Black Friday is expected to smash online sales records this year as struggling retailers slash prices in a desperate attempt to drum up trade after a lost November on the high street. The discount day has become the biggest shopping event of the year but the stakes are far higher this time round as coronavirus restrictions mean some retailers have shops closed in three of the four home nations. - Guardian.
The government will launch a “levelling-up fund” for England worth £4bn to support towns and communities with regeneration projects, Rishi Sunak has said. The chancellor used his spending review statement to announce details of the new funding package as part of Boris Johnson’s election promise to boost the economic prosperity of areas outside London and the south-east of England. Alongside the £4bn for England, there will be funding worth £800m for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The government has privately admitted the UK faces an increased likelihood of “systemic economic crisis” as it completes its exit from the European Union in the middle of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. A confidential Cabinet Office briefing seen by the Guardian also warns of a “notable risk” that in coming months the country could face a perfect storm of simultaneous disasters, including the prospect of a bad flu season on top of the medical strains caused by Covid.
The governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, has warned that the economic cost of a no-deal Brexit would be bigger in the long term than the damage caused by Covid-19. Bailey said failure to agree to a deal before the Brexit transition expires at the end of December would cause disruption to cross-border trade and damage the goodwill between London and Brussels needed to build a future economic partnership. - Guardian.
Rishi Sunak has rejected accusations that his planned public sector pay freeze amounts to a return of austerity and insisted that spending plans to be announced on Wednesday will result in more money for health, education and the police. With trade unions demanding that the chancellor do a last-minute U-turn over his clearly signalled intention to clamp down on the state’s wage bill and refusing to rule out strikes, Sunak said there would be significant increases in spending on public services next year.
Britain will lose billions of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs unless it reverses its hostility to China, an influential lobby group for Chinese businesses has warned. In the most stark public intervention yet, the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK — which represents companies including Huawei, ZTE and Air China — said there could also be a consumer backlash against British companies such as Jaguar Land Rover and Burberry, which are heavily reliant on China’s middle-class customers.
The fashion chains Peacocks, Jaeger, Austin Reed and Jacques Vert have collapsed into administration, putting nearly 4,800 jobs at risk. The retailers are all part of entrepreneur Philip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM), which warned last month it was on the brink of collapse. The Cardiff-based budget fashion chain Peacocks, which Albert Peacock founded as a penny bazaar in Warrington, Cheshire, in 1884, employs 4,369 staff across its 423 stores. - Guardian.
Low-cost airline Norwegian Air has filed for bankruptcy protection in Ireland, becoming the biggest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic in the aviation sector to date. The troubled carrier has asked an Irish court to carry out a process of examinership. This should protect the group’s assets while it tries to slash debt levels and find new funding as part of a restructuring. It is expected to take as long as five months. - Guardian .
Failure to strike a post-Brexit trade deal would cut the UK’s economic growth rate by more than half next year, delaying a full recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report. The accountancy firm KPMG said the economy would suffer heavily should the UK fail to secure a trade deal with the EU before the end of the Brexit. - Guardian.
The government is exploring options for dealing with a £40bn black hole in the public finances, which would result from a proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars within a decade. Boris Johnson is expected to announce this week the cut-off date for the ban will be brought forward by five years to 2030, in a step designed to underscore the government’s commitment to a green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. - Guardian .
Eight months since the UK coronavirus lockdown forced the temporary closures of restaurants, bars, shops, hairdressers and other small businesses, thousands who are still awaiting payouts from their insurers to cover lost income will hope a supreme court hearing will result in a ruling that favours about 200,000 policyholders. Most have not received a penny despite having business interruption insurance, a key part of commercial policies which is supposed to pay out if a firm cannot trade as usual owing to an unexpected event.
Today's death toll, which is usually lower on Sunday and Monday due to weekend reporting lags, is up by just 12 from last Sunday - in a sign that fatalities may be flattening out. It comes after the head of the Office for National Statistics said that growth in infections is 'slowing' too. Some 24,962 new confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported today- just five more than last Sunday. Professor Sir Ian Diamond says that while there remains an increase in the number of Covid cases, the data shows a 'slowdown in the rate of growth', providing a small ray of hope for an end to harsh countrywide restrictions.
The US government has announced it will delay enforcement of a ban on TikTok, granting the Chinese-owned social media app a temporary reprieve in its battle against the Trump administration. The popular app was facing restrictions over national security concerns that would have effectively barred it from app stores in the US. The rules were expected to take effect on Thursday. But the US commerce department said it was holding off “pending further legal developments”.
Britain is “sleepwalking into a debt crisis” after a steep rise in emergency borrowing by low- and middle-income households to cope with the Covid-19 jobs crisis. Research by the debt charity Stepchange found that household borrowing and arrears linked to the coronavirus pandemic have soared 66% since May to £10. 3bn. The number of people who are in severe debt has risen to 1. 2 million – nearly doubling since March – with a further 3 million people at risk of falling into arrears after taking on extra short-term loans.
Two Conservative MPs have accepted jobs with the gambling industry worth tens of thousands of pounds before a government review of betting laws, the Guardian can reveal. The Ladbrokes owner, GVC, paid Philip Davies £33,320, or £396 an hour, for “providing advice on responsible gambling and customer service”, according to parliamentary disclosures. - Guardian .
A million people in the UK are planning to give up being self-employed after seeing their earnings decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Ahead of official figures on Tuesday that are likely to show a further jump in unemployment, a report from the London School of Economics found that a two-decade long trend in favour of more people working for themselves was under threat. - Guardian.
Britain’s economy is set for a pre-Christmas slump with further job losses and shop closures, despite government measures to protect businesses during the latest Covid-19 restrictions. Surveys of business activity reveal a sharp decline as tough new restrictions were launched across the UK amid the second coronavirus wave, setting the stage for a difficult winter ahead as the economy plunges into reverse. - Guardian.
A trade, security and fisheries deal with European Union is “there to be done”, Boris Johnson has said before Brexit talks begin in London tomorrow. Lord Frost, the prime minister’s chief negotiator, has been holding international consultations within the government after a short break in high-level negotiations. “I think it’s there to be done, the broad outlines are pretty clear. We just need to get them to do it if we can,” Mr Johnson said. He pledged to “redouble efforts to reach a deal” after a weekend phone call with Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president.
The future market for Covid-19 vaccines could be worth more than $10bn (£7. 6bn) in annual revenues for pharmaceutical companies, according to industry experts, even though some drugmakers have pledged to provide their vaccines on a not-for-profit basis during this pandemic. The calculations by analysts at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse assume people will need to be vaccinated every year, similar to the traditional flu jab, with an average price of $20 for a Covid-19 vaccine dose.
Six arrests have been made over alleged fraud in two government support schemes designed to help businesses hit by Covid-19. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said three men had been arrested on suspicion of fraud linked to the "eat out to help out” discount scheme, introduced in August by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak. HMRC officers arrested the men, aged 43, 48 and 37, on Tuesday at their London addresses on suspicion of cheating the public revenue and fraud by false representation.