(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – -Fri, 7th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Energy bills are to fall for millions of British households this April after the regulator lowered price caps.
Ofgem has reduced the default price cap and pre-payment meter cap by £17, which the regulator said would lower bills for about 15 million households.
The cap was introduced to protect customers on poor value default or standard variable tariffs.
Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley said households could get even lower bills by switching suppliers.
The default price cap, which protects about 11 million households, is set to fall from £1,179 to £1,162 for the April-September period.
The pre-payment meter cap, which protects a further 4 million households, will fall from £1,217 to £1,200 per year for the same six months.
Wholesale gas and electricity prices are currently at their lowest levels for about 10 years, and there had been speculation that Ofgem would make deeper cuts, of between £20-£60.
Ofgem said in its statement that “a strong supply of gas, such as record amounts of liquefied natural gas and healthy gas stock inventories, has been the main factor pushing down wholesale prices”.
Mr Brearley said the default price cap was designed to “protect consumers who do not switch from overpaying for their energy, whilst encouraging competition in the retail market”.
“Suppliers have been required to become more efficient and pass on savings to consumers. In its first year, the cap is estimated to have saved consumers £1bn on average on their energy bills and switching rates have hit record levels.
“Households can reduce their energy bills further by shopping around for a better deal,” he added.
Analysis: By Simon Gompertz
All those who usually get a bashing for high energy bills – company bosses, their regulator, ministers as well – are now hostages to this six monthly resetting of the price cap.
If it goes up they cower in their bunkers from the criticism. If it goes down they can step gingerly into the light and gain some respite.
This time they can claim not only that the cap has kept prices lower than they would otherwise be, but also that more customers are switching and that there is a bigger choice of cheaper deals than ever.
But complacency can be dangerous. There are still millions who haven't bothered to scour the market for the best offer.
If the cap is raised in future, they will be sitting ducks.
Ofgem has to consider over the summer whether the system is really working for them.
Then the government needs to decide not just if the price cap should continue next year, but also whether more action is needed to get people onto the lowest rates.
Earlier this week, data from consumer group Which? suggested that the number of energy deals priced at under £1,000 a year had surged over the past 12 months.
Which? looked at the availability of cheaper energy tariffs priced under £1,000 a year for a medium user. It found 78 deals available, compared with just 12 when the energy price cap was first introduced on 1 January 2019.
Ofgem, which reviews the price cap every six months, also said it would carry out a review this summer on whether the market conditions exist for the default price cap to be lifted or be extended past the current year.
The regulator has faced intense scrutiny from MPs and pressure groups to control price increases amid complaints that suppliers had been been overcharging for electricity and gas.
The UK's energy market is dominated by big six suppliers – Centrica's British Gas, new entrant Ovo Energy that has taken over SSE's retail arm, Iberdrola's Scottish Power, Innogy's Npower, E.On and EDF Energy.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – -Fri, 6th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Rise of 1% to 161,022 properties in 2019 remains far short of government target
The number of new homes registered to be built in the UK last year rose 1% to a 13-year high – but is still far below the government’s target.
The National House Building Council (NHBC) said 161,022 homes were registered with the organisation last year, the highest level since the start of the financial crisis in 2007. The number of affordable or rental homes rose 13% to 48,936.
The government wants private housebuilders, housing associations and councils to ramp up annual construction to 300,000 a year by 2025.
The housing charity Shelter noted that the last time housebuilding was at that level was in 1969, when almost half was social housing delivered by councils.
Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “Relying on big developers to build unaffordable homes means the government is falling well short of their ambitious housebuilding targets … Right now, only a tiny fraction of new-build homes are genuinely affordable social rent homes – a paltry 6,287 were delivered last year.”
The NHBC figures are taken from builders responsible for about 80% of homes constructed in the UK. Builders are required to register houses with the NHBC or another warranty provider before starting work. There is typically a time lag of nine to 15 months between the registration and completion of homes.
Last year, growth was driven by a revival in London, where new home registrations climbed 37% to 21,726.
New housing projects across the UK include the Commonwealth Games athletes village in Birmingham, which will be converted into 1,400 homes after the 2022 games; 6,500 homes on the site of a former army barracks in Waterbeach near Cambridge; and 518 at Bellway’s Eastside Quarter in Bexleyheath, Kent.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 6th Feb, 2020) London, Uk – –
User growth and revenue numbers delight investors but Twitter warns its costs are set to rise sharply in the current year.
Twitter has posted quarterly revenue above $1bn for the first time, helping its shares surge in early trading.
The platform's fourth quarter figures and its projections were largely seen as a bit of a mixed bag but the core numbers were positive after a lacklustre performance in the previous three months.
Total revenue came in at $1.01bn (£771m), up 11% on the same three-month period in 2018 – driven by a 12% increase in advertising sales, Twitter said.
There was further good news on user numbers – an area the company has focused on through attempts to bolster the user experience.
It said improvements to its machine-learning models to provide more relevant content and notifications contributed to a 21% surge in its core daily user metric, which hit 157 million.
Its efforts have included allowing people to follow topics and tackling abusive content more proactively.
Late last year, it also launched a feature for users to hide certain replies on their tweets.
But Twitter's profits fell short of expectations as costs rose.
Net income came in at $119m – a fall of more than 50% on the final quarter of 2018.
It also warned that costs were expected to rise by 20% in the current 2020 year – passing $1bn – as it hires more staff and creates a new data centre.
Shares were 15% higher on the NYSE in early trading – at their highest level since October last year.
The company's clean up efforts take place as America, its biggest market, prepares to go to the polls in November for what is likely to be a bitter presidential election that will see Donald Trump bid for a second and final term in office.
Twitter said it was prioritising efforts to protect the integrity of election-related conversations.
It banned political ads in November last year – as Britain prepared to go to the polls – amid growing pressure on social media companies to stop accepting ads potentially containing misleading or false information.
The company said this week it would apply “false” warning labels to tweets containing synthetic or deceptively edited forms of media and remove such media if it is likely to cause harm.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said of the financial performance: “Twitter numbers look pretty darn good and a bounce back from a lacklustre third quarter characterised by a serious slowdown in revenue growth and technology problems with its ad targeting system.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com –Wed, 5th Feb 2020) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Culture minister Nicky Morgan hinted on Wednesday that the annual BBC licence fee on Britain’s television-watching households could be scrapped after the next review of its royal charter, as crunch funding talks with the broadcaster near.
The possibility of losing guaranteed licence fee money comes at a time when the 100-year-old BBC is under attack on several fronts ranging from accusations of extravagant spending to political bias.
“The licence fee will remain in place this charter period which ends in December 2027, however we must all be open-minded about the future of the licence fee beyond this point,” Morgan said.
“These are not easy issues and they will require some honest and at times difficult conversations,” she added.
Anyone who installs or uses a television or watches the BBC’s streaming and catchup service iPlayer must pay the 154.50-pound ($198) charge or be guilty of a criminal offence, resulting in a fine of as much as 1,000 pounds.
Failure to pay can lead to a criminal conviction.
The government started an eight-week public consultation on Wednesday on whether non-payment should be decriminalised.
“As we move into an increasingly digital age … the time has come to think carefully about how we make sure the TV licence fee remains relevant,” Morgan said.
She said fewer young people were tuning into the BBC’s radio, TV and online output, and “therefore we do need to look at this funding model.”
The BBC has said decriminalisation will result in more people evading the fee, costing it millions in lost revenue.
“If there are changes, they must be fair to law-abiding licence fee payers and delivered in a way that doesn’t fundamentally undermine the BBC’s ability to deliver the services they love,” the broadcaster said in a statement.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised the licence issue just a few days before December’s general election which he went onto win with a large majority.
“I don’t think anyone should interpret today’s announcement or discussion about the licence fee model as any kind of attack on the BBC,” Morgan said, describing the broadcaster as a beacon of freedom and light.
Wednesday’s comments come after recent clashes between government and political journalists. Cabinet ministers are boycotting BBC Radio 4’s flagship “Today” news programme and some journalists were barred from a government briefing on Monday, causing others to walk out.
The successor to the BBC’s outgoing Director General Tony Hall will have to fight for the future of the organisation and its funding model, which some critics say is outdated in the era of subscription services such as Netflix.
But in recent years, the BBC has come under criticism for awarding extravagant salaries to its stars, paying some women less than men and for what some politicians say is a London-centric bias.
The BBC has also faced accusations of political bias from the government, the opposition Labour Party and Scottish nationalists which it has rebuffed.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 5th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Hong Kong's flagship airline Cathay Pacific has asked staff to take three weeks of unpaid leave to help it cope with the impact of the coronavirus.
The carrier had already been hit by the effect on passenger demand of several months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
It has offered a voluntary special leave scheme to all employees from 1 March to 30 June.
The airline said that preserving cash was “key to protecting” its business.
On Tuesday, Cathay said it intended to cut services by about 30% over the next two months, including a cut of about 90% in flights to mainland China.
The airline had already been facing difficulties because of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, an international financial and travel hub and a key part of its business.
Analysts said the airline had been likely to offer the unpaid leave scheme to staff because of those issues anyway.
The new coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. The number of cases in China has now exceeded 24,300, with 490 deaths reported.
European aircraft manufacturer Airbus said it was “observing Chinese government requirements for staff to work from home” and had closed its Tianjin assembly line
At least 10 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the Japanese port of Yokohama have tested positive for the virus, but with many still to be tested the number of those infected could rise
Sportswear firm Adidas said it was “experiencing a negative impact” on its operations in China and that it had closed a “significant number” of its own stores in the country
Danish brewer Carlsberg said there could be a short-term impact in China on the firm as a result of the virus and warned it faced a “more volatile business environment” as the coronavirus outbreak spread
Crude oil price falls to its lowest level in 12 months amid declining demand in China
In a statement, Cathay said: “In view of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak and also significant drop in market demand, we just announced massive capacity cuts yesterday.
“Preserving cash is the key to protecting our business. We have already been taking multiple measures to achieve this.
“Today, we are appealing to all employees to participate in the special leave scheme, which will take effect from 1 March and last until 30 June. All employees will have the option to take three weeks of unpaid leave in this period.”
Cathay chief executive Augustus Tang has sent a video message to employees, according to the Reuters news agency.
In it, he said the airline had also asked its suppliers to cut prices, stopped hiring new staff and postponed some major projects and stopped all non-critical spending.
The new coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. The number of cases in China has now exceeded 24,300, with 490 deaths reported.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 4th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
The car industry said the plans were “extremely concerning” and accused the government of setting a “date without a plan”.
Boris Johnson has been accused by the car industry of “moving the goalposts” as he confirmed plans to phase out new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2035.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the plan to bring forward the change from 2040 was “extremely concerning” and accused the PM of setting a “date without a plan”.
It came as efforts to step up the battle against climate change took centre stage, with aviation industry firms publicly pledging to cut the sector's emissions to net zero by 2050.
Yet that promise, backed by airlines including British Airways and easyJet and lauded by the government, was also under fire – described as a “flight of fancy” by Greenpeace.
The pledge on cars came as Boris Johnson launched a climate change summit, COP 26, to be held in Glasgow in November.
While bringing forward the ban on selling new petrol and diesel vehicles, it includes hybrid models for the first time, meaning that in 15 years the only new option for UK motorists will be electric cars.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “It's extremely concerning that government has seemingly moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue.”
Mr Hawes insisted that car makers were “fully invested in a zero emissions future” with dozens of plug-in models on the market already and more to come this year.
“However, with current demand for this still expensive technology still just a fraction of sales, it's clear that accelerating an already very challenging ambition will take more than industry investment,” he added.
Mr Hawes said the UK's charging network was “woefully inadequate”, adding that there was still no clarity on whether discounts currently available to electric car buyers would be extended beyond this spring.
The new plans come at a time when the car industry is already struggling, with new vehicle sales in 2019 falling to their lowest level for six years, and major manufacturers worried about whether their businesses will be sustainable under a “hard” Brexit arrangement.
Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden are ahead of the UK's timetable, with their petrol and diesel bans coming into force in 2030.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps had already signalled last September that the government wanted to bring forward the date from 2040.
But Mr Hawes said: “A date without a plan will merely destroy value today.”
He called for the government to set out how it planned to achieve its aims while safeguarding jobs and industry, allowing lower income groups to benefit, and not undermining hybrid technology that was helping to deliver air quality and climate change goals.
On the other side of the debate, Friends of the Earth called for the ban to be brought forward even earlier, to 2030, and for the government also to pull support for “more climate-wrecking roads and runways”.
The PM's plans to boost his green credentials have been helped by the backing of Sir David Attenborogh, the veteran naturalist and TV documentary maker.
Speaking ahead of the climate change summit launch, Mr Johnson said: “There can be no greater responsibility than protecting our planet, and no mission that a global Britain is prouder to serve.
“2020 must be the year we turn the tide on global warming – it will be the year when we choose a cleaner, greener future for all.”
However Mr Johnson's leadership on climate change was called into question by Claire O'Neill, who was sacked by the prime minister last week from her role running the summit.
She said that while the PM was pledging to put the issue among the “Premier League” of priorities, it was “currently somewhere around the middle of League One”.
It came as air industry group Sustainable Aviation – a coalition of airlines, aeroplane makers and airport operators – announced its plans to tackle emissions.Sky pledges to go net zero carbon by 2030The company is attempting to eradicate carbon emissions from its businesses.
The aviation pledge relies on more efficient aircraft and more sustainable fuels as well as the controversial use of offsetting – which relies on things like planting trees to balance out the emissions by vehicles.
The industry insists that it can still grow passenger numbers by 70% by 2050 while still cutting net emissions from 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year today to zero.
But Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said carbon offsetting – a key part of the pledge – was “simply an excuse to carry on with business as usual” and the only way for the aviation industry to cut emissions was by cutting demand.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 4th Feb 2020) London, UK —
Swedish chain says Coventry city centre store loses money and will shut this summer
Ikea is to close its Coventry city centre store this summer, marking the first closure of one of its large format UK branches.
The Swedish furniture chain says the shop has consistently lost money since it opened in 2007, with a declining number of visitors as shoppers visit retail parks or buy online instead.
The retailer says it will enter consultations with the 352 employees affected by the closure and would like to retain as many as possible in the company, although the closest outlets are in Birmingham and Nottingham, approximately 30 and 50 miles away.
Coventry was one of Ikea’s first attempts at opening a new format, city centre store to respond to the changing habits of its customers. It blames the size of the seven-storey building for its higher operating costs and says it has been unable to make the store more cost-efficient or repurpose it.
Peter Jelkeby, the country retail manager and chief sustainability officer for Ikea UK and Ireland, said the Coventry closure was not an easy decision, but was the right one for the long-term success of Ikea in the UK.
“At Ikea we are constantly challenging ourselves to find ways to meet the needs of our customers and we will continue to try and test, investing in stores, fulfilment centres, city centre formats and our digital capabilities to make Ikea even more affordable, convenient and sustainable.,” he said.
In recent years, the chain has trialled opening smaller city centre outlets, on Tottenham Court Road in central London and Bromley in south-east London, to attract a different range of customers who do not travel by car to visit its usual “big box” stores. Ikea currently has 22 UK stores and says it is still focusing on growth, despite what it calls a “changing retail environment”.
In January, Ikea bought the Kings Mall, a shopping centre in Hammersmith in west London, which it plans to redevelop, and is understood to be looking for more malls in the UK. The chain already owns 44 malls globally, which it built itself. Ikea said last October it had strengthened its UK property team as it looks to take advantage of bargain prices in Britain’s crisis-hit retail property market to secure smaller and more accessible sites in city centre locations.
Ikea’s Coventry store has a prominent position in the city centre and the city faces the challenge of how to repurpose a large and distinctive-looking building when the branch closes in the summer.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 3rd Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Nearly one million people in the UK missed the deadline for filing their tax return, but this was an improvement on the previous year.
A total of 11.1 million did hit the deadline of the end of Friday to complete their self-assessment tax forms.
Mostly those with more than one source of income and the self-employed are required to complete returns.
Anyone with a genuine excuse can talk to the tax authority to avoid fines.
Paper returns had an earlier deadline of 31 October, but a record 10.4 million people filled in the forms electronically for which the deadline is 31 January.
Last year, just over one million people missed the 31 January cut-off. Fines can be issued immediately for late filing.
More than 700,000 people submitted their tax returns on deadline day, peaking between in the hour from 16:00 GMT, when 56,969 filed. Some 26,562 people completed their returns in the final hour before the deadline.
Angela MacDonald, director general for customer services at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said: “Customers who have missed the deadline should contact HMRC.
“The department will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as it focuses penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders. The excuse must be genuine and HMRC may ask for evidence.”
Previous, failed, excuses for missing the deadline in recent years had included someone claiming they were unable to log on because they were up a mountain in Wales.
The current system means HMRC could demand a penalty of £100 for late filing during the first three months after the deadline.
After three months, additional penalties of £10 per day can be demanded, up to a maximum of £900, followed by further charges six and 12 months after the deadline.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 3rd Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
Carmaker considering focusing on UK market if there are tariffs on exports, according to report
Nissan has reportedly drawn up contingency plans to pull out of manufacturing in mainland Europe in the event of a hard Brexit in favour of ramping up its production in the UK.
If a trade deal is struck between the UK and the EU that leads to tariffs on car exports, the Japanese carmaker would focus on selling more cars in Britain, the Financial Times reported, citing two people involved in the discussions.
Under the proposal drawn up towards the end of last year, Nissan would maintain its factory in Sunderland and aim to boost its 4% UK market share to about 20%. At the same time, it would shut its struggling van factory in Barcelona and stop manufacturing in France.
The contingency plan is said to be one of several drawn up in preparation for post-Brexit tariffs, and was drafted before Makoto Uchida became Nissan’s chief executive on 1 December, the FT reported.
Nissan denied having made such a plan, however, and said its Sunderland plant would be under threat along with its European operations if the UK fails to ensure tariff-free access to the EU market. Following the UK’s departure from the EU on Friday, both sides are expected to set out their negotiating positions on Monday before trade talks next month.
A Nissan spokesman said on Monday: “We deny such a contingency plan exists. We’ve modelled every possible ramification of Brexit and the fact remains that our entire business both in the UK and in Europe is not sustainable in the event of WTO [World Trade Organisation] tariffs.
“We want our UK team of more than 7,000 people to have the best possible chance of future success, which is why we continue to urge UK and EU negotiators to work collaboratively towards an orderly balanced Brexit that will continue to encourage mutually beneficial trade.”
Gianluca de Ficchy, the chairman of Nissan Europe, already warned in October that the imposition of a 10% tariff on exports under WTO terms would put Nissan’s entire European business model in jeopardy.
Sunderland is the UK’s largest car factory and employs 6,000 workers. It makes three of Nissan’s five flagship models – the Qashqai, the Juke and the electric Leaf.
Under the contingency plan, production of the Micra, which is made in France, would be moved to the UK and Nissan would reconsider producing the X-Trail in Sunderland. A year ago, it decided not to make the new version of the X-Trail in Sunderland, citing Brexit uncertainty.
From kitchens deep within Miami Hard Rock Stadium, a culinary staff of 3,000 people are dishing out all the food for Super Bowl LIV. Chefs are flown in from all over the country to help feed 215,000 of football's biggest fans. They're hustling non-stop to cook 10,000 hot dogs and 400 different menu items in just one week leading up to the big game.
In this Alux.com video we'll try to answer the following questions: What skills should you learn? How to prepare for life? How to future proof your life? What should you learn to help you in life? What are the best skills to have? What is the most important skill to know? What are the skills of successful people? What skills will last forever? Why do you need to know how to sell? Why is meditation important? What is emotional inteligence?
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sat, 1st Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
The UK has officially left the European Union after 47 years of membership – and more than three years after it voted to do so in a referendum.
The historic moment, which happened at 23:00 GMT, was marked by both celebrations and anti-Brexit protests.
Candlelit vigils were held in Scotland, which voted to stay in the EU, while Brexiteers partied in London's Parliament Square.
Boris Johnson has vowed to bring the country together and “take us forward”.
In a message released on social media an hour before the UK's departure, the prime minister said: “For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come.
“And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss.”
He said some had worried the political “wrangle” would not end but it was his job to take the country forward.
How did the UK mark the moment?
Brexit parties were held in pubs and social clubs across the UK as the country counted down to its official departure.
Thousands gathered in Parliament Square to celebrate Brexit, singing patriotic songs and cheering speeches from leading Brexiteers, including Nigel Farage.
The Brexit Party leader said: “Let us celebrate tonight as we have never done before.
“This is the greatest moment in the modern history of our great nation.”
Pro-EU demonstrators earlier staged a march in Whitehall to bid a “fond farewell” to the union – and anti-Brexit rallies and candlelit vigils were held in Scotland.
Police in Whitehall arrested four men and also charged one man with criminal damage and being drunk and disorderly, while in Glasgow one man was arrested.
Meanwhile, other symbolic moments on a day of mixed emotions included:
The Union flag being removed from the European Union institutions in Brussels
The Cabinet meeting in Sunderland, the first city to declare in favour of Brexit when the 2016 results were announced
A light show illuminating 10 Downing Street and Union flags lining The Mall
A 50p coin to mark the occasion entering circulation
The building of the UK government's delegation to the EU changed its name and sign
In Northern Ireland, the campaign group Border Communities Against Brexit staged a series of protests in Armagh, near to the border with the Irish Republic.
The Irish border – now the UK's land border with the EU – was a major sticking point in the Brexit divorce talks.
NI and the Irish Republic “will continue to remain neighbours”, said NI First Minister Arlene Foster on RTÉ on Friday.
At 23:00 GMT, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted a picture of the EU flag, adding: “Scotland will return to the heart of Europe as an independent country – #LeaveALightOnForScotland”.
Ms Sturgeon is calling for a new referendum on Scottish independence, arguing that Brexit is a “material change in circumstances”.
Speaking in Cardiff, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said Wales, which voted to leave the EU, remained a “European nation”.
Labour MP Hilary Benn, who chairs the Brexit select committee and backed Remain, said he was “sad last night… but we have to accept it”.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the UK was always a “reluctant” EU nation, adding: “We joined late and we left early.”
Analysis: Laura Kuenssberg
What now? It's happened.
A dreary night didn't discourage those celebrating in Parliament Square. We wake this morning out of the European Union. But we follow their rules until the end of the year, without a say.
We are separate after more than 40 years, but remember much of the status quo will hold for now – the UK and the EU, the awkward couple, finally divorced – but still sharing a house and the bills.
But what the prime minister hails as a new era, a bright new dawn, starts months of hard bargaining with our neighbours across the Channel.
The UK's requests: a free trade agreement, cooperation on security, and new arrangements for fishing are just some of the vital arguments that lie ahead.
What happens now?
UK citizens will notice few immediate changes now that the country is no longer in the European Union.
Most EU laws will continue to be in force – including the free movement of people – until 31 December, when the transition period comes to an end.
The UK is aiming to sign a permanent free trade agreement with the EU, along the lines of the one the EU has with Canada.
But European leaders have warned that the UK faces a tough battle to get a deal by that deadline.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said agreeing a trade deal was “not a charitable exercise, this is an exercise of both sides recognising their own best interests”.
“From today, we are their [the EU's] biggest export market,” he told the Today programme.
What's the reaction in Europe?
In an open letter to the British people, French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “deeply sad” but: “The channel has never managed to separate our destinies; Brexit will not do so, either.”
He also defended the way France acted in the negotiations, saying neither the French nor anyone else in the EU was “driven by a desire for revenge or punishment”.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt said he would “look after your star and work to ensure the EU is a project you'll want to be a part of again soon”.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said Britain and Brussels will fight for their interests in trade talks.
She paid tribute to UK citizens who had “contributed to the European Union and made it stronger” and said the UK's final day in the EU was “emotional”.
Analysis: Katya Adler
Whilst never the most enthusiastic member, the UK was part of the European project for almost half a century.
On a personal level, EU leaders tell me they'll miss having the British sense of humour and no-nonsense attitude at their table.
If they were to be brutally honest they'd have admitted they'll mourn the loss of our not-insignificant contribution to the EU budget too.
But now we've left the “European family” (as Brussels insiders sometimes like to call the EU) and as trade talks begin, how long will it take for warm words to turn into gritted teeth?
European Council President Charles Michel warned: “The more the UK will diverge from the EU standards, the less access to the single market it will have.”
Mairead McGuinness, the vice president of the European Parliament, said she fears progress to agree a trade deal – which Mr Johnson hopes to secure by December 2021 – “might be left to the very last minute”.
“Normally in trade negotiations we're trying to come together,” she said. “For the first time we're going try and negotiate a trade agreement where somebody wants to pull away from us. I can't get my head around that and I think it's going to be quite complicated.”
What about the US?
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said he was “pleased” the UK and EU had agreed a Brexit deal and the US would continue to build its “strong, productive, and prosperous relationship with the UK”.
Washington's ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, said Brexit had been “long supported” by President Donald Trump.
How did we get here?
Britain joined what was then European Economic Community on 1 January, 1973, at the third attempt. Two years later the country voted by an overwhelming majority to remain in the bloc in the first nationwide referendum.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron held another referendum in June 2016, amid growing pressure from his own MPs and Nigel Farage's UK Independence Party.
Mr Cameron led the campaign to stay in the EU but lost by the narrow margin of 52% to 48% to the Leave campaign, fronted by fellow Conservative Boris Johnson.
Mr Cameron's successor as prime minister, Theresa May, repeatedly failed to get her version of an EU withdrawal agreement passed by Parliament and was replaced by Mr Johnson, who also failed to get his plans through.
Mr Johnson managed to secure an early general election in December last year, which he won with an 80-seat majority on a promise to “get Brexit done”.
The PM's EU withdrawal deal was approved by MPs just before Christmas, and the bill became law earlier this year.
Rivian is an up and coming startup company building high-performance electric adventure vehicles. So far the company has received investments from Ford and Amazon totaling over $1 billion. The company has progressed so much by making business decisions no other EV startup is making.