Hammond will keep his powder dry over pre-Brexit windfall | Larry Elliott

The chancellor will adopt a wait-and-see approach to talks before allocating his surplus funds

The largest January budget surplus on record smashed City expectations and was a real surprise given the recent downbeat economic news. But Philip Hammond will take the gift with open arms.

It is now five weeks until the scheduled date for Britain to leave the European Union and while most political and financial market analysts expect the current logjam to be broken, a no-deal outcome remains a possibility.

Related: UK public finances hit record surplus to give Hammond pre-Brexit boost

Hammond is now in a better position than he was when he made his budget speech in late October

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UK public finances hit record surplus to give Hammond pre-Brexit boost

Figure of £14.9bn is biggest January surplus since records began in 1993

Britain has recorded the biggest-ever monthly surplus in public finances since the early 1990s, putting the government on a strong footing in the run-up to Brexit, now less than 40 days away.

In a rare piece of positive economic news for Philip Hammond as he prepares for his spring statement next month, income from taxes outstripped public spending by £14.9bn, the biggest January surplus since records began in 1993.

Related: Hammond will keep his powder dry over pre-Brexit windfall | Larry Elliott

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UK economy £100bn smaller because of austerity – thinktank

Cumulative effect since 2010 has left each person £1,495 a year worse off, analysis shows

Austerity policies from the Treasury have resulted in slower growth in every year since 2010 and left each household £300 a month worse off as a result, a thinktank has said.

The New Economics Foundation said its analysis of the impact of tax and spending changes since the Conservatives came to power, first as part of a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, had left the economy £100bn smaller than it would otherwise have been.

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Ministers urged to provide rescue package for ailing high streets

MPs committee report suggests online sales tax and more help for local authorities

The government should consider taxing online sales, deliveries or packaging and cutting property taxes for retailers as part of a package to help revive the UK’s ailing high streets, according to an influential group of MPs.

In a report published on Thursday, the housing communities and local government committee says local authorities need more help, including extra cash, to redevelop town centres. It also suggests an overhaul of planning regulations, including scrapping rules that allow developers to turn offices into flats without special permission.

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Sainsbury’s must accept its Asda merger has been canned | Phillip Inman

Chief executive Mike Coupe’s strategy shows he is lost in the retail jungle and lacks a plan B

Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe said he will keep banging the drum for its merger with Asda, despite a damning report from the competition regulator that effectively rules it out.

It’s a strategy that shows Coupe is lost in the retail jungle without Asda holding his hand. It also reveals he lacks a plan B.

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CBI pushing hard for UK and EU to find Brexit compromise

The clock is ticking quickly towards crisis point, the employers’ organisation says

The CBI has stepped up its campaign for the UK and the EU to strike a compromise Brexit deal after its latest snapshot of manufacturing showed the pace of output growth slowing.

Despite stronger order books the employers’ organisation said industry was struggling to cope with the twin impact of slower global growth and uncertainty about Britain’s future relationship with the EU 27.

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Deal or no deal, UK jobs will remain hard to fill | Larry Elliott

Brexit might not have much of an effect on the labour market as unemployment hits a record low

Anybody expecting the Brexit impasse to harm the UK’s labour market has so far been proved wrong. Employment is at its highest ever level, the number of job vacancies has hit a new record and the unemployment rate for women has dropped below 4% for the first time. Growth slowed in the final quarter of 2018 but the dole queues shortened. Crisis, what crisis?

One possibility is that because the latest jobs and wages data from the Office for National Statistics only covers the period to December, it might not capture more recent surveys suggesting that firms have become warier about hiring since the turn of the year.

Related: Employers squeezed as job vacancies grow to record levels

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Britain’s EU workforce in decline as numbers from elsewhere soar

Number workers from EU27 nations falls by 61,000 as non-EU workforce hits record level

The number of workers in the UK from elsewhere in the EU fell by 61,000 at a time when the number of British and non-EU workers soared, official figures show.

There were an estimated 2.33 million workers from the EU27 in the UK between October to December in 2017, but that figure dropped to 2.27 million a year later. A notable drop in workers from A8 countries, which joined the bloc in 2004 and include Poland and the Czech Republic, largely accounted for the decrease.

Related: Honda’s Swindon factory closure threatens 7,000 jobs – business live

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