UK businesses plan to cut jobs and investment

A survey by the Institute of Directors shows the employment expectations of firms for the year ahead fell in September while investment expectations were also down. “The overall business outlook appears to be stuck in the doldrums,” said Tej Parikh, chief economist at the IoD. “The Treasury should step in to support job creation.” The survey showed that the top concern after the pandemic and the impact on the economy is uncertainty over trade talks with the European Union. A separate survey from KPMG and recruitment group the REC showed people were losing their jobs “rapidly” in September, causing a sharp increase in workers looking for new posts. However, demand for employees in the capital continues to fall as the rest of the country recovers. Finally, the Resolution Foundation says youth unemployment will not return to its pre-pandemic level for at least another four years and could hit a high of 17% before gradually falling back to 7% by 2024.

Bloomberg, City AM, Financial Times, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Yorkshire Post
OBR warns over ballooning government debt

The Office for Budget Responsibility has warned that the prevailing low interest rate environment may not last forever and the Government should not base its policies on low borrowing costs in the long term. The OBR’s new chairman, Richard Hughes, told MPs: “The level of debt is higher and the maturity of debt is getting shorter, so our debt stock is getting more sensitive to interest rate shocks, so there are reasons for us to be more concerned.” Sir Charlie Bean, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England who is now at the OBR, adds: “It is entirely appropriate, given the large and unusual shock the economy has been subject to, for the Government to run a large deficit so long as the virus emergency persists. But as one goes beyond the emergency, then it will be appropriate to stabilise the public finances and potentially start building in fiscal space to recognise that there will be future bad shocks further down the road.”

The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Daily Express
New Bill will put pension pot pinchers in prison

Therese Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, told the Commons yesterday that the Government will "strengthen protections for savers" as part of the Pension Schemes Bill. Introducing the second reading of the Bill, Ms Coffey told MPs: "This Bill \[…] creates a new style of pension scheme that has the potential to increase future returns for millions of working people while being more sustainable for employees and employers alike. The Bill has consumer interests at its heart. It strengthens protections for savers by extending the pension regulator's sanctions regime. Prison for pension pot pinchers will, I hope, deter reckless bosses from running schemes into the ground."

The Daily Telegraph
Over £250m grants for the self-employed fraudulent or paid in error

HMRC has said up to £258m in grants for the self-employed could have been fraudulent or paid in error, amounting to 1-2% of all Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) payouts. A total of £12.9bn has been paid out in 4.7m grants and so HMRC is confident its system has prevented wide-scale fraud. Andrew Chamberlain from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, comments: “When compared to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, where £26bn has been lost from fraud or default, or the Job Retention Scheme, which has lost £3.5bn through default or error, these numbers are comparatively low."

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