News In Brief

Written By: Ian Hernon
Published: July 14, 2017 Last modified: July 14, 2017

Thousands of people marched by Downing Street and on to Parliament Square on July 1 on a demonstration against the government’s economic policies organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. Jeremy Corbyn said: “The Tories are in retreat, austerity is in retreat, the economic arguments of austerity are in retreat. It’s those of social justice, of unity, of people coming together to oppose racism and all those that would divide us, that are the ones that are moving forward.”

Three Labour frontbenchers were sacked for defying Jeremy Corbyn and backing a call for the UK to stay in the single market after Brexit. Ruth Cadbury, Catherine West and Andy Slaughter had supported Chuka Umunna’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech. Ex-Coronation Street actress Tracy Brabin was made a shadow education minister in the subsequent reshuffl;. Tribune columnist Chris Williamson got the key role of shadow fire services minister; while former Manchester police commissioner Tony Lloyd became housing spokesman.

A TUC report on the gig economy has found that more than three million people – one in 10 of the UK workforce – now face insecurity at work. They also miss out on rights and protections that many take for granted, including being able to return to the same job after having a baby, or the right to sick pay when they cannot work.

French energy supplier EDF has estimated that the cost of completing the new Hinkley Point nuclear plant will be nearly 10% more than expected. The project’s main backer said the total cost of the power station was likely to rise by £1.5bn to £19.6bn. Hinkley Point C would be the UK’s first new nuclear plant for decades, but has been beset with budget problems, and an EDF review found the project could also be delayed by up to 15 months. However, the firm said it still hoped to finish the first phase by the end of 2025 as planned.

Women from Northern Ireland will soon be able to get free abortions in England. More than 50 MPs from the major parties backed a Labour-led call for the women to have access to NHS abortions in England. Ministers made the concession because it appeared some Tory MPs might back the call, risking a possible defeat. Abortions are only allowed in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her physical or mental health. Rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities are not circumstances in which they can be performed legally. .

New government guidelines aim to ensure that bosses take responsibility for apprentices’ off-the-job training. The apprenticeship levy’s training requirements, which employers and providers will be expected to comply with to deliver high-quality apprenticeship programmes, were introduced in April. At least 20% of training must be outside the core working environment and must focus on personal development.

The drugs industry has distorted the recent three-monthly figures for manufacturing output, according to the Office for National Statistics. Factory output in the three months to April was down by 0.7% on the previous three-month period.

The economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have increased by 0.2% between the final quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of this year, unrevised from the previous estimate published on 25 May 2017. In the first quarter of 2017, all four sectors showed positive growth: agriculture increased by 0.1%, production increased by 0.1%, construction by 1.1% and services by 0.1%.

Balance of payments data from the Office for National Statistics show the UK’s trade deficit widened to £8.8 billion in the first quarter of 2017 the following a sharp narrowing of the deficit in to £4.8 billion in the final quarter of 2016. The deterioration was due to a widening in the deficit on trade in goods and a narrowing in the surplus on trade in services. This trade deficit fed into the UK’s current account deficit which widened to £16.9 billion in the first quarter of the year against a deficit of £12.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016.

About Ian Hernon

Ian Hernon is Deputy Editor of Tribune