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Business briefing: Rishi’s meals discount sees inflation fall to 5-year low

CHEAPER meals under the Eat Out to Help Out scheme saw prices rise at their slowest rate in five years last month.

Inflation fell to 0.2 per cent in August — the lowest rate since December 2015 — from one per cent a month earlier, said the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The eating out scheme, introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured), ran from Mondays to Wednesdays, offering 50 per cent off food and soft drinks to the value of £10. State-backed discounts for more than 100million meals were claimed and inflation in the sector fell 2.8 per cent last month as a result — the first time it has been negative since records began in 1989.

Cutting VAT from 20 to five per cent for the hospitality and tourism sectors also helped lower inflation, said Jonathan Athow, of the ONS. The Consumer Price Index, used to track the cost of goods and services, revealed air fares fell in August for the first time on record — down 20.6 per cent year-on-year — as more Britons holidayed at home in the pandemic.

And the cost of clothes remained steady as retailers held off increasing prices for the autumn selling season.

Petrol prices dipped to 113.1p per litre against 128.3p a year earlier, and diesel was around 15p cheaper.

While the eating out scheme will have a one-month only impact on inflation, Samuel Tombs, at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said it would remain ‘comfortably below one per cent’ for the rest of 2020. ‘It’s likely firms in the services sector will have to absorb higher Covid-19 related costs,’ he added.

The Retail Prices Index, a separate measure of inflation, was 0.5 per cent last month, down from July’s 1.6 per cent.

A Jersey jungle of hemp as CBD sales shoot up

Clean and green: Dave Ryan, head of Jersey Hemp, is dwarfed by this year’s crop PICTURE: SWNS

HEMP growers in Jersey are about to harvest their biggest-ever crop for producing CBD oil.

The jungle of plants on the Channel Island will be used to feed growing demand for the cannabis ingredient, which does not get users high but is reputed to have health benefits.

The UK market is expected to be worth up to £1billion a year by 2025, and Jersey Hemp aims to cash in by investing in new equipment that will help increase its output five-fold. Boss David Ryan, whose plants grow up to 15ft, said the start of the season was ‘challenging’ but added: ‘We planted the main flower crop in June, and once that got established it has flourished.’

CV listening… song swings it for jobhunter

A TUNE knocked out by an unemployed dad has secured him a new role after he was turned down for more than 200 jobs. Richard Stevens (above) recorded a song about being judged on your CV and sent it to CareCube Solutions. The software firm was so impressed it offered him a marketing post. Mr Stevens, 54, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, said: ‘I kept believing.’ PICTURE: PA

BUSINESS BITES

■ THE boss of British Airways told MPs people are ‘afraid to travel’ as he defended a decision to cut 12,000 jobs. Alex Cruz said the pandemic had ‘devastated our business’ and the carrier is ‘fighting for survival’.

■ THE owner of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Famous Brands, is looking for a buyer for the chain, which had nearly 1,300 UK staff before the pandemic hit. Calveton UK, which owns rival Byron, is interested, according to Sky News.

■ HOUSE sellers have a 63 per cent chance of finding a buyer within four months if they get the price right, Rightmove research shows. That compares with 32 per cent if they ask too much and later offer a reduction.

■ TUI has agreed every customer whose trip was axed due to Covid will be refunded by September 30, after the Competition and Markets Authority found travel firms were yet to pay thousands of holidaymakers.

■ HORIZON NUCLEAR POWER has decided against building two plants after Japanese giant Hitachi pulled out. The plans would have created thousands of jobs on Anglesey, north Wales, and in South Gloucestershire.