Press Round-Up Short (Premium)
UK banks are preparing a code of conduct for pursuing businesses that default on taxpayer-backed coronavirus loans, amid industry estimates that up to eight out of 10 borrowers could fail to repay in full. The Guardian understands that the industry lobby group UK Finance and the state-owned British Business Bank have kicked off talks with commercial lenders in an effort to set industry-wide debt collection standards well ahead of repayments falling due. – Guardian.
Radical plans to give all adults £500 and children £250 in vouchers to spend in sectors of the economy worst hit by the Covid-19 crisis are being considered by the Treasury. The proposals, drawn up by the Resolution Foundation think tank, which has had recent talks with the Treasury about its ideas, are aimed at kickstarting economic recovery by triggering a highly targeted surge in spending. Under the plans the vouchers could only be spent in certain sectors, such as hospitality and “face to face” retail, as opposed to online.
English holidaymakers will be able to visit Spain, Italy, France and Germany without having to quarantine for 14 days on their return and travel restrictions on up to 60 other countries and territories are also set to be lifted. The government’s rule change will come into effect on 10 July with the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, describing it as a major step in “reopening the nation”. – Guardian.
More than 6,000 retail jobs were cut from the UK high street on Wednesday as the full impact of the pandemic on the high street – combined with the wind-down of the government furlough scheme – starts to emerge. The latest job losses – from retailers ranging from Harrods to Philip Green’s Arcadia group and SSP, the company behind hundreds of railway and airport eateries – bring the total cuts announced this week to more than 10,000. – Guardian.
Britain and Brussels have each accused the other of holding up a decision on the City of London’s ability to do business in EU markets from next year, prolonging the financial services’ state of uncertainty about the future. Both parties had agreed to complete assessments of the other’s regulatory regimes for financial services by Tuesday 30 June, with the expectation that they would deemed “equivalent”, allowing business to continue in the new year. - Guardian.
The chancellor is expanding a £500m fund for UK startups hit by the coronavirus crisis, to ensure firms that shifted their headquarters abroad can still access the scheme. The Future Fund will now benefit companies that are seen as British in all but name, having moved their parent company to tap US investors or take advantage of so-called accelerator programmes. Accelerators like US-based Y Combinator often ask firms to set up a US entity in order to access financing, mentorships and expert networks overseas.
The biggest job creation package in peacetime is needed to prevent the worst unemployment crisis in Britain for a generation, a leading thinktank has warned. Sounding the alarm as job losses mount, the Resolution Foundation called on the government to continue subsidising the wages of workers in the sectors of the economy hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis until at least the end of next year. - Guardian.
Britain is on a "knife edge" and likely to see an increase in coronavirus cases by July, a Government adviser has warned. Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said he was concerned that there will soon be a surge of new infections caused by lockdown restrictions being eased towards the end of May. - Sunday Telegraph.
Consumers are being warned about a sharp rise in coronavirus-related holiday scams, including a spate of fake caravan and motorhome listings targeting those planning a summer staycation. The warning from UK Finance, the banking industry body, comes three days after the government announced an easing of the lockdown rules in England aimed at helping to get the tourism sector back up and running. - Guardian.
Labour has warned Rishi Sunak that the Treasury’s one-size-fits-all approach to ending wage subsidies risks a period of mass unemployment that will reverse much of the good done by the furlough. Writing for the Guardian, the shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, called on Sunak to use his planned summer statement next month to extend financial support to vulnerable sectors beyond the October deadline for winding up the scheme. - Guardian.
Bars, restaurants, hairdressers and churches face a minefield, privacy campaigners have warned, after the government instructed them to record people’s contact details in case they need to assist with test-and-trace efforts. From 4 July, hospitality businesses and other venues in England will be able to reopen. To minimise customer contact, restaurants will be limited to table service inside, Boris Johnson said on Tuesday, and will be asked to help NHS Test and Trace “by collecting contact details from customers, as happens in other countries”.
The White House’s stance on China was thrown into confusion on Monday night after trade adviser Peter Navarro announced a trade deal between the two countries was “over”, only to be quickly contradicted by Donald Trump. Navarro told Fox News the “turning point” came when the US learned about the coronavirus only after a Chinese delegation had left Washington following the signing of the phase one deal on 15 January. – Guardian.
The former chancellor Alistair Darling has urged the government to consider an emergency cut in VAT amid growing speculation that the Treasury will make a tax cut on consumer spending the centre of a plan to boost Britain’s post-Covid-19 recovery. Rishi Sunak will announce a package of measures in early July intended to help those sectors of the economy, such as retailing, recover from the impact of a three-month lockdown. - Guardian.
Boris Johnson is poised to announce a new "one metre plus" rule for all venues, including shops, restaurants, schools, offices, and parks, in an overhaul designed to unlock swathes of the economy. The move, which would take effect from July 4, is understood to entail allowing people to remain a metre away from others if they take additional measures to protect themselves, such as wearing a mask or meeting outdoors. In restaurants, pubs and bars, firms will be expected to introduce measures such as partitions between tables that are less than two metres apart.
Bicycle sales could be set to fall by 10% this year despite a surge in demand during the coronavirus lockdown. Spending on bikes is expected to drop to £842m from £940m last year, when 2. 5m new bikes were saddled up in the UK, according to market research firm Mintel. Mintel said the switch from public transport and cars to two wheels during the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be offset by a downturn in consumer spending prompted by the likely recession caused by the lockdown.
The delivery firm DPD and the B&Q owner Kingfisher are hiring a total of more than 7,500 staff in the UK to cope with surging demand for home deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic. DPD is to hire 6,000 workers, including HGV drivers, warehouse staff, managers and support staff such as mechanics as part of a £200m investment in expanding its next-day parcel-delivery service. – Guardian.
The boss of the banking lobby group UK Finance has resigned just weeks before his alleged sexist remarks about the financier Amanda Staveley are due to be revealed in the high court. Stephen Jones, a senior Barclays executive during the financial crisis who became the first chief executive of UK Finance in 2017, said he had also apologised to Staveley and the body’s staff about the comments, which were made as the bank scrambled to save itself from nationalisation in 2008.
Deliveroo and the bosses of major chains including Pizza Hut, Pret a Manger, Itsu and Wagamama have asked the prime minister for urgent support to prevent mass closures, as physical distancing rules threaten the future of the restaurant industry. The food delivery firm and 90 of its partners, representing more than 1,000 restaurants across the UK, have written a letter to Boris Johnson outlining a range of measures they say are needed to weather an extended period of reduced capacity.
The Treasury should act to help more than a million people who have fallen through the cracks in the government’s Covid-19 income support schemes, according to a report by an influential group of MPs. The all-party Treasury select committee said large numbers of people are enduring financial hardship and are unable to benefit from the chancellor’s schemes for salaried employees and the self-employed. – Guardian.
Senior scientists have reported flaws in an influential World Health Organization-commissioned study into the risks of coronavirus infection and say it should not be used as evidence for relaxing the UK’s 2-metre physical distancing rule. Critics of the distancing advice, which states that people should keep at least 2 metres apart, believe it is too cautious. They seized on the research commissioned by the WHO, which suggested a reduction from 2 metres to 1 would raise infection risk only marginally, from 1.