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Live Reporting

By Katie Hope

All times stated are UK

  1. Evans sale a pre-pack


    Evans Cycles sale was part of a pre-pack administration.

    Like other retailers, Evans has struggled with the recent slowdown on Britain's High Streets that has led to the demise of brands such as Maplins and Toys R Us.

    High Street cycling retailers also face mounting competition from online rivals such as Wiggle, which have eaten into their market share.

    As first reported by Sky, Evans was thought to have needed at least £10m to keep up with obligations over the coming months.

  2. Bumpy ride for Evans

    Evans traces its history to 1921, when the first FW Evans Cycles shop opened in Kennington, south London.

    It was bought by private equity firm ECI Partners for £80m in 2015, but has had a bumpy ride since then.

    In April, the chain sacked its chief executive Andy King amid reports he had failed to turn the business around.

    Mr King, who joined Evans in November 2016 amid a profit slump, was replaced by Alan Fort - the firm's third new boss in two years.

    According to Companies House, earnings at Evans' parent company, April Topco, fell from £2.2m to £2m in the year to 28 October 2017. However, turnover increased slightly to £138.8m.

  3. Sports Direct buys Evans

    Evans bike shop

    Evans Cycles, the cycling retailer with 60 stores across the UK, has been sold to Sports Direct as part of a pre-pack administration.

    The bike chain had put itself up for sale last month as it sought fresh funding amid tough High Street trading conditions.

  4. General Electric sinks

    General Electric

    Unsurprisingly, one US stock not joining in the rebound is industrial giant General Electric.

    Its shares are currently over 5% lower

    The firm earlier slashed its quarterly dividend to just a penny a share, the second time in less than a year that it has cut it.

    It also said US regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission had expanded its ongoing investigations to include the firm's non-cash $22bn writedown in its power division

  5. US stock markets rebound

    US investors

    All three of the major US stock indices are currently higher, with some analysts attributing the rebound to investor optimism that the US/China trade dispute will be solved.

    President Donald Trump said earlier that he believed "a great deal" on trade can be struck with China, though he warned new tariffs were ready if a deal was not possible.

    The Dow is currently up 0.6%, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both trading 0.3% higher.

  6. Oil slips

    Oil being pumped

    The price of Brent crude oil has fallen to $75.09 a barrel, its lowest level since late August.

    Lingering concerns about the trade dispute between China and the US are weighing on the market while there also signs that supply could be increasing from the big producing countries of the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

  7. School funding still an issue

    school pupils

    Stepping away from the IFS briefing for now, to the issue of school funding.

    Teachers and parents have reacted with anger to Philip Hammond's announcement in the Budget that schools are to receive a one-off payment of £400m for "little extras".

    Steven George, a spokesman for the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), says "the dismissive way" the chancellor spoke about schools was upsetting.

    He says schools are now pinning their hopes on next year's Spending Review.

    "You can do anything in education if you have the money. It's very difficult to do anything if you don't.

    "Really it's only money from the Treasury which is going to solve the school funding crisis," he says.

  8. So is austerity over?

    Szu Ping Chan

    Business Reporter

    people on cash machines

    So the question you've all been waiting for.

    Is Philip Hammond right to claim that austerity is over? Overall spending on day-to-day public services is set to increase in real terms, per head and stay flat as a share of national income - so by this narrow definition the answer is yes, the IFS says.

    But the population is growing and demand for public services is unlikely to stay still.

    In this sense, the Treasury will probably need to find billions of pounds more in the coming years to keep up with population growth.

    Government departments that aren’t ringfenced (so outside the NHS, schools and international aid) also face further cuts.

    With a benefits freeze continuing and more welfare cuts in the pipeline, that suggests that the UK isn’t out of the woods yet.

    IFS economist Ben Zaranko says: “And that doesn’t sound too much like the end to austerity.”

  9. 'Health spending still faces cuts'

    Szu Ping Chan

    Business Reporter

    Medical staff

    Now to the main focus of Philip Hammond’s spending spree: the National Health Service.

    While the NHS was the big winner from the Budget, the IFS highlights a couple of points.

    The extra cash does not cover other areas of health spending. This includes funding for public health initiatives, medical research and training for medical staff. These will be set at next year’s Spending Review and could still face cuts.

    The IFS also highlights that it is important to put this spending boost in context.

    The NHS has enjoyed average annual spending increases of around 3.7% since its inception in the late 1940s. Under Labour between 1996 and 2010 the average annual increase was 6%. The Coalition government saw spending increases of around 1.1%, and there has been increases of 1.2% under the Tories so far. The IFS said current plans suggested average annual growth in real terms of around 2.6% with the funding boost.

  10. 'More cuts to come'

    Szu Ping Chan

    Business Reporter

    cartoon image of bag of cash

    The IFS says low income, self employed people and those with more than two children are among the biggest losers from recent welfare reforms, including the universal credit welfare rollout.

    While measures in the Budget to increase the amount people can earn before their benefits get withdrawn will help to ease the transition to the new system, the IFS says they will make only a modest difference to the overall benefits squeeze.

    There are also “quite a bit more” cuts to come. Many have only been partly implemented, with an average of £4bn a year in welfare cuts pencilled in over the next five years, the IFS says.

  11. An extra six million won't pay income tax

    Szu Ping Chan

    Business Reporter

    man on computer

    The IFS briefing has now moved onto personal taxes.

    It says that raising the threshold before workers pay income tax to £12,500 means an additional six million people won’t pay any income tax at all from next year, compared with if the thresholds had just increased along with prices from 2010.

    Raising the level at which the higher 40% income tax rate kicks in to £50,000 will take 300,000 out of the higher rate tax bracket. However, if the allowance was allowed to rise with inflation, there would actually be 900,000 fewer people in this bracket.

  12. 'Limited' benefit to investment allowance boost

    Szu Ping Chan

    Business Reporter

    The Budget increased the annual investment allowance, which enables businesses to offset spending on new equipment against their tax bill, to £1m, from £200,000.

    Helen Miller says that while this will encourage some businesses to bring investment forward, most already invest less than £200,000 - so the benefit may be limited.

    She also stresses that “stability in tax is important” and there is inevitably a trade-off if allowances constantly move around .

  13. Digital tax 'could cause problems'

    Szu Ping Chan

    Business Reporter

    Tech giant cartoon

    Helen Miller from the IFS says a new digital tax aimed at the tech giants does not do the job of “updating our system for the digital age”.

    While it will raise more cash from the giants, she says it will put high cost, high revenue businesses at a disadvantage and could cause more problems than it solves.

    She says an international agreement is “preferable but hard”, and says more needs to be done at the international level to address the problem of profit shifting by big companies.

    Ms Miller says this remains a difficult challenge.

  14. Hammond 'give away' - IFS

    Szu Ping Chan

    Business Reporter


    Thomas Pope, economist at the IFS, delves into where Philip Hammond’s borrowing windfall came from.

    He highlights that stronger tax receipts and an under spend by government departments had put the UK economy on a path where the deficit was “declining pretty quickly”.

    On its own, the UK would be borrowing just over £2bn in 2022-23 to plug the gap between revenues and spending. It was on course to eliminate the deficit the following year

    However, Mr Pope highlights that while the public finances enjoyed a £68.5bn underlying improvement, the Chancellor “decided to give it all away”.

    While spending eases the squeeze in government departments, it also leaves the public finances in a more precarious position in the longer term.

    For example, what happens to Britain’s debt share? Mr Pope says it could leave the economy less able to deal with “nasty fiscal shocks”.

  15. Tax changes benefit higher earners most - IFS


    Mr Johnson points out that changes in the Budget to the tax-free personal allowance will cost £1.4 billion by 2020-21 to fund.

    The allowance will rise to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000, taking more people out of tax.

    "That will mean the personal allowance will be 55% higher than it was back in 2009-10," he says.

    On average, he says the changes will benefit more than 30 million people by about £44 a year - although higher earners have most to gain.

    The typical higher rate taxpayer will gain £176 a year while the typical basic rate taxpayer will only get £24, he says.

  16. Universal Credit pledge 'small' - IFS

    Mr Hammond's pledge to make Universal Credit more generous is small "compared to the cuts to working age benefits introduced since 2015", Mr Johnson says.

    It is also "small relative to cuts still to come", he says.

    "Four years of benefit freezes, and the ending of family premiums and of payments in respect of third and subsequent children are a much bigger deal than this increase in work allowances," he adds.

  17. BreakingUS markets flat

    Amazon and Netflix have fallen as markets opened in the US.

    The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones are little changed at hte open.

    The Dow Jones rose 39.12 points, or 0.16%, to open 24,482.04.

    The S&P 500 opened 0.57 points lower at 2,640.68.

  18. NHS spending increase 'nothing historic'

    While proportionately, NHS spending is going up , in absolute terms there is "nothing particularly historic" about yesterday's Budget announcements on spending on health, Mr Johnson caveats.

    The IFS calculates spending is rising between 2.6% a year and 3.4% a year depending on how it is measured.

    "That compares with average increases of 3.7% a year over the NHS's entire history and a 6% a year over the period of the last Labour government".

  19. Higher NHS spending could mean tax rises - IFS


    Mr Johnson says the budget was about the NHS - and to maintain spending taxes will have to go up.

    "And as for working out what you can afford and then deciding on priorities, [the chancellor] has instead decided on priorities - NHS, NHS, NHS - before deciding total spending."

    Mr Johnson says health spending is set to rise from 29% of public spending in 2010 to 38% by 2023-24.

    "That's a remarkable increase. Other public services have been paying the price. At some point we will have to pay more tax if we are to continue to increase spending on the NHS like this."