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Pound UK economy latest: Liz Truss to delay publishing full OBR forecast until November & More Latest News Here

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The prime minister will publish the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast on 23 November, despite calls for an early release of the report.

Liz Truss and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng are rejecting calls to publish the assessment from the fiscal watchdog despite market turmoil.

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Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng held an emergency meeting this morning with Richard Hughes, chairman of the OBR, which appeared to last less than 50 minutes.

Shortly after the meeting with No 10, the OBR said it would deliver “an initial forecast” on 7 October on “economic and fiscal prospects and the impact of the government’s policies”.

In a statement, the OBR said: “The forecast will, as always, be based on our independent judgment about economic and fiscal prospects, and the impact of the government’s policies.”

Mr Kwarteng unveiled a string of tax cuts last week in a fiscal statement that was not accompanied by OBR forecasts. The forecaster said it had offered to prepare a draft for the new chancellor in time for the mini-budget but it was not taken up.

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Barristers to vote next week on whether to end strike action- part one

Barristers will be asked to vote next week on whether to end strike action after a pay offer from the government.

A ballot for Criminal Bar Association (CBA) members is due to open on Tuesday and close on Sunday, a spokesman said. A decision will be announced on Monday October 10.

The body agreed to ballot members again after talks with new Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis in which he decided to propose further reforms to Government-set fees for legal aid advocacy work, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

The offer represents “further investment of £54 million in the criminal bar and solicitors”, according to the department.

Criminal barristers in England and Wales are taking part in a continuous walkout after their row with the Government over fees and conditions intensified.

Prior to that, they were striking on alternate weeks and refused to carry out certain types of work.

There had been anger that a planned 15% fee rise barristers are due to receive from the end of September – meaning they will earn £7,000 more per year – would only apply to new cases and not those already sitting in a backlog waiting to be dealt with by the courts.

But now the MoJ has said the fee increase will apply to the “vast majority of cases currently in the crown court” as well as provide a pay rise for solicitors, with further measures due to be announced in the coming weeks.

This is despite the department previously saying it had “repeatedly explained” to the CBA that backdating pay would require a “fundamental change” in how fees are paid, adding: “That reform would cost a disproportionate amount of taxpayers’ money and would take longer to implement, meaning barristers would have to wait longer for payment.”

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Green Party calls for £75bn tax package for polluters and the wealthy

The Green Party has called for an emergency £75 billion tax package targeting polluters and the country’s wealthiest individuals, to fund a nationwide insulation and renewable energy programme.

At the party’s annual conference in Harrogate, co-leader Carla Denyer called for a new wealth tax on the richest 1% of households – starting with a marginal rate of 1% on those with £3.4 million, rising to 10% on those with £18.2 million and above.

She said there should be a “dirty profits tax” on North Sea oil and gas which would be used as a stepping stone towards a permanent carbon tax on polluting industries.

And she said the Government’s new energy price cap should be extended to limit the price of oil and gas to where it was last October, while the Big Five energy retailers should be nationalised.

“We’ve got the leakiest homes in Europe – losing huge amounts of energy through badly sealed windows and poorly lined walls,” she said.

“We could be saving hundreds, thousands of pounds through insulation – reducing energy wastage, cutting bills and emissions. It really isn’t rocket science. The cheapest bill is the one you don’t have to pay.”

Her fellow co-leader Adrian Ramsay added: “Rich people are getting richer and everyone else is getting poorer and more anxious, and the new Prime Minister is, as we suspected, doing everything she can to maintain that status quo.

“She has doubled down on the Tories’ lack of compassion and awareness for people’s real-life concerns as the cost of living crisis is allowed to continue and gather pace.

“This government is nothing short of dangerous.”

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Polls find growing anticipation of Starmer becoming PM

Half the public now believe it is likely Sir Keir Starmer will become prime minister – as expectations grow of a Labour general election victory amid troubles for the Government.

A poll of 1,000 adults by Ipsos found 51% think Sir Keir will enter Number 10, up from 38% surveyed in May.

More than of third of voters (35%) said it was unlikely Sir Keir will become prime minister, a decrease from 50% in January.

Half of those polled on September 28-29 said they think Prime Minister Liz Truss is doing a bad job, with fewer than one in five (18%) saying she is doing a good job.

This compares to 26% who thought Boris Johnson was performing well just before he announced his resignation in July.

The poll also found 39% of Conservative voters in 2019 think Ms Truss is doing a bad job, while 18% say she is performing well.

The findings come amid widespread criticism of the Government’s economic strategy, with the value of the pound falling following Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget last week.

The proportion of those polled who say a Labour government led by Sir Keir would do a better job than the Conservatives has risen to 41%, compared to 36% last month when Mr Johnson was still prime minister.

This is the highest percentage since Ipsos started asking the question in 2021.

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City cancels bonfire night to focus finances on cost-of-living crisis

One of England’s biggest cities has cancelled bonfire night because it says it needs to focus all its finances on dealing with the cost-of-living crisis.

Leeds has scrapped all six of its firework displays as it wrestles with budgetary pressures caused by soaring energy and food bills.

The cuts are part of the Labour-run council’s efforts to slash all “non-essential” spending in another sign of the problems being caused by growing inflation.

My colleague Colin Drury has more:

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One-in-five seeking better-paid work to meet rising costs

About one in five adults are looking for new work so they can maintain their standard of living as costs soar, new data shows.

Nearly everyone (91%) polled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said their costs had increased in the last year.

As a result, 19% of working adults reported they are looking for a job that pays more money – that could include a promotion or moving to a different employer, the ONS said.

Moreover, 15% said they are working extra hours in their job because costs are rising so they need more money. Around 4% said they have taken pm another job to help meet their costs.

The survey found 7% are going to work more often to save on their energy bills.

The research was released a day before the new price cap on energy bills comes into force.

Under the cap, households will pay 34p per unit of electricity and 10.3p per unit of gas they use.

For the typical household – 2.4 people in Ofgem’s calculation – this will mean bills of £2,500 per year. But of course this depends on how much energy they use.

The calculation is based on 2,900 units of electricity and 12,000 of gas, plus the standing charges that all households pay no matter how much they use.

But the ONS’s data contains at least some light at the end of the tunnel.

While 91% of people said their costs have increased over the last year, only 73% said they had increased over the last month – indicating households see think they are getting at least some respite.

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Funeral firm Dignity considers ‘fuel surcharge’ for cremations over high energy costs

Funerals group Dignity said it is considering introducing a surcharge on cremation services to cushion the impact of higher fuel costs, as it announced losses of nearly £50m.

The group, which owns more than 800 funeral locations in the UK, said its revenues shrunk by £8.6 million as a result of the lower death rate post-Covid.

There were almost 400,000 fewer deaths in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year, Dignity said.

It operated at a £48 million loss in the first half of the year, a big drop from the £41 million profit reported a year ago.

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Private renters desert Tories amid doubts over pledges of new powers for tenants

Private renters are deserting the Tories amid fears that Liz Truss will water down promises of new powers to challenge bad landlords, a poll says.

One in three tenants who voted for the Conservatives at the 2019 general election – a total of 400,000 people – now plan to vote for another party, the survey has found.

This so-called “rent wall” could deprive the Tories of key swing seats such as Hastings and Rye, Milton Keynes North and Gloucester, the analysis suggests, helping to force them out of power.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more:

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Employers urged to offer financial support to staff

Employers are being urged to offer financial support to their staff as new research suggested more than half of workers feel they are underpaid amid the cost-of-living crisis.

A survey of 2,500 workers by jobs site Indeed found that those in the health and medical industry, hospitality and leisure and the legal system were most likely to feel they were not paid enough.

Around one in eight of those polled said they have asked for a pay rise and one in 10% have applied for a new job.

The findings indicated that 25-39-year-olds, typically those with young families and in earlier stages of their careers with less savings, were feeling the pressure most of all.

Matt Burney of Indeed said: “While the world of work may have changed dramatically since the pandemic, pay remains the most important driver for workers, yet our report shows that many workers feel underpaid.

“This perception could worsen as high inflation continues to eat into people’s earnings and as the macro-economic situation appears less certain.

“Encouragingly for workers, we see signs that employers are responding to these challenges by offering a range of support from increased flexibility, overtime, vouchers and financial advice to increases in pay and benefits.

“With no end in sight for the rising cost of living, employers will need to carefully navigate financial viability with pay and support packages that balance fiscal and recruitment challenges over the months to come.”

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French government ‘worried about Britain’, Macron’s finance minister says

The French government is “worried” about the economic situation unfolding in Britain, Emmanuel Macron‘s finance minister has said.

Bruno Le Maire, chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng‘s opposite number across the channel, said the UK was paying the price for leaving the EU.

And he said the reaction to Friday’s budget showed the danger of making “dramatic” economic policy turns.

It comes after financial markets hammered the pound and government debt after the UK government announced sharp unfunded tax cuts.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more:

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Disabled people ‘skipping meals’ ahead of energy price cap hike, charity says

Ahead of tomorrow’s energy price cap hike, a disability equality charity has reported that disabled people are taking “drastic actions” such as skipping meals.

James Taylor, director of strategy at Scope, said: “Despite the government’s energy price guarantee, this latest increase still means a huge hike in prices for disabled people and their families, up and down the country.

“Energy costs have doubled in a year. We’ve been inundated with calls from disabled people who have cut back everything they can. They’re taking drastic actions like skipping meals, cutting back on washing and turning off fridges, and it’s still not enough.

“The price cap doesn’t cap how much people have to pay on their bills, and this increase will tip many people over the edge. The £150 disability payment won’t touch the sides.

“Life costs more when you’re disabled, but the new government chose to ignore that fact in last week’s budget.

“We need targeted support for disabled people to get through this crisis. The government should double the disability payment and provide another cost of living payment to those on the lowest incomes.”

Pound UK economy latest: Liz Truss to delay publishing full OBR forecast until November & Latest News Update

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