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Kate Andrews

The Tories’ migration crackdown will have many victims

The UK’s immigration system must be ‘fair, consistent, legal and sustainable’, proclaimed the new Home Secretary as he presented his ‘five-point plan’ to reduce legal migration in parliament. James Cleverly billed these changes as ‘more robust action than any government’ has taken before to reduce the headline net migration figure.  They involve increasing the skilled worker earnings threshold from £26,200 to £38,700 from next spring; increasing the NHS surcharge (paid every time most migrants secure or renew their visa), from £624 to £1,035; ending the 20 per cent salary reduction for shortage occupations (as well as reforming and reducing the list); increasing the minimum salary for a family visa to


Featured economics news and data.

Kate Andrews

Sunak meets first pledge as the rate of inflation halves

Inflation has slowed significantly, according to the latest update from the Office for National Statistics. The headline rate was 4.6 per cent in the year to October, down from 6.7 per cent the previous month. The sharp slowdown is largely attributed to last year’s hikes in energy prices dropping out of the data with the figures now reflecting Ofgem’s price cap reduction.  This major slowdown in the inflation rate allows Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt to say that one of their five pledges for the year has been delivered. In January, the prime minister promised to ‘halve inflation’ by the end of the year. The rate in January was 10.1 per cent

Martin Vander Weyer

Should Boris Johnson really be telling Canada how to build houses?

My eye was caught by a passage of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last week that other pundits, intent on analysing tax impacts, largely skipped past. As part of ‘progressing further capital market reforms to boost the attractiveness of our markets and the UK as one of the most attractive places to start, grow and list a company’, said Jeremy Hunt, ‘I will explore options for a Natwest retail share offer… It’s time to get Sid investing again.’ Leaving aside the non sequitur that battered NatWest, formerly RBS, still 39 per cent owned by the taxpayer 15 years after its bailout, hardly counts as a start-up with growth prospects, how many

Kate Andrews

When will Rishi Sunak see sense on the Triple Lock?

When Jeremy Hunt announced his ‘Autumn Statement for Growth’ last week, there was a slight problem: the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had actually revised down its growth forecasts. Apart from this year and the last year for the forecast, GDP gains are expected to be smaller than were predicted back in March. Yes, the government can still technically say it is making good on its pledge to ‘grow the economy’ — but best of luck to any minister who stands up and sincerely insists that 0.6 per cent or 0.7 per cent growth is something to boast about. The OBR is not, of course, the only forecaster. There are

Opec’s split is good for the West

It largely slipped under the radar, but there was a rare bit of good news for hard-pressed consumers and businesses this week: the next meeting of Opec+, originally scheduled for today, has been pushed back almost a week amidst rumours of splits between its members. Most people struggling with inflation and the cost of living probably don’t look for salvation in the depths of the international and business pages. Few organisations cast a longer shadow over economic life in the West than the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and its tag-alongs in Opec+. Ever since it was first established in 1960, the purpose and mission of this organisation has

Matthew Lynn

Is Javier Milei already defying his critics?

Critics of Argentina’s president Javier Milei have already made up their minds: he is a lunatic and his plans will collapse on first contact with the real world. Argentina’s money will run out and the economy will grind to a halt. To some commentators, he is a ‘hard-right’ ideologue who will crash the economy within weeks. They say he’s like Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng on roller-skates. If you listen to those attacking Milei, you’d be forgiven for thinking the man in charge in Buenos Aires will precipitate yet another economic calamity in a country which has been stumbling from one disaster to another for almost a hundred years. But

Stephen Daisley

The Scottish Greens’ oil crusade is coming unstuck

‘Well, well, well,’ as the meme goes. ‘If it isn’t the consequences of my own actions.’ The news that Grangemouth, Scotland’s last oil refinery, is to close by 2025, with hundreds of jobs thought to be at risk, has elicited statements of concern from across the political spectrum. But no one is likely to improve upon that from Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay, who posted on Twitter/ X: There couldn’t be a more dazzling display of radical cluelessness. Mackay’s party, which is in government with Humza Yousaf’s SNP in Scotland, has made a crusade of harrying the oil and gas industry out of operation north of the border. Earlier this

Isabel Hardman

Rachel Reeves borrows an attack line from Ronald Reagan

Rachel Reeves is getting used to being nicknamed ‘the copy-and-paste shadow chancellor’ by the Tories. Today she leaned into that name by repeating a phrase she’s been using for a while; one she copied and pasted from another politician. Ronald Reagan’s 1980 question of ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ was the central theme of her Autumn Statement response. Her recast of it was ‘the questions that people will be asking at the next election and after today’s autumn statement are simple: do me and my family feel better off after 13 years of Conservative governments? Do our schools, our hospitals, our police today work

Why is the public sector so unproductive?

The government has achieved its promise to halve inflation from last December’s level, borrowing has come in at little under the predictions made in March’s budget, and the Chancellor has felt able to lower taxes. But one thing isn’t going well: productivity. Little-noticed figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week show that output per worker has fallen by 0.1 per cent over the past 12 months and output per hour is down by 0.3 per cent. While productivity in the private sector has risen by around 30 per cent since 1997, in the public sector it has hardly risen at all The problem is especially acute in

Why we should all welcome Hunt’s tax break for businesses

Rishi Sunak has made ‘long-term decisions’ the leitmotif of his government. Today’s Autumn Statement announcement on permanent full expensing – which will allow businesses to write off capital investment costs against corporation tax immediately and in full – shows his Chancellor is singing from the same hymn sheet. While it might sound dry, this tax reform is a vital step towards fixing one of the key structural weaknesses in the British economy: lacklustre business investment. Hunt’s announcement today will help boost productivity, economic growth and wages. In due course, full expensing should make us all – businesses, workers and consumers – better off. The current version of full expensing, introduced

Martin Vander Weyer

Rishi Sunak can’t take the credit for falling inflation

Even the best-run companies have occasional leadership crises. But if you asked ChatGPT to come up with a blockbuster boardroom-bloodbath movie scenario, I doubt it would propose anything as extreme as this week’s events in its own San Francisco-based parent company, OpenAI. Chief executive and co-founder Sam Altman was fired last week for failing to be ‘consistently candid’ with OpenAI’s board, though no one was prepared to say what he had not been candid about. By Monday he had a new job leading AI research at Microsoft, OpenAI’s 49 per cent shareholder. One inside source claimed 743 of OpenAI’s 770 staff had signed a letter supporting him and many of

Matthew Lynn

Don’t be deceived by Jeremy Hunt’s tax ‘giveaways’

When Jeremy Hunt takes to his feet in the Commons this afternoon to deliver his Autumn Statement, he’ll be trying to woo voters with some tax ‘giveaways’: VAT thresholds might be raised to help small businesses and the basic rate of National Insurance could be reduced for the rest of us. But hold on. Before the Chancellor gives anything back, both he and the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak need to do something far more important: they should apologise for all the tax rises the Tories have imposed. We don’t know the final figure yet, but it turns out that the Chancellor has around £13 billion to £15 billion of ‘headroom’,

Isabel Hardman

Will the Tories’ ‘carrot and stick’ benefits plan work?

Rishi Sunak wants to frame a benefits crackdown in tomorrow’s Autumn Statement in compassionate terms, with ministers saying people with mobility problems and mental illnesses can no longer be ‘written off’ thanks to advances in technology making it easier to work from home. Instead, they will be expected to look for work or face benefits sanctions. The ‘carrot and stick’ approach being proposed will include a promise to claimants that their right to benefits won’t be reassessed if they look for work, as well as better support in the package of reforms being developed by work and pensions secretary Mel Stride. In lots of ways, this is compassionate: being out

Ross Clark

Bailey pours cold water on hopes of inflation falling quickly

Should we bother taking any notice of what Andrew Bailey says about inflation, given that he and his colleagues on the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) failed miserably to foresee any of the inflationary forces of the past two years? As late as May 2021 they were still predicting that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) would rise no higher than 2.5 per cent at the end of 2021 before falling back to 2 per cent. For what it is worth, the Governor of the Bank of England has come over all pessimistic. Addressing the Treasury Select Committee this morning he said markets have got it wrong: they are putting too much emphasis

Kate Andrews

Can Jeremy Hunt cut taxes in good conscience?

When the government announces a range of tax cuts tomorrow, it has pledged to do so in a ‘sustainable’ way. What counts as sustainable, however, is going to be hotly contested – especially in light of this morning’s update from the Office for National Statistics, which saw the UK borrow more than forecast or expected last month. Public sector net borrowing came in at £14.9 billion in October – more than a billion pounds higher than forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility and £4.4 billion more than was borrowed during the same month last year. There are two ways to look at the data. The first is to note that while

Kate Andrews

Why have Sunak and Hunt suddenly decided they want tax cuts?

The government’s transition on taxes has taken place at lightning speed. We’ve gone from chancellor Jeremy Hunt hinting at tax cuts yesterday morning on the BBC to Rishi Sunak confirming that not only are tax cuts coming this Wednesday, but they are now a major priority for the government, as laid out in five new promises made today. Arguably the UK economy has been defying the doomsday predictions for a while now But it’s not just the policy that’s changing. It’s the rhetoric too. Hunt has gone from insisting that tax cuts are ‘virtually impossible’ in September – not something to consider right now, he said in October – to ushering them in this November and embracing a

Kate Andrews

Sunak makes more pledges – but what happened to his last five?

In his speech in north London his morning, the Prime Minister confirmed that tax cuts are coming this Wednesday, as is another attempt by the government to get Britain’s 5.5 million missing workers back into employment. But Rishi Sunak didn’t stop there. Having achieved one of his five pledges for the year last week — the inflation rate halved in the year to October, slowing to 4.6 per cent — the Prime Minister decided this morning to offer up five more. Now in addition to the ‘five promises’ made in January — halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing public debt, cutting NHS waiting lists and ‘stopping the boats’ (a pledge