Helen Nugent

Autumn Statement, food prices, BHS and mortgages

One story dominates the financial news this morning: the Autumn Statement. A slew of predictions, speculation and leaks feature in newspapers and websites, including yesterday’s widely trailed announcement of a £1 billion boost to improve broadband speeds for up to 2 million homes and businesses. Other measures expected in Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement include ways to increase workers’ incomes and a £1.4 billion package aimed at delivering 40,000 new affordable homes.  Also on the cards is a rate reduction for the withdrawal of benefits when people start work and an increase in the National Living Wage to £7.50 an hour. The Times reports that the Chancellor will ban letting agents from imposing so-called ‘rip-off’ fees that cost people renting up to £380 million a year. Citizens Advice says that these fees have soared to an average of £337 per tenancy. A number of other measures have already been announced, including a clampdown on fraudulent whiplash claims in an effort to reduce the cost of motor insurance and £1.3 billion to improve Britain’s road network. Meanwhile, it is thought that, in the first major economic statement since the Brexit vote, the Chancellor will announce higher borrowing costs and slower growth. The BBC says that the the big news from today’s Autumn Statement will be exactly how bad the public finances will be over the coming years. The Autumn Statement will be made to the House of Commons at 12.30pm today. Food prices The Guardian reports that Aldi and Lidl have started increasing the cost of basic groceries, including milk and bananas, as the squeeze from the Brexit-driven fall in the value of the pound beds in. The supermarkets have raised the price of a four-pint bottle of milk to 99p, from 95p – a 4 per cent lift, which puts them on a par with Asda and just 1p behind Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco.

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