Double Dip Looming? 
Shares in British banks fell to their lowest levels in more than two years yesterday and Wall Street had its worst day in a week, as higher-than-expected inflation and the lowest level for the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank (Philly Fed) business survey since March 2009 stoked fears of another recession.

Shares in Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS fell to levels last seen in early 2009 with Barclays and RBS down more than 11 per cent.

The FTSE 100 index ended the day down 4.5 per cent, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.68 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 5.22 per cent.

Analysts agree that the global uncertainty in the markets and worries about growth and the Eurozone crisis have all contributed to talk of a double dip. Grant Lewis Head of Economic Research at Daiwa Capital Markets said:

"People are nervous about the outlook for the global economy. Every piece of economic data that has come out recently has been weaker than expected."

Market worries centre on the ability of European banks to fund dollar assets after it was revealed an unnamed bank had tapped an emergency European Central Bank lending facility for $500m (£303m), the first time the window has been used in over a year.

And officials at the New York Federal Reserve are said to be "very concerned" at the funding difficulties facing European banks.

As investors start looking for safe havens for their cash, the price of gold continued to rise, hitting a new high of 1,826 an ounce.

Adding to fears of another recession, a survey of US Mid-Atlantic factory activity by the Philly Fed showed a decline in August to its lowest level since March 2009. Economists at Morgan Stanley slashed the outlook for global growth and said the US and the Eurozone are "dangerously close to recession."

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Unemployment Rate Rising 
Figures published yesterday by the Office For National Statistics (ONS) showed that the unemployment rate rose to 7.9 per cent in the three months to June, meaning that the number of people unemployed rose by 38,000 to 2.49 million in the quarter.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance also rose, by 37,100 to 1.56 million in July, its biggest increase in over two years. The number of people claiming has now risen for five straight months.

However, the number of people in work rose by 25,000 to 2.97 million. But the jump was partly due to more people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job. According to the statistics, around 83,000 more people had no choice but to take part-time work, reaching 1.26 million on the quarter, which is the highest figure since records began.

The figures also showed that youth unemployment rose by 20 per cent on the previous quarter and the level of unemployed women rose by 21,000 to 1.05 million, which was the highest figure since May 1988.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the latest data revealed "a worrying rise in unemployment".

"But he then added: Given the government's programme to reduce the deficit, the figures are not altogether surprising. We expect unemployment to increase by 150,000 over the next year or so, peaking at around 2.6 million."

And other industry experts agreed that the figures were not totally unexpected. John Salt, Director at job site Totaljobs said:
“Following the recent decline in output in the UK manufacturing industry, the rise in unemployment, unfortunately, does not come as a major surprise."

And Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director General said that there had been some good news in the ONS figures such as the half million new jobs created in the private sector in last year and the rise in the number of people in work.

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New Enterprise Zones Announced 
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a second wave of enterprise zones designed to kick-start the UK’s economy. These new zones follow on from the 11 announced in March, which included areas in most of the country’s major cities.

This time the successful bids include Daresbury Science Campus in Warrington, the Humber Estuary Renewable Energy Super Cluster and Newquay Aerohub in Cornwall.

Ministers said that 30,000 new jobs would be created by 2015 in the zones by giving cheaper business rates, superfast broadband and lower levels of planning control. Cutting red tape was another part of the Government’s plan for growth.

Mr Cameron said: “We are determined to do everything we can to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

“Enterprise zones are a major step towards delivering this, cutting business taxes, easing planning restrictions and giving business the tools they need to invest and expand.

“These new enterprise zones will be trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity throughout the country.”

And speaking of the job creation the zones will bring, Chancellor George Osborne said:

“They will benefit from over £150 million in tax breaks over four years, new superfast broadband, lower levels of planning control and the potential to use enhanced capital allowances.”

When the idea of 21 Enterprise Zones across the country was announced, Business Secretary Vince Cable said that they would give businesses simpler planning rules and more generous treatment in respect to business rates and capital allowances.

And the scheme has been compared to similar initiatives in the 80s and 90s, which saw the transformation of London’s Docklands, amongst other sites.

However, when the initiative was first announced in the March budget, critics were not convinced that the zones would be successful, which can only be tested with time.

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Digital Help For Small Business 
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and BT Business announced the continuation of their six-year partnership yesterday that will focus on supporting small and medium-sized businesses, helping them grow and become more competitive.

There will be ten events across the UK to help businesses keep ahead with the latest technologies. At the events SMEs will have the chance to speak to industry experts, who will discuss ways of generating new business, improving efficiency and productivity in addition to controlling costs and improving customer service.

The British Chambers of Commerce is campaigning to make 2011 a Year for Growth and ensure businesses are given the right environment to thrive and grow. And BT Business showed its support for this theme by emphasising how technology can help businesses to meet the ever-growing demands and expectations of their customers.

Nigel Stagg, managing director of BT Business, said: “Our own recent survey showed that small businesses can’t work effectively without their broadband link for more than two hours, which demonstrates how fundamental technology has become.

Business people told us they are focusing very sharply on their costs and productivity. One bright spot is that customers are paying half the price for twice the broadband speed compared to three years ago, as a result of a highly competitive market.”

Mr Stagg went on to say that new technology standards emerge on a regular basis, so keeping old or incompatible technology can be a “costly mistake.” Consequently, examples at the events will include solutions like the latest communication systems and broadband technologies that support business growth.

David Riches, Director of Operations at the BCC says: "We have been campaigning to ... restore confidence in the small- and medium-sized companies that will drive Britain’s future growth.

“BCC member businesses will be able to benefit from BT's expertise in driving success in website design and other online and print-based marketing solutions,” he added.

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Small Businesses To Receive Help In The Aftermath Of The Riots 
In reaction to the damage caused by the rioting last week, the Government has announced a number of measures to help businesses affected by it, including a £20 million fund for small firms and a pledge to help uninsured businesses.

And HMRC has set up a special helpline for businesses caught up in the aftermath. Those affected can use the helpline to take advice on agreeing payment schedules, if they are unable to pay their tax bills due to short-term financial difficulties, and to discuss practical solutions where businesses and individuals cannot meet their other obligations to HMRC in cases, for instance, that have seen records lost or destroyed.

HMRC has said that it will deal “sympathetically” with affected businesses and, whenever possible, there will be a review of any penalties imposed and that additional surcharges that would normally be triggered by missed deadlines will be withheld.

The scheme will probably operate along the same lines as the Business Payment Support Service, called Time To Pay (TTP), which was introduced in 2008 to help firms hit by the recession.

In reaction to the news, John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"Small firms are still reeling from the shock of the last week and are trying to pick themselves up from the damage caused... we are glad to see that insurance deadlines and the Time to Pay scheme have both been extended.”

"The announcement that Government will support businesses through the high street support scheme, suspension of business rates payments for affected businesses and help for uninsured firms, is welcomed by the FSB. At this time, it is also vital that people keep trade local to support their communities so that businesses can get up and running again," Mr Walker added.

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