Weekly Digest – 7 February 2024

Welcome to our Weekly Digest – stay in the know with some recent news updates relevant to business and the economy.

A record 11.5 million tax returns filed by the deadline

A record-breaking 11.5 million taxpayers submitted their Self Assessment tax returns for the 2022 to 2023 tax year by midnight on 31 January, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reveals.

Bank of England puts high rates ‘under review’ but treads carefully about cuts

The Bank of England kept interest rates at a nearly 16-year high on Thursday but opened up the possibility of cutting them as inflation falls and one of its policymakers cast a first vote for a reduction in borrowing costs since 2020.

Businesses’ confidence increases to kick off 2024 with greater positivity

Businesses entered the new year with renewed positivity as overall confidence rose to the highest level for nearly two years. The Barometer – which measures businesses’ confidence by assessing their trading prospects and optimism in the economy – shows overall confidence rose to 44%, up 9 points on the previous month.

The UK’s productivity gap: what did it look like twenty years ago?

How to boost UK productivity growth has long been a central concern of economic researchers and policy-makers. A report written twenty years ago highlights the continuing challenges of achieving that ambition, including the key roles of competition, investment, skills, innovation and technology.

UK economy receives £13 billion boost from Guernsey-based funds

Guernsey has been instrumental in channelling investment into the UK, with new research indicating that funds based in this British Crown Dependency hold assets valued at £57 billion.

HSBC failed to protect $142 billion in deposits, receives bumper fine

HSBC (HSBA.L),  has been fined 57.4 million pounds for “serious failings” in protecting up to 112 billion pounds ($142 billion)of deposits over several years, in the first penalty of its kind under UK rules designed to protect customers if banks fail.

IoD press release Business leaders find reasons to be more optimistic in 2024

The IoD Directors’ Economic Confidence Index, which measures business leader optimism in prospects for the UK economy, leapt upwards to -14 in January 2024, up from -28 in December 2023.

Water bills to rise by 6% from April

The average household water and sewerage bill in England and Wales will rise by 6% or about £27 to £473 a year from April 1, the industry has confirmed.

Tax-free shopping for tourists in UK may return as government eyes rethink

The Treasury’s independent forecaster is to review the axeing of tax-free shopping for tourists, raising the possibility that a decision that leisure companies and retailers have blasted for deterring visitors and losing the UK billions in sales could be reversed.

UK public’s long-run inflation expectations rise to 9-month high

The British public’s expectations for inflation increased in January, potentially because of worries about disruption to shipping in the Red Sea, a survey published by U.S. bank Citi showed on Friday.

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