Why white van man might celebrate with a trendy gin

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The proposed National Insurance contribution hike for self-employed will not go ahead

The brouhaha paid off. White van man triumphed.

The proposed hike on National Insurance contributions for the self-employed is no more.

This will not only have dented the chancellor’s pride – it has created a £2bn hole in his Budget too.
Philip Hammond’s Budget left in tatters.
For a man for whom living beyond his means is anathema this is undoubtedly going to hurt.

Meanwhile proposed cuts on welfare and disability – cuts which will lead to millions of the most vulnerable in society being worse off come April – go ahead as planned.

Given the likely Brexit-related Treasury purse-tightening ahead, does this suggest that those with least voice will bear the brunt of cuts?

And if so, how does that gel with the prime minister’s commitment to those who are Just About Managing – the JAMS?
What other Budget U-turns have there been?
Unemployment figures look rosy, but below the headlines lies a darker tale.

The rate of unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since 1975.

There were 92,000 more jobs in January than there were three months previously.

This is clearly good news. But look below the surface and the story is less rosy.

Wages are growing at a slower rate than expected – a 1.7% increase from Jan 2016 to Jan 2017.

Given that inflation is already at 1.8% and expected to rise even more what this means is that people are likely to be significantly worse off in real terms by end of the year.

Then there’s the question of what’s been driving the rise of those in work? Turns out it’s the self-employed – almost three times as many of these 92,000 news jobs are self-employed rather than employees.

This suggests both that it’s relatively insecure work driving the jobs increase and that firms remain cautious about taking on new staff.
Almond milk in. Menthol cigarettes out – Britain’s changing tastes to be reflected by ONS.

It’s always interesting to look at the Office for National Statistics’ annual update to the UK’s inflation basket as a barometer of the UK’s lifestyle shifts.

The popularity of vegan diets mean non-dairy milk made it into the basket for the first time.

The popularity of specialist small batch gins – gin is now trendy – means the return of that spirit after a long absence.

Jigsaws are in – thanks to their increasing popularity with adults.

Does this mean we will see colouring books, which have had a similar renaissance of late among adults, in the basket next year?

Last updated Wed 15 Mar 2017