47. Weekly Newsletter
The month of October experienced a ‘bigger than expected’ 4.2% jump in inflation amid fresh calls for the Bank of England to raise interest rates. This outpaced the previous months 3.1% increase and marks the highest rate of inflation in 10 years for the UK. Two of the main causes of this are the surging fuel and energy bills faced by the British public over recent weeks. The RAC, one of Britain’s largest automotive services companies, has also stepped in by outlining the “steep” fall in wholesale fuel prices in the last few days which has not been reflected in the retail pricing. Across the country the average price per litre of petrol is at 147.27p with retailer margins up by 2p to 7p per litre.
Rising costs from gas suppliers to British homes has additionally contributed to the higher cost of living. However, wholesale gas prices (having rarely made it above 70p per therm, historically) hit 186p in September 2021 and have since collapsed multiple gas suppliers due to the UK Government’s ‘Energy Price Cap’- although this has protected many other households. So far in 2021, 22 of the previously 70+ energy suppliers have gone under which has left just over 2m customers having to find new suppliers. Monday (22 November) also experienced the nation’s seventh biggest energy supplier, Bulb Energy, enter special administration with their 1.7m customers.
The Newspapers & COVID
The headlines on Tuesday (23 November) heavily focus upon the Prime Minister’s CBI speech which has come under fire from numerous angles following an array of unforeseen moments and has been likened to the previous PM’s ‘disastrous’ conference speech. Warnings of a “National Emergency” around Britain’s migrant crisis across the Channel were highlighted in the Daily Express; whilst the Eurosceptic Daily Telegraph is running the headline: “Cut taxes or Brexit will fail” in the eyes of Lord Frost- who led Britain’s withdrawal negotiations.
Over 9.85m people in the UK have tested positive for COVID over the course of the pandemic and cases are now on the rise to over 40,000 people testing positive per day. A total of 143,972 deaths have been attributed to the virus. Nationally, 50.78m people have received their first vaccine, 46.17m have received their second, and 15.33m (increasing at a rate of around 360,000 per day) have received their third/booster dose. This brings the total number of inoculations carried out, by the private sector and National Health Service, to almost 113m.
Confederation of British Industry
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents 190,000 businesses, hosted PM Johnson on Monday (22 November) for a speech in which he urged people to return to physical workplaces for “sound evolutionary reasons” as the government ramps up pressure on a return to pre-pandemic working. The PM also announced plans for new homes, offices, and supermarkets to provide electric chargers from 2022. Furthermore, he has vowed to slash taxes for business but stated that this will be dependent upon the government finding the right time to do so.
The CBI used the annual conference to highlight the opportunities in investing across the entire UK– rather than focusing in the South East of England. Speaking at the event, the CBI’s director general described the UK as a “branch line economy” as old industries (such as steel in Sheffield or textiles in Lancashire) have declined in the North. This comes at a time when the organisation also publicly disagrees with the government over the axing of a northern stretch of Britain’s High Speed Rail network (HS2) during the last week. The shortening of this network is expected to save £40bn but disconnects the Yorkshire city of Leeds by removing the Eastern leg.