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Prices set to rise for BT customers

Around 10 million BT customers are being told that phone and broadband prices are to rise by up to 6.5% in another blow to households struggling with soaring utility bills.

BT is hiking its prices from January 4, but denied the move was linked to its push into sports broadcasting.

The increases follow the group cutting the price of broadband to £10 for copper and £15 for fibre, and giving away BT Sport for "free" with broadband.

  • Line rental will go up by 54p, or 3.5%, a month to £15.99, and other prices such as set-up fees and price-per-minute rates will increase by around 6%.
  • The main calls packages BT sells now will remain the same price but existing customers on older tariffs will see a rise of around 6%.
  • The formerly free BT Answer 1571 and BT Privacy with Caller Display will cost £1.75 a month.
  • Broadband prices will increase by up to 6.5%, although the current broadband offers will remain at the same price including broadband and weekend calls for £10 and Infinity and weekend calls for £15.
  • Mobile calls will be unaffected.

Six carpet and furniture retailers under investigation

Six high street carpet and furniture retailers are under investigation for using artificially high prices to exaggerate sales and price cuts.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said it opened the investigation after finding that many retailers in the sector were misleading customers into thinking they were getting a bargain by artificially inflating the original price.

It found "systematic" examples of artificially inflated reference pricing within the industry, through the use of 'was' prices formerly charged by the retailer, 'after sale' prices that the trader intended to charge in the future, or recommended retail prices (RRPs) set by the manufacturer.

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CBI forecast for the economy

According to the CBI's latest outlook, the British economy will slowly improve over the next year:

  • Household spending in the second half of 2013 will slowly strengthen, and continue to do so through the following year.
  • Better spending power will coincide with a fall in inflation, a rise in disposable income and a stable labour market.
  • However, unemployment is likely to remain high over the medium term, falling from 7.8 percent in 2013 to 7.6 percent in 2014 as the number of hours worked increases.
  • Business investment will fall by 2.8 percent this year but grow by 7.3 percent in 2014.

British Retail Consortium: 'Growth figures are strong'

The British Retail Consortium has welcomed the latest growth figures describing them as "very strong".

British retail sales rose at their fastest annual rate in over two years in July, with the hot weather leading consumers to buy more food and outdoor products.

John Munro from the British Retail Consortium, told ITV News that the high street was offering the right deals to tempt consumers.

'People are spending more than they earn' in the shops

Leading economists have warmly welcomed the latest rise in retail sales, but caution that the rise is based on consumers spending more than they earn.

Real household disposable income is negative and going down, and this is basically telling you that people are definitely feeling the feel-good factor of the Help to Buy scheme pushing up house prices.

People are prepared to spend more than they earn. This is bad growth but I'd rather have bad growth than no growth.

– Alan Clarke, Scotiabank

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High street hopes for further growth in retail sales

Summer sales improved the retail figures in June Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

This month's retail sales figures will be released by the Office of National Statistics later, with the high street hopeful that the growth they have experienced over the past few months continues.

The British Retail Consortium says that many shops hope for a fourth consecutive month of growth.

The birth of Prince George, a heatwave and summer discounts have all been attributed to a rise in sales figures over the past few months.

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