Has Britain got an east-west divide? Analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics found that across the Midlands and the North, the growth of the west has been twice as fast as that of the east since the 2008 financial crisis. Between 2009 and 2016, economic output per head rose by 9.2% combined in the West Midlands and the North West but only by 4.6% in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East.
The government has been warned that British households could face a 30% rise in debt repayments over the next five years as interest rates go up. The forecast, revealed by a freedom of information request to the Office for Budget Responsibility, has prompted the Resolution Foundation to warn that rate rises could hit millions of low-income families currently getting by thanks to cheap credit.
Bidding is ongoing for two remaining live football packages after Sky and BT Sport agreed to pay £4.464bn to broadcast Premier League football games for three seasons from 2019-20. The Premier League says there is interest from “multiple bidders” for the remaining packages of midweek and bank holiday fixtures. There is speculation that Amazon, Facebook, Twitter or Netflix have entered the bidding.
American gun manufacturing giant Remington has filed for bankruptcy, reports The Guardian. Remington is using bankruptcy laws to offload $ 700m of its $ 950m in debt. Profits at American Outdoor Brands, the owner of Smith & Wesson, have fallen 90% year over year, from $ 32m to just $ 3.2m. As sales fall across the sector, gun companies are left with excess stock and falling revenues.
The squeeze on consumers continues as inflation has stuck at its highest level for almost six years. The Office for National Statistics says the consumer price index held steady at 3% in January for the second month running. Analysts had predicted that the rate would fall to 2.9% as the Brexit vote’s hit on the pound begin to fade.
“The image of these companies feasting on what was soon to become a carcass will not be lost on decent citizens.” Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions committee, points the finger at the ‘big four’ accountancy firms.
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