The £3. 8bn stamp duty giveaway unveiled by chancellor Rishi Sunak last week has already sparked a mini property boom in the southern England commuter belt, according to the UK’s biggest property website, Rightmove. The data indicates that most of the benefit of the £3. 8bn giveaway will flow to Conservative-voting areas in the outer orbit of London. Rightmove named Milton Keynes, Watford and the north-west London borough of Harrow as the areas witnessing rises of more than 100% in buyer enquiries since the stamp duty announcement was made last Wednesday.
Rishi Sunak’s multibillion-pound economic response to Covid-19 has been criticised for lacking transparency by the incoming head of the Treasury’s independent tax and spending watchdog. Richard Hughes, the economist picked by the chancellor to lead the Office for Budget Responsibility, told MPs on the Commons Treasury committee that taxpayers lacked enough information to know whether the measures outlined by Sunak at last week’s summer statement would be cost effective.
A group of 84 of the world’s richest people have called on governments to permanently increase taxes on them and other members of the wealthy elite to help pay for the economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. The super-rich members, including Ben and Jerry’s ice cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield and Disney heir Abigail Disney, called on “our governments to raise taxes on people like us. Immediately. Substantially. Permanently”. – Guardian.
Taxes and red tape will be slashed in towns and cities across the country next year, under government plans for a post-Brexit and post-coronavirus economic revolution. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is preparing to introduce sweeping tax cuts and an overhaul of planning laws in up to 10 new "freeports" within a year of the UK becoming fully independent from the European Union in December, The Telegraph can reveal. - Sunday Telegraph.
Pub and restaurant chains traded at half their pre-pandemic levels after reopening across England last weekend, as consumers proved to be wary of visiting their local or eating out. Among those pubs that did open, sales on 4 July and 5 July were 45% below pre-Covid levels, the analysis found. According to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which collates sales figures from 32 pub chains, about four out of 10 chain pubs began serving drinks again last weekend after being closed for nearly four months.
The negative impact of the coronavirus lockdown on Britain’s jobs market appears to have been greatest in May before a partial recovery in June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Both demand for and supply of labour were affected by lockdown restrictions, and the temporary closure of non-essential businesses caused demand for labour to fall, leading to fewer job vacancies, the ONS found, by studying job advert data from the online job search engine Adzuna.
Next, Asos and Amazon have decided to pull all Boohoo clothing from sale as growing anger over workers’ pay and conditions at the company’s suppliers resulted in £1. 5bn being wiped from the fast fashion brand’s value in two days. Allegations that some factories in Leicester that sell clothes to Boohoo pay as little as £3. 50 an hour and failed to protect workers from coronavirus emerged last week. On Tuesday, the three online retailers were joined by very.
An anti-gambling charity has called on banks to improve card blocking systems introduced to help those whose gambling is out of control after it emerged 40% of current accounts offer no help in this area. Research on behalf of GambleAware found that just eight financial companies offered customers the chance to block future payments to gambling sites. – Guardian.
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.