Leader of the Conservative party David Cameron was finally accepted as the UK Prime Minister late on Tuesday after his party and the Liberal Democrats (the Lib-Dems) agreed on a five-year deal to form the UK’s first coalition government since the Second World War, on the promise of forming a “strong and stable government”. Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg was confirmed as deputy PM while George Osborne will become Chancellor of the Exchequer. After winding up five days of political negotiations, Cameron pledged that the new government’s number one priority will be to tackle the UK’s £163 billion budget deficit., As Gordon Brown announced his resignation, Messrs. Cameron and Clegg declared that they had struck their remarkable political bargain to provide strong and stable government at a moment of crisis. A nation awaits with bated breath for the outcome
Meanwhile its has been announced that the number of UK unemployed rose by 53,000 to 2.51 million during the three months to March According to official figures issued by the Office for National Statistics the level of unemployment total is now since December 1994. On the positive front, the total number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell in April by 27,100 to just over 1.5 million, leaving the unemployment.
Data released on Tuesday by the Financial Services Authority revealed that banks and building societies had to deal with more than two million complaints between July and December 2009, as a waiver that had allowed them to defer claims relating to high penalty charges was lifted. The figure was more than double than processed in the first half of the year. The steep increase was mainly a result of the backlog of complaints relating to unauthorised bank charges. Complaints were put on hold for over two years as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) entered a battle with a number of big banks to obtain a final ruling on the legality of the high level of charges imposed on customers who exceeded their overdraft limit. The waiver was lifted in December when the case was resolved, with banks winning a surprise victory over the OFT. Banks are estimated to have made more than £2.6 billion a year from unauthorised overdraft charges and might have faced claims of more than £1 billion if had they lost the case.
Blame for the “financial and economic crisis” in the UK has been attributed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). To private sector wages tumbling further behind inflation more than in any other industrialised territory, excluding Mexico, Turkey and Iceland Research by OECD the Paris-based think tank revealed the gross average wage in Britain rose by 0.5 percent to £33,745, which is calculated to be the equivalent to a 1.6 percent fall after factoring in inflation. The OECD went on to warn that low-salaried workers were also more vulnerable to losing their jobs.
All in the entire financial well being of UK consumers was seen to deteriorate during the first quarter of 2010, following four successive quarters of relative improvement. A spokesperson for the body behind the index explained that the downward trend has been largely due to lower levels of earnings growth and the negative impact of higher levels of inflation on real disposable income. In addition, economic activity remains relatively subdued and there has been only a very slight improvement in the labour market.
UK Households have been helped during the last few months by some recovery in house prices and relatively strong equity market performance, but the prospect of cuts in public spending and increases in taxation following the election are expected to add further to the pressures facing households.
More evidence of a lack of confidence among UK consumers was an announcement from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) of a sharp fall in UK retail sales for the month of April.
According to the BRC, the total value of sales fell by 0.2% in April on an annual basis, while the like-for-like drop was 2.3%, making for the steepest fall since December 2008.
Again, the downturn could be attributed to uncertainty which surrounded the general election as well as the timing of Easter.
Broadband provider TalkTalk Telecom have announced their plans to target rapid customer growth in 2010, after it successfully boosted its new customer base by 144,000 in the final quarter of its year to March. In its first trading update since demerging from Carphone, TalkTalk credited their customer growth to the firm’s appeal as a straightforward broadband service provider and to the success of high-profile campaigns. However TalkTalk has ruled out the likelihood of rivaling Virgin Media and BT by buildings its own fibre optic cable to. Meanwhile, British Sky Broadcasting and Virgin Media have been seeking to encourage more new customers through bundling telecom and TV services.
A new company that has been formed after the T-Mobile and Orange’s UK merger has been named Everything Everywhere.
In a statement issued on Tuesday Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom, announced the name, along with a plan to launch a “new assault” on the UK business market. Orange and T-Mobile will retain their distinct brands, with their own shops, campaigns, pricing and service centres.
The Orange and T-Mobile brands have 713 high street stores between them. Orange is the larger brand of the two, with 17.3 million customers to T-Mobile’s 13 million. Orange also brings with it 863,000 fixed-line broadband customers.
Doubts about the strategy of both British Airways and the Unite union began to emerge as the two sides squared up for the three weeks of strikes the airline’s cabin crew have threatened from next Tuesday.
Industry analysts began to state their doubts and fears about the length of the threatened stoppages, and concern about how long it would take to restore relations between management and staff. Strong backing was given to Mr Walsh’s determination to lower costs permanently at the loss-making airline, although none wished to be publicly identified. But it is clear that both the BA chief and his counterparts at Unite are about to enter the most difficult phase of a dispute that has lasted more than a year
There were signs of a growing Eurozone backlash arising against the outgoing (and incoming) UK government for refusing to take part in the eurozone’s €750bn rescue plan. So strong was the reaction that a senior French policymaker was heard to suggest that it may cause Europe to think hard about coming to the UK’s help in a sterling crisis.
Analysts pointed to a “crack in the sign of strong unity in Brussels as, with astonishing insensitivity for the dramatic situation, Britain coolly declared that the crisis was a problem for the Eurozone, as if the crisis would make a point of avoiding the UK.” In the wake of the eurozone rescue deal, there is a view in government circles that speculators might turn their attentions to sterling,
Meanwhile a warning has emerged among some leading global financial experts that that the European debt crisis posed the biggest threat to the US economy, despite some recent relatively upbeat assessment of the US financial recovery.
Gold on Wednesday traded near record prices amid investor concerns that the massive rescue plan for indebted eurozone states will hit currencies. Gold prices hit record highs in Europe amid volatile financial markets. Spot gold in London surged to above $1,230 a troy ounce, exceeding the record set in December last year. Gold prices in euro terms also hit a fresh all-time high of €969 an ounce in late London trading, up almost 26% since the start of the year.