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Hastings is to host a European Union seminar on Friday 7th October at St Mary in the Castle, the fantastic former church, now a thriving arts venue, on the seafront.

Attended by members of the ‘Committee of the Regions’, the event has been organised by Cllr Emily Westley, the second vice-president of the ‘NAT’ commission. Emily said :- “I was delighted to be asked to arrange this seminar, and am looking forward to welcoming delegates from across Europe to Hastings later this week. There will be presentations on Hastings over the years and the impact of the Common Fisheries Policy, and on the Hastings Fisheries Local Action Group, followed by a discussion on investment and employment in coastal towns.”

The seminar, which runs from 0900 – 1230 on Friday, is open to members of the public and the media, and you are welcome to attend, or send a representative.

 

Hastings has been awarded a second European Union funded grant to help improve housing conditions in the town, this time in St Leonards. The first project, ‘Climate Active Neighbourhood’, was approved earlier this year for the Ore Valley area.

In Hastings, partners include Hastings Borough Council, Amicus Horizon, and Energise Sussex Coast.

SHINE (Sustainable Houses in Inclusive Neighbourhoods) includes 15 partners from France, Belgium, the Netherlands as well as the UK, with Brighton & Hove City Council also participating. The funding is from the Interreg 2 Seas Programme.

The total value to Hastings, at current exchange rates, is around £1.77m.

Cllr Kim Forward lead member for housing at Hastings Borough Council, said:

“This is excellent news for the town. It will benefit particularly disadvantaged parts of St Leonards by tackling fuel poverty through introducing carbon dioxide reduction and low carbon technologies. The project will target residential areas where housing quality is poor and less energy efficient, particularly in the private rented sector but also include those who own their homes as well as local residents in social housing.

“The project includes energy efficient improvements to 200 homes, an energy advice ‘pop-up’ service, campaigns to improve energy efficiency, provide energy advice, and energy kits or smart meters to 600 homes.

“Local residents and tenants will see real benefits from the project because of lower energy bills, while everybody will benefit in the long term through a reduction in our carbon footprint. This really is a win win scheme, and I am delighted that we were successful in winning this funding. I look forward to seeing the promised improvements.”

 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently published a report about the importance of the European Union (EU) to UK trade and investment along with supporting graphs and figures.

The European Union (EU) was first formed in 1993 and over this period of time, it has become larger than any individual economy in the world. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) surpasses even the USA’s, this happened in 2003, which was the first time since 1998. Growth in the non-EU economies has outpaced growth of EU economies, which means that the EU’s share of global GDP has fallen to 24% in 2013, from 30% in 1993. However, this was largely driven by such strong growth in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies.

In 2014, the EU accounted for a total of 44.6% of UK exports of goods and services as well as 53.2% of UK imports of goods and services even though there have been changes in the composition of the global economy. The UK has traditionally had strong trade links with the EU and the rising economic growth in other developing economies outside of the EU has therefore, resulted in non-EU economies growing and becoming more important to UK trade.

Between the years of 1999 and 2014, exports from the UK to EU and non-EU countries have grown, on average, by 3.6% and 6.5% respectively. The EU has fallen down with UK exports from 54.8% in 1999 to 44.6% in 2014 and this is because of the stronger export growth to non-EU countries. The good news is that the growth in value of UK imports of goods and services from EU and non-EU countries is still growing; the average growth is between 4.7% and 5.5% respectively in each year since 1999.

The UK’s overall trade balance with the EU is gradually deteriorating because of the faster growth in the value of UK imports compared to exports with the EU. The trade deficit has widened and reached £61.6 billion in 2014 compared with £11.2 billion in 1999. This is a big difference and over time, the question begs whether this could rise again.

Goods that were imported by the UK from the EU have risen by 4.9% per year on average and this can be compared to exports, which have risen by 2.5% per year and therefore, this caused the UK’s trade in goods deficit with the EU to rise to £77.0 billion. This shows how goods and services largely dominate UK trade with the EU and in 2014 the ONS found that trade in goods represented close to two-thirds of all UK exports to the EU, as well as over three-quarters of total UK imports from the EU.

The UK’s trade in services balance with the EU is quite favourable as it has continued to run a surplus in each year since 2005, which reached £15.4 billion in 2014. Services exports have played a big role in the growth of UK exports of goods and services to non-EU countries, as they have grown at a faster rate than imports. Over the past three years, the UK has run an overall trade surplus with non-EU countries and it has reached £27.8 billion in 2014.

Find the full report here.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has stated that the UK should hold its EU referendum soon.

Businesses may delay making investments while there is uncertainty over the future of Britain in the EU, analysts fear. David Cameron has promised to vote on whether the UK stays in the EU by 2017. He also said that it was in everybody’s interest to resolve the uncertainty.

Investment in technology may be on the down low as companies may not be investing as much as they otherwise would do because of the wide pool of available workers.

Mr Carney said that older people willing to work and workers seeking more hours added 500,000 to the labour force over the past two years. Adding to this, migrant labour expanded the workforce but its impact was only a tenth of the size, according to the governor. He also told the BBC’s Today programme that he would reduce the argument that foreign workers were to blame for lower productivity and as the number of jobseekers falls, attention will flip to productivity.

During the global economic crisis, the UK’s level of productivity per worker fell and from this, productivity levels have taken longer to recover than expected. Inflation was 0% in March for a second month in a row, which is well below the Bank’s 2% target.

The UK might fall into deflation next month, said Carney, but inflation is expected to pick up towards the end of the year.