News in brief - 11 November 2019


The UK has avoided recession with growth of 0.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2019, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released this morning, reports BBC News (online only). The growth is attributed to a rise in activity in July and contrasts with the 0.2 per cent contraction the economy experienced in the second quarter of this year. However, this is still the UK's slowest growth in almost a decade. Lending ratings agency Moody's said that further weak growth is still to come, and signalled that it may downgrade the credit rating on Britain's government debt (Sky News, online only).

Meanwhile, confidence in UK businesses fell to its lowest level in over seven years last month, according to the latest index from BDO, reports City AM (p2). Manufacturing has seen the steepest decline, with weak global demand cited as a contributing factor. This comes as high-street footfall fell by 3.2 per cent compared to last year, the largest drop in October for seven years, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium, reports the Daily Telegraph (£, B1).


Scammers are using Google ads to lure savers to invest in high-risk or potentially fraudulent schemes, an investigation by The Times (£, online only) has revealed. Dishonest companies are advertising lucrative savings rates on the search engine to attract customers, often using logos from official bodies or claiming to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in an effort to appear reputable. However, there is often no actual protection or security for savers and customers risk losing their money if these types of companies go bust.

Commenting on this, Katy Worobec, managing director for economic crime at UK Finance, said:

?Intelligence from law enforcement and other sources indicates there are thousands of fake websites and social media accounts in operation by criminals at any one time, with the majority being openly advertised and visible to users.

?These accounts facilitate advertising for ?money mules? - for the purposes of money laundering - selling stolen identity and credit-card data, phishing, bogus investment scams and impersonating legitimate companies such as banks to enable fraud.?

Customers are reminded to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and always question uninvited approaches asking for your personal information in case they are a scam.


Around nine in ten of the UK's biggest law firms are at risk of being scammed or having their clients? confidential data stolen or compromised due to poor IT security, according to research by consultancy Crowe UK, cybersecurity firm KYND and the University of Portsmouth (Daily Telegraph, £, B3).

New European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde is set to face calls to overhaul how the Bank decides monetary policy, as colleagues reportedly wish her to introduce changes such as including formal votes on setting interest rates (Financial Times, £, p1).

More than 210,000 workers in the UK are set to receive a pay rise after the Living Wage Foundation increased the national minimum hourly rate by 30p to £9.30 (The Guardian, p37). 

The average salary for financial services workers in the UK rose to £53,000 in the second quarter of 2019 amid increased competition for talent, according to recruitment software provider Broadbean (City AM, p7).


In today's Times (£, p29), columnist Libby Purves says that the well-educated are not exempt from being scammed. On the contrary - university-educated people are more likely to be victims of fraud, according to a survey by the FCA and The Pensions Regulator. Methods such as using the logos of well-known firms and pretending to have approval from the FCA are deceiving even the best and the brightest. Ms Purves concludes that, despite the air of false confidence wearing a business suit might give you, we are all susceptible to the advancing ways of the modern scammer.


Sarah Wulff-Cochrane, Principal, Taxation Policy, UK Finance, blogs on the differences between London and New York City following the publication of the Total Tax Contribution of the UK banking sector report.


Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas OBE, CEO of the Green Finance Institute, talks to UK Finance on the subject of green finance and the impact of climate change on the mortgage market.