Inflation falls


The UK’s annual inflation rate fell to 6.8% in July, down from 7.9% in June, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

It is the smallest increase in the cost of living since February 2022.

A fall in gas and electricity, as well as a slowing down in the increase of food prices, are the major drivers behind the inflation rate decrease, according to the ONS.

However, core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as fuel and food remained unchanged at 6.9% in July while service sector inflation rose from 7.2% to 7.4%.

Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said:

‘While a drop in inflation provides some comfort, the figures show less of a drop in inflation than hoped for and will renew fears of a wage-price spiral, and of yet more base rate hikes in future.

‘The worry now is that rising wages ignite a fresh wave of inflation in September, which will threaten the momentum from June’s GDP growth.

‘The cost of doing business crisis still has a grip on the small business community, as prices for many key inputs, from energy to components and raw materials, remain far above where they were a year ago.

‘Any reduction in inflation is good news, but the huge toll that spiralling prices have inflicted is still being keenly felt by small firms.’

Internet link: ONS website FSB website

CMA scheme will force retailers to publish live fuel prices


A new fuel finder scheme to enable drivers access to live fuel prices and revitalise competition in the retail road fuel market, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The scheme would be made possible by new compulsory open data requirements and backed by a new ‘fuel monitor’ oversight body.

The proposals are the key recommendations by the CMA to the UK government following its report into the road fuel market.

The report found that between 2019 and 2022, average annual supermarket margins have increased by 6p per litre (PPL).

According to the CMA, greater transparency and shopping around as effectively as possible, the driver of a typical family car could save up to £4.50 a tank within a five-minute drive.

Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, said:

‘We need to reignite competition among fuel retailers and that means two things. It needs to be easier for drivers to compare up to date prices so retailers have to compete harder for their business.

‘This is why we are recommending the UK government legislate for a new fuel finder scheme which would make it compulsory for retailers to make their prices available in real time. This would end the need to drive round and look at the prices displayed on the forecourt and would ideally enable live price data on satnavs and map apps.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

Almost a million Child Trust Funds still unclaimed


Almost a million young people have yet to access savings contained in Child Trust Funds (CTFs), according to a report by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The PAC said over £1.7 billion is waiting to be claimed by a million young adults, at an average value of £1,900 each.

It says ‘failure in long-term planning’ by HMRC means 42% of eligible 18-20-year-olds have not drawn on their savings.

The PAC says that given CTFs are not reaching many of the people they were designed to help, HMRC should be doing more to find and contact young people who have not claimed their savings.

According to the PAC, many young adults don’t know about their savings or have lost track of them. It found that CTF providers are charging fees for passively managing accounts but are not doing enough to link these accounts to their owners.

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, said:

‘The aims behind CTFs are laudable – for young people to come into a pot of money on reaching 18, with the promotion of financial literacy and good savings habits. But many young people are unaware that they have money waiting to be claimed.

‘In an ongoing cost of living crisis, our young people need every bit of support we can give them. HMRC still has time to make sure that CTFs are given the chance to be the boost to young people’s futures which they were designed to be.’

Internet link: Parliament website

South Yorkshire named as first UK Investment Zone


South Yorkshire has been named as the UK’s first Investment Zone by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

The status could bring £1.2 billion in funding and see up to 8,000 new jobs created in the area, according to the government.

In March, Mr Hunt said 12 new UK Investment Zones would each receive £80 million in government cash. The money could be spent on infrastructure, training and tax relief over seven years.

Beckie Hart, Director for Yorkshire and the Humber at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

‘This announcement will spur growth and bring other economic benefits in South Yorkshire – and the whole of Yorkshire.

‘The government is right to pursue an Investment Zone that builds on the University of Sheffield’s world-leading Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which is recognised globally as a major economic cluster with strong research and innovation capabilities that capitalises on the expertise of the region’s universities.

‘Our members look forward to benefitting from the Investment Zone to build on South Yorkshire’s advanced manufacturing strengths, develop new industries that will create jobs and bring prosperity to the area as we seek to build a net zero economy.’

Internet link: HM Treasury press release CBI website

Tax down on pints but up on wines and spirits in Alcohol Duty overhaul


The largest overhaul of alcohol duty in 140 years sees drinks taxed by strength rather than category from 1 August.

It also sees the introduction of Small Producer Relief, which aims to help small businesses and start-ups create new drinks, innovate and grow.

There will be lower taxes on lower alcohol products – those below 3.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) in strength.

The number of main duty rates for alcohol is being reduced from 15 to six, to make it easier for businesses to grow and operate.

According to the government, the duty paid on drinks on tap in pubs will be up to 11p lower than at the supermarket.

However, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) warned that for spirits there will be at least a £1 increase on a bottle of gin or vodka and a bottle of wine will go up by £1 when VAT is included.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the WSTA, said:

‘Ultimately, the government’s new duty regime discriminates against premium spirits and wine more than other products.

‘Wine from hotter countries – like new trade deal partner Australia – will be penalised most of all, because the grapes grown in hotter climates naturally produce higher alcohol wines.

‘Nor can the alcohol in full strength spirits be reduced for products such as gin, vodka and whisky where a minimum strength prescribed by law.’

Internet link: HM Treasury press release WSTA website

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