Londoners increasingly looking for jobs outside the capital, says job site

( via – – Fri, 25th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Wave of ‘reverse commuters’ in prospect as number of jobseekers looking further afield jumps 27%

Londoners are increasingly looking for jobs outside the capital as the city’s economy stalls, one of the UK’s largest recruitment sites has found, raising the prospect of a wave of “reverse commuters” or a continued exodus of residents.

Figures from Indeed, based on millions of job adverts and searches, show that on 18 September, the number of posts advertised in London was down by 55% on the same date in 2019.

The sharp decline reflects the impact of closed offices and reduced hospitality services on the city’s jobs market.

Many restaurants, hotels and shops in business and tourist areas remain closed or are operating at a reduced capacity.

With vacancies thin on the ground, Indeed said more jobseekers living in London were now looking for work elsewhere. In August, the number looking outside London was up by 27% year on year, and by 30% compared with the start of the year.

The most popular search locations were parts of the home counties, with Essex top of the list, followed by Kent and Surrey, suggesting that people were willing to commute to work, at least in the short term.

The roles being searched for were typically lower-paid, with the top five being cleaner, customer service representative, warehouse worker, retail assistant and sales assistant.

However, jobseekers may struggle to find work in those areas. When the website looked at the areas recording the biggest fall in adverts, Scotland followed London with a 51% drop, but next on the list was the south-east of England with a similar-sized fall.

Jack Kennedy, Indeed’s UK economist, said the prolonged absence of commuters and tourists from central London was “weighing down” the pace of job creation in the capital.

“While London’s flagship financial and tech sectors are still recruiting, the types of job that Londoners are searching for most commonly outside London tend to be roles that were long abundant in the capital – from retail to cleaning work – but which are now scarcer,” he said.

“Most are looking for work in areas within commuting distance of London. This raises the prospect of a new type of worker: the reverse commuter who lives in London but travels out of the capital for work.”

High London rents and house prices mean that many people previously working in these roles in the centre of the city could be living in boroughs near to where they are now looking for work. up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

Letting agents and property websites have reported a surge in the numbers of tenants and homeowners looking to move out of London, and the jobs market could be driving some of this movement.

Neal Hudson, a housing market analyst, said there was evidence that people in so-called elementary jobs lived in the affordable boroughs, typically on the outskirts.

“There is a question over whether these people will stick with where they live or look to move out closer to the work (if it exists) and also whether the transport infrastructure can support these reversals in commuting patterns,” he said.

By Hilary Osborne

Chancellor Rishi Sunak gives businesses extra flexibility on repaying COVID-19 loans

( via — Thur, 24th Sept 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday he would introduce a new scheme to give businesses flexibility to repay loans taken out during the coronavirus crisis, giving them up to 10 years to repay the loans rather than six.

Under the government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme, 1.3 million small businesses have taken out a total of 38.0 billion pounds ($48.4 billion) in loans worth up to 50,000 pounds each, from banks which have received a 100% state guarantee.

“To give those businesses more time and greater flexibility to repay their loans, we are introducing Pay-as-you-Grow. This means loans can now be extended from six to 10 years, more than halving the average monthly repayment,” Sunak told parliament.

“Businesses who are struggling can now choose to make interest only payments, and anyone in real trouble can apply to suspened repayments altogether for up to six months.”

Reporting by David Milliken and Andy Bruce

Lockdown fears cause shares to fall sharply in travel, hotel and pubs

( via – – Mon, 21st Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Leading shares across Europe have fallen sharply in morning trading amid fears that a renewed rise in coronavirus cases will blight economic prospects.

In London, the benchmark FTSE 100 share index was down more than 3%, with airlines, travel firms, hotel groups and pubs leading the rout.

Worst hit was British Airways owner IAG, which slumped more than 12%.

Similar falls were seen on markets in Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid.

Banking shares were affected by an extra set of concerns as allegations of money-laundering surfaced in leaked secret files.

HSBC, the bank at the centre of the scandal, saw its share price fall more than 5% in London, but the revelations dragged down the entire sector, with Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest all dropping about the same amount.

The downward trend affected all but a handful of stocks on the UK's 100-share index. Only online delivery service Just Eat, supermarkets Tesco and Morrisons and miner Fresnillo made it into positive territory.

The FTSE 250 index, seen as a better reflection of the health of the UK economy, was down 4% by lunchtime.

One of its biggest fallers was pub and restaurant owner Mitchells & Butlers, which dropped more than 15% as concerns grow that the hospitality industry would have most to lose from a fresh lockdown.

The pound also lost ground against the dollar, falling 0.47% to $1.2863 by lunchtime. It fell marginally against the euro to €1.0910.

Why does all this matter to me?

Many people are more affected by stock market falls than they might think.

There are millions of people with a pension – either private or through work – who will see their savings (in what is known as a defined contribution pension) invested by pension schemes. The value of their savings pot is influenced by the performance of these investments.

Pension savers mostly let experts choose where to invest this money to help it grow and a proportion will be in shares.

Widespread falls in share prices are likely to be bad news for these investments, although pension investors stress these are long-term investments and are designed to ride out bouts of weakness.

Analysis: By Theo Leggett

There has certainly been an element of European unity on the markets today, with the FTSE 100 index in London, the Cac 40 in Paris, the Dax in Frankfurt and the Ibex in Madrid all suffering similar falls.

The reason behind the gloom seems pretty clear. With the number of Covid-19 cases multiplying rapidly here and in many European countries, there's a real prospect of new restrictions on daily life. In some regions – such as Madrid, for example – they're already in place.

The fear is that although these measures are unlikely to be as severe as the lockdowns in spring, they will nonetheless weigh on economic activity and could stifle the post-lockdown recovery.

Shares are down across the board, but inevitably, the companies which rely on people being able to get out and about and mingle are among the worst affected.

Airlines, tourism firms and hospitality businesses have already had a dreadful year – and investors know they can ill afford further setbacks.

‘Bitter pill'

Coronavirus cases have been surging in many European countries, as governments strive to avoid another round of national lockdowns.

In the UK, top scientists are warning that the country is at a “critical point” in the pandemic and “heading in the wrong direction”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to be considering a two-week mini-lockdown in England – being referred to as a “circuit-breaker” – in an effort to stem widespread growth of the virus.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ”The FTSE 100 is worst hit among its European peers with a storm of pessimistic news swirling, affecting sectors across the board.”

She added that concerns for the travel industry had had a “domino effect”, with aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls Royce hit, as investors saw no end to the falling demand for new planes.

At the same time, the prospect of evening coronavirus curfews, after a summer of recovering sales, was “a bitter pill to swallow” for the hospitality industry,

If you add the prospect of a no-deal Brexit into the murky mix, there is little surprise so many investors seem to have caught a severe case of the jitters today.”

UK retail sales increase boosted by spending on household goods and DIY -ONS

( via – – Fri, 18th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

British retail sales have continued to increase for the fourth consecutive month, boosted by spending on household goods and DIY, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes rose by 0.8% between July and August.

Sales are now 4% higher than in February, when a pandemic was declared.

“Retail sales continued to grow, further surpassing their pre-pandemic level,” the ONS said.

“Sales of household goods thrived as the demand for home improvement continued and, despite a dip this month, online sales remained high,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS.

Spending on household goods was particularly strong in August, with retailers reporting a 9.9% jump in sales of homeware products compared with the pre-pandemic levels seen in February.

But August's increase was smaller than the post-lockdown rebound seen in July, when retail sales volumes grew 3.6%.

High Street ‘under pressure'

Online sales also fell by 2.5% in August when compared with the previous month. But the strong growth in the number of customers shopping online during the pandemic has meant that sales were still 46.8% higher than in February.

Although online retailers might have seen higher numbers of clicks in recent months, many High Street stores are still struggling to attract customers after lockdown measures were eased nationally.

The volume of items sold in clothing shops, for example, still stood 15.9% below February's pre-pandemic levels in August.

“Clothing stores continued to struggle with sales still well below their February level. Overall, the switch to greater online sales means the High Street remains under pressure,” Mr Athow added.

‘Mixed bag' recovery

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The recovery remains a mixed bag, with high growth in online sales, while city centre shops suffered as a result of low footfall.”

She added: “With further lockdowns looming, the government must provide clarity on the impact it will have for shops.

“Retailers have invested hundreds of millions making stores safe and secure for customers during the pandemic; this includes perspex screens, social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures. As such, retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under local lockdowns.”

While August saw some consumers returning to city centres to take advantage of the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme, industry figures have suggested those areas might struggle to reach pre-pandemic levels of footfall.

Entrepreneur and ex-Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis told the BBC's Today programme: “It's really interesting as you see the confidence in the consumer in travelling outside their house. Our business outside the metropolitan areas… is remarkably stronger than it is within.

“It's the fact that people lose the confidence to go far outside their normal area of habitat,” he said.

“It will never be the same again – I really can't see our stores ever reaching the levels in metropolitan areas that they did before, because I think the genie's out of the bottle.”

Several High Street chains also announced job cuts in August as they battled to shore up their businesses during the pandemic.

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger announced it would cut 3,000 jobs, or more than a third of its workforce, while department store chains Debenhams and M&S said they would be cutting 2,500 and 7,000 jobs.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said that the run-up to Christmas would be crucial for retailers.

“Retailers will be hoping that the fragile recovery is not derailed by more widespread lockdowns, rising unemployment or dented consumer confidence,” she said.

P&O Cruises cancel until 2021

( via – – Fri, 18th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

P&O Cruises has cancelled all its sailings until early 2021, further extending the suspension of its operations because of the continued spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The British cruise line, which is owned by the Carnival group, has repeatedly put its voyages “on pause”, most recently until mid-November.

All P&O’s Caribbean cruises have now been cancelled until the end of January 2021, and all cruises from or to Southampton have been suspended until the end of February. The company had already cancelled its longer cruises, including a round-the-world voyage, which ordinarily would have departed from Southampton in January.

P&O said that evolving restrictions on travel from the UK made the further cancellations necessary. Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises, said the company was monitoring the situation closely and would reintroduce cruises when feasible.

The company was working with scientists and government on new health measures for use on board when cruises resume. “We cannot wait for restrictions to ease, borders to open and for us to once again be able to set sail for a new beginning,” Ludlow added.

Customers who have bookings on cancelled cruises will be notified, and will receive a full refund or a credit worth 125% of their booking for a future cruise.

Cruising was hit hard in the early stages of the pandemic, when passengers on Carnival’s Diamond Princess were confined to their cabins after hundreds became infected with Covid-19, while other ships also became breeding grounds for the virus.

Carnival cut hundreds of jobs in the UK in May.

Earlier this week, the group reported an almost $3bn (£2.3bn) quarterly loss, as much of its global fleet remains suspended, including its other British cruise line, Cunard.

However, earlier in September Carnival restarted its first cruise in months with a seven-day voyage operated by its Italian subisdiary, Costa. Its German cruise line, Aida, is due to resume sailings in the autumn.

By Joanna Partridge

Next clothing retailer raises profit forecast again as sales increase

( via — Thur, 17th Sept 2020) London, UK —

By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) – British clothing retailer Next NXT.L raised its profit outlook for the second time in two months as it reported strong recent trading, helped by cooler weather and shoppers having more spare cash because they aren't spending on foreign holidays.

Shares in Next were 2.3% higher at 0935 GMT as it followed the positive trend set this week by H&M HMb.ST and Inditex ITX.MC, the owner of Zara, as retailers start to recover from the mass closure of shops caused by coronavirus lockdowns.

“Even in the event of another (national) lockdown it looks like the company will still make a significant profit and still reduce its year-end debt,” Next Chief Executive Simon Wolfson told Reuters.

What Next calls its central guidance now assumes a pretax profit of 300 million pounds in the year to the end of January 2021. That is up from its view in July of 195 million pounds but less than half the 729 million made in 2019-20.

Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer, said on Wednesday it had returned to quarterly profit in the May to July quarter and that current trade showed a progressive return to normality.

H&M on Tuesday beat quarterly profit forecasts, helped by more full-price sales and strong cost control.


Next, which trades from about 500 stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as 184 overseas outlets, and its Directory online business, said full-price sales in the last seven weeks were up 4% year-on-year.

Next, which does more than half of its business online, does not expect to sustain that growth. Its central scenario assumes that sales will be down 12% for the rest of the year.

That factors in the end of the UK government’s furlough job support scheme in October, colder weather worsening the effects of the pandemic and tightened social distancing rules depressing demand for gifts and clothing associated with traditional Christmas family gatherings.

The group forecast a 462 million pound reduction in net debt for the current financial year and Wolfson said it was looking for more small acquisition opportunities thrown up by the crisis.

The impact of coronavirus was stark in the six months to the end of July, when Next reported profit of only 9 million pounds, with full price sales down 33%.

Reporting by James Davey

Domino’s Pizza to hire an additional 5,000 staff after virus sales boost

( via– Tue, 15th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Domino's is benefiting from its takeaway business model as dine-in rivals continue to reel from the lockdown earlier this year.

Domino's Pizza says it is hiring an additional 5,000 staff following the surge in demand for takeaway meals during the coronavirus crisis.

The chain, which reported a 5% leap in sales over the first half of its financial year covering the full UK lockdown, said its ability to remain open in that time meant more people had an opportunity to join the business.

The new jobs, which include chef and delivery driver roles, are on top of 6,000 positions previously announced by Domino's during the pandemic as its franchisees continue to open more outlets.

It builds on the recent trend of services with lockdown immunity, such as supermarkets and delivery firms, taking people on at a time when the wider economy is gearing up for a jobs crisis as the government's furlough scheme winds down.

The Bank of England has forecast that three million could be out of work by the year's end, given the damage that COVID-19 has inflicted on livelihoods.

Analysis by Sky News shows hospitality to be the third worst-hit part of the economy despite the lift from the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Domino's, as a takeaway venture, was not able to take part but had previously said sales growth was not damaged by the discount offering during August because demand was boosted by staycationers.

Its fortunes are in stark contrast to those of dine-in rivals Pizza Express and Pizza Hut Restaurants which are cutting outlets as a result of the lockdown damage and collectively placing more than 1,500 jobs at risk.

In its announcement on Tuesday, Domino's said it would also create 1,000 apprenticeships under the government's Kickstart scheme aimed at helping young people find careers.

Chief executive Dominic Paul said: “Together, these over 6,000 new roles will help Domino's continue to safely
serve our local communities as we head towards the busy festive period.”

By James Sillars

UK economy continues recovery in July according to official figures

( via – – Fri, 11th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

By Dearbail Jordan Business reporter

The UK economy grew by 6.6% in July, according to official figures, but remains far below pre-pandemic levels.

It is the third month in a row that the economy has expanded.

But the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the UK “has still only recovered just over half of the lost output caused by the coronavirus”.

Hairdressers, pubs and restaurants contributed to growth after companies were allowed to reopen in July.

Is the UK economy back to pre-coronavirus levels?

Definitely not. The UK's economy – which is measured by the value and the volume of goods and services it produces – is still 11.7% smaller than it was in February, before lockdown was imposed.

Growth in July was also slower than the 8.7% expansion seen in June.

There are encouraging signs, however. Thomas Pugh, UK economist at Capital Economics, said the reopening of restaurants and pubs meant the accommodation and food services sector “rose by a whopping 140.8%” between June and July.

This had a knock-on effect for the alcohol industry which grew by 32.7%.

Keeping youngsters occupied while at home also continued to boost demand for toys and games, said the ONS, while holidaying in the UK supported campsites, cottages and caravan parks “because of a large increase in staycations”.

However, activity in the accommodation and food services sector was still 60.1% below the level recorded in February.

And while Mr Pugh expects the Eat Out to Help Out scheme to provide a further boost in August, “now that most sectors in the economy are open again there is little scope for further large rises in monthly GDP”.

Meanwhile, the car sector saw demand return to pre-pandemic levels.

“Car sales exceeded pre-crisis levels for the first time with showrooms having a particularly busy time,” said Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS.

Analysis: By Faisal Islam

Up, up, but not away. The UK economy continued a sharp recovery from lockdown in July, growing by a bumper 6.6% in the month. But the rate of recovery was a little slower than in June, raising some concerns about the ongoing strength of the bounce back.

The economy is still nearly 12% smaller than before the pandemic crisis, and has recovered just over half of the lost output during the shutdowns.

While the third quarter is on course to see a record number for growth and the official end of recession, fears remain that the recovery could peter out.

Business groups continue to push for extensions to government support packages that are due to close. The figures in July reflected the partial reopening of retail, manufacturing, and some public sector activities such as schools.

How long will recovery take?

Forecasts vary but the consensus is it won't be swift.

The UK fell into recession after activity shrank for the first and second quarters of this year after the government announced a lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

And in the three months to July, the economy shrank by 7.6%.

Mr Pugh questioned how strong the UK's recovery would be throughout the rest of the year.

“Talk of tax rises at the next Budget, a further deterioration in the Brexit negotiations and a worrying rise in the number of virus cases and tighter social distancing restrictions will all conspire to slow the recovery even further,” he said.

Dean Turner, economist at UBS Global Wealth Management, predicts that it will take until the end of 2021 before the UK recovers to pre-pandemic levels.

“Even with a managed exit from the Brexit transition agreement, it is unlikely that the lost output would be recovered before the end of next year,” he said.

“The latest twist in negotiations raises the prospect that any recovery may take longer.”

What risks lie ahead?

The number of coronavirus cases in the UK have begun rising again and social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday.

“The recovery likely will stall if, as looks likely, new Covid-19 infections continue to rise, keeping people working from home and avoiding consuming services that require close human contact,” said Samuel Tombs chief UK economist, Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“Accordingly, we continue to expect GDP to be about 5% below its peak at the end of this year.”

Meanwhile, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to end on 31 October.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been emphatic that it will not continue. However, the Resolution Foundation think tank said he “needs to reconsider his plans to swiftly phase out support given that the economic crisis will be with us for some time to come”.

Former prime minister and chancellor Gordon Brown, warned that ending the furlough scheme was a “cliff-edge” that could trigger “a tsunami of unemployment”.

“The government's got to change course here,” he told the BBC's Today programme.

Labour request furlough extension for pubs and bars to be granted

( via – – Tue, 8th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Blanket approach to ending scheme will mean a wave of closures, says shadow minister

Labour has warned that many pubs and bars will be forced to close unless the government agrees to extend the furlough wage support scheme, which is due to be withdrawn next month.

Night-time hospitality businesses have struggled as punters remain cautious about heading back to their local and Labour warned that the sector would suffer a wave of closures unless it received further help.

“Pubs are a vital part of our high streets and social fabric in communities up and down the country,” said Lucy Powell, the shadow business minister. “They have been hit hard by the pandemic, and Tory indifference and incompetence over many years means that many have gone to the wall.Advertisement

“Ministers’ blanket approach to ending the furlough scheme further threatens the future of many more. The furlough scheme must be extended for hard hit sectors to save jobs now.”

Labour, which reckons 5,500 pubs and bars have closed since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, is also calling for funds leftover from the government’s business grant scheme to be funnelled into a new Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund to help ailing businesses.

Figures released last month showed that sales at pub, restaurant and bar chains halved in July compared with last summer. Trade in bars was down almost two-thirds (63%) and pubs saw a 45% slump in the first month that businesses were able to reopen after the government eased lockdown restrictions.

Last month, the British Beer and Pub Association said more than a third of pubs failed to break even in July, and a quarter of pubs and bars were uncertain their businesses would still be viable by March next year.

“With our pubs grappling with the ongoing challenge of returning to the trading levels they were at before the lockdown, hundreds of thousands of jobs hang in the balance,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA. “A sector specific extension of the furlough scheme would be greatly welcomed by our sector.”

While the BBPA threw its weight behind an extension of the furlough scheme, industry figures have also identified other areas where the government could help.

Publicans have expressed bitter complaints about the financial impact of the“beer tie” arrangement that governs the relationship between large pub companies that own thousands of pub premises and the tenants who run the business.

Many publicans also expressed dismay after alcohol was excluded from the government’s six month VAT cut from 20% to 5% designed to stimulate the hospitality industry. More than 60% of the UK’s 47,000 pubs are “wet-led”, meaning they make more money from alcohol than food. Pubs are also facing huge rent bills with nearly all of the major pub companies opting to defer their demands, or offer a discounted rate, instead of cancelling payments as business has dried up during the pandemic.

Pubs, bars and restaurants also no longer enjoy the extra custom the government’s highly successful eat out to help out scheme brought in during August.

Last week, the government revealed that at least 100m meals were eaten by diners taking advantage of the scheme, which gave 50% off the price of a meal up to a maximum of £10 per head on Mondays to Wednesdays. The government has said the success of the scheme meant it would cost more than the £500m Rishi Sunak set aside in the July mini-budget.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We have stood by pubs and the communities they serve throughout the pandemic, providing targeted support for the sector including business rates holidays and cash grants of up to £25,000.

“The coronavirus job retention scheme will have been open for eight months from start to finish – with the government helping to pay the wages of over 9.6 million jobs so far. And support doesn’t end in October with the furlough bonus paying £1,000 per employee for those brought back to work and kept in employment into 2021.”

By Mark Sweney

HS2 rail project pledge 22,000 jobs as work officially begins

( via – – Fri, 4th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Construction work on HS2 officially begins on Friday, with companies behind the controversial high-speed rail project expecting to create 22,000 jobs in the next few years.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said HS2 would “fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity”.

He endorsed the rail link in February, with formal government approval granted in April despite lockdown.

But critics said HS2 will also cost jobs, and vowed to continue protesting.

HS2 is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. It is hoped the 20-year project will reduce passenger overcrowding and help rebalance the UK's economy through investment in transport links outside London.

HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston said the reality of high-speed journeys between Britain's biggest cities had moved a step closer.

When the project was mooted in 2009, it was expected to cost an estimated £37.5bn and when the official price tag was set out in the 2015 Budget it came in at just under £56bn.

But an official government report has since warned that it could cost more than £100bn and be up to five years behind schedule.

Some critics of HS2 describe it as a “vanity project” and say the money would be better spent on better connections between different parts of northern England. Others, such as the Stop HS2 pressure group, say it will cause considerable environmental damage.

When will HS2 open and how much will it cost?

The prime minister said HS2 was at the heart of government plans to “build back better” and would form “the spine of our country's transport network”.

“But HS2's transformational potential goes even further,” he added. “By creating hundreds of apprenticeships and thousands of skilled jobs, HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come.”

HS2's main works contractor for the West Midlands, the Balfour Beatty Vinci Joint Venture, has said it expects to be one of the biggest recruiters in the West Midlands over the next two years.

Up to 7,000 skilled jobs would be required to complete its section of the HS2 route, it said, with women and under-25s the core focus for recruitment and skills investment.

Other firms hiring include:

Another joint venture partner, EKFB, said it would recruit more than 4,000 people over the next two years for its section from Long Itchington Wood site in Warwickshire south to the Chiltern tunnel portals

Skanska Costain Strabag, Balfour Beatty Vinci Systra, Align JV and Mace Dragados JV, based in Greater London, will collectively recruit more than 10,000

HS2 Ltd itself is already directly recruiting for 500 new roles over the next three months, with the majority based in Birmingham.

HS2 Ltd's Mr Thurston said the railway would be “transformative” for the UK.

“With the start of construction, the reality of high speed journeys joining up Britain's biggest cities in the North and Midlands and using that connectivity to help level up the country has just moved a step closer,” he added.


Campaign group Stop HS2 said Boris Johnson and others who hail the creation of 22,000 jobs are “rather less keen to mention that HS2 is projected to permanently displace almost that many jobs”.

Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “Trying to spin HS2 as a job creation scheme is beyond desperate. Creating 22,000 jobs works out at almost £2m just to create a single job.”

But speaking on the BBC's Breakfast programme, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps disputed those figures.

“I can't see how there's an argument that making it easier to get about this country is somehow going to destroy jobs, quite the opposite in fact. It's clearly going to make the economy level up”, he said.

“Find those left behind areas, that have found themselves too disconnected before and join it together.”

Stop HS2 chairwoman Penny Gaines called the project “environmentally destructive” to wildlife: “This is why there are currently hundreds of activists camped out along the HS2 route. We don't expect them to go away any time soon.”

However, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), which fights for investment in the regional economy, said such major infrastructure projects are transformative and called for the planned extensions of HS2 to be started as soon as possible.

“Increasing capacity on the North's rail network and better connecting our towns and cities will be vital in the economic regeneration of the Northern Powerhouse – both now and long in the future,” said Henri Murison, director of the NPP.

Same dispute, new arguments

Analysis: By Theo Leggett

This is an important symbolic move for HS2, but in the real world it changes very little.

Work preparing for the new line – demolishing buildings and clearing sites for example – has already been going on for the past three years. And in some areas, construction work has also begun.

But the arguments over whether or not the railway should actually be built are continuing to rage.

The government has long insisted that it will help re-balance the country's economy, by promoting investment outside London. It now says the jobs created by the scheme will support the post-Covid recovery.

But opponents claim that lockdown has undermined the case for HS2 – by showing how easily people can work remotely, and how little business travel is really needed.

Same dispute, new arguments. But now shovels are – officially – in the ground.

Four of UK’s biggest housing developers could face court action over ‘Misleading’ leasehold buyers

( via– Fri, 4th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

The CMA launches enforcement action, saying it is “unacceptable” for housing developers to take advantage of home buyers.

Four of the country's biggest housing developers could face court action after the competition watchdog found evidence they misled leasehold buyers.

The Competition and Markets Authority has written to Barratt Developments, Countryside Properties, Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey after uncovering “troubling evidence of potentially unfair terms”.

The regulator accused developers of misleading buyers, trapping them in leasehold agreements with spiralling ground rents.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “It is unacceptable for housing developers to mislead or take advantage of homebuyers. That's why we've launched today's enforcement action.

“Everyone involved in selling leasehold homes should take note: if our investigation demonstrates that there has been mis-selling or unfair contract terms, these will not be tolerated.”

If you own the freehold, it means that you own the building and the land it stands on in perpetuity. But leaseholders only have a lease from the freeholder to use the home for a number of years.

A leaseholder has to pay ground rent to the freeholder, as well as a service charge for things such as maintaining common areas.

The CMA said developers had not clearly explained ground rent to buyers and that some ground rents were set to double every year.

When potential buyers asked if they could become freeholders, some were told the properties were only available on a leasehold basis. But the CMA said the same houses were later sold as freehold to other buyers.

Some leasehold buyers were also told it would be cheap to upgrade to freehold, only to find that the price later increased by thousands of pounds.

Mr Coscelli said: “Everyone involved in selling leasehold homes should take note: if our investigation demonstrates that there has been mis-selling or unfair contract terms, these will not be tolerated.”

The CMA said that it would take the companies to court if needed, but this could be avoided if they committed to changing the way they do business.

Barratt said: “The group is committed to putting its customers first and will continue to cooperate with the CMA whilst it completes its investigation.”

Taylor Wimpey said: “The board takes this very seriously and Taylor Wimpey will continue to fully cooperate with the CMA, provide the further information to be requested by the CMA in the coming weeks and work with them to better understand their position.”

Persimmon said: “A proportion of our properties were sold on a leasehold basis in the past.

“Following consultation with government, stakeholders and customers we took the decision to stop selling leasehold houses where Persimmon owns the land freehold in 2017.

“Any customers of a Persimmon leasehold property in the last six years have been given the right to buy their lease at below market value and many have done so.”

Uk firms offered £1,500 in Kickstart scheme to hire under-24s

( via – – Wed, 2nd Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

The government is urging firms to sign up for a scheme to create work placements for young people who are at risk of becoming long-term unemployed, just as many companies are shrinking their workforces.

The Kickstart scheme will offer “a future of opportunity and hope”, according to the Treasury, by offering government-subsidised roles to thousands of under-24-year-olds.

Businesses can join the scheme from Wednesday, with the state paying employers £1,500 to help set up support and training.

How does it work?

Selected out-of-work young people will be offered six-month work placements, for at least 25 hours a week, to help them gain experience, skills and confidence. The scheme is designed to be a stepping stone to further employment.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it was an “opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic”.

Who will it help?

Anyone between the age of 16 and 24 who is out-of-work and claiming Universal Credit may be eligible. Government figures suggest that there are already more than half a million people who fall into this category.

Jobcentre staff will identify people at risk of long-term unemployment to refer to the scheme, and Jobcentre work coaches will support candidates before and after their placement.

The government aims to have the first placements on offer from November.

Who is paying?

The government will fund each Kickstart job – paying 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for a 25-hour a week.

Employers can top up pay out of their own pockets, or extend the hours if they wish.

In addition, the government is offering employers £1,500 to set up support and training for those taking part, or other set-up costs such as buying uniforms.

The government has puts a £2bn price tag on the scheme, which it says could fund over 250,000 placements.

What do firms need to do?

From 2 September larger employers can visit to register their interest. Employers interested in offering fewer than 30 Kickstart roles should apply through a representative organisation, the Treasury said.

Tesco and Network Rail are among the companies who have said they will take part, with Tesco offering 1,000 placements.

The scheme will run until at least December 2021 and covers the whole of the UK.

“I think the scheme has got some merit,” John Nollett, chief executive or Pressmark Pressings, an engineering firm, told the BBC's Wake Up to Money programme.

“We'd be keen to get people into work who haven't been in work before.”

He said he liked apprenticeships as a way to give young people a flavour of engineering, and shorter programmes such as this mean younger workers can try a job and see if they enjoy it, without signing up to a longer commitment.

However, he said more clarity on the scheme would have enabled him to plan more.

“Getting information has been really difficult and understanding how we go about this has been tough.”

Why do we need Kickstart?

A period of unemployment at an early stage in a person's working life can have “multiple scarring effects”, according to academic research, with knock-on consequences for society over decades.

This year thousands of young people have already been furloughed or lost their jobs as the pandemic tore into the hospitality and retail in particular, sectors that employ a lot of young people. On top of that, more than 700,000 more people are leaving education and entering the labour market at an extremely difficult time.

As a result, there are already more than 800,000 under-24-year-olds receiving Universal Credit, many of whom are out of work.

“We are really reassured that the government has recognised that young people are particularly hit by this period,” said Michele Farmer, director for central England for the Prince's Trust, which helps young people into work.

She admitted the programme will have challenges, including ensuring genuine jobs are on offer.

“In an ideal world you would want to know that anybody entering into this kind of scheme has a real commitment to offering a genuine job at the end of it,” she told the BBC's Today programme. But the scheme is “a kickstart for business as well as for young people”.

Will it work?

Employers' organisations have welcomed the chancellor's scheme. But in the past, from the Youth Opportunities Programme in the late 1970s to the Future Jobs Fund following the last recession, schemes to support young people into work have generally been met with a degree of scepticism.

They don't always offer the level of training or experience participants hoped for, and firms are often accused of using them as a pool of cheap labour to replace older, more expensive employees.

It can be hard to calculate whether roles created for such schemes are “additional” jobs or simply subsidised places that would have been created anyway.

Moreover, the scheme will only get up and running if firms are happy to take on new recruits at a time when many are shedding workers and reducing their operations.

Above all, it will only work as a stepping stone into permanent employment if those “proper” jobs are available.

UK economic recovery in August fuelled by ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme

( via– Fri, 28th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

Guardian analysis shows pace of job cuts on back of Covid-19 crisis remains the concern

Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19 gathered pace in the past month, fuelled by consumer spending and people taking advantage of the government’s “eat out to help out” scheme, despite fears mounting over rapid growth in unemployment.

On the Guardian’s latest monthly tracker of economic news since the pandemic spread to Britain this spring, the release of pent-up demand with the easing of lockdown is driving the sharpest rebound in economic growth among the G7 advanced economies, while retail spending has returned to pre-crisis levels.

However, after the country plunged into the deepest recession on record in the three months to June, companies have started making job cuts at a faster pace than during the 2008 global financial crisis, with hundreds of thousands of redundancies announced in the past few weeks alone.

Sounding the alarm as the UK government prepares to remove its furlough job retention scheme this autumn, Frances O’Grady, the director general of the TUC, warned that continued support would be required to avert a jobs catastrophe and long-term damage to the economy.

Writing in the Guardian, she said: “Without urgent action we face the prospect of mass unemployment on a scale not seen since the 1980s.”

Issuing an appeal to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, she said: “There is still time to stop mass unemployment. We worked together once before as this crisis began: I will work with you again if you are serious at stemming the haemorrhage of jobs.”

The Guardian has chosen eight economic indicators, as well as the level of the FTSE 100, to track the impact on jobs and growth from Covid-19 and the measures used to contain it. Faced with the deepest global recession since the 1930s Great Depression, the Covid Crisis watch will also monitor how the UK is faring compared with other countries.

In the past month, private sector business activity has risen at the fastest pace in seven years as companies race to catch up on work put on hold during lockdown. The increase in demand for services and manufactured goods, which followed the easing of restrictions during the summer, sent the IHS Markit CIPS flash UK composite output index to 60.3 in August, up from 57 in July. On a scale where a figure above 50 indicates expansion, the latest figures suggest the UK is recovering faster than the US, China and the eurozone.

The recovery comes after Britain was officially confirmed to be in the deepest recession since modern records began in the 1950s, with gross domestic product (GDP) falling by 20.4% in the second quarter.

In the deepest decline of any nation in the G7 and the EU, the slump was worsened by the later launch of lockdown and prolonged use of controls to limit the spread of the virus. In a reflection of the deeper downturn for Britain, non-essential shops were closed for just 50 days in Germany, compared with 84 days in the UK.

Retail sales jumped above pre-pandemic levels in July during the first full month since the relaxation of restrictions, as shoppers gradually returned to the high street. The hospitality sector also received a shot in the arm from the “eat out to help out” scheme, with a Monday-to-Wednesday boom at restaurants, pubs and cafes in August. More than 64m discounted meals – the equivalent of one for almost every person in Britain – have been claimed by venues taking part in the scheme so far.

However, significant pressure remains for firms, threatening a sharp increase in unemployment this autumn. Online spending remains higher than before the crisis struck, footfall remains down in several big cities amid the continued absence of office workers, and demand remains weak in certain sectors more reliant on social interaction or travel, such as entertainment, aviation and tourism.

Millions of workers have been brought back from furlough as firms gradually reopen with physical distancing measures in place, with the total number of people on the government’s wage subsidy scheme down from a peak of about 9 million in May to about 4.5 million at the start of August. up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDeskAdvertisement

However, more than half of the workforce in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry remains furloughed, compared with only 13% still away from work for the economy as a whole, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Despite the government scheme protecting millions of jobs, official figures show almost three-quarters of a million jobs have been shed from company payrolls since March. Economists say unemployment is set to more than double as the government rolls back the furlough scheme this autumn and as firms cut their costs amid weaker levels of demand while Covid-19 remains a risk to health.

Warning that the crisis is far from over, O’Grady said employers would need continued government support to protect jobs and create new ones as the risks from the pandemic gradually recede.

“Mass unemployment is not inevitable. If the government acts fast to keep people in work, our economy will recover faster and our country can build back better,” she said.

By Richard Partington Economics correspondent

Fifty of UK’s biggest employers plan for no return to the office for millions of staff

( via – – Wed,26th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

Fifty of the biggest UK employers questioned by BBC have said they have no plans to return all staff to the office full-time in the near future.

Some 24 firms said that they did not have any plans in place to return workers to the office.

However, 20 have opened their offices for staff unable to work from home.

It comes as many employees return to work from the summer holidays with the reality of a prolonged period of home working becoming increasingly likely.

The BBC questioned 50 big employers ranging from banks to retailers to get a sense of when they expected to ask employees to return to the office.

One of the main reasons given for the lack of a substantial return was that firms could not see a way of accommodating large numbers of staff while social distancing regulations were still in place.

Many companies said they were offering choice and flexibility to those who want to return, particularly in the banking and finance sectors.

A few firms have already announced they have no plans to return to the office until late autumn, and Facebook has said it does not plan a return of employees until July 2021.

Some smaller businesses are deciding to abandon their offices altogether. Tara Tomes runs a PR agency with an office in the heart of Birmingham's business district.

Her team of eight cannot fit in the space they have if they are to obey social distancing guidelines and she will not be renewing the office lease in September.

“I personally don't want to force my team back onto public transport,” she told the BBC.

“Not having four walls around us won't change the dynamic or culture of the team. If anything it will make us more pioneering in the way the world of work is going.”

She said that the money saved on rent and utilities and the time spent not commuting were other benefits to giving up the office.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street acknowledged that the challenges facing city centre businesses were grave but said he was hopeful the climate would gradually improve.

“This is undeniably a very difficult situation for businesses that thrive on the back of the big office occupiers being there. What we are trying to do is steadily build confidence that it is safe to return to the city centre.”

He said Birmingham's transport system was currently carrying about 20% of pre-covid numbers but that he hoped this would rise to 50% over the autumn.

Still, that means that city centre footfall – which is the lifeblood of businesses that rely on office workers and commuters – would in the best case scenario be half of what it is in normal times.

That may be cold comfort to Naomi and her brother James who opened up a new coffee shop in the heart of Birmingham's business district earlier this year. They are now getting less than a fifth of the trade they were banking on.

“It's been devastating really,” Naomi told the BBC. “Office workers are absolutely critical to us. We are hoping things improve in September but if they don't we will have to rethink the whole business.”

It is, however, too soon to announce the death of the office, according to Rob Groves from office developer Argent, which has just completed the construction of 120,000 feet of office space in Birmingham's Chamberlain Square.

While he admitted that some would-be tenants were pressing the pause button, he also insisted there would always be a need for a workplace where people could congregate and collaborate.

“I'd like to challenge people saying they will never need an office and ask them in 12-18 months time whether that was the right decision or just a reaction to what's happening now.”

One of Argent's blue chip tenants agrees. Accounting and consultancy firm PwC has just moved into the property next door. It is supposed to house 2,000 people but is currently catering to just 150 each day.

Nevertheless, Matthew Hammond, chairman of the Midlands region for PwC, said that the office was a must have, particularly for younger workers.

“We have colleagues who may be working at the end of their bed or on a return unit in their kitchen. That is not sustainable or healthy for the longer term. As employers we invest a huge amount in providing the right environment, the right seating, the right technology so people can be at their most productive.”

Not everyone has deep enough pockets to afford such flexible working spaces. While many employees want the option of coming to the office, many now see home working as a right, according to Midlands recruitment specialist Kam Vara.

“For many candidates it's now a deal-breaker if there isn't an option for home working, and some are saying they want 100% home working with no physical contact with the office whatsoever.”

The knock-on effects of these changes to the world of work could be enormous and long lasting. If people don't need to be in the office, they can be anywhere. And the cost of commuter season tickets and expensive suburban housing within commuting distance of big cities is an expense employers could deduct.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street is optimistic that what we are witnessing is simply an age old tale of urban evolution, with Covid-19 holding down the fast forward button.

“The calling of the death of the office is very premature. Cities have repurposed themselves before over decades… the coronavirus has just speeded it up.”

That may be so, but the short term shock to the city business model feels more like a cardiac arrest than a gentle evolution. And the reluctance on the part of both workers and employers to return to the office poses a grave economic threat to the future of city centres.

By Simon Jack Business editor

Top 10 SKILLS To Learn For Your FUTURE

Source: Alux

In this video we'll try to answer the following questions: What are the best skills for the future? Which are the best skills to learn in 2020? How to upskill? Which skills are best to learn? Which skills are evergreen? Which are the best skills to learn for the future? Which skills are future proof? What is the best skill to learn in 2020? What are the top 10 job skills? What skills are employers looking for in 2020? What skills do you learn in 2019? What skill can I learn in 3 months? What is the best skill to learn?

Crossrail £450m over budget and delayed until 2022

( via – – Fri, 21st Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

Holdup only partly down to pause in construction because of Covid-19, TfL says

Crossrail, the mass-transit train line through London, has been further delayed until 2022 and gone another £450m over budget.

Transport for London said that the temporary pause in construction and ensuing slowdown because of Covid-19 distancing requirements had only partially contributed to the latest delays, which mean the Elizabeth line will open more than three years late and cost almost £4bn more than originally budgeted.

The announcement follows a Crossrail board meeting, which concluded that any 2021 opening date was an unrealistic target, only a month after it ruled out opening next summer.

Crossrail said it was working to finalise the cost estimates and the exact budget remains unclear, with additional Network Rail costs due to be factored in, but that it was at least £450m more than the estimated range in November 2019, which would make the current expected budget up to £18.7bn.Timeline

Crossrail – two decades of delays and rising costs

The giant infrastructure scheme had been planned to cost £14.8bn, with services across the heart of London to start operating in December 2018, but the problems in its delivery were formally admitted only months before the planned opening by the Queen was due to take place.

Crossrail’s chief executive, Mark Wild, said: “Our focus remains on opening the Elizabeth line as soon as possible. Now more than ever Londoners are relying on the capacity and connectivity that the Elizabeth line will bring and we are doing everything possible to deliver the railway as safely and quickly as we can.”

While delivery of the Elizabeth line was in its complex final stages, according to a Crossrail statement, the project was being completed at a time of great uncertainty because of the risk of more coronavirus outbreaks.

Crossrail admitted that construction had been slow, with “lower than planned productivity in the final completion and handover of the shafts and portals” of the line. It said it had also overestimated the speed at which it could finish and hand over the new stations built in central London. Covid-19 had exacerbated schedule pressures, it said, with constraints on how many people could work on site, currently reducing numbers by half to about 2,000 workers.

The business group London First described the delay as “disappointing but unsurprising” and said it should “not distract from the need for a fair and sustainable long-term funding solution for TfL”.

Crossrail hopes to start intensive testing of train services, or trial running, as soon as possible in 2021. Bond Street station remains incomplete and not ready to be part of the tests. up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

The scheme, when completed, is designed to carry up to 200 million passengers a year across the capital from beyond the far west of London to eastern suburbs. As well as relieving London’s normally congested tube system, it will eventually provide fast, direct links between Heathrow airport and Reading to central London, the financial districts, with branches to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The central underground section has been the major work, with 13 miles of new tunnels from Paddington to Abbey Wood. However, even when it finally opens, Crossrail has not squared when it can join up with the other two parts of the Elizabeth line, which have different signalling systems and already operate services on existing, overground rail lines.

For an unspecified period, passengers wishing to travel from the western end, from Reading and Heathrow, will have to change at the Paddington mainline station to join Elizabeth line services for central London and passengers on the eastern branch to Shenfield will have to change trains at Liverpool Street.

By Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

Michel Barnier says UK-EU trade deal ‘seems unlikely’

( via – – Fri, 21st Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

A post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU “seems unlikely” at this stage, the bloc's negotiator has said.

Speaking after the latest round of talks, Michel Barnier said he was “disappointed” and “concerned”.

His UK counterpart David Frost spoke of “little progress”, amid differences on fisheries policy and state aid rules.

The EU has said it would like to agree a deal by October so it can be approved by the European Parliament before the post-Brexit transition period expires.

The transition period ends on 31 December and, if a deal has not been secured by then, the UK would have to trade with the EU on WTO (World Trade Organization) terms.

This means most UK goods would be subject to tariffs until a free trade deal was ready to be brought in.

The UK has said it will not extend talks if an agreement cannot be reached by the December deadline.

In a statement released after the seventh round of talks, Mr Frost said the EU had made it “unnecessarily difficult” to make progress by insisting that differences over state aid and fisheries have to be resolved before “substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts”.

‘Sovereign control'

In a bid to break the deadlock, the UK has presented the EU with a draft legal text for a free-trade agreement.

Mr Frost, who reports directly to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said the UK was seeking a deal which “ensures we regain sovereign control of our own laws, borders, and waters”.

Frustration on both sides

By Nick Beake, Brussels correspondent

We were never expecting a big breakthrough this week. But the frustration and exasperation expressed publicly on both sides underlines how tough reaching a meaningful deal will be over the next six weeks.

For the UK, it's a frustration that the EU is not willing to commit to paper areas of agreement until the big stumbling blocks – fishing and state aid – are overcome.

For the EU, it's a frustration that the British continue to want the benefits of the single market – for UK hauliers, for example – without paying the membership fee or signing up to its rules.

Amid the talk of disappointment, time-wasting and a lack of compromise, both sides insist they do want a deal.

I'm told the latest round of discussions were courteous and friendly, with a warmth between the two chief negotiators facing each other – even if each is delivering an uncomfortable message.

They've been sitting in the other's gaze, but hardly seeing eye-to-eye.

“When the EU accepts this reality in all areas of the negotiation, it will be much easier to make progress,” he said.

A senior UK negotiating official added that a deal was “still possible but not that easy to get there”.

They also said it was “frustrating” that the EU “says Brexit means Brexit… yet they want us to continue with arrangements as though we were still [an EU] member”.

“Frustrating that they want us to move towards their position on fishing and state aid before doing anything else.”

‘Wasting time'

Speaking at a press briefing in Brussels, Mr Barnier accused the UK side of “wasting valuable time”, suggesting the draft text was “useful” but downplaying its significance in reaching any agreement.

“Too often this week it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards,” he said.

“Given the short time left, what I said in London in July remains true, today at this stage, an agreement between the UK and EU seems unlikely.”

While there had been progress on energy co-operation, participation in union programmes and anti-money laundering, on the subject of access to UK and EU fishing waters, there had been “no progress whatsoever”.

He also said the EU's demand for a level-playing field – one of the other sticking points in negotiations – was “a non-negotiable pre-condition to grant access to our market of 450 million citizens”.

A level-playing field is a trade policy term for a set of common rules and standards that prevent businesses in one country undercutting their rivals and gaining a competitive advantage over those operating in other countries.

The EU has been insistent there should be level-playing field for workers' rights, environmental protection, taxation and state aid.

The next round of talks is due to begin on 7 September in London.

Yo! Sushi to shut 19 restaurants and cut 250 staff

( via – – Fri, 14th aug 2020) London, Uk – –

Yo! Sushi has announced it will close 19 restaurants and cut 250 staff as part of a company-wide restructure.

The company is launching a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), allowing it to shut loss-making sites.

It said the current climate and “changes in consumer behaviour” meant that rents at some restaurants were unsustainable.

Yo!'s boss Richard Hodgson said: “While we have already taken measures to reduce costs, rents remain an issue.

“In the current climate, it's just not viable for us to keep any sites that no longer perform.”

The company also said the CVA will mean it can exit nine sites where it no longer operates but is still responsible for the rent.

‘Eat out to help out'

Yo! Sushi currently had 59 restaurants and 10 concessions in the UK.

The company is taking part in the government's ‘eat out to help out' scheme, which gives people a discount of up to £10 per head if they dine at a restaurant between Monday and Wednesday during August.

However, Mr Hodgson said: “Like the rest of the sector, we need to take decisive action to adapt to the lasting changes that the covid pandemic has brought about.”

“While it's been a very difficult decision to make and I am very sorry that it will mean losing many of our team members, a CVA has become an essential measure to secure our business for the future, and enable us to protect as many jobs as possible.”

More job losses

Meanwhile, the retail sector continues to haemorrhage jobs with River Island announcing that it will cut 350 store management and senior sales roles.

It adds to 250 jobs River Island said would be lost at its head office.

Earlier this week, Debenhams said it would axe 2,500 roles. That is on top of 4,000 job cuts the department store announced in May.

UK economy plunges into deepest recession since comparable records began in 1955

( via – – Wed, 12th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

GDP falls 20.4% – the worst of any G7 nation in the three months to June

Britain has entered the deepest recession since records began as official figures on Wednesday showed the economy shrank by more than any other major nation during the coronavirus outbreak in the three months to June.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic prosperity, fell in the second quarter by 20.4% compared with the previous three months – the biggest quarterly decline since comparable records began in 1955.

After a decline of 2.2% in the first quarter, the figures confirm the UK economy plunged into recession after the Covid-19 outbreak spread in March and the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain it. Economists consider two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP as the technical definition of a recession.

After resisting the launch of lockdown controls until later than other countries around the world and relaxing them at a slower pace, the ONS said the UK had plunged into the deepest decline of any G7 nation in the second quarter.

Britain’s decline was more than double the 10.6% fall in the US over the same period and also surpassed declines in France, Germany and Italy among G7 nations that have reported second-quarter figures so far. Canada and Japan have yet to publish second-quarter data but are not expected to record greater falls than Britain.

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said: “I’ve said before that hard times were ahead and today’s figures confirm that hard times are here. Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs and, sadly, in the coming months many more will. But while there are difficult choices to be made ahead, we will get through this and I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity.”

Confirming the onset of the deepest recession since records began, the ONS said the decline in the second quarter was widespread, with a dramatic plunge in output across the services, production and construction industries. Reflecting the public health restrictions and forms of voluntary physical distancing in response to Covid-19, it said the pandemic had erased 17 years of economic growth in only two quarters – taking the level of GDP back to the equivalent position in June 2003.

Britain’s dominant services sector – which includes hotels, restaurants and finance – recorded a 19.9% plunge on the quarter, while the construction sector declined by 35%. The production industries – which include manufacturing, mining and energy provision – fell by 16.9%.

Spending in the economy by households and businesses plunged by a quarter as lockdown measures forced people to stay at home, shops closed, building sites fell idle and factories paused production.

However, monthly figures for the economy indicate that Britain’s economy continued to recover from the pandemic in June as lockdown measures were gradually relaxed and pent-up demand fuelled a rise in consumer spending. GDP grew by 8.7% in June compared with the previous month – faster than expected by City economists.

The latest snapshot confirmed growth returned in May and strengthened in June, although not by enough to offset a dramatic collapse in output in April during the first full month of restrictions on business and social life, which was deep enough to push the economy into negative growth across the quarter.

Jonathan Athow, the deputy statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to the biggest fall in quarterly GDP on record.

“The economy began to bounce back in June, with shops reopening, factories beginning to ramp up production and housebuilding continuing to recover. Despite this, GDP in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.”

Eat Out to Help Out scheme hailed a success as 10.5 million discounts claimed in first week

( via– Tue, 11th Aug 2020) London, Uk – –

The Treasury has hailed the scheme, aimed at supporting the hospitality industry, a success so far as it enters its second week.

The government's Eat Out to Help Out initiative was used to help pay for almost 11 million meals in its first week, according to the Treasury.

Figures showed HM Revenue & Customs, which is administering discount claims by restaurants, pubs and cafes, had received requests totalling towards 10.5 million meals so far.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the data showed people were supporting the sector, and its two million workers, in “big numbers”.

The scheme, aimed at supporting the hospitality industry following the coronavirus crisis lockdown, is operating Monday to Wednesday each week during August.

It offers UK diners a 50% discount – up to a maximum of £10 per person – on food and non-alcoholic drinks at more than 80,000 participating restaurants, cafes and pubs when customers dine-in only.

The discount is later clawed back through claims submitted to HMRC.

Payouts should take no longer than five working days.

Given that a total of 10,540,394 meal discounts have been claimed for to date – it means the scheme has cost the taxpayer up to £105.4m because of the £10 threshold.

There was already evidence of strong demand.

Retail industry figures credited a “boost” from Eat Out to Help Out for a rise of almost 19% on visits to high streets after 6pm between Monday and Wednesday last week, compared to the previous week.

Springboard's data also showed an increase of almost 10% during lunchtime trade on those days.

Springboard's report showed shopper numbers across all retail destinations were 3.8% higher last week compared to the week before – continuing a gradual recovery in confidence since lockdown restrictions were eased.

Separate data from money app Yolt suggested the beginning of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme delivered a 14% increase in people eating out.

It has previously estimated the scheme will cost £500m but prove invaluable in preventing job losses across a sector so crucial to the UK economy.

It is hoped that staycationers will provide a lifeline to the wider hospitality industry, though some experts have questioned whether the dining discount scheme will take demand away during traditional busy periods, such as weekends.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “The jury is still out regarding the benefit of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme which launched last week, although there were rises in footfall on each day between Monday and Wednesday from the week before.

“It is clear that it was the post-6pm period that yielded the greatest rise in footfall, and also that smaller towns benefited more than large city centres.

“As the scheme continues throughout August and more Brits enjoy staycations across the UK, time will tell if the government scheme provides the boost that retail destinations across the country require for business survival.”

By James Sillars