Jeremy HuntJeremy Hunt

News Round-Up

Nov 18: Hunt hints tax cuts; Manufacturers get billions; Retail sales fall; £8.3bn pothole pledge

  • Here are the headlines for Saturday, November 18

Time 6:00 am, November 18, 2023

Hunt signals tax cuts ahead of autumn statement

Jeremy Hunt has given his strongest hint yet that he will announce tax cuts in his autumn statement, as he considers cutting those on inheritance and businesses while squeezing benefits by billions.

Ahead of Wednesday’s financial announcement, the Chancellor said that now is a ‘turning point for the economy’ and that ‘this is the moment’ to go for growth.

But he said there is a need to ‘reform our welfare system’ and the ‘priority’ for the autumn statement is helping firms.

Hunt is also considering slashing inheritance tax, which would be bound to draw criticism for supporting the wealthy while others struggle with the high cost of living.

‘Strategic’ manufacturers to get billions of pounds

Car makers, aerospace companies and clean energy firms will benefit from a £4.5bn government fund earmarked for ‘strategic’ manufacturing sectors.

Funding will cover a five-year period and become available in 2025, after the next general election. The Treasury said that the move would provide industry with long-term certainty about investments.

Over £2bn of the fund has been earmarked for the automotive industry, with £975 million for aerospace manufacturers.

The money is intended to support the development of zero emission vehicles, as well as more energy efficient aircraft equipment, the Treasury said.

Worst month for retail sales since pandemic

The UK’s retailers saw their sales levels unexpectedly drop last month, pushing them to the lowest since February 2021 when there were still Covid-19 restrictions in place, official data suggested.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that retail sales volumes dipped 0.3% in October. The statisticians also revised September’s fall from 0.9% to 1.1%.

Analysts had expected a rise of 0.4% in October, according to a consensus estimate supplied by Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Food shops said their sales had fallen 0.3% during the month, a worse result than September, but non-food stores saw a decline of 0.2% in October, after sales dropped 2.1% the month before.

£8.3bn pledged to tackle potholes

Rishi Sunak has pledged to tackle ‘the scourge of potholes’ with £8.3bn of funding for local roads maintenance in England.

The Prime Minister described the investment, which will be made available to local authorities over 11 years, as ‘unprecedented’.

The funding is part of the government’s Network North plan published in October to spend money saved by scrapping HS2 north of Birmingham.

Cost of car ownership rises by £267

The annual cost of driving a car has risen by £267 in the last year, new figures suggest.

Research shows that the average annual cost of insurance, taxes and petrol stands at £1,997, up from £1,730 last year.

Car insurance is one of the biggest drivers behind this rise, with a typical premium increasing £295 year-on-year to reach £884.

DVSA workers balloted for strike action

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has said it will provide an update as soon as it can on any impact if workers go on strike.

More than 1,900 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) at the agency are being balloted for strike action.

PCS members who carry out driving tests and approve people to be driving instructors are in a dispute with management over plans to reduce the backlog of tests.

FTSE 100 rebounds despite weak UK retail data

The FTSE 100 closed at its highest level for four weeks as it was boosted by stronger housing and finance stocks, as well as a recovery in oil prices.

London firms performed well as traders continued to welcome easing interest rate expectations.

It came after disappointing UK retail sales, with a 0.3% decline in October and a larger than previously recorded fall in September.

London’s top index moved 1.26%, or 93.28 points, higher to finish at 7,504.25.

Mild but wet weekend

Today will be a wet start for most with the rain sweeping eastwards and becoming heavy at times, according to the Met Office.

There will be sunny spells and showers following from the west in the afternoon with the south becoming largely dry this afternoon.

Coastal areas will be windy with gales in places but it will feel generally more mild than it has recently.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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