Remain-supporting former minister strikes optimistic note on post-Brexit economy

Former Conservative Treasury Minister, Lord Jim O’Neil has told the BBC that gloomy predictions for the post-Brexit UK economy are likely to be ‘dwarfed’ by global growth figures surpassing expectations.

He said: “I certainly wouldn’t have thought the UK economy would be as robust as it currently seems.

“That is because some parts of the country, led by the North West, are actually doing way better than people seem to realise or appreciate.

“As well as this crucial fact, the rest of the world is also doing way better than many people would have thought a year ago, so it makes it easier for the UK.”

Meanwhile, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone Group, said: “It’s a time of enormous ebullience, part of which was created by really good economic growth.”

However, also at Davos, Barclays CEO, Jes Staley warned against excessive optimism about the state of the global economy.

He said: “Equity markets are at an all-time high and volatility is at an all-time low – that is not a sustainable proposition”.

Link: UK growth upgrade could ‘dwarf’ Brexit hit

Are you ready for the latest minimum wage rise?

On 1 April 2018, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) will increase for all age groups.

Aimed at improving the prospects of young workers, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Autumn Budget that statutory wage rates would once again increase this year.

For those currently receiving the NLW, i.e. anyone over the age of 25, they will see their hourly rate increase from £7.50 to £7.83 an hour. This will mean that some full-time workers could be up to £600 a year better off.

For 21 to 24 year olds, the NMW will increase from £7.05 to £7.38, while 18 to 20 year olds will get a boost from £5.60 to £5.90.

Those below the age of 18 will see wages increase from £4.05 to £4.20, while apprentices will also see their NMW rate increase from £3.50 an hour to £3.70.

These new rates will boost the earnings of between 260,000 and 360,000 young workers directly, but will leave businesses with a larger payroll bill.

Further pledges to increase the NMW and NLW are expected in future, with the Government indicating that it still hopes to meet its pledge of raising the NLW to nearly £9 by 2020.

The majority of these rate rises beat the current rate of inflation of around three per cent, meaning that businesses may struggle to cover some of the costs.

Failing to pay the correct statutory wage could result in severe penalties, including the possibility of a business being publicly named and shamed.

Link: Changes to NMW and NLW