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|SERVICES SECTOR STAGNATING Britian is on the cusp of sliding back into recession for the first time in a decade as a closely watched survey revealed that political uncertainty has damaged the services sector. Activity in the services industry which accounts for four fifths of national output, slowed almost to a halt in August, according to the monthly purchasing managers index from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply. The services PMI completes the set of surveys for August. The sectors reading fell to 50.6 from 51.4 in July and below forecasts for 51. Anything below 50 indicates contraction.
. MANUFACTURING SHRINKS British manufacturing shrank at the fastest rate in seven years last month as clients moved supply chains abroad because of fear of a no-deal Brexit and the weak pound drove up import costs.The purchasing managers index in August fell to 47.4 from 48 in July, far below forecasts. Its was the lowest since July 2012, any reading below 50 indicates contraction.
MORTGAGE DEALS RISE Monthly mortgage approvals rose to their highest level in two years last month but house prices remained subdued, in another sign that buyers are taking advantage of increasingly competitive borrowing rates. Bank of England figures show that approvals climbed to 67,306 from 65,506 in June, reaching the highest level since July 2017. Mortgages lending rose by £4.6 billion, the highest increase since March 2016.
SHOP PRICES FALLPrices in Britians shops fell in August amid a slowdown in consumer spending and a rise in promotional activity, according to a survey.Deflation deepened to 0.4% this month, compared with a 0.1% fall in July, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium and Nielsen, the consumer insights group. The fall was driven by prices for clothes, consumer goods and other non-food items, which fell by 1.5%, the fastest rate of decline since June 2018. Price increases for food slowed slowed to 1.6%, from 1.7% in July.
WAGES RISING AT FASTEST RATE Wages are rising at their fastest rate in more than a decade and the number of people in work has hit an official high. Average weekly earnings growth, excluding bonuses, went from 3.6% to 3.9% in the three months to June, compared with the same period last year, the Office of National Statistics said. This was the fastest growth rate since June 2008 and higher than the 3.8% figure forecast. The number of people in employment rose by 115,000 to 32.81 million, helped by the fact that the proportion of women aged 16 to 64 who are in work rose to 72.1%, the highest rate recorded.
CORPORATE INSOLVENCIES HIGHEST Corporate insolvencies have reached their highest level in more than five years as companies continue to show signs of financial distress. There were 4,321 company insolvencies between April and June this year, 11.9% more than in the same period last year and the highest quarter number since the beginning of 2014, official figure show.The increase was driven by company liquidations which occur when there is no prospect of rescuing a troubled business.There were also 400 administrations recorded in the second quarter, the second highest level in five years.
UK GROWTH DOWNGRADED The Bank of England has downgraded UK growth prospects for this year and next yer and warned that a no-deal Brexit would drive the pound lower, push up inflation and weaken the economy. The Bank cut its growth forecast to 1.3% in 2019 and 2010 from 1.5% and 1.6% respectively in its quarterly update. That would be the slowest expansion rate in a decade.
CONSTRUCTION SLOWDOWN The construction sector shrank for a third month in a row in July as Brexit worries hit building projects and concerns grew that the slowdown could infect other areas of the economy. The purchasing managers index based on the monthly survey of 150 construction companies regarded as a bellwether for the economic health, rose to 45.3 in July. Though this was up from 43.1 in the previous month, the weakest reading in more than ten years, it was still below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction.
SLOWING GROWTH Slowing growth had little impact on employers hiring plans in the second quarter of the year as the appetite for workers remained as strong as ever, according to the British Chamber if Commerce. Almost a third of companies surveyed, 30% said they hoped to increase their workforce in the next three months,"showing intentions to hire remain strong", the industry group said. That followed a strong quarter to June, when 67% said they had tried to recruit staff, up from 53% in the first quarter. The findings are striking because the economy is thought to have slowed to a standstill, or even contacted, in the second quarter.
ONLINE FASHION Growth in online fashion sales has slowed to its lowest rate on record. Year-on-year growth fell to 0.6% in the 12 weeks to June 2, compared with 8% for the same period last year and 6.8% the year before that, new figures from Kanter the market analytics company show.Offline sale continue to outstrip online sales, though at £5.5 billion compared with £2.1 billion. Traditional high street brands such as Marks and Spencer and Matalan have expanded their digital presence to compete with newer online players such as Asos, launched in 2000 and Boohoo, founded in 2006.