3rd February 2022
Bite-sized business news from the UK and beyond
Good morning Private jet owners beware – a teenager from Florida who has been tweeting the location of Elon Musk’s jet has set his sights on tracking the movements of other wealthy people. 19-year-old Jack Sweeney was offered $5,000 by Musk to stop his @ElonJet Twitter account but has instead created others to follow the likes of Drake, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
Gov finally unveils levelling up plans
Amazon adds 25,000 to UK workforce
ECONOMYGov finally unveils levelling up plans
What’s going on?Over two years after announcing that it would “level up” the UK by closing the gap between rich and poor, yesterday the Conservative government unveiled details of how it would do this.
Why is this important?
The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. In 2016, the Office for National Statistics calculated that the richest 10% of households held 44% of all wealth. Compared to the poorest 50% who own just 9%. There is also a clear economic divide between the North and South with unemployment in the North 19% higher than the rest of the country.The gap between the top and the bottom has widened in the past two years as owners of property and stocks have benefited from soaring asset prices while wage growth has been lower in comparison.All this was why Boris Johnson put levelling up at the heart of his 2019 election manifesto. But up until yesterday the actual detail had been lacking.The government levelling up package includes plans to close the standard of living divide by 2030 by:
Improving the standard of public transport for the whole country to that of London.
Delegating Westminster powers to the regions by creating regional mayors.
Redeveloping derelict urban sites in 20 towns and cities to create better jobs.
Providing most of the country access to 5G broadband.
Eliminating illiteracy and innumeracy in primary school leavers.
Improving services such as education, broadband and transport are clear ways that should help close the gap between the richest and poorest and grow the economy. But what seems to be missing from the government’s plan is the funding to make it happen. This, perhaps, is not too surprising given the state of public finances with national debt at the highest level since the 1960s.But without firm spending plans “levelling up” could end up being another unfulfilled manifesto promise.
RETAILAmazon adds 25,000 to UK workforce
Amazon’s quest for world domination is making good progress, in the UK at least.The internet giant hired 25,000 Brits last year -15,000 more than forecast - increasing its UK workforce by almost 50% to 70,000. Most of the increase came from expanding its fulfilment centres as it kept up with the pandemic-related boom in online shopping.The company also announced plans to recruit 1,500 apprentices this year in publishing, retail and marketing schemes.Since opening its first British fulfilment centre in 1998 Amazon has rapidly expanded. Amazon says it has invested £32bn in the UK since 2010. It now generates over £20bn in sales from the UK alone making it the Amazon’s third biggest market behind Germany and the US.From humble beginnings selling books, the company has expanded into food retail opening 15 till-free Amazon Fresh stores in London.It plans to open around 200 across the country in the next two years as it takes on established supermarkets in the £205bn UK grocery market.
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