Shoppers ignore Brexit chaos as UK retail sales show surprise jump

Year-on-year rise in March of 6.7% was highest since October 2016, says ONS

Britain’s consumers ignored the turmoil at Westminster last month and splashed out in high street stores and online.

Despite fears that spending would plummet as a result of mounting Brexit uncertainty, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed retail sales were up 1.1% in March.

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House prices rise at slowest rate in six years as Brexit hits growth

London has biggest slump in a decade but Midlands and north-west race ahead

House prices across Britain have increased at their slowest rate for more than six years, with London experiencing its biggest slump in a decade as Brexit concerns drag on growth.

The Office for National Statistics said average house prices in the UK rose by 0.6% in the year to February, the lowest rate of growth since September 2012, and down from a rate of 1.7% in January.

Related: UK property market ‘in line for summer Brexit relief rally’

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The strength of the UK’s jobs market is not as simple as it seems | Larry Elliott

If companies were really taking on more people as a result of Brexit jitters, there’d be more part-timers

There is a straightforward explanation for the continued strength of the UK jobs market. Firms are reluctant to invest because acute Brexit uncertainty means it is nigh on impossible to forecast future demand. Rather than be left with a bit of unwanted and expensive kit on their hands, businesses have taken on more workers instead.

That all seems to make perfect sense. Britain has a reputation for having a flexible labour market, so companies can easily take on staff to meet temporary surges in demand knowing that they can get shot of them later.

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UK pay grows at fastest rate since financial crisis – ONS

Almost 180,000 workers hired, while unemployment remains at lowest level since mid-70s

Pay growth in Britain has risen at the fastest rate in more than a decade, as companies keep hiring despite growing fears over Brexit.

Average weekly earnings, including bonuses, rose by 3.5% on the year in the three months to February, according to the Office for National Statistics, matching the rate recorded in January and the joint highest level since mid-2008.

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Longer working hours do not mean higher profits, say economists

Overwork can have business costs and is the main reason for workplace sickness in the UK

In the backlash against the “996” working schedule, China’s tech workers say their bosses have lost valuable productivity gains that could have been generated with a shorter working week and fewer hours.

Related: Working 9 to 9: Chinese tech workers push back against long hours

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Controlling house prices and the need to be able to evict bad tenants | Letters

Carolyn Hayman says action must be taken to bring prices back into an affordable ratio with incomes, while Tom Booth says section 21 should not be abolished

There was a note of scepticism (Labour’s home truths, Nils Pratley, 10 April) about Labour’s proposal to seek to control growth in house prices. Giving the job to the Bank of England alone is unlikely to work. But a government statement of intent to bring house prices over, say, a 10-year period back into an affordable ratio with incomes, using a number of different levers (personal tax, incentives to downsize, development land tax, mortgage supply, house-building investment etc) is more feasible and highly desirable. While people are paying up to half their disposable income on housing, the government’s ability to increase tax rates to fund public services will continue to be a struggle, not to mention the misery of so many people living in cramped and unsuitable housing.

It won’t be popular with homeowners, but we are a shrinking number. And at least some of us will see the benefits for our younger relatives.
Carolyn Hayman
London

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ONS harnesses big data in effort to quickly spot economic trends

Novel ways of monitoring the UK economy include counting the number of trucks on roads

Government statisticians are trying to harness the power of big data technology, monitoring the number of lorries on roads and company VAT receipts, in an attempt to more rapidly spot changes taking place in the UK economy.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) believes rapid advances in technology, including around big data, machine learning and online activity, could enable economists to update their traditional toolkits.

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Brexit: UK businesses at most gloomy since referendum – Deloitte

Eight out of 10 finance leaders expect long-term environment to be worse

British businesses are the most gloomy they have been about Brexit since the 2016 referendum, with eight out of 10 finance leaders expecting the long-term business environment to be worse as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

The accountancy group Deloitte has warned that worries over the long-term impact of Brexit are mounting, with more than half of finance bosses expecting to rein in recruitment and spending.

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