Inflation rising, and more in the post

newspapers-444447_1280.jpgWe’re still well off letter-writing territory, but inflation saw a significant jump from 1.8% year-on-year in January to 2.3% last month. This is the highest rate of inflation since September 2013 and marks the arrival of the consumer price rises that the Ulster Bank NI PMI has been flagging for some months. The main driver is the acceleration in the price of consumer goods – everything from new cars to newspapers – where inflation was virtually non-existent just four months ago. Continue reading

Inflationary wake-up call for consumers

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Cost of living crisis

During the post-recessionary period from 2010-2013 inflationary alarm bells were ringing loudly in UK consumers’ ears. The lack of pay rises during this period exacerbated the squeeze on disposable incomes and gave rise to the so-called “cost of living crisis”.  During this four-year period UK CPI averaged 3.3% per annum.  Meanwhile the average per annum price increases for food, energy bills and motor fuels were 3.8%, 5.7% and 8.2% respectively. Continue reading

Philip Hammond puts productivity back on the agenda

public-debtDuring George Osborne’s reign at the Treasury, addressing the UK’s productivity challenge took a back seat role to tackling the deficit.  However, Philip Hammond has put productivity back on the agenda with the word appearing fourteen times in his speech today. In fact, the UK’s dire productivity performance is a major factor behind the poor state of the public finances. Continue reading

Finance Minister pulls biggest tax raising lever

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Northern Ireland has the lowest taxes in the UK and the highest public expenditure per head of any region. Together, these form Northern Ireland’s fiscal USP (unique selling point). This approach to public finances, however, has arguably not served the economy well (and is unsustainable – read my previous article on the subject).  Furthermore, given the ongoing austerity agenda, Stormont will have to redouble its efforts in making public expenditure efficiencies and increasing revenue. Continue reading

Women lead the way in labour market figures

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The headlines in Northern Ireland’s latest labour market statistics make for pleasant reading.

Unemployment is continuing to fall and fresh record highs and lows were established for the employment and economic inactivity rates respectively.

However, these headlines conceal a significant divergence with respect to gender. Continue reading