Bank of England Governor Mark Carney leads the bank's quarterly inflation report news conference at the Bank of England in London November 13, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Five questions answered on the Bank of England’s latest report

What is the Bank of England’s forecast for growth figures?

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said in the banks latest report that the UK economic recovery has ‘taken hold’. We answer five questions on this latest news.

What has instigated this more positive economic outlook from Carney?

The report co-insides with positive unemployment figures that show employment is at its lowest in three years  – Carney previously said he would not consider raising interest rates, currently at 0.5 per cent until the jobless rate falls to 7 per cent or below.

What’s the current jobless rate?

On Wednesday latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) it fell to 7.6 per cent, the lowest rate in more than three years.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 41,700 to 1.31 million in October.

There was also positive figures for youth unemployment with the number of jobless 16-to-24 year-olds falling by 9,000 to 965,000.

So, what is the Bank of England’s forecast for growth figures?

Growth for this year is forecast to be 1.6 per cent, up from 1.4 per cent previously.  Next year annual growth is expected to be 2.8 per cent, rather than the 2.5 per cent it predicted in August.

What else did the bank’s report say?

The report said: "In the United Kingdom, recovery has finally taken hold. The economy is growing robustly as lifting uncertainty and thawing credit conditions start to unlock pent-up demand."

When does the bank think unemployment will reach the magical 7 per cent figure?

The Bank said: "The MPC [Monetary Policy Committee] attaches only a two-in-five chance to the... unemployment rate having reached the 7 per cent threshold by the end of 2014.

"The corresponding figures for the end of 2015 and 2016 are around three in five and two in three respectively."

So, being optimistic unemployment could reach 7 per cent next year, two years ahead of the time frame given in August. 

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

Photo: Getty
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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.