Top stories

  • Small businesses warn of “no-deal” Brexit consequences
  • New research shows fall in house prices
  • UK warned about cyber vulnerability

Stat of the day

£637.4 billion – the total value of the UK’s export market of goods and services for the year to September 2018, according to the CIA World Factbook (The Daily Telegraph, print only, B8).

Small businesses warn of “no-deal” Brexit consequences

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned its members to step up their “no-deal” preparations, The Times reports (£, p49). Some businesses have also made clear they disagree with the claim that “no-deal is better than a bad deal” and would welcome Barnier’s proposed transition period.

John Allen, President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), appeared on Radio 4’s Today Programme ahead of the CBI’s annual conference in London today. Mr Allen stated that the CBI hopes an extension of the transition period until 2022 won’t be necessary, and reiterated the FSB’s stance that a “no-deal” scenario would be very damaging.

Prime minister Theresa May is expected to announce at the CBI conference that her Brexit plan will provide a fair immigration system which will help young people in the UK to get jobs BBC(online only). A points-based system based on skills will be introduced, as opposed to the current system which is based on where people are from.

Meanwhile, Mrs May warned party rebels this weekend that trying to usurp her authority would only lead to further delays to Brexit and make the process more difficult, the Financial Timesreports (£, p1). Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, urged governments of the European Union not to consider reopening the Withdrawal Agreement, and also proposed that Britain’s transition out of the bloc could be as late as December 2022 (The Guardian, p8). Mrs May commented last month, however, that the UK would only need to extend the transition period “for a matter of months”.

Separately, Anne Cairns, Mastercard’s vice chairman, dismissed fears of a return of credit card surcharging after Brexit, adding that Mastercard has seen an increase in transactions since the surcharging ban came into force in January (i, print only, p38). HM Treasury reported these surcharges cost Britons £166 million in 2015.

New research shows fall in house prices

New research by Rightmove shows that asking prices for homes across the UK have fallen by an average of 1.7 per cent, to £302,023 this month. This latest house price index reveals that this is the largest November decrease since 2012 (The Times, £, p45).

The Guardian (p40) reports that while most houses fell on average by £5,000, in London, the typical asking price fell by £10,793, and in the south-east of England, prices fell by £8,647. The research suggests the reasons for why sellers are lowering their prices include a cooling in the market and uncertainty around Brexit.

UK warned about cyber vulnerability 

The joint committee on the national security strategy, made up of senior MPs and peers, has warned that the UK’s response to cyber attacks against infrastructure such as hospitals, transport networks and energy plants is currently insufficient and that the government is failing to act with enough urgency (Financial Times, £, online only).

The Cabinet Office is investing £1.9 billion to bolster its cyber capabilities, but The Guardian (p5) reports the committee has urged Theresa May to appoint a cybersecurity minister to take charge. They also cautioned: “Too often in our past the UK has been ill-prepared to deal with emerging risks.”

Separately, an investigation by the Sunday Times has revealed local police forces are cutting the number of fraud and cyber-crime investigators to help balance their budgets (£, p13).

Latest from UK Finance

Dr Iris Kapelouzou, Manager, Financial Inclusion & Capability, spent a day in bank branches observing how vulnerable customers are treated. Read her experience here.

News in Brief

Public trust in bankers has significantly increased over the past five years, according to a poll published today by Ipsos Mori. Stephen Jones, Chief Executive of UK Finance, said: “The banking industry has undertaken significant reform over the past decade to rebuild trust and improve accountability. It is encouraging to see that this work is beginning to pay off (Daily Telegraph, £, online only).”

Research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has found there are persistent regional differences in inflation across the UK, with regions such as Yorkshire seeing lower rates than London (Financial Times, £, p2).

Action Fraud has warned about a rise in so-called ‘romance fraud’, saying it now receives up to ten reports of such scams each day (Daily Telegraph, £, p27).

The all-party parliamentary group on fair business banking is due to contact all 650 MPs this week claiming that a planned extension of the Financial Ombudsman Service won’t be enough to address the “many difficult issues” faced by small and medium-sized companies when dealing with lenders (The Times, £, p40).

What the commentators say

Deborah Meaden, an entrepreneur and investor, describes in The Times(£, p28) how May’s Brexit deal is “bad for business”. She details how the economy has already suffered from uncertainty since the referendum, and May’s deal means some of the UK’s fastest growing sectors will be damaged. She concludes that the best deal is the one the UK currently has now, and this can be secured through a ‘People’s Vote’.

Larry Elliott, economics editor at the Guardian (p41), argues that it suits Theresa May if the Bank of England provides a very negative analysis of the impact a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could have on the UK, as it would boost support for the prime minister’s own deal. He adds that the market reaction to last week’s deal was not a ‘bloodbath’, but this could change if the possibility of a “no-deal” Brexit increases.

Calendar

  • Markit Household Finances Index
  • FCA publishes Gender Pay Gap data for year to 31 March 2018
  • Rightmove Monthly House Price Index, November
  • Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference
  • Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

For a full list of upcoming UK Finance statistics releases, please click here.

News in brief – 19 November 2018