A period of relative calm marked the start of the week as Parliament undertook recess, however, the topic of Brexit still shaped the week’s news. Monday began with Green Party MP Caroline Lucas claiming that Britain would be worryingly unprepared for the potential impact of Brexit on environmental protection, with over 1,000 pieces of EU green legislation requiring assimilation into UK law in order for safeguards to be maintained. Tuesday saw Jeremy Corbyn condemn the Government for heading for a “Hunger Games” Brexit as a report published in the Guardian on Tuesday suggested that over a million Brits living in the EU could pay a penalty for the PM’s failure to offer a secure future for EU nationals in the UK. The Government declined to respond.
On Wednesday, Lord Newby, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, felt confident that a large number of peers would support amendments on issues such as the rights of EU citizens to change the Government’s strategy around exiting the EU. Brexit Secretary David Davis expected the bill to “ping pong” back to the Commons with certain amendments but was still confident of securing the assurances required to proceed as expected. The following day saw Britain’s most senior judge condemn the media attacks on the judiciary after the Brexit court challenge. Lord Neuberger also questioned the failure of certain politicians to support the judges in upholding and interpreting the law; unsurprisingly not all newspapers were in agreement with his line of argument. The week ended with the return of Tony Blair calling for a reversal of last June’s vote and to create a cross party alliance to stop the withdrawal process. Prominent Conservatives such as Boris Johnson and Ian Duncan Smith were quick to condemn the former PM, calling him “arrogant, undemocratic and deeply out of touch.”
This week saw the release of the latest inflation figures with the news that the CPI had risen by 1.8% in the year to January 2017, the highest rate level seen since the summer of 2014. Much of this was predicated on rising prices for fuel and food. To find out more about the GBCC’s position on the results, click here. Additionally, a new study released by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation found that over four million people were at risk of falling under the poverty line due to inflationary pressures. With the cost of living expected to rise up to 10% by 2020, the Foundation claimed households would struggle with increasing pressure on household targets exacerbated by freezes on tax credits and working age benefits.
Labour market statistics released on Wednesday showed an increase in unemployment in the West Midlands by 0.6% from October to December, with employment slightly down by 0.1%. The inactivity rate – the number of people not actively in work – also increased by 0.7% For more information on the GBCC’s position click here.
Here at the GBCC
This week we reached the halfway point for fieldwork for our latest Quarterly Economic Survey. We use the data from this survey to produce a quarterly report that offers an up to date snapshot of the performance of the Greater Birmingham business community and is our flagship economic publication. It is the most comprehensive regular report of its kind in the city-region. The survey takes 3 minutes to complete and one lucky respondent will win a dinner for two at Gusto Restaurant. Click here to fill in the survey.
This week also saw the continuation of the GBCC’s Growth Through People campaign. The series of events will share tools, techniques, and information that will help business leaders to more effectively manage their workforce and unlock growth and productivity as a result. We will be working with partners to deliver a wide range of engaging, free events that will look at these themes from a number of different angles. To see our full campaign calendar please click here.
The shortlist for the GBCC Annual Dinner & Awards has been revealed (click here). This year saw the highest number of entries to date. Many congratulations to shortlisted GBCC Patrons, Amey (Contribution to the Community) and the NEC Group (Excellence in People Development) and to all shortlisted nominees.