The UK may have politically separated itself from most of continental Europe three years ago, but it doesn't stop our nearest cousins publishing opinions about us. The European Commission spring forecasts increased predictions of growth in the EU to 1 per cent, up from 0.8 per cent in February, with persistent inflation posing the greatest risk to the economy. However, Britain is forecast to face a contraction of 0.2 per cent this year. Estimates suggest it will continue to lag behind European economies in 2024 with a growth of 1 per cent compared to 1.7 per cent.
Well, they would, wouldn't they?
Paolo Gentiloni, Europe's economy commissioner reported that the economies of the EU countries are in better shape than previously predicted, whilst in Britain household real incomes continue to fall and consumption and external demand soften, while business investment remains weak. (Does it matter than Paolo's surname is an anagram for 'entoiling', a word meaning to ensnare?)
It can't have anything to do with the fact that in the UK unemployment is creeping up as the number of people not working due to long-term sickness rose to a new record and vacancies continued to decline in an early sign that the labour market is cooling. Official figures published yesterday (Monday 15 May) revealed that the jobless rate in Britain rose by 0.2 percentage points to reach 3.9 per cent, from a low of 3.7 per cent, in the first three months of the year. Of the total the number of people off work due to long-term sickness rose to more than 2.5 million.
Meanwhile, in local news, FRP Advisory says revenues and earnings are both on track to beat City expectations as the company prepares for increases across the restructuring and insolvency sector. It said that its revenues would rise by 9 per cent to £104 million for the year ended April 30 and that underlying earnings would increase by 5 per cent to £27 million. FRP increased its share of the market from 13 per cent to 14 per cent, but still warned that activity had been below pre-pandemic levels for much of the year.