Almost one year ago the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged the Chancellor George Osborne to abandon austerity and implement a so-called 'Plan B' to stimulate growth. However, as he prepares to head to the US this week, for the IMF's spring meetings, the Washington-based international lender is set to "upgrade the forecasts for the UK reasonably significantly", government sources expect, which Osborne will use to claim fresh vindication for his economic plan, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Amidst increasing confidence that the economic recovery is for real, finance chiefs at the UK's largest companies have turned the most bullish in six and a half a years. Now is a good time to take risk on the balance sheet 71% of them believe, according to the latest survey carried out by consultants Deloitte. A year ago that percentage was at just 34%. During the worst moments of the past financial crisis just 1% thought the same. The upshot is that business investment may now be set to take-off, writes The Times.
Consumer spending slowed down noticeably in March, exclusive figures obtained from Barclaycard show, growing by just 1.1% when compared with the year-ago period. That was the least in 14 months and the less than the rate of inflation. In fact, sales at shops actually fell by 0.3% - their worst performance in a year - while digital sales were sluggish, expanding by only 6.4%, the smallest gain since the end of 2011. The data covers half of all spending on both credit and debit cards, The Daily Mail says.
Telecommunications group BT has poached a Sky veteran in what amounts to a coup that may lead to increased frictions between the two outfits as they vie for broadband customers. Delia Bushell is to become Managing Director of BT's key sports and television division, following 14 years holding several top jobs at BSkyB and Sky Italia, according to The Times. Bushell's most recent responsibilities were as Chief Commercial Officer at Sky Italia, where she oversaw marketing and sales for its €2.5bn residential business.
The revolving door keeps turning at RBS. Soon after the departure of the group's Finance Director, Nathan Bostock, who is moving to Santander UK, investors are now eyeing who will replace Sir Philip Hampton, the current Chairman of the largely state-owned lender. It was thought that Hampton, who is expected to step down after next year's annual general meeting, might be substituted by either Sir Sandy Crombie or Brendan Nelson, two of the existing non-executive directors. However, Sir Sandy has played down speculation that he is in the running, The Scotsman reports.
Figures from Ombudsman Services show record increases in the number of complaints against energy firms. That follows closely on regulator Ofgem's announcement that it was referring the energy sector to the Competition and Markets Authority for a full-scale competition inquiry. In the first three months of the year those complaints rose by 224% when compared with the year-ago period, to 10,638, The Daily Mail reports.