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UK November 2016

Published: Dec 07, 2016
  • In a crushing blow to Theresa May, the British High Court has declared that the Brexit vote is illegal and needs to be sanctioned by Parliament in order to be legal.  This means that the government can now not trigger Article 50 in early Spring 2017 as hoped and that a vote needs to be passed by Parliament first, sure to delay the exit of Britain from the EU.
  • Marks & Spencer’s have announced they will close 53 stores worldwide citing that performances were ‘not sustainable’.  They remain committed to its 17 Irish stores.  The group’s aim for the future is to have less wholly-owned markets and place greater emphasis on joint ventures and franchises.
  • The European Commission has recommended that trade talks are not to be carried out before the Article 50 draft agreement is drawn up.  The EU is believed to be pushing for a ‘hardline divorce settlement’ which could see Britain paying an exit bill of €40bn to €60bn.  Britain’s liabilities to the EU include loan guarantees, pension liabilities and spending on UK projects.  The Financial Time had initially suggested an exit bill of €20bn would probably be accurate.  However the new figures way surpass that estimate.
  • Inflation fell in October despite the weak pound situation.  However, Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England has advised that inflation will rise without question.  British manufacturers had an 11% increase in the price of imported parts and tools which represented the largest increase in 7½ years (since March 2009).
  • 189,900 housing units were built during the financial year of 2015 – 2016 which was an 11% increase on 2014-2015 financial year.  Housebuilding is now at its highest level in 8 years.  Savills estate agency advised that whilst it welcomed the fact that new homes were being built, enough were still not be constructed in London and that 300,000 housing units were needed per year according to their research. 
  • The unemployment rate in the UK is at an 11-year low after Q3 figures fell by 37,000.  The rate now stands at 4.8%.  There were 49,000 new workers in the country, which was just half the expected figure, and down markedly from the 172,000 number increase in Q2.
  • Real wages in the UK grew by just 1.7% in Q3 which was the slowest rate since February 2015.  Rising prices are likely to threaten consumer spending, along with a slowing jobs market.  Consumer spending in the UK had previously been mainly responsible for 4 years of economic expansion.
  • Food and drink exports from Britain to countries outside the EU grew 12.1% in Q3 which is sure to cheer those who advocated for a Leave vote, citing that Britain will trade more to the rest of the world once they have left the EU.  However, the European Union still accounted for 71.5% of British food exports, led by Ireland.  UK exports to China grew 62% in the 9 months to September and is now the 9th biggest importer of British food.
  • In his Autumn Statement, Philip Hammond Chancellor of the Exchequer grimly cut the UK’s growth forecast to 1.4%, down from the original 2.2%.  Other features include:
    • The UK plans to cut corporation tax to 17% by 2020. 
    • The public finances will borrow an extra €122bn more than originally forecast.
    • The living wage will increase by 30p to £7.50 an hour from 2017.

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