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Credit rating agency upgrades UK's economic outlook

A key credit rating agency has upgraded its opinion of the future prospects for the UK economy in light of its "robust and broadening" recovery.

Standard & Poor's (S&P) affirmed its top AAA rating on British sovereign debt and said it was switching its outlook from "negative" to "stable".

S&P upgraded the UK economy from 'negative' to 'stable' in light of its 'robust and broadening' recovery. Credit: Mike Egerton/PA Archive/Press Association Images

S&P has forecast growth of nearly 3% this year and 2.5% in 2015, saying it did not think fast-rising London house prices posed a risk to stability and that future rises would be "more contained".

But it warned that the rating would be at risk should Britain vote to leave the EU in the in/out referendum promised by David Cameron if the Conservative Party wins the next General Election.

IMF: UK doing well but 'no room for complacency'

The head of the International Monetary Fund has welcomed the UK's economic progress over the last year but warned of major risks that remain.

Delivering the IMF's annual report on the state of the British economy, Christine Lagarde said that "the news coming out of the UK has been pretty much all good".

She pointed to the UK's growth rate being the highest of the advanced economies, along with signs that the economy is "rebalancing" towards a more investment-driven economy.

Christine Lagarde speaking at the Treasury on the state of the UK economy.

However, she also identified two major risks to Britain's prosperity - weak productivity and the the rapid rise of house prices.

"There is no room for complacency as there are risks looming on the horizon," Ms Lagarde said.


Profits up at taxpayer-owned UKAR

Profits have risen at UK Asset Resolution, the company set up by the Treasury to take on the unwanted mortgage book from Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley.

ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills is following developments.

South of England has 'most underpaid workers'

The three constituencies with the most workers earning less than the living wage are all in the south of England, according to figures from the TUC.

They are:

  • Kingswood, near Bristol has 48% of constituents working for less than the living wage.
  • London's Chingford and Woodford Green have 43.4% of constituents working for less than a liveable wage.
  • Harrow West had 42.4%.
  • However, other London constituencies had the lowest number of underpaid workers. In Poplar and Limehouse on 5.6% of the population earned less than £8.80 per hour.
  • Runneymede and Weybridge had only 5.8%.

'Almost half' of jobs in some parts pay under living wage

Almost 50% of the jobs on offer in some parts of the UK are paying less than the living wage, according to data from a leading trade union.

Inner London and some parts of Surrey had the lowest number of underpaid workers. Credit: PA

The TUC said a breakdown of official figures showed around 20% of workers were taking home less than the living wage for the area they lived in.

However, in some constituencies this rose to 50%.

The TUC said this amounted to five million people working for less than the living wage, with some of the worst offending areas in parts of outer London.

The living wage comes in at £8.80 per hour in London and £7.65 for the rest of the country.


Osborne declares 'full employment' fight commitment

Chancellor George Osborne has declared his commitment to fight for "full employment" in Britain.

Speaking to workers at Tilbury Port in Essex, he said his "ambition" was for Britain to achieve the highest employment rate of any of the developed nations of the G7.

Lamont 'not uncomfortable' with employment pledge

Former Conservative chancellor Norman Lamont has told ITV News he is "not in any way uncomfortable" with George Osborne's comments that mass unemployment would never be a price worth paying.

Lord Lamont famously said in 1991, "Rising unemployment and the recession have been the price that we've had to pay in order to get inflation down, but that is a price worth paying".

Osborne: Creating public sector jobs 'doesn't work'

The Conservative government won't seek to lower the unemployment rate by creating "artificial" public sector jobs, which ended up destroying employment as public spending spiraled out of control, says George Osborne.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne chats with a docker. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

"You end up with more people unemployed instead of less. Then the politicians who make these guarantees get into a panic. So unemployed people are pushed on to sickness benefits to hide the real numbers," he said.

Read more: Osborne: Tory government targets 'full employment'

Osborne: 'Ambition for highest employment rate in G7'

George Osborne has stated that it's his ambition for the UK to have the highest employment rate than any G7 country.

He also stated in his recent speech that the Conservatives are aiming for "full employment" in Britain.

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