Weekly Policy Report 6 – 10 February 2023

An interesting week for us. The Prime Minister has really shuffled things up, and we’re hoping all the aces have ended up at the top of the pack.

Of most interest to us, the business and trade departments have been combined, with Kemi Badenoch, previously only Trade Secretary, now taking on the business brief as well. The last Business Sec in the seemingly revolving list, Grant Shapps, now heads up a department solely focusing on energy security and net zero. Jeremy Hunt remains secure in his position as the Chancellor. We will be waiting to see what kind of tricks this new set have up their sleeves.

And while the Cabinet has been rearranging itself, here is what we have been thinking about…

When in Rome – This week, the UK and Italy agreed a joint partnership to boost exports and investment, the first of this kind of partnership since Brexit. The deal is designed to strengthen a trading relationship worth £43 billion, help to create jobs, increase wages and grow the economy. Find more on that here.

Static statistics – Monthly GDP figures for December show the economy contracted by 0.5%. While this is a decrease, when taken together with the growth recorded in October and November it gives a flat picture for the fourth quarter of 2022 overall. This is considerably better than was expected going into the Autumn when the Bank of England predicted we would be in a full blown recession by now.. Read our full analysis here.

The shipping forecast – Monthly UK trade statistics for December showed a decrease in exports of both goods and services. Exports of goods actually increased to the EU, which is good news, but unfortunately this was offset by a larger decrease of exports to the rest of the world. We will be feeding into the House of Commons International Trade Committee call for evidence on export opportunities this quarter. Read further analysis here.

Policy Voice – Our latest Policy Voice survey has gone live. The email should have landed in your in box this morning. This month we are asking for our members’ views on subsidising green industries, the practice of ‘Fire and Rehire’, and our usual economic tracking questions. Find out more about Policy Voice here.

Next week, both the House of Commons and the House of Lords are in recess. They will return on 20th February. However, this is what we are looking forward to…

Tuesday 14 February 2023

  • ONS will publish unemployment data for October-December 2022. We expect a slight increase in unemployment, but from a very low base.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

  • ONS will publish monthly inflation statistics for January 2023. We’ll be carefully watching what is happening to food prices which, last time round, were still rising even as the headline rate fell.

Thursday 16 February 2023

  • HMRC is holding a stakeholder conference, bringing together those with influence in the world of tax and customs to explore the role they can play in supporting the government’s priorities on economic stability and growth.

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