United Kingdom

Asset managers including Blackrock Inc. and Schroders Plc are limiting institutional investors’ withdrawals from some UK property funds after a wave of requests to move money, Bloomberg News reported. Schroders’ UK Real Estate fund has deferred redemptions due at the start of October to as late as July 2023, which will give the £2.8 billion ($3.2 billion) fund more time to ensure it has enough cash to cover the payments, according to a statement on its website.
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British Prime Minister Liz Truss was forced on Monday into a humiliating U-turn after less than a month in power, reversing a cut to the highest rate of income tax that helped spark turmoil in financial markets and a rebellion in her party, Reuters reported. Finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the decision was taken with "humility and contrition", after some lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party reacted with fury to suggestions that public and welfare spending could be cut to fund tax cuts for the richest.
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Struggling British fashion retailer Joules Group on Thursday said that its turnaround plan, focused on boosting profitability, was making good progress, weeks after Next Plc abandoned plans to inject funds into the company, Reuters reported. Joules, which sells clothing, footwear and accessories, has been wrestling with finances as consumers turn cautious about spending as surging inflation has fed a cost of living crisis. British inflation was 9.9% in August and expected to rise further, with the cost of living crunch squeezing households' disposable spending.
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Prime Minister Liz Truss looked to reassure the British public and rattled investors that her plan to cut taxes wouldn’t lead to prolonged financial instability, arguing in a series of interviews on Thursday that the country had been buffeted by global shocks rather than her government’s reforms and that her policies would result in faster growth, the Wall Street Journal reported. “We had to take decisive action,” Ms. Truss told the British Broadcasting Corp. in her first public comments since the tax plan was presented last Friday.
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The Bank of England on Wednesday said it would buy U.K. government bonds with long maturities “on whatever scale is necessary” in an effort to restore order to the market after a large set of government tax cuts sent borrowing costs soaring, the Wall Street Journal reported. The furious selloff in U.K. government debt in recent days ripped through normally staid parts of the financial markets. Pension funds and insurers who hold financial derivatives tied to U.K. debt in particular faced the possibility of severe losses, according to analysts.
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Turmoil in British financial markets forced mortgage lenders to temporarily withdraw and reprice products for new customers on Monday, a real-world consequence of the market volatility thrown up by finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-budget last week, Reuters reported. Brokers said that the moves were likely just the start of a big shift in Britain's mortgage market. The country's largest mortgage lender Halifax said it was withdrawing its fee-paying mortgage products - where borrowers could pay an arrangement fee in exchange for a lower interest rate - and moving to a full fee-free range.
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Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Monday that the BoE "will not hesitate" to raise interest rates if needed to meet its 2% inflation target, and that it was watching financial markets "very closely" following sharp moves in asset prices, Reuters reported. Sterling fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar earlier on Monday in Asian trading, extending losses that had accelerated on Friday after finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng gave his first fiscal statement, promising big tax cuts.
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Britain's new finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng unleashed historic tax cuts and huge increases in borrowing on Friday in an economic agenda that floored financial markets, sending sterling and British government bonds into freefall, Reuters reported. Kwarteng scrapped the country's top rate of income tax, cancelled a planned rise in corporate taxes and for the first time put a price tag on the spending plans of Prime Minister Liz Truss, who wants to double Britain's rate of economic growth.
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A U.K. businessman is under investigation after claiming more than £500,000 in Bounce Back loans for 12 firms that later went bust, the Mirror reported. Sukhwant Singh Pahal used the Government scheme – set up to help small businesses survive the pandemic – to claim up to £50,000 per company. One of his firms, Beans Housing Ltd, also received £1.1million from Birmingham City Council in 2017 to accommodate the homeless. All 12 of Mr Pahal’s firms applied for voluntary liquidation in 2021 on insolvency grounds.
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As Britain goes through a period of vast change, with a new government and new monarch, the central bank is steadily increasing interest rates to try to keep high inflation from becoming embedded in the nation’s economy, the New York Times reported. The Bank of England raised its key rate by another half a percentage point on Thursday, to 2.25 percent, taking it to the highest level since late 2008, but disappointing some who thought it would have made a three-quarter-point move.
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