- Inflation update expected at 7am on Wednesday - here's what experts predict
- IMF dramatically upgrades outlook for UK economy
- Government borrowing sharply higher than expected
- UK house prices hit record level in May - Rightmove
- Your dilemmas: My employer has reduced my hours while I'm on maternity leave - is this allowed?
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Inflation update expected at 7am on Wednesday - here's what experts predict
Economists polled by the Reuters news agency see the annual inflation rate easing to 8.2% in April from the current 10.1%.
Electricity and natural gas prices leapt by 40.5% and 66.8% respectively in April 2022, data from Pantheon Macroeconomics showed. Comparatively, they held steady last month, which should impact the ONS figure released on Wednesday.
It is, however, only right to point out expert predictions have been too low in the previous two months as inflation remained unexpectedly in double digits.
What is inflation?
Inflation is the rate at which prices are rising.
It is currently through the roof at 10.1%, in large part because of global factors such as the Ukraine war, which has resulted in Russia squeezing its gas supply, leading to higher energy prices. The conflict has also seen tonnes and tonnes of Ukrainian grain stuck in ports, contributing to increased food costs.
For obvious reasons, governments want to keep inflation low - the target is 2%, and Rishi Sunak has pledged to get closer to that, 5%, this year.
But just because inflation comes down, it doesn't mean prices are. Anything over zero means prices are rising - we'd need deflation for prices to fall, and few people expect that to happen.
Bank of England admits it made errors in forecasting UK inflation
Bank of England policymakers faced criticism during a Treasury Committee meeting over the failure to predict a prolonged rise in inflation.
Conservative MP John Baron accused the Bank of a "woeful neglect of duty" in not bringing inflation close to its 2% target, which he said is causing "real pain" to households and businesses.
Huw Pill, the Bank's chief economist, acknowledged its economic forecasting models have led to mistakes.
He said: "We recognise our forecasts on inflation have been too low.
"We are trying to understand why we have made those errors, interpret those errors in terms of the behaviour, and make an assessment in terms of how it will continue."
It came as the Bank earlier this month revised its inflation expectations after saying food price inflation had been more stubborn than expected.
It previously thought the UK's Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation could fall as low as 1% by the middle of next year, but it is now predicted to reach about 3.4%.
Bank governor Andrew Bailey responded to criticism that the Bank had lost the confidence of the public over its economic modelling and interest rate decisions.
He said: "I think there are some very big lessons in how we operate monetary policy in the face of very big shocks. Because the shocks that we have faced have been unprecedented.
"I think there are big lessons about how we operate policy in that world - in a world of very big uncertainty."
'IMF keeps getting things wrong...'
Following on from the IMF forecast we told you about a short time ago, we have a video of data and economics editor Ed Conway asking the organisation's managing director how significant it is that they keep getting things wrong.
Watch what she said...
Government borrowing sharply higher than expected
The state borrowed nearly £12bn more last month than in April last year as it spent on energy schemes, higher benefits payments and paid billions more on interest rates, according to official figures.
Monthly borrowing increased to £25.6bn in April,up from £21.5bn in Marchand £13.7bn in April 2022, data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows.
This means the public sector, excluding public sector banks, spent more than it received in taxes and other income and borrowed the shortfall.
Read the full story...
IMF dramatically upgrades outlook for UK economy - but says more cost of living pain to come
Britain is no longer expected to suffer a recession this year, nor will it have the weakest economic growth in the group of seven leading industrialised economies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said today.
Unveiling a dramatic upgrade to its outlook for Britain, the Fund, which previously predicted Britain wouldface the worst 2023 of any G7 nation, said that in fact the UK would grow by 0.4% this year.
While this remains weak, it is nonetheless stronger than the 0.7% contraction previously forecast and stronger than the "near zero" growth rate the IMF has pencilled in for Germany.
Read Ed Conway's full story here...
More than £450m to refurbish schools still 'nowhere near enough'
More than £450m being spent on improving hundreds of school buildings across the country is the "bare minimum" and "nowhere near enough" to make the much-needed upgrades, education leaders have said.
The Department for Education (DfE) said 859 academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary aided schools will receive a share of a £456m pot to help refurbish and repair buildings.
And while it will help ensure pupils have safe, warm and energy efficient classrooms, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said it does not meet the cost of repairs.
"This is money allocated through an annual bidding programme to address significant needs in terms of the condition of school and college buildings and is most certainly not an example of government largesse," Geoff Barton said.
"It is the bare minimum and nowhere near enough to meet the cost of remedial work to repair or replace all defective elements in the school estate in England - which at the last count stood at £11.4bn."
The government said it has already invested more than £15bn in upgrading buildings since 2015.
Cheapest train tickets no longer available at stations - report
The cheapest train tickets are no longer available from station offices, with passengers forced to book online or use machines to get the best prices, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Buying advanced tickets, even just 10 minutes before a train's departure, can be as much as a third cheaper than standard fares.
But rail bosses have started barring office staff from selling them, the news outlet reports.
Rules preventing the sale of advanced tickets on-the-day were abolished in July 2017.
It comes as rail passengers have suffered a year of disruption due to strikes, with a dispute between operators, the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union, and Aslef still raging on.
Money-saving hacks: How to keep your children entertained on a budget
It's half-term for many children across the country next week, but it can be a stressful time for families who are trying to keep them entertained without breaking the bank.
We have compiled a list of fun things you can do for free with your children over the holiday (and even if you don't have kids, most of these will still be fun).
Many museums are free and offer good learning opportunities for children.
Some charge entry fees but are free on specific days, so it's worth checking before you go.
Helpfully, the excellent Money Saving Expert website has rounded up the free museums here.
In London, good child-friendly options include the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, which has a lot of interactive displays including a play area with a garden.
If your child loves trains, the National Railway Museum in York is a great option which allows visitors to pretend to ride locomotives.
Some museums run activity sessions or days when children can get involved in crafts, so look out for those.
If you've got bikes, go exploring.
There are lots of free cycling apps to help you plan your route, such as CycleStreets and Map My Ride.
Former railway lines across the country offer great off-road cycle trails.
Examples include Camel Trail in Cornwall, the Bristol to Bath Railway Path in Somerset and the Cinder Track, North Yorkshire.
Some adventure playgrounds offer free entry - like Markeaton Park's Play Centre in Derbyshire, Heartlands in Cornwall and Diana, Princess of Wales' Memorial Playground in London, which features a wooden pirate ship.
Cheap cinema tickets
Tickets for children are just £2.50 when they are accompanied by an adult in the Movies for Juniors offer at Cineworld.
At Vue, some morning screenings offer pre-booked tickets for both adults and children for just £2.49.
If staying at home is more suited to you, then why not try building a fort or a den with your children.
You could also try to learn a new skill together by watching YouTube tutorials and practising - this one on magic tricks is a good example.
Make it more interesting by putting on a show for other family members at the end of the week to give your little one something to look forward to.
Train passengers could lose free wifi
Wifi could be removed from train services to help the Department for Transport cut costs.
Having free wifi on-board is not a priority for passengers, the department claims, citing a survey by passenger watchdog Transport Focus.
The DfT says passengers prefer "value for money tickets, reliability, punctuality, and personal security".
Most train services offer free wifi, letting passengers use their phones, laptops and tablets without using up their data.
A DfT spokeswoman said the railways are "currently not financially sustainable, and it is unfair to continue asking taxpayers to foot the bill, which is why reform of all aspects of the railways is essential".
Continuing to provide wifi on many trains will require replacing or upgrading equipment installed in 2015, she added.
The review of access to wifi was first reported by railway historian Christian Wolmar on his Calling All Stations podcast.
Energy bills announcement coming on Thursday - and it should be positive news
The energy price cap is set to be updated on Thursday - here's what you need to know:
1/ The typical bill is currently capped under the Energy Price Guarantee at £2,500 - but this ends in June;
2/ Since it has been in operation the EPG has overridden the price cap - which has been (relatively) good news for households as the currently-redundant price cap is currently £3,280;
3/ Thankfully, due to falling wholesale costs, the price cap is coming down just in time for the EPG ending;
4/ The respected research specialist Cornwall Insight predicts the new cap will be £2,053 - bringing the typical bill down by around £450 a year from the start of July;
5/ Thursday's decision will set the cap from July to September - then another review will take place;
6/ Despite the fall, we'll still be paying £1,000 more than we were before the pandemic.
Also, it's not really a cap on bills
The price cap sets a limit on the amount suppliers can charge for each unit of gas and electricity used. It also sets a maximum daily standing charge (what you pay for your home to be connected to the grid).
The overall figure is not a limit on what your total bill can be - it only reflects "typical" usage. So if you use more energy, you will pay more. If you use less, you'll pay less.
The price cap affects customers in England, Scotland, and Wales. In Northern Ireland, suppliers can adjust prices when they want, as long as it is approved by the Utility Regulator.