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

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Metro mayors can help Labour return to government

Labour champions in the new city regions can help their party at the national level too.

2017 will mark the inaugural elections of directly-elected metro mayors across England. In all cases, these mayor and cabinet combined authorities are situated in Labour heartlands, and as such Labour should look confidently at winning the whole slate.

Beyond the good press winning again will generate, these offices provide an avenue for Labour to showcase good governance, and imperatively, provide vocal opposition to the constraints of local government by Tory cuts.

The introduction of the Mayor of London in 2000 has provided a blueprint for how the media can provide a platform for media-friendly leadership. It has also demonstrated the ease that the office allows for attribution of successes to that individual and party – or misappropriated in context of Boris Bikes and to a lesser extent the London Olympics.

While without the same extent of the powers of the sui generis mayor of the capital, the prospect of additional metro-mayors provide an opportunity for replicating these successes while providing experience for Labour big-hitters to develop themselves in government. This opportunity hasn’t gone unnoticed, and after Sadiq Khan’s victory in London has shown that the role can grow beyond the limitations – perceived or otherwise - of the Corbyn shadow cabinet while strengthening team Labour’s credibility by actually being in power.

Shadow Health Secretary and former leadership candidate Andy Burnham’s announcement last week for Greater Manchester was the first big hitter to make his intention known. The rising star of Luciana Berger, another member of Labour’s health team, is known to be considering a run in the Liverpool City Region. Could we also see them joined by the juggernaut of Liam Byrne in the West Midlands, or next-generation Catherine McKinnell in the North East?

If we can get a pantheon of champions elected across these city regions, to what extent can this have an influence on national elections? These new metro areas represent around 11.5 million people, rising to over 20 million if you include Sadiq’s Greater London. While no doubt that is an impressive audience that our Labour pantheon are able to demonstrate leadership to, there are limitations. 80 of the 94 existing Westminster seats who are covered under the jurisdiction of the new metro-mayors are already Labour seats. While imperative to solidify our current base for any potential further electoral decline, in order to maximise the impact that this team can have on Labour’s resurgence there needs to be visibility beyond residents.

The impact of business is one example where such influence can be extended. Andy Burnham for example has outlined his case to make Greater Manchester the creative capital of the UK. According to the ONS about 150,000 people commute into Greater Manchester, which is two constituency’s worth of people that can be directly influenced by the Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Despite these calculations and similar ones that can be made in other city-regions, the real opportunity with selecting the right Labour candidates is the media impact these champion mayors can make on the national debate. This projects the influence from the relatively-safe Labour regions across the country. This is particularly important to press the blame of any tightening of belts in local fiscal policy on the national Tory government’s cuts. We need individuals who have characteristics of cabinet-level experience, inspiring leadership, high profile campaigning experience and tough talking opposition credentials to support the national party leadership put the Tory’s on the narrative back foot.

That is not to say there are not fine local council leaders and technocrats who’s experience and governance experience at vital to Labour producing local successes. But the media don’t really care who number two is, and these individuals are best serving the national agenda for the party if they support A-listers who can shine a bright spotlight on our successes and Tory mismanagement.

If Jeremy Corbyn and the party are able to topple the Conservatives come next election, then all the better that we have a diverse team playing their part both on the front bench and in the pantheon of metro-mayors. If despite our best efforts Jeremy’s leadership falls short, then we will have experienced leaders in waiting who have been able to afford some distance from the front-bench, untainted and able to take the party’s plan B forward.