UK furlough scheme opens with claims covering 67,000 workers’ wages in the first 30 minutes

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 20th April, 2020) London, Uk – –

With April's payday fast approaching, business groups say it is essential that the application process runs smoothly.

The government's furlough scheme has opened for applications, with business groups warning that delays in payments could be catastrophic for British companies.

Through the Job Retention Scheme, employers can claim for a cash grant to cover up to 80% of their staff's wages – capped at £2,500 a month.

HMRC has set up a new online portal which opened at 7am and saw claims covering 67,000 workers' wages in the first half hour.

The Treasury says funds to pay workers will land in a company's bank account within six working days.

Although the government has received praise for its plans to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus, it is being warned that firms need support quickly.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Our research indicates that two-thirds of firms have furloughed some portion of their workforce.

“With April's payday approaching, it is essential that the application process is smooth and that payments are made as soon as possible.

“Any delay would exacerbate the cash crisis many companies are facing and could threaten jobs and businesses.”

Rain Newton-Smith, the Confederation of British Industry's chief economist, echoed these remarks – adding: “Ensuring support gets to where it's needed most – fast – is of the utmost importance.”

The government has said the HMRC portal is easy to use and offers a step-by-step application process, and it claims up to 5,000 staff will be manning call centres and an online live chat service to ensure any questions can be answered.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our unprecedented Job Retention Scheme will protect millions of jobs across the country and is now up and running.

“It's vital that our economy gets up and running again as soon as it's safe – and this scheme will allow that to happen.”How many cases are in your area?

In light of lockdown restrictions in the UK being extended for another three weeks, Mr Sunak recently announced that these direct cash grants will now be active until the end of June.

A report released today by an independent think tank suggests that as many as 11.7 million people could be furloughed or made unemployed over the next three months.

The Resolution Foundation says those working in the lowest-paying hospitality and retail sectors are 50% more likely to be affected than the rest of the labour market.

Only 4% of those working in the highest-paid sector, finance and insurance, are likely to be furloughed.

The report warned: “Unemployment could still rise sharply to 3.4 million (10%) in the second quarter of 2020, but because of the Job Retention Scheme, it will not reach catastrophic levels.”

In other developments, the chancellor has announced that a £1.25bn package is being launched to help protect the UK's innovation sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Sunak said this initiative will include a £500m investment fund for high-growth companies hit by the crisis.

He added: “Our start-ups and businesses driving research and development are one of our great economic strengths, and will help power our growth out of the coronavirus crisis.

“This new, world-leading fund will mean they can access the capital they need at this difficult time, ensuring dynamic, fast-growing firms across all sectors will be able to continue to create new ideas and spread prosperity.”

By Connor Sephton

Sir Richard Branson warns Virgin Atlantic will fold without aid

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 20th April 2020) London, Uk – –

Sir Richard Branson has warned that airline Virgin Atlantic needs government support to survive.

The boss of the Virgin Group said he was not asking for a handout, but a commercial loan, believed to be £500m.

In an open letter to staff, Sir Richard said: “Many airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it.

The plea comes as Virgin Australia, the country's second largest airline, faces going into administration without aid.

Sir Richard wrote in his letter that without UK government support for Virgin Atlantic “there won't be any competition left and hundreds of thousands more jobs will be lost”.

Virgin Atlantic – which is owned jointly by Sir Richard and US carrier Delta – has reportedly asked for £500m in aid. However, according to an FT report last week, the request has been rejected by the Treasury.

It said the airline had not done enough to show it had explored other options to bolster cash before asking for state aid.

Government support

In his letter to staff, Sir Richard said: “We will do everything we can to keep the airline [Virgin Atlantic] going – but we will need government support to achieve that in the face of the severe uncertainty surrounding travel today and not knowing how long the planes will be grounded for.

“This would be in the form of a commercial loan – it wouldn't be free money and the airline would pay it back (as EasyJet will do for the £600m loan the government recently gave them).”

He pointed out that Virgin Atlantic started with one plane 36 years ago, before adding: “Over those years it has created real competition for British Airways, which must remain fierce for the benefit of our wonderful customers and the public at large.”

Sir Richard offered to inject £250m into the Virgin Group last month, with most of that going to the airline.

Earlier this month, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Heathrow airport and Manchester Airports Group sent letters to the government highlighting the importance of Virgin Atlantic to the UK's manufacturing supply chain.

Australia struggles

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Virgin Australia – in which Sir Richard holds a stake of around 10% – is close to going into administration after being refused help by the Australian government.

The carrier has been forced to cancel nearly all of its flights during the coronavirus crisis and been unable to restructure its debts.

The Australian government refused a request from the company for a A$1.4bn (£720m) loan.

The airline – which employs about 16,000 – is part-owned by Sir Richard along with Etihad, Singapore Airlines and China's HNA.

“The brilliant Virgin Australia team is fighting to survive and need support to get through this catastrophic global crisis,” Sir Richard said.

“We are hopeful that Virgin Australia can emerge stronger than ever, as a more sustainable, financially viable airline.”

He warned: “If Virgin Australia disappears, Qantas would effectively have a monopoly of the Australian skies. We all know what that would lead to.”

Sir Richard also addressed the fierce criticism he has faced in recent weeks over his tax situation.

Critics have pointed out he has paid no UK income tax since moving to the tax-free British Virgin Islands 14 years ago.

Sir Richard is the 312th richest person in the world with an estimated $5.2bn fortune, according to the Bloomberg billionaires index.

“I've seen lots of comments about my net worth – but that is calculated on the value of Virgin businesses around the world before this crisis, not sitting as cash in a bank account ready to withdraw,” he said.

“Over the years significant profits have never been taken out of the Virgin Group, instead they have been reinvested in building businesses that create value and opportunities.”

Turning to the question of living abroad he said: “Joan and I did not leave Britain for tax reasons but for our love of the beautiful British Virgin Islands (BVI) and in particular Necker Island, which I bought when I was 29 years old, as an uninhabited island on the edges of the BVI.

“Over time, we built our family home here. The rest of the island is run as a business, which employs 175 people.”

By Simon Read Business reporter

Learn More About The QLMTELEDENT Platform and How We Can Help Your Dental Practice During The COVID-19 CRISIS?

QLMTeledent

METHODS OF TELECONSULTATION IN TELEDENTISTRY

Teleconsultation through teledentistry can be applied in the following ways – “Real-Time Dental Consultation” and “Dental File Store-and Forward Method”

Real-Time Dental Consultation involves a secure videoconference in which dental professionals and their patients, while in different locations, may see, hear, and communicate with one another. Dental File Store-and-Forward Method involves the exchange of clinical dental information, high definition video clips and static images collected and stored by the dental practitioner, who securely forwards them for consultation and treatment planning. The patient is not usually present during the “store and forward consultation. Dentists can share patient information, radiographs, raphical representations of periodontal and hard tissues, therapies applied, lab results, tests, remarks, photographs, video clips, and other information transportable through multiple providers. This data sharing can be very important for patients, especially those in need of specialist consultation. A third method has also been described, known as “Remote Video Monitoring Method”, in which patients are monitored using a secure videoconference platform at a distance and can either be hospital-based or home-based.

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QLMTeledentistry

New Emerging Economic Superpowers quietly Shifting to Places We Might Not Expect

Source: Jack Chapple

As China begins to reopen its factories and return back to work, what they are returning to will not be the same… Despite China being the worlds economic darling for the last 40 years, the balance of the worlds economic power has begun to shift to some places that you might not expect. In fact, we are already starting to see some signs of other nations around the world, rising up in order to take away some of China’s manufacturing prowess away from them. And who knows, we might be witnessing the creation of the next generation of economic superpowers, right infront of our very eyes.

How Rachel Lim’s mom’s savings helped build a multimillion-dollar fashion empire

Source: CNBC

32-year-old Rachel Lim’s multimillion-dollar women’s clothing line Love, Bonito is using technology to reinvent retail. CNBC Make It’s Karen Gilchrist met with the formidable fashionista to hear how she bet her mom’s savings on her big dream.

3 Lifestyle Changes you can make to be Rich after this Lockdown

Source: Success Secrets

Often time, what happens to us doesn't determine our results. Instead, it is how we react to what happens to us that does. We are experiencing a terrible period all over the world now due to the global pandemic. While similar things are happening to millions of people, how we react to this situation should be different, especially what we do with our time behind the doors during this Lockdown.

10 Business that FAILED to Adapt to Change

Source: Alux

This Alux video we'll try to answer the following questions: What is the most common cause of business failure? Why do companies fail? Why do some businesses succeed and others fail? Why do start-up businesses fail? What are the Top 5 reasons businesses fail? How can you avoid business failure? How often do businesses fail? What percentage of companies survive 100 years? What makes a company successful? How many entrepreneurs are successful? Why do small businesses fail? What does every business need to be successful? How do I revive a dead business? What are the symptoms of business failure? How can I bring my business back to life? What are the three main causes of small business failure? Are small businesses dying? What are the types of business failure? How can we avoid failure?

BoE’s Andrew Bailey calls on UK banks to speed up the pace of getting state-backed loans

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 17th April 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey called on Britain’s banks to speed up the pace of getting state-backed loans to companies that are struggling to survive the coronavirus crisis, saying they must “put their back into it and get on with it.”

Bailey said banks had to address the “serious strain” on their ability to process a surge in demand for credit and he suggested they were sticking to risk assessment processes that were too slow.

“Notwithstanding the stress that we’re all operating under in terms of the current working environment, they have got to put their backs into it and get on with it, frankly,” he told reporters on Friday.

Bailey said a 35% fall in Britain’s economic output in the second quarter of 2020, as laid out in a scenario by the country’s budget forecasters, was “not implausible” and added that early signs suggested “a big drop off in activity”.

He also said global policymakers who took part in meetings organised by the International Monetary Fund this week were determined to do what was needed to help their economies through the crisis.

“My conclusion from this week is there is an awful lot of common commitment to do what needs to be done,” he said.

Reporting by William Schomberg

IMF head: economic forecast less than optimistic

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 17th April 2020) London, Uk – –

How do you co-ordinate economic policy across the globe, when an invisible enemy that behaves in unknown ways systematically erodes the very way economies function?

That is the tricky challenge facing the relatively new managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, who sat down with me to discuss this in her first British broadcast interview.

The IMF is now a fire fighting service battling multiple infernos, almost everywhere. This discussion was meant to take place face to face at the IMF's annual meetings in Washington DC. But for obvious reasons, those meetings became virtual, as did my interview with her.

First up, a refreshing admission. Just three months ago, the IMF's January economic forecast update projected that the base unit of living standards – the per person size of the economy or GDP per capita – would be going up in 160 countries. That would have meant 82% of nations becoming better off in 2020.

Now, in April, because of Covid-19, she says: “We are projecting 170 countries to see income per capita shrinking during 2020” – 87% of the atlas of the world.

And yet this detail – which is part of a broader forecast that sees world GDP dive 3% in 2020, creating “a global recession we have not seen in our lifetimes” – may not be the end of it.

“I want to stress this may be actually a more optimistic picture than reality produces,” Ms Georgieva told the BBC.

“Epidemiologists are now helping us making macroeconomic projections. Never in the history of the IMF have we had that. And what they're telling us is that the novel coronavirus is a big unknown, and we don't know whether it may return in 2021.”

‘Accountability and transparency'

It is small wonder that the IMF is in rescue mode. The organisation traditionally tasked with being a fiscal watchdog and ambulance for the world now has a rather different message – that the priority everywhere has to be lives and livelihoods.

“It is the time that governments should spend as much as they can afford and more, but keep the receipts. We don't want to lose accountability and transparency during this crisis,” Ms Georgieva says.

“We will see some countries being able to do more, and actually, the UK has already done quite a lot. And we will see some countries that will need more help because they have much more limited capacity to act. And this is where the IMF and other international financial institutions come into play.”

In these times of ultra-low interest rates, she says, the IMF can help countries to get more ammunition to fight the health crisis, but also to deal with the economic fallout.

“We need to target support to the most vulnerable people in the most vulnerable parts of the economy,” Ms Georgieva says.

Cautious approach

Interventions now will help spur a rapid bounce-back in growth and reduce permanent economic scars. But despite the depth and breadth of the downturn, she is very cautious about prematurely lifting shutdowns around the world.

“Saving lives and saving livelihoods go hand in hand with stopping the pandemic. We simply cannot restart the economy to the fullest, and without restarting the economy, finance ministers are not going to have the revenues they need, including for their health services,” Ms Georgieva says.

“So we have to, of course, listen to the health professionals and design protocols that allow us over time to reopen segments of the economy and do that cautiously. We have to then carefully calibrate how we're doing this reopening.”

She suggests that automated factories and rural areas might be easier to reopen, but there is still some “figuring out” to do around reopening busy cities and towns.

‘We need each other'

Ms Georgieva warns against what has been dubbed “pandemic protectionism”, where some advanced countries have sat on medical equipment and pharmaceutical supplies for use domestically.

“It's a very simple message – you cannot beat the virus unless you beat it everywhere. When one country is suffering from an epidemic, then it makes sense to be protective and keep what the country needs domestically.

“But when we are all hit by an epidemic… we need to act together. And we would very much encourage countries to actually integrate their capabilities rather than trying to keep it each one for itself.”

But her central message is to look beyond the understandable concern for what is happening in the world's advanced nations, to the problems facing poorer ones. The G20's decision to suspend debt repayments from the world's most deprived countries was a start, but she says we must remain mindful.

“Poor countries in the world are hit multiple times. They're hit by the the pandemic. They're hit by the spillover from economic contraction elsewhere. They're hit by the flight to safety,” Ms Georgieva says.

“$100bn has left emerging markets in developing countries just in two months, much more than during the global financial crisis. They're hit because remittances are drying up. And those that are commodity exporters are hit by prices of their exports dropping.”

She says “lifelines” are needed now for such countries, such as the debt standstill which would free billions for health services. “We need each other. It is a moment testing our humanity and being together acting with solidarity. We will get to the other side of this.”

By Faisal Islam

QLMTELEDENT Find Your Virtual Dentist

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-Some don't have the time…too busy at work, business, family etc.
-Some out of fear …just the thought of the dental chair is enough to put some people off.
-Some just don't remember…six months passes and then another six month and before you know it, one or two years have passed.
-Of the other 50%, 40% of them don't like going to the dentist anyway!
-That leave just 10% that like going to the dentist….didn't want to leave you guys out

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EasyJet may keep middle seats empty to follow social distancing rules once travel restrictions lift

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 16th Apr, 2020) London, Uk – –

CEO says drop in passenger demand will make option more viable when travel restrictions lift

EasyJet may keep middle seats empty to follow physical distancing rules once coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted, its chief executive has said.

Johan Lundgrensaid it was one of the options being explored as the low-cost airline started planning for flights to resume, following the grounding of EasyJet’s entire fleet on 30 March. The chief executive said a drop in passenger demand would make it easier to keep middle seats empty when travel restrictions are eased.

“Our assumption is that load factors will not be back to normal early on, which means that we will have the opportunity for a middle-seat option, but I’m talking about this as an initial phase and nobody knows for how long that phase will be,” Lundgren said.

“We’re also looking at various disinfection programmes on the aircraft,” he added.

However, the middle-seat option has been dismissed by the chief executive of its rival Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, who said it would be a “hopelessly ineffective” way to keep passengers safe and ultimately unaffordable for airlines.

EasyJet said winter bookings were “well ahead” of last year, after releasing its schedule earlier than usual. It includes customers who were rebooking flights following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Customers have had the option of changing their flights without a fee, receiving credit for their flights or a full refund. Nearly half of passengers had chosen alternative flights or flight credit, the airline said.

EasyJet is now expecting a smaller loss for the first half of the year, of between £185m to £205m, compared with previous forecasts for a loss of £275m. It follows an emergency cost-cutting programme that included a hiring, promotion and pay freeze, a halt to all non-mandatory training, and cuts to its administrative budget. The airline is also offering unpaid leave to staff.

Lundgren said it was too soon to say when flights would be back to normal and how profits would be affected, but he said EasyJet had a dedicated data science team modelling various scenarios.

“I think we just need to be very flexible in terms of how the programme would look, and then we need to see what the pricing will be at that point in time and the profitability of those flights,” the chief executive said.Advertisement

“But I think that’s something we can only know once these restrictions are lifted and we can look at what the impact this will have on sales going forward. The answer to the question is nobody knows today what that means but we’re planing for a number of scenarios on how we will get back to the market.”

By Kalyeena Makortoff and Gwyn Topham

Burger King, KFC and Pret to reopen a limited number of stores across the UK for delivery only

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 16th April 2020) London, Uk – –

The chains reopen a limited number of stores across the country for delivery only.

Some of the UK's high street food brands are offering delivery-only services as they partially reopen some branches.

Burger King, KFC and Pret a Manger all closed their stores three weeks ago under the government's coronavirus lockdown.

But the fast food chains have reopened a limited number of stores across the country for delivery only.

Government guidelines dictate that while restaurants and bars must close, they may remain open as food delivery services.

A Burger King spokesperson said the firm has opened a select number of restaurants across England as part of what it calls a “phased reopening”.

Two stores in Bristol, one in Coventry and one in Swindon will open, becoming delivery-only outlets via apps such as JustEat and Deliveroo.

The company said more stores will be operational in the coming weeks, and that it will be providing staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves, and will only have a limited menu available.

It also said it will be donating 1,000 meals per week to staff working at NHS hospitals local to the reopened stores.

“We hope that reopening these restaurants for delivery services goes some way to lifting our customers' spirits in these difficult times,” said Burger King's marketing director Katie Evans.

Pret chief executive Pano Christou has told his customers in a blog post that the company has so far delivered 477,000 Pret items to 40 hospitals and 138 of their charity partners.

Ten of its stores in London will reopen for takeaway and delivery, with 160 members of staff volunteering to help prepare a reduced menu.

The chain will also provide essentials for front line staff such as milk, bread, and butter.

All 10 stores are located near hospitals – Pret has pledged a 50% discount for NHS workers for the rest of April and its charity partners will receive an additional 7,000 meals a week.

“My priority is always to protect our teams and customers as best we can, which means we have put in place a number of new social distancing measures to align with the government's guidance,” Mr Christou wrote.

KFC said it has opened 11 several stores across the UK, delivering a limited menu via Deliveroo.

The 11 stores are in:

  • Heaton Chapel, Manchester
  • Deansgate, Manchester
  • Tamworth
  • New Oscott, Birmingham
  • Manchester Hulme
  • Portsmouth
  • Aldershot
  • Cardinal Park, Ipswich
  • Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow
  • Great Western Park, Glasgow
  • Coliseum Retail Park, Enfield

The chain said staff will have the option to return to work, and only those who can travel without the use of public transport will be asked to come back.

KFC said it delivered more than 3,000 meals to NHS staff and other key workers last week, and has committed to providing 100 free meals from every open store every Tuesday to those on the front line “while the situation continues”.

“There's still a need for affordable, accessible food at this time – so we want to do our part,” a spokesperson said.

By David Chipakupaku

NEW WAYS TELEDENTISTRY CAN HELP YOUR DENTAL PRACTICE DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS?

TELEDENTISTRY THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE

Some people may think, teledentistry means searching the Web for information that might help a patient. Others may think, it is partaking of online continuing education courses. These two activities are not Teledentistry, they are actually Web surfing and distance learning.

Teledentistry, on the other hand, is a combination of telecommunications and dentistry, involving the exchange of clinical information and images over remote distances for dental consultation, treatment planning and in some cases certain treatments as will be discussed below.

The term “Teledentistry” was first used as far back as 1997, and was defined as – The practice of using video-conferencing technologies to diagnose and provide advice about treatment over a distance.

Click the following link below to read more

QLM Teledentistry

Burger King ‘plant-based’ Whopper ads banned

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 15th April 2020) London, Uk – –

Burger King has been banned from showing adverts suggesting its Rebel Whopper, which is cooked alongside meat and contains egg, is vegan-friendly.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the chain's claim that the burger is “100% Whopper, no beef” could be understood to mean it did not contain animal products.

Burger King said it had been “clear and transparent” in its marketing.

The Vegan Society said it was a “missed opportunity”.

“We communicated from the outset that the Rebel Whopper is aimed at a flexitarian audience,” the fast food chain said in a statement.

But the ASA found that Burger King's social media posts about the Rebel Whopper gave the impression it could be eaten by vegans and vegetarians.

The posts included a logo saying “Vegetarian Butcher”.

“The green colour palette and the timing of the ad and product release to coincide with ‘Veganuary' contributed further to the impression that the product was suitable for vegans and vegetarians,” the ASA said.

Some of the adverts included small print saying “cooked alongside meat products”.

But the ASA said: “We considered it was not sufficiently prominent to override the overall impression that the burger was suitable for vegetarians and vegans.”

When the burger was launched, the fast food chain said it was aimed at those who want to reduce their meat consumption.

But a spokesperson for the Vegan Society called the launch a “missed opportunity”.

Burger King told the ASA that it had been “clearly communicated” on social media and to journalists that the burger may not be suitable for vegetarians or vegans.

It also said that it had not included the “Vegetarian Butcher” logo in TV adverts because it was considered “potentially misleading”.

“Burger King explained that the product itself consisted of a 100% plant-based patty supplied by the Vegetarian Butcher and had no beef,” the ASA said.

“They added that a customer who did not want mayonnaise could have excluded that from their order.”

QLMTELEDENT Find Your Virtual Dentist

http://qlmteledent.com

Welcome to QLMTELEDENT – The new revolution in dentistry.

What if You Can See a Dentist Without Having to go to The Dentist

-Some don't have the time…too busy at work, business, family etc.
-Some out of fear …just the thought of the dental chair is enough to put some people off.
-Some just don't remember…six months passes and then another six month and before you know it, one or two years have passed.
-Of the other 50%, 40% of them don't like going to the dentist anyway!
-That leave just 10% that like going to the dentist….didn't want to leave you guys out

Does any of the above relate to you?

What if you can see a dentist without having to go to the dentist (for basic check-ups, advice etc) or only have to visit a dentist when you really need to?

Click the link below to find out more

qlmteledent.com

HS2 construction rail project given formal approval despite lockdown

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 15th April 2020) London, Uk – –

The government has given formal approval for construction work on the HS2 rail project to begin despite lockdown measures.

Construction firms involved in phase one of the high-speed rail project will need to follow social distancing rules.

HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson said: “We cannot delay work on our long-term plan to level up the country.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson approved the decision to build the rail link in February after a review into its cost.

Matthew Kilcoyne, deputy director of the free-market Adam Smith Institute, called the government's announcement “tone-deaf” in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Vanity projects'

Mr Kilcoyne said: “We've got an economic crisis that's going to cost taxpayers billions. We can't afford vanity projects like HS2.

“We need to get back on to a sustainable financial footing.”

The government's official report previously warned that the project could cost more than £100bn and be up to five years behind schedule.

On Tuesday Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned that the coronavirus pandemic “will have serious implications for the UK economy”.

He spoke after the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimated that a three-month lockdown would hit GDP and push up the UK's borrowing bill to an estimated £273bn this financial year.

HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson said: “This next step provides thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it.”

A notice to proceed has been given to four joint ventures, which will start work immediately, according to a statement by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The announcement was welcomed by the boss of the Construction Industry Council, Graham Watts. “The notice to proceed with HS2 is welcome at this time, particularly for the benefit of the economy,” he said.

“When the current crisis is over, planned recovery is vital and major infrastructural work such as HS2 and from Highways England, together with a recovery in housebuilding, is a key instrument for kickstarting the wider economy.”

Companies with HS2 contracts include Costain, Balfour Beatty and Skanska Construction UK.

Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, said: “The issuing of notice to proceed today ensures that our contractors and their supply chains have the confidence that they can commit to building HS2, generating thousands of skilled jobs across the country as we recover from the pandemic.”

Safety of the workforce

Construction workers on-site will need to observe Public Health England's advice on social distancing during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The GMB union, which represents HS2 construction workers, said that the safety of the workforce “must be the overriding priority”.

Eamon O'Hearn, its national officer, said that construction should be “conditional on rigorous observation of social distancing, provision of personal protective equipment where required”, as well as individual risk assessments for vulnerable workers.

HS2 is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. It is hoped the project will reduce passenger overcrowding and help rebalance the UK's economy through investment in transport links outside London.

HS2 minister Mr Stephenson added: “HS2 will be the spine of the country's transport network, boosting capacity and connectivity, while also rebalancing opportunity fairly across our towns and cities.”

Most small UK companies have no pandemic insurance – watchdog

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 15th April 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Most insurance policies bought by smaller companies do not cover for disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said on Wednesday.

The watchdog also told banks they must designate a senior manager accountable to the regulator for ensuring that their lending to small businesses is fair.

Britain is in lockdown, with many companies shuttered and millions of people furloughed as the country heads for a deep recession.

The FCA said most insurance policies for small and medium sized companies (SMEs) only gave basic cover, with no obligation to pay out in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While this may be disappointing for the policyholder we see no reasonable grounds to intervene in such circumstances,” FCA interim chief executive Christopher Woolard said in a letter to heads of insurers.

“In contrast, there are policies where it is clear that the firm has an obligation to pay out on a policy. For these policies, it is important that claims are assessed and settled quickly.”

Interim payments could be made on valid claims to speed things up, Woolard said.

“If you disagree with doing so, we would like you to send to us the grounds for reaching that decision including how you believe it represents a fair outcome for customers,” Woolard said.

The smallest companies could take their complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service, he said.

The FCA has also set up a new small business unit to ensure that the firms it regulates are supported in the crisis.

In a separate letter to heads of banks, Woolard said that each lender must designate a senior manager that oversees small business lending.

While business loans are generally not directly regulated, the FCA can fine and suspend a senior manager who is not treating customers fairly.

The government has set up a scheme for business disruption loans that banks are implementing, and Woolard said the FCA is monitoring how much money is flowing to companies.

Small companies have complained about treatment by banks in the past, accusing Royal Bank of Scotland’s “global restructuring group” of stripping assets from clients.

Two former bankers at HBOS, now owned by Lloyds, and four business partners were jailed in 2017 for a fraud that siphoned off money from struggling businesses.

“Our objective will be to ensure that there is not a repeat of the well documented historic issues in the treatment of SMEs,” Woolard said.

Reporting by Huw Jones

UK economy in April-June period could shrink by 35% – OBR

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 14th April 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy could shrink by 35% in the April-June period, and the unemployment rate could more than double to 10% due to the government’s coronavirus shutdown, the country’s independent budget forecasters said.

The Office for Budget Responsibility said the budget deficit could hit 273 billion pounds in the 2020/21 tax year, five times its previous estimate and equivalent to 14% of gross domestic product, its biggest since World War Two.

The projection was based on the assumption that the shutdown lasts for three months followed by another three-month period during which restrictions are partially lifted, the OBR said.

It said the economy could bounce back quickly after the plunge in the second quarter.

The OBR said public sector net debt could exceed 100% of gross domestic product during the 2020/21 financial year but end it at around 95% of GDP.

Before the crisis, the OBR had forecast debt would be 77% of GDP in 2020/21.

Writing by William Schomberg

UK Finance figures show one in nine mortgage borrowers on payment break

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 14th April 2020) London, Uk – –

UK Finance figures showed that around 61,000 mortgage holidays were being granted every day over recent weeks.

One in nine home loans in the UK are now on a mortgage holiday because of measures to support those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

UK Finance, the trade body for Britain's banks and building societies, said lenders had agreed to give repayment breaks to more than 1.2 million mortgage borrowers.

The number of payment holidays in place more than tripled in the two weeks between March 25 and April 8, growing from 392,130 to 1,240,680, the organisation said.

That meant an average of around 61,000 were being granted by lenders every day.

The figures were disclosed after a series of measures to help people facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic – including mortgage holidays – were announced by lenders a month ago.

For the average mortgage holder, the payment break amounts to £260 a month of suspended interest payments.

UK Finance chief executive Stephen Jones said: “The industry has pulled out all the stops in recent weeks to give an unprecedented number of customers a payment holiday, and we stand ready to help more over the coming months.

“We understand that the current crisis is having a significant impact on household finances for people across the country.”

However, Mr Jones said that payment holidays were not the right solution for everyone and borrowers should check with their lenders about the support available and how to apply.

The mortgage holidays are designed to help people struggling to make their payments, for example if they have had a pay cut or their work has temporarily stopped due to COVID-19.

They can request a mortgage payment holiday of up to three months.

Payment holidays are available to customers who are up-to-date on their mortgage payments. They will still owe the money and interest will still accrue.

Homeowners applying for a mortgage payment holiday will need to self-certify that their income has been either directly or indirectly impacted by coronavirus.

UK Finance has said firms will make every effort to ensure payment holidays do not negatively impact on credit files.

It added that telephone lines were extremely busy so customers were advised to look at their lender's website in the first instance.

Borrowers have been urged not to cancel their direct debits before a payment holiday has been agreed, as this will be counted as a missed payment and could impact their credit file.

Banks have been under pressure to act as the coronavirus crisis takes a heavy toll on the economic situation of millions of Britons.

Many have already axed dividends and cut bonuses for top bosses.

But analysis by Sky News last week revealed that banks were raising interest rates on mortgages, defying efforts by the Treasury and Bank of England to ease the burden on households.

John-Paul Ford Rojas

HOW CAN TELEDENTISTRY HELP YOUR DENTAL PRACTICE DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS?

TELEDENTISTRY THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE

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Teledentistry – QLM TeleDent