Barclays boss Jes Staley: Big offices ‘may be a thing of the past’

( via – – Wed, 29th April 2020) London, Uk – –

Having thousands of bank workers in big, expensive city offices “may be a thing of the past”, Barclays boss Jes Staley has said.

About 70,000 of Barclays' staff worldwide are working from home due to coronavirus lockdown measures.

This had led to a rethink of the bank's long term “location strategy”, Mr Staley said.

It came as Barclays warned the pandemic could cost it some £2.1bn due to customers being unable to repay loans.

In recent years, banks worldwide have shifted staff away from expensive skyscrapers in financial hubs, but Barclays and its rivals still have busy offices in places such as London's Canary Wharf.

But Mr Staley said his bank was re-evaluating how much office space it needed, as it was now being run by staff working “from their kitchens”.

He added that in the future retail branches could be used by investment banking and call centre workers, hinting at an end to long commutes for some workers.

“There will be a long-term adjustment to our location strategy,” Mr Staley told reporters. “The notion of putting 7,000 people in the building may be a thing of the past.”

‘What about Pret?'

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at, said remote working would help banks like Barclays cut their costs.

But he said that if big City offices, call centres and branches closed there would be knock-on effects on surrounding businesses.

“What about the Pret [a Manger] or the pub that depends on lunch trade from the City workers filling up these offices every day? The impact on the economy will be permanent.”

Barclays did not say when its offices and branches would reopen, but indicated sites in Hong Kong would be first, followed by Singapore and Tokyo, then Europe, with social distancing measures in place.

It came as the bank reported a 38% fall in profit for the first quarter – to £913m – linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

It blamed a £2.1bn impairment charge as it set money aside to cover its “initial estimates” of the costs of the crisis.

“Given the uncertainty around the developing economic downturn and low interest rate environment, 2020 is expected to be challenging,” Mr Staley said.

M Staley also acknowledged Barclays may have made “mistakes” in its handling of a government loan scheme for businesses affected by the lockdown.

Many have complained it takes too long to access the cash, but Mr Staley said the the programme was “beginning to work”.

He said Barclays had already given 3,760 business loans valued at £737m, as well as granting 238,000 customers mortgage and loan payment holidays.

He added that more than six million customers and clients were currently paying no personal overdraft or business banking charges.

Trade Union Unite Push For All key workers family bereaved payments

( via – – Wed, 29th Apr, 2020) London, Uk – –

Call to extend £60,000 payouts for NHS staff relatives to others on frontline such as bus drivers

The families of bus drivers , shop workers, prison officers and other frontline staff who have died from coronavirus should be entitled to the £60,000 life assurance alongside those of healthcare workers, according to employees and unions.

The trade union Unite has reported that 27 of its bus driver members have died after contracting the disease. Concerns have been raised about the financial protections offered to their relatives and those of other workers running essential services in direct contact with the public.

On Monday the health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that the families of NHS and social care workers who died after contracting the disease in the course of their duties would receive the payment from the taxpayer. He said the government was also looking at “which other groups of key workers” had suffered on the frontline and “don’t have a scheme already in place”.

Bus drivers and their families said transport workers’ exclusion from the life assurance scheme was another example of them being “chronically overlooked” during the pandemic.

One driver who has worked on London buses for a decade said omitting them “tells us we are not that important”, adding that the decision reminded him of the 2012 Olympics when they were excluded from bonus payments.

“Back then bus drivers were not originally included in a £500 bonus to certain workers to help with the extra million people coming into the city for the Olympics. We had to threaten strike action to get the same treatment as everyone else,” said the driver, who is a trade unionist and transport activist.

“This exclusion, however, cuts far more given all the colleagues we have lost. They were and we are frontline essential workers who take NHS and care home staff to their jobs every day.”Quick guide

Unite said most bus drivers who had died were in London, with others in Birmingham, Bristol and north-west England. It said £60,000 was not enough to cover all the expenses of those left behind.

The union’s national officer for passenger transport, Bobby Morton, called for the payout scheme to be extended to all frontline workers and increased to £100,000 for each family.

Elisabeth Hill, whose husband drives a bus on a busy west London route, criticised the exclusion. She said: “This is yet another example of legions of ordinary workers like bus drivers getting chronically overlooked. Despite the lionisation of NHS workers, other individuals who risk their lives doing essential work are still largely seen as low status and therefore irrelevant.”

Hill, who has previously voiced her concerns over her husband’s fears for his life, cited several examples of the dangers and abuse her husband still faced at work, including a man who coughed on a bus while shouting “coronavirus”. “Who knows if he did or not have Covid but it was pretty appalling behaviour,” she said.

Meanwhile, unions representing workers keeping other vital services such as supermarkets and prisons running during the crisis said they would also ask if the life assurance payout would be extended.

The shopworkers’ union Usdaw said while it was not in dispute that healthcare staff should receive the benefit, it would be asking the government if it had plans to extend the scheme to its members.

A spokesperson said: “We very much regard our members working in supermarkets as being key workers – they’re providing an essential service in difficult circumstances and clearly they’re worried about contracting Covid-19.”

Last week a survey published by the union revealed a third of the workers it represents had been threatened by customers and 62% had experienced verbal abuse during lockdown. It said many of the incidents occurred when shop assistants asked people to adhere to physical distancing measures.

The prison workers’ union POA said it had written to the justice secretary, Robert Buckland, to ask if the scheme would be rolled out to prison staff. So far six workers have died from Covid-19, and more than 2,000 prisoners in England and Wales could be infected with coronavirus.

A spokesperson said POA understood that the government would be considering other frontline workers for the scheme and it hoped prison workers would be among them.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the government recognised the important contribution of all key workers in the fight against coronavirus.

A spokesperson said the scheme was targeted at frontline NHS and care workers because of the “heightened risks they are facing when working in environments where they are providing care to coronavirus patients and patients with suspected coronavirus”.

The government defended the £60,000 payment as “of comparable size to the death-in-service lump sum that would be payable through the NHS pension scheme to the next of kin of an average NHS staff member”.

It said the payment was in addition to any death benefit purchased through the pension scheme.

By Amy Walker and Henry McDonald

Oracle wins cloud computing deal with Zoom

( via — Tue, 28th April 2020) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Zoom Video Communications Inc (ZM.O) said on Tuesday it has started using Oracle Corp’s (ORCL.N) cloud computing service to help handle the surge in online video call volumes brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

As corporations and schools shift to remote work and billions of people subject to stay-at-home orders seek ways to remain connected, Zoom has seen daily meeting participants rocket from 10 million in December to 300 million. But it has also experienced a backlash as the increased use exposed privacy and security flaws.

Zoom set out a 90-day plan to fix the security issues, but in the meantime, the thirty-fold jump in traffic has required more computing power.

The deal is a big win for Oracle, which wants to catch up with rivals such as (AMZN.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) that have greater market share, and is selling a new generation of cloud technology after its first generation efforts failed to gain traction.

Zoom and Oracle did not disclose the size of the deal, but said traffic for “millions” of meeting participants is being handled by Oracle’s cloud service and about 7 million gigabytes of Zoom data per day is flowing through Oracle servers.

“It’s exciting to be able to come on to a platform and scale very rapidly,” Zoom’s Chief Technology Officer Brendan Ittelson told Reuters in an interview.

Zoom’s service ran on a mixture of its own data center gear and cloud computing services from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure, but it began working with Oracle about six weeks ago.

Zoom and Oracle executives said their engineering teams worked together on a daily basis to get up and running systems that now handle a significant portion of Zoom’s traffic.

Jean Atelsek, an analyst with 451 Research, said if Zoom’s use of Oracle proves successful, it could give Oracle a high-profile customer to show that its new technology is competitive with larger rivals.

“What’s remarkable about this deal is just the velocity with which it happened,” Atelesk said.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco

HSBC warns ‘severe’ COVID-19 scenario could cost it $11bn this year

( via – – Tue, 28th April 2020) London, Uk – –

The banking giant's first quarter profits fell by a steeper than expected 48% as it counted the cost of the global crisis.

HSBC has warned a “severe” coronavirus scenario could cost it as much as $11bn (£8.7bn) this year as it reported a sharp fall in quarterly profit due to the pandemic.

The banking giant saw earnings dip to $3.2bn (£2.5bn) for the January-March period, down 48% compared to the same quarter last year and lower than expected by analysts.

It was due to an extra $2.4bn charge for “expected credit losses” (ECLs) – a provision for loans going bad – mainly due to the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy.

HSBC modelled a range of scenarios for the impact of the pandemic including a worst case outlook.

“Our severe ECL scenario… could result in an ECL charge for 2020 in the range of $7bn to $11bn (£5.5bn to £8.7bn),” the bank said.

HSBC added that it was looking to cut day-to-day costs amid the crisis but is pausing “the vast majority of redundancies” due under a major shake-up announced in February – which will see 35,000 jobs go over the next three years – in order to “reduce the uncertainty” facing workers.

The bank said it had hiked its provision for loans going bad as the coronavirus took its toll on the economy, notably with effects on the oil and gas sector as well as transport and consumer spending.

“The outlook for world economies in 2020 has substantially worsened in the past two months,” HSBC said.

Factors including lower customer activity, reduced interest rates – which make it harder for lenders to achieve profits – and more bad loans – including “fraudulent activity” – were among those set to squeeze the bank as a result of the crisis, it added.

The bank warned these were likely to result in “materially lower profitability in 2020”.

HSBC's sharply higher loan loss provisions follows similar moves by US lenders this month, with the top four Wall Street banks setting aside $14.2bn (£11.2bn) as the coronavirus crisis weighs on the economy.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Santander reported an 82% slump in quarterly profits to €331m (£284m) as it set aside €1.6bn (£1.4bn) due to the impact of the pandemic.

The Spanish lender's UK arm reported a 58% fall in profits to £114m as it set aside £165m for bad loans including a £122m “COVID-19 charge”.

But Swiss banking giant UBS reported better than expected results, buoyed by ultra rich clients reshuffling portfolios amid volatile markets.

Its profits rose 40% to a better-than-expected $1.6bn (£1.3bn), even accounting for the risk of increased loan defaults resulting from the pandemic.

The figures kick off a busy week for the UK and European banks which will deliver a snapshot of how they are coping with the crisis – and how many billions of pounds they will have to put aside.

Unlike during the financial crisis of 2008 when reckless lending by banks was blamed for the crash, the sector is this time being asked to be part of the solution in supporting the economy.

That will put the spotlight on the likes of Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays and state-backed NatWest – which recently changed its name from Royal Bank of Scotland – as they deliver first quarter numbers over the next few days.

Greggs becomes the latest high street retailer reopening shops amid COVID 19 lockdown

( via – – Mon, 27th April, 2020) London, Uk – –

Chain follows Burger King and KFC in opening a few stores for takeaway and delivery

Greggs has become the latest high street retailer to put forward plans to reopen its stores despite the coronavirus lockdown.

Firms such as B&Q have reopened their doors to shoppers at a number of stores, and John Lewis has said it hopes to reopen all its shops next month.

The moves came as Boris Johnson urged the public to stay at home in order to avoid a second peak in infections, which could further weaken the economy.

Greggs said it planned to reopen a small number of stores for takeaway and delivery next week after shutting all its sites owing to the pandemic.

The boss of the bakery chain has told staff of plans to open 20 stores in the Newcastle area from 4 May as part of a “controlled trial”.

Roger Whiteside, the Greggs chief executive, said he hoped the trial would inform the business about what changes needed to be made to operate safely and meet physical distancing guidelines.

He said he believed the trial, which will involve a limited product range and shorter trading hours, would take at least two weeks, and that 700 stores, including 150 franchise shops, would open from 8 June with new operational measures in place.

“We expect it will only be possible to open this many shops if the government has taken a first step in relaxing the lockdown, which could be to open the schools,” Whiteside said. “This timing may change depending on future government announcements.”

The company predicted that sales in the stores would be “significantly lower than normal” while physical distancing measures were in place.

Whiteside said it intended to open all of its 2,050 stores by 1 July, when the government’s current furlough support package is due to end.

A Greggs spokeswoman said: “We want to play our part in getting the nation back up and running again, so we are planning to conduct a limited trial with volunteers to explore how we can reopen our shops with new measures in place that keep our colleagues and customers as safe as we can when we reopen at scale.”

Burger King, Pret a Manger and KFC have already reopened a small number of sites for takeaway and delivery.

It is understood that Leon is due to reopen six of its restaurants for delivery and click-and-collect orders, in addition to the 16 it has kept open to sell groceries.

100% state-backed loans for small firms approved by Chancellor Rishi Sunak

( via – – Mon, 27th April 2020) London, Uk – –

Small firms are to get access to 100% taxpayer-backed loans after they raised concerns about slow access to existing coronavirus rescue schemes.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons the scheme would start next week, offering firms loans up to £50,000 within days of applying.

It aims to unlock a backlog of credit checks by banks amid fears many small firms could fold before getting loans.

The scheme requires filling in a two-page self-certification form online.

The loan terms mean that no capital or interest repayments will be due for one year. Instead, the government will pay the interest for the first 12 months.

Banks have come under fire for delays in handing out loans, but have blamed the heavy workload, need to complete the necessary credit checks, and a shortage of staff.

Underwriting the loans removes the risk that banks will not get their money back, which Mr Sunak hopes will speed up the application process. The new “microloan scheme” would provide a “simple, quick, easy” solution, he told the Commons.

Analysis, Faisal Islam, economics editor:

The chancellor said: “Never before have we been able to do something of this magnitude in such a short space of time.”

It's not the end of the economic rescue schemes. They are needed in this “new normal” for the economy – which looks set to last for months.

For now, the priority is public health, and controlling the pandemic.

Without public confidence in that, consumers will not go to shops, workers will not return to offices.

In another significant change, firms applying for the new loans will now only have to prove that they were viable in the past before the crisis, not that they will viable after the crisis. Companies have complained they struggled to prove their future potential with some much uncertainty over the economic environment.

The chancellor had come under pressure to underwrite all loans, not just those up to £50,000. But he said he was not prepared to do this as he needed to balance the risk to the taxpayer with the needs of small businesses.

He said: “I've heard some calls for the government to underwrite all our loan schemes with 100% guarantees. I remain unconvinced by the case for doing that universally.

“We should not ask the ordinary taxpayers of today and tomorrow to bear the entire risk of lending almost unlimited sums to businesses who may, in some cases, have very little prospect of paying those loans back and not necessarily because of the impact of the coronavirus.”

Earlier this month the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, said that slow bank emergency lending “had to be sorted out” and that taking on all the risk from banks could “unblock” the schemes for small business especially.


Unlike the existing loan scheme, banks will not retain any of the risk for these loans, which could stretch into the billions or tens of billions depending on how long the crisis lasts.

Business leaders welcomed the move, with Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn calling it transformational for small firms.

“Sole traders, micro-firms and entrepreneurs will now have a simple route to fast finance to stay afloat, without red tape or time-consuming checks,” she said. “Thousands of businesses could be saved by this lifeline. Banks now need to continue their work in overdrive to get the loans flowing faster.”

And the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, said it would “give hope to thousands” of firms.

“To date, the existing interruption loan scheme has not been working for the small firms that make-up 99% of our business community.

“The decision by the chancellor to listen to our recommendation for a 100% guarantee on smaller loans, alongside the creation of a new fast-track system for those applying for them, will give hope to thousands.”

Recession Vs. Depression: What’s The Difference?

Source: CNBC

Economists and journalists have been discussing the possibility of the U.S. entering a recession amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have even gone as far as to say we could enter a depression. Here's a breakdown of the difference between a recession and a depression, and why we're likely in a recession, but not headed for a depression.

Worlds Top 10 Most Demanding Businesses

Source: Alux

This Alux video we'll try to answer the following questions: Which are the most demanding businesses? What are the most stressful factors about a business? How to relieve stress? What are the most successful small businesses? What are the most successful small businesses in19? What are the most needed businesses? What is a good business to start in 2020? Can I start a business with no money? What businesses are in demand? Why is it so hard to start a business? What business I can do from home? What is the easiest business to start? Which startups are profitable? Which home-based business is most profitable? What businesses have the highest profit margin? What business can I start with 5000? What business can I start with 10k? What business has the highest margins?

Why is the dollar so powerful?

Source: CNBC

For more than seven decades, the United States dollar has been the world’s reserve currency, with a majority of international transactions using the greenback. CNBC’s Uptin Saiidi explains how it became so strong and explores whether its position could be threatened.

10 Important Principles to Manage Money Well

Source: ALUX

This video we'll try to answer the following questions: How do I manage my money wisely? How do i manage money? How can we manage money after getting rich? What's the best way to manage my money? What are important principles to manage money well? Where did you learn to manage money? What should all young people know about managing money? How to manage personal finances? What are top advices about how to manage money? What are the life lessons you have learned about managing mone? What are the best ways to manage money? Which is more important, making money or managing money? How do high-net-worth individuals manage money differently? What do you need to know to manage your money wisely? What are the rules of getting rich? What are the best ways to manage money? What are the rules of saving money? What are the best rules to follow if you want to save money? How do people get rich? Best money rules to build wealth? What are the fundamental money rules you need to follow to become wealthy?

Branson’s holding company to inject £20M into fitness club group Virgin Active

( via– Fri, 24th Apr 2020) London, Uk – –

Virgin Group and Brait are providing a £20m loan to help steer Virgin Active through the coronavirus pandemic, Sky News learns.

Sir Richard Branson's holding company is to inject millions of pounds into the fitness clubs group it part-owns, in a further sign of the strain being inflicted by coronavirus on his Virgin empire.

Sky News has learnt that Virgin Group and Brait, a South African investor which owns a majority stake in Virgin Active, have injected £20m in new loans into the gym chain to shore up its finances.

The injection has emerged days after Virgin Australia was forced into voluntary administration, and as Sir Richard seeks a £500m rescue deal to keep Virgin Atlantic aloft.Coronavirus UK tracker: How many cases are in your area – updated daily

Earlier this week, the billionaire tycoon said he was seeking to raise capital from his Necker Island home to plough back into his portfolio of companies.

Sources said on Friday that Sir Richard and Brait were providing the £20m loan to Virgin Active on a pro rata basis, meaning Virgin's direct contribution is just £4m by virtue of its 20% equity stake.

However, they added that Virgin Enterprises Limited, the UK-based entity which manages Virgin's brand licensing activities, had also agreed to defer royalty fees owed by the fitness chain that are understood to be more than £10m a year.

Virgin Active operates 43 clubs in the UK, employing just under 3,000 staff.

Virtually all of them are furloughed under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with Virgin Active topping up employees' salaries to ensure that they are on full pay during the lockdown.

The company also trades in seven other countries, including Australia, Italy and Singapore.

Last month, Sir Richard said he was investing $250m into various Virgin-branded companies around the world, with roughly half of that said to have been injected into Virgin Atlantic.

The airline has asked ministers for a £500m bailout in the form of a commercial loan and guarantees against money being held back by credit card companies.

It is also in the preliminary stages of talks with a range of potential private investors into the company, although EU airline ownership requirements will place limitations on the nature of those investors.

Peter Norris, the chairman of Virgin Group, recently urged Boris Johnson to establish an industry-wide bailout strategy worth up to £7.5bn.

That request appears to have been dashed by Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, who has signalled that only “bespoke” aid will be available “as a last resort”.

In an open letter to staff at Virgin-branded companies this week, Sir Richard said he was “working day and night to look after our people and protect as many jobs as possible”.

“We are operating in many of the hardest hit sectors, including aviation, leisure, hotels and cruises, and we have more than 70,000 people in 35 countries working in Virgin companies,” he said.

“We're doing all we can to keep those businesses afloat and I am so thankful to all of you who have continued to work so hard in these difficult times. We have already committed a quarter of a billion dollars to help our businesses and protect jobs, and will continue to invest all we can.”UK lockdown rules explained

Sir Richard insisted that he had not based himself in Necker for tax reasons, and said: “As with other Virgin assets, our team will raise as much money against the island as possible to save as many jobs as possible around the group.”

In total, VEL has agreed to defer tens of millions of pounds in fees owed by the hardest-hit Virgin-branded companies as the coronavirus pandemic decimates revenues across his leisure and travel operations.

Those talks also involve Virgin Cruises and Virgin Holidays, which will now not be required to hand over fees they pay to VEL for use of the Virgin brand until next year at the earliest.

Companies in Sir Richard's portfolio which have been relatively unaffected by the crisis include Virgin Media, the pay-TV broadcaster and mobile phone network operator.

His group's paper value has been dented, though, by the sharp fall in the value of Virgin Money during the last 12 months, with banks suffering from rock-bottom interest rates.

Virgin Group typically owns minority stakes in companies which use the brand, although Virgin Atlantic is an exception, with the billionaire continuing to control its equity.

Virgin Active and Virgin Group both declined to comment.

By Mark Kleinman

Sir James Dyson Covid-19 ventilators are ‘no longer required’

( via – – Fri, 24th April 2020) London, Uk – –

Dyson said the medical ventilator it developed to help treat patients with Covid-19 is now no longer required.

It began developing a device in response to a government appeal for firms to take part in a national effort to increase the number of ventilators.

But in a note to staff, founder Sir James Dyson said that demand for ventilators had been less than first envisaged.

The Cabinet Office said that tests on ventilators are still ongoing.

Dyson's ventilator has been undergoing clinical tests in recent days and the government had previously said it intended to order 10,000 machines.

But Sir James told his staff that only a quarter of those available were currently being used.

As a result, he said, the government did not need to acquire as many of them.

The company has so far spent around £20 million on the project, which Mr Dyson said he would fund himself, without asking for public funds.

The Cabinet office, which has been coordinating the effort to boost ventilator production, insisted that a number of devices were currently undergoing testing and no decisions had been made regarding their use.

What is a ventilator?

  • A ventilator is a machine that helps a person breathe by getting oxygen into the lungs and removing carbon dioxide
  • Ventilators can be used to help a person breathe if they have lung disease or another condition that makes breathing difficult. They can also be used during and post-surgery
  • A tube, connected to a ventilator machine, is placed in a person's mouth, nose or through a small cut in the throat (called a tracheostomy)

Dyson was one of many large manufacturers which responded to the call from the UK government to reconfigure their design teams and factory lines to produce much-needed ventilators.

Another consortium of medical, military and civil engineering companies – including Airbus, Meggitt, GKN and others – instead worked to ramp up the production of an existing design.

The UK government last week gave regulatory approval to that ventilator design to be made by the consortium and put in an order for 15,000 of them as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus.

Analysis: Theo Leggett

Just over a month ago, it looked as though the country was facing an acute shortage of ventilators during the Covid-19 epidemic.

The government appealed to businesses to help out. Dyson came forward with plans to produce a brand new design.

Getting approval for a new design inevitably takes time – and while that process has been going on, it seems the outlook has changed and the shortage risks becoming a glut.

According to Sir James Dyson, his devices simply aren't needed any more. But is it true – or has the company encountered other problems?

The NHS currently has access to nearly 11,000 ventilators, and production is being ramped up.

Last week, the government ordered 15,000 machines from VentilatorChallengeUK – a group which already has the regulatory approvals it needs

At the same time, the total number required has clearly fallen – as doctors have found less intrusive treatments can be effective in keeping patients alive.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock recently suggested that 18,000 will be needed in total – around half the figure that was being suggested just a few weeks ago.

So it's fair to say the 10,000 units Dyson was expected to make don't seem to be required – in the UK at least. But the company is still hoping other countries are able to make use of them.

Meanwhile its design is still undergoing clinical trials – and the company insists as far as it is concerned, those trials have been going well.

BoE Jan Vlieghe says: “Britain’s economy experiencing possibly its deepest economic shock in several centuries”

( via — Thur, 23rd April 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy is experiencing possibly its deepest economic shock in several centuries and a quick bounce-back is unlikely, Bank of England (BoE) interest-rate setter Jan Vlieghe said on Thursday.

“Based on the early indicators, and based on the experience in other countries that were hit somewhat earlier than the UK, it seems that we are experiencing an economic contraction that is faster and deeper than anything we have seen in the past century, or possibly several centuries,” Vlieghe said.

“The economy’s potential is severely disrupted at the moment but, once the pandemic is over, and other things equal, in principle it should return approximately to the pre-virus trajectory,” he said in an online speech.

Asked after his speech about the likely speed of Britain’s economic recovery, Vlieghe said it was likely to take time.

The government and the BoE were taking measures to try to reduce long-term scarring in the economy, he said.

“But of course all the risks are that it will take longer and that it will look a little bit more like a U and than a V,” he said.

BoE Chief Economist Andy Haldane and Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent have said cautious consumers might slow the recovery. BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said there was a lot of uncertainty about the outlook.

The BoE cut interest rates twice in March to an all-time low of 0.1% and ramped up its bond buying by a record 200 billion pounds ($247 billion) as the coronavirus escalated.

The government has rushed out a series of emergency measures too, including a pledge to pay 80% of the wages of workers who are temporarily laid off.

But last week, Britain’s budget forecasters warned that the economy could shrink by 13% this year, its biggest slump since the early 1700s, as a result of the government’s lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. They also said a quick recovery was possible.

On Thursday, a widely watched measure of business hit a record low and confidence among manufacturers was the weakest since records began in the 1950s.

Vlieghe said the hit to the economy was likely to push down on inflation: “So the current priority for monetary policy, with a lot of help from fiscal policy, is to return the economy to that pre-virus trajectory as soon as possible.”

The BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is due to make its next monetary policy announcement on May 7.

“The MPC stands ready to take further action to support the economy consistent with its remit,” Vlieghe said, adding the drive by central banks around the world to support their economies via bond-buying since the global financial crisis had not driven up inflation expectations.

He also addressed concerns the BoE was resorting to printing money with its bond-buying just to help the government ramp up public spending.

“Central banks use their balance sheets to achieve monetary policy objectives,” Vlieghe said. “This in no way detracts from the central bank’s independence and its ability to hit the inflation target.”

The BoE’s decision this month to expand the government’s overdraft facility at the central bank was “purely a back-up” to the government bond sales programme and would not affect the BoE’s job of focusing on inflation, Vlieghe said.

Reporting by Andy Bruce and William Schomberg

Just Eat merger with given greenlight by competition regulator

( via– Thur, 23rd April 2020) London, Uk – –

The CMA drops its investigation having previously flagged worries about the Dutch operator returning to the UK market.

Just Eat's £6.2bn merger with has been cleared by a UK regulator following an inquiry into whether it would harm competition.

Just Eat shareholders backed the offer by the Dutch online food delivery rival in January following a bidding war to create Just Eat

But the pair were forced to operate as two independent businesses when the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation – to the fury of some investors who accused the watchdog of failing to grasp the market.

The CMA confirmed on Thursday that the inquiry had been completed.

Its senior director of mergers, Colin Raftery, said: “After interrogating how this deal is likely to affect the UK market, we are satisfied that there are no competition concerns.”

He added: “In this case, we carefully considered whether could have re-entered the UK market in future, giving people more choice.

“It was important we investigated this properly, but after gathering additional evidence which indicates this deal will not reduce competition, it is also the right decision to now clear the merger.” left the UK in 2016 but operates across 11 countries overseas, including the Netherlands and Germany.

Uber Eats and Deliveroo are among the competitors in the UK market.

The latter received a boost last week when the CMA cleared a £400m investment in Deliveroo by Amazon after the food delivery firm warned it would go bust because of the coronavirus lockdown, which has forced many restaurants to close.

The CMA had previously outlined similar fears that Amazon could seek to enter the UK market by itself – potentially strangling the competitive landscape.

Just Eat Takeaway said in a statement that it had “taken note of the decision” by the CMA.

By James Sillars

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Netflix new subscribers double amid Covid-19 lockdown

( via – – Wed, 22nd Apr, 2020) London, Uk – –

The streaming giant added 15.77 million new customers, with shows such as Tiger King and Love Is Blind drawing big audiences

Dominic Rushe and Benjamin Lee in New York

Netflix has more than doubled the number of new subscribers it expected in the last three months as more people signed up amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The streaming giant announced on Tuesday that it added 15.77 million new paid subscribers globally, well above the 7 million it had expected, as people worldwide sought ways to entertain themselves during the lockdowns.

The boost led to huge audiences for the service’s hit shows. About 64 million subscribers watched Netflix’s Tiger King documentary as much of the world went into lockdown to avoid the pandemic. Other hits included the reality show Love Is Blind, which attracted 30 million subscribers in the last three months, and its original film Spenser Confidential (85 million).

The company acknowledged that the huge surge in membership and audience was probably temporary.

“In our 20+ year history, we have never seen a future more uncertain or unsettling. The coronavirus has reached every corner of the world and, in the absence of a widespread treatment or vaccine, no one knows how or when this terrible crisis will end,” the company said in a statement.

“At Netflix, we’re acutely aware that we are fortunate to have a service that is even more meaningful to people confined at home, and which we can operate remotely with minimal disruption in the short to medium term. Like other home entertainment services, we’re seeing temporarily higher viewing and increased membership growth.”

Mihir Haria Shah, head of broadcast at Total Media, said the long-term impact of the coronavirus on Netflix’s business remained to be seen.

“There is no doubt that Netflix has been helped by the viral sensation that is Tiger King and also new seasons of Narcos Mexico, Ozark and Money Heist – which are all Netflix originals favourites. The challenge in continuing to grow and also preventing churn is likely to be how long they can sustain dripping in new series with production studios shut for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Netflix, like many other studios and networks, has shut down production on original content since 13 March. The streamer has since set up a $100m fund for workers whose jobs have been directly affected. Recent weeks have seen a number of large acquisitions, including the Paramount action comedy The Lovebirds and Enola Holmes, with Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown as the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes.

“While we’re certainly impacted by the global production pause, we expect to continue to be able to provide a terrific variety of new titles throughout 2020 and 2021,” the statement said.

Post Office travel money delivery service redesigned to get cash to the vulnerable

( via – – Wed, 22nd April 2020) London, Uk – –

The Post Office has redesigned its overnight travel money delivery service to get cash to the most vulnerable people in England.

Some shielded individuals who must stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak are being contacted by the government to ensure they have access to cash.

Those with Post Office Card Accounts can have cash delivered to their door by the following day.

It is one of many schemes to ensure people are not financially isolated.

A range of supermarkets have introduced volunteer cards, which operate in a similar way to gift cards, allowing people to shop for a neighbour without having access to their bank card.

High Street bank NatWest is also introducing a “companion card” – allowing people in extended isolation to give trusted volunteers a way to pay for their essential goods.

The card can be topped up with up to £100 and is associated with the customer's existing bank account but kept separate on the bank's systems. It does not share a PIN or long card number with the customer's existing debit cards and cash machine withdrawals are restricted to £50.

The Post Office has already extended a single-use voucher scheme, with allows volunteers to withdraw cash from post office counters for vulnerable people.

Following criticism, it has also promised to ensure all post office counters are fitted with protective glass to reduce the risk of infection between postmasters, postmistresses and customers and volunteers in branches.

By Kevin Peachey Personal finance reporter

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Pool Re working with UK insurance industry to develop pandemic cover

( via — Tue, 21st April 2020) London, UK —

(Reuters) – The UK insurance industry has formed a steering committee comprising several top insurance company bosses who will work with government-backed terrorism reinsurance fund Pool Re to develop a pandemic cover, the group said on Tuesday.

Britain is in a lockdown due to the coronavirus, with many companies shuttered and some facing the threat of collapse, while millions of workers have been furloughed as the country heads for a deep recession.

The steering group, which is chaired by Stephen Catlin, the chief executive officer of specialist insurer and reinsurer Convex Group, will propose an industry pandemic response to both the government and the country, it said.

“The insurance industry needs to be on the front foot in the current situation, paying claims quickly and continuing to provide people and businesses with the protection they require,” Catlin said in a statement.

“Most importantly, we need to find an industry solution for future pandemics and this group has many years of combined industry experience.”

Members of the committee also include Aviva’s (AV.L) Maurice Tulloch and RSA Insurance Group’s (RSA.L) Stephen Hester, among four others, while other participants will be invited to join in due course, the group added.

UK jobseekers expressed anger at claims they are too lazy for farm work

( via – – Tue, 21st Apr, 2020) London, Uk – –

Jobseekers take issue with pay and terms and allege farmers favouring migrant labour

British applicants for jobs harvesting crops have said farmers have made it virtually impossible for them to secure the work despite a national appeal for a “land army” to save the UK’s fruit and vegetables.

Dozens of workers have expressed anger at claims they are too lazy or picky to take the jobs, alleging that farmers are favouring cheap migrant labour.

Offers of on-site accommodation in which three or four workers share a caravan were among the most frequent complaints on social media and in emails to the Guardian, after reports that thousands of British workers had turned down jobs and Romanians were being flown in to pick salad.

Chay Honey, in Bristol, whose work on festivals has disappeared, said the pay and conditions of the farm work were difficult to justify. “I live with my fiance and to live on site would mean I would only have one day a week for friends and family. They also said you can’t use your own vehicle, which makes getting out to the shops difficult. Very quickly the romance of going to work for a farm to help provide food for the nation has become very unattractive,” he said.

“It seems it is very much geared up for migrant labour. We are not looking for special treatment, but the whole system needs to have some flexibility and not just have this blanket approach.”

Genevieve Black, in south Wales, said she had been unsuccessful in applications for 10 jobs despite being willing to live on site in Kent, Hampshire or Scotland. “The idea that Brits are just too lazy to work on farms is just not true,” she said.

She is part of a Facebook group, Jobs for Camper Nomads, which is awash with criticism of the farming industry. One poster suggested that farmers could allow applicants with their own camper vans to live on site. “We are forever being told these are unprecedented times and we are all in it together. UK berry farmers not so much! I am sure with a bit of thought a workable solution can be found.”Advertisement

Alison Harrow, an England Athletics running coach seeking farm work, said she was feeling “really discouraged”. “I’ve applied for 200 jobs and you either get ‘We’ve got enough people now’ or you don’t hear anything back,” she said. “Well, if they have jobs coming up at the end of May or June, why don’t they just allocate those now and just confirm a job?

“I get an email from one farm worker recruitment agency saying I have not been shortlisted. How can this be? There seems to be a mismatch between demand for workers and matching workers to farm work.”

Nick Marston, the chair of British Summer Fruits, said the business model of fruit farming had been “structured around a non-UK workforce for many years” because UK workers had shunned the work: “Farms are receiving large numbers of applications and I think it would be unfair to say the industry is not accommodating local workforce.”

He appealed for patience among the army of would-be-pickers, saying the season had barely started and that there would be surge in job opportunities at the end of May and June.

Tom Bradshaw, vice-president of the National Farmers’ Union ,said he could understand why people felt frustrated over the lack of job offers. “In a way, the media publicity has come a bit too soon, because the jobs don’t peak until the end of May and June,” he said.

He added that a national website that “would act as a centralised hub for all recruiters” was expected to launch later this week, which would make it easier to match supply to demand.

By Lisa O'Carroll