The Brexit secretary told friends that Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, "needs this to work more than I do" because he plans to step aside in June 2019 whereas Mr Barnier will still be in post. - Telegraph.
Riot police who bludgeoned, kicked and fired rubber bullets at voters taking part in an illegal referendum in Catalonia yesterday acted within the law, the Spanish prime minister said. In a day of violence unprecedented in modern Spanish history, 850 people were hurt, three seriously, according to the Catalan authorities. Riot police fired baton rounds in Barcelona and beat pro-independence supporters trying to stop them confiscating ballot boxes. - The Times.
Business confidence is rising but still at its second-lowest level this year, according to the latest survey from Lloyds Bank’s business barometer. Britain’s biggest high street lender said that the reading rose by six points this month to 23 per cent. Economic confidence among businesses surveyed rose by 7 points to 12 per cent, though this was also at the second-lowest level this year. - The Times.
Ryanair is facing enforcement action from the Civil Aviation Authority for “persistently misleading passengers” about their rights, piling more woe on the no-frills carrier as it announced a second wave of flight cancellations that will affect 400,000 people. In a letter to the Dublin-based airline, the CAA said chief executive Michael O’Leary was wrong to tell passengers last week that it did not have to arrange new flights for them after an initial batch of cancellations were announced.
The Chinese takeover of Imagination Technologies was mired in confusion last night as the bidding vehicle, a Silicon Valley-based private equity fund, struggled to recover from claims that ministers could intervene. Speculation is growing that the government will look into the £550 million deal amid fears that another leading British technology company will fall into foreign hands, with some onlookers citing national security issues and talk that Imagination’s computer chip science could be utilised in Chinese military programmes.
The Brexit secretary, David Davis, and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, have clashed over the UK’s exit bill and Britain’s request for a transition period after Theresa May’s speech in Florence last week failed to unlock the stalemate in negotiations. On the first day of the fourth round of talks, Barnier said the prime minister’s €20bn (£17. 6bn) offer did not mean the UK would be given a transition period or that negotiations could move on to the detail of a future trading relationship.
Britain’s biggest banks are braced for new restrictions on consumer lending as the Bank of England today prepares to unveil the results of its review of the booming sector. Credit cards, unsecured loans and car finance deals have all surged in popularity over the past year, leading Mark Carney and his colleagues on the powerful Financial Policy Committee (FPC) to investigate if there are any growing risks in the sector. - Telegraph.