Inflation Rate Drops to Three Percent 
Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown that the UK inflation rate fell last month to its lowest levels since February 2010; as a result of the slowdown in transport price rises and the timing of Easter.

The figures show that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure fell from 3.5 percent to 3 percent – its lowest figures since February 2010, when it was also at 3 percent – whilst the Retail Prices Index (RPI) also fell, from 3.6 percent to 3.5 percent, for the same period.

Following the release of the latest inflation rate figures, the Chancellor, George Osborne said that it was “a welcome relief to families with high budgets” adding: “The Bank of England expects the inflation rate to fall in the next year or so.”

His comments were partly supported by the TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, who agreed that the slower rate was "a relief to millions of people", but added that pay was still lagging behind.

Mr Barber said: “With earnings growing by just 0.6%, people are still getting poorer every month.

“We need falling inflation to be matched with far better pay rises to get people's incomes growing again. This will only happen when our economy is moving in the right direction.”

The drop in inflation rate, according to the ONS is partly as a result of the timing of Easter, whilst the cost of clothing – especially womenswear – and alcohol bought in off-licenses is also said to have helped contribute to the lower rates.

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Chancellor Urged to Introduce Thirty Percent Income Tax 
The Chancellor, George Osborne has been urged to cut taxes for millions of employees and businesses, in what is being described as a radical blueprint to “kick-start the economy”.

A report by the 2020 Tax Commission has called for Britain’s “extraordinary complex and punitive” tax system to be replaced with a “simple” thirty percent flat rate of income tax.

The 2020 Tax Commission believe that the “single income tax” would allow workers to keep thousands of pounds more of their earnings to spend in the High Street, helping to make the UK a global “hub” for trade.

Within the 400-page report, the 2020 Tax Commission suggest that the change to a flat-rate income tax of thirty percent, would result in roughly a £3,400 tax cut for a two-earner household with an income of around £28,000; and could lead to an 8.4 percent increase in the UK's gross domestic product after fifteen years.

Allister Heath, the chairman of the commission, said that a “single, much more reasonable” income tax could transform the UK’s economic prospects.

He added: “It is time for Britain to make a vital choice between tweaking the status quo and letting our economy continue to be crippled by complex and punitive taxes, and drastically changing course with a radical but realistic plan for a tax system fit for the 21st century.”

The report, which was released amid concern of the country’s stalling economy and vulnerability to the growing crisis in the Eurozone, has also recommended the Chancellor cuts fuel duty and looks at the abolition of National Insurance and Stamp Duty.


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Treasury Examines Growth Plan 
It has been revealed that the government is to examine plans to commit more than £20 billion of taxpayer money to infrastructure projects, in an effort to rekindle flagging economic growth.

With the government said to be desperately seeking “cost-free” ways of lifting growth that do not threaten the deficit and debt reduction plan, the Prime Minister revealed during a speech to the Institute of Directors that he has instructed the Treasury to consider using state guarantees “to boost credit for business, housing and infrastructure”.

The idea of using state guarantees to boost credit for business, housing and infrastructure would see private sector borrowing wrapped with state insurance, so that companies would be able to raise funds more cheaply to invest in projects that might otherwise have been uneconomic.

The Treasury have already used such a policy for its credit-easing plan to boost lending to small businesses and a Treasury source has said there was no reason why more taxpayer money could not be used on such schemes as the “contingent liability” only becomes a debt if the guarantee is ever called in.

During his speech, the Prime Minister described guarantees as a way of using “the hard-won credibility of the Government’s balance sheet to help the economy grow without adding even further to our debt”.


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State Pension Less than Minimum Wage 
Over six million adults are set to receive less than the minimum wage during retirement, according to figures released from a recent survey.

The State of Retirement Report which questioned 1559 UK adults over the age of fifty, has found that roughly 6.25 million people aged over fifty will rely solely on the state pension when the retire, because they have not saved.

At present 1.2 million people live solely on the state pension, with the average state pension currently being £9,672 a year when additional benefit income such as the additional state pension and the pensions credit is taken into account.

However, these figures are said to be well below the current minimum wage, and even if the government push ahead with plans to introduce a universal flat-rate state pension, which would be a weekly payment of roughly £140, the total state pension is said to still be under the minimum wage level.

A spokesperson behind the report, has said: “It is worrying that so many people are saving little or nothing for their retirement 'wages', instead expecting to fall back on the state pension.

“While working hard up to their retirement to bring home a decent wage, I'm sure many will be disappointed to retire with an income equivalent of less than the minimum wage.

“If more people reflected on their pension as a 'wage' that they will potentially be relying on for over two decades, they might feel more inclined to plan ahead.”

Along with finding that around twenty-eight percent of those surveyed plan to rely solely on the state pension during retirement, the report also revealed that fifteen percent c of those already retired, or within five years of retirement, had cut back on long-term saving over the last year. The average decrease was £296 a month or £3,552 a year, which equates to a total of £8.3 billion "lost" in retirement savings in the past year.

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UK Growth Forecast Set to be Cut 
Later today the Bank of England are set to release their inflation report, their first assessment of the economy since the country went back into recession.

In the last report from the Bank of England, the central bank forecast that GDP growth for the UK would be around 1.2 percent for this year and 2.8 percent for the following year; whilst inflation was predicted to hit its 2 percent target in the final quarter of 2012 and fall as low as 1.5 percent in 2013.

However, ahead of the report which will be unveiled later today, it is widely expected that Sir Mervyn King will cut the Bank of England’s forecast for the UK economic growth to 0.75 percent during 2012, with one economist saying: “The economy hasn't grown for six months, and the headline second quarter GDP data are unlikely to stray much above zero, even if the underlying picture is more robust.”

Along with cutting the forecast for GDP growth, the Bank of England are also expected to stick by their earlier expectations that inflation will fall to its target by the end of the year, despite inflation not falling as expected and the consumer price index rising to 3.5 percent in March.

Despite the figures are expected to paint a gloomy picture for the remaining months of the year, many economists are predicting that the downward revisions for next year will not be much lower than the 2.8 forecast in the last report.

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