Weekly Digest – 25 October 2023

Welcome to our Weekly Digest – stay in the know with some recent news updates relevant to business and the economy.

Autumn statement: Government considers help for first-time buyers

The government is considering extending its mortgage guarantee scheme as part of measures to help first-time buyers in the upcoming Autumn Statement.  It is understood the Treasury is looking at making the scheme, which helps people take out a mortgage with a 5% deposit, available for another year.

Government borrows less than expected in September

Government borrowing in September was lower than most economists had expected but remains high, figures show. Borrowing – the difference between spending and tax income – was £14.3bn last month. The statistics come ahead of the Autumn Statement in November, but so far the chancellor has downplayed the possibility of any tax cuts.

New programme unlocks space technology for UK businesses

A new programme from the UK Space Agency has opened up the use of satellite data and services to businesses. The Unlocking Space for Business programme will encourage organisations – with a focus on finance, transport, and logistics – to use satellite data and services to expand and solve any issues the sector is facing.

U.K. Privacy watchdog can’t sanction Clearview AI, Court rules

The U.K.’s privacy watchdog doesn’t have the power to sanction Clearview AI, the U.S. company found to have harvested billions of British faces without consent, a court has ruled.

Getting ready for the AI economy: Microsoft’s commitment to digital skills in the UK

When it comes to future-proofing business, only a quarter (25%) of business leaders surveyed have plans in place to recruit the right talent to successfully implement AI across their organisations. Meanwhile just 26% have completed training to improve their understanding about how to use AI in their job. To address these challenges, Microsoft is expanding its UK skilling program, Get On, aiming to equip 1 million people with the skills needed to thrive in the AI-enabled economy.

Christmas economy to drop by £13bn ‘with half of UK adults reducing their spending this year’

Christmas 2023 is set to be one of the most frugal ever, with nearly half of UK adults (45%) planning to cut their overall spend. They will be reducing it by a significant sum – on average £280 less than last year. Across the UK this equates to around £13 billion* less being spent by consumers compared to Christmas 2022, suggesting that for many, the cost of living crisis is having even more of an impact than it was 12 months ago.

Stubborn UK inflation holds steady as petrol prices rise

British consumer price inflation (CPI) unexpectedly held at 6.7% in September, remaining the highest of any major advanced economy and keeping alive the possibility of another rise in interest rates. A rise in petrol prices between August and September was the main factor stopping a fall in the annual rate, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday.

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