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Inflation jumps, physical money nearing the end, immigration to prioritise skills, £150m film studio to launch

Inflation has reached its highest rate in six months, at 1.8%, after the price of fuel and energy rose over the course of the last year. The consumer prices index (CPI) which measures the rate by monitoring the price of consumer goods, was expected to come in at 1.6%, so this is significantly higher. Those two main rises pushed up the cost of heating homes in winter, and has also trickled through to the transport industry, according to the Office for National Statistics. But is inflation a good thing? Well, at a certain level it is: the Bank of England had a target of 2%. 

It is true that rising inflation decreases the real value of people’s savings, but it’s important to note that it does also decrease the real value of their debts, too. And Britain is in a particularly indebted condition at the consumer level, with credit cards and loans at near record levels. If you take out a mortgage at £300,000, and your wage level roughly tracks or exceeds inflation, then your earnings relative to your mortgage are higher, and the debt itself is getting smaller in terms of real value.

Campaigners have warned the new chancellor that cash could be dead, if he doesn’t take action to legally enshrine its existence. With the growth of things like Google Pay and Apple Pay, more and more people every year move to a near-cashless existence. If you live in a city and have a smartphone, it is possible to go weeks or even months at time never needing cash to get by. Authors of a review called the Access to Cash Review are concerned that around 8 million adults would struggle to get by if cash disappeared from society, especially since there may be a time when shops – if not legally prevented – might stop accepting cash altogether.

The group authoring the report is led by a former boss of the Financial Ombudsman Service, Natalie Ceeney, and they want more powers created for regulators to make sure banks are still providing easy ways for people to get and use cash. 

A new movie production studio is to be built in Reading, which will cost around £150m and is expected to create thousands of new jobs. The company behind it is called Blackhall Studios. They’re based in Atlanta and are behind Jumanji and Godzilla to name a couple. The plan is to have it built and operational as soon as 2022, and it comes amid a race for space among studios clamouring to make content to feed the TV and movie streaming boom that is upon us. Netflix was obviously first to the game, but then came Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, and a string of others are making their way to market in the coming years. 

It would seem the UK government wants to make sure the effects of this boom are felt in the UK, as it has been involved in trying to get a site secured. The project is pending planning permission, but it seems likely that with the government’s interest it will be granted.

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