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Friday's Business and Politics round-up

17 Nov 2017

Person reading the IoD's news round up with breakfast

Alas, the working week has come to an end!

Who is dreading that commute to work this morning? Well, you mightn’t be the only one…

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has said today that the average British commuter spends the equivalent of 27 days a year travelling to and from work. They also highlighted this has increased by 2.5 days in the last decade.

As you may well expect, workers in the capital take the longest to get to and from work – the equivalent of 38 working days a year.

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This too shall pass

The UK’s Brexit Secretary David Davis has warned against “putting politics above prosperity” in Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

Speaking in Berlin yesterday, Davis outlined his hopes for a deal that “allows for the freest possible trade in goods and services”. He also said he thought it "incredibly unlikely" there would be no deal.

European counterparts say that negotiations cannot move onto discussing our future relationship with the economic bloc until the so-called divorce bill, citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland are resolved.

In a question and answer session following the speech, a German interviewer got a round of applause for suggesting the UK government looked to be "in chaos".

Mr Davis replied: "One of the issues in modern politics is that all governments have periods of turbulence.

"This is a period of turbulence, it will pass."

In his speech to an economic conference organised by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, he said trade between Germany and the UK was worth 176bn euros a year or "more than a thousand euros to every man, woman and child in each of our countries".

He said the "close economic ties" with the EU "should continue, if not strengthen" after Brexit, and he warned: "Putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice".

Hmmm – sounds like a familiar warning.

Credit Control

More than a million credit card users who are struggling financially have had their credit limits increased without asking, according to Citizens Advice.

The charity is calling for a ban on unsolicited increases in credit card limits, saying such borrowing could make financial problems for these individuals much worse. They have called on the  Chancellor to include this in next week’s Budget.

Citizens Advice said its research, based on a sample of 1,300 people with credit cards, suggested as six million cardholders may have had their credit limits put up without their consent in the last year. Some 1.4 million of those would be struggling financially.

However, providers says protection is already being improved. They have agreed to a voluntary code being developed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the City regulator, which would see restrictions and choice on credit limits.

Providers will start asking new customers for their consent before raising limits, and give them the option to carry on receiving uninvited increases. Existing customers will be given the option to ask their lender to require their consent.

Strike (out) oil

The Government of Norway has been told its state-run fund should drop its investments in oil and gas stocks.

Norges Bank who manages the country’s $1 trillion (£758bn) sovereign wealth fund on behalf of the government, said the step would make the country "less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices", and its advice was not based on a price forecast or the sector's sustainability.

Around 6% of the fund, worth £28bn, is invested in oil and gas stocks.

"This advice is based exclusively on financial arguments and analyses of the government's total oil and gas exposure," said the bank's deputy governor Egil Matsen.

Norway is western Europe's biggest oil and gas producer and its sovereign wealth fund, known officially as the Government Pension Fund, is used to invest the proceeds of the country's oil industry.

The proposals will now need to be reviewed by the Finance Ministers, but Norges Bank said that investing money back into the energy sector meant the government's exposure to the price of crude was too high.

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