business news 15 June 2021.

James Salmon, Operations Director.

The delay to the lifting of restrictions is confirmed, unemployment figures, furlough scheme, bosses want staff vaccinated, differing views on the return to the office, international trade and other news.

Delay confirmed

As reported as expected on this blog yesterday, the government delayed the lifting of restrictions by 4 weeks from 21 June until the 19th July as the delta variant threatens to undermine the vaccination efforts. The PM promised a review after two weeks and said he couldn’t rule out a further postponement but said he’s  “pretty confident” there won’t be another postponement, but some members of his Conservative party hit out at the impact on the economy. There was however a relaxation for weddings,  with the 30-person limit being lifted to allow an unlimited number of guests, as long as there is no dancing.

Mr Johnson said scientists advising ministers warned that sticking to the planned June 21 lifting of restrictions could see a “significant resurgence” in people needing hospital treatment. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the decision to delay the easing of restrictions was made with a “heavy heart” but noted that the Government’s four tests for easing restrictions had not been met


UK Unemployment fell to 4.7% between February and April, official figures showed this morning. The rate of employment in the UK increased for the sixth consecutive month in May, with the number of payrolled employees rising by 197,000 to 28.5m.

Sunak not expected to alter furlough scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is not expected to alter or extend the wage subsidy furlough programme, despite the end date of lockdown being pushed back. From 1 July employers will have to contribute 10% of a furloughed employee’s wages, while the taxpayer picks up the other 70%. Nigel Morris, employment tax director at MHA MacIntyre Hudson, comments: “The Chancellor ought to adapt the wind-down of the furlough scheme in light of the delay to Freedom Day in order to save jobs and livelihoods”. He suggested Mr Sunak does not need to change the end date of the furlough scheme, but should keep the rate of Government contributions at 80%.

Quarter of bosses want staff to be vaccinated

Almost one in four managers say that they would only be willing to work with staff who have had two doses of coronavirus vaccinations, a survey by the Chartered Management Institute has found. The poll of 1,239 managers found that about one in five would be willing to share a workplace with those who had not been vaccinated or taken a lateral flow test. It was also found that half of bosses feared that members of their team might quit if they did not continue to offer flexible working when restrictions are lifted. Ann Francke, chief executive of the CMI, said that the poll underlined the “complexities that managers face and need to navigate on the return to their workplaces”.

Bosses keener for office return than staff

A study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that company bosses are keener than staff for workers to return to offices post-pandemic. The report found that 36% of people working from home believed they would keep the arrangement for most of the week, while 24% of managers plan to use increased home working in future. It was also shown that 85% of staff want to see a hybrid working model utilised. There remains a high degree of uncertainty on how the matter will pan out, with more than a quarter of firms still unsure what they will do. The ONS analysis shows that most people did not work from home during the pandemic. Overall, the proportion of working adults who did any work remotely hit 37% last year, up from 27% in 2019.

Nine in ten staff have hybrid hopes

Nine in ten UK workers want the option to work remotely once offices reopen, a study by workplace technology company OpenSensors suggests, with the same proportion calling for a better office set-up when they do go in. The report also shows that 90.5% of the 1,076 workers surveyed are being offered the option to pursue remote working once restrictions are fully lifted. On firms’ intentions in regard to their sites, 47% expect to expand their office space and real estate portfolios post-pandemic.

International Trade

The European Union and the U.S. are reportedly set to announce they have resolved their 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies. Elsewhere, broad terms of a free-trade deal between the U.K. and Australia were finalized at a dinner between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australia’s Scott Morrison last night.


Vodafone has chosen Samsung as a supplier for its 5G infrastructure in the UK, as it seeks to extend its coverage. One analyst described the move as a “breakthrough” for Samsung, in a market expected to be dominated by Ericsson and Nokia, after the UK joined other countries in banning Huawei products.

G7 deal may render tax havens obsolete

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian reflects on the tax plans set out at the G7 summit, saying finance ministers made an agreement that could spell the end of tax havens. The agreement will seek to set a basic 15% global tax on “stateless” multinational corporations in a deal Chancellor Rishi Sunak has described as “seismic”. Mr Jenkins says the agreement “has nothing to do with fiscal sovereignty”, noting that it would be a voluntary agreement to treat wealth equitably. He suggests that while there is “massive work still to be done, identifying loopholes and securing local agreements”, the agreement could eventually render tax havens obsolete, “and not before time”.

Men paid 23% more than women at director level

Data from recruitment platform Move Me On and employment data agency Payspective reveals a gender pay gap in senior positions, with male directors earning as much as 23% more than women, while there is a 9% gap at the associate level. The study found that the gender pay gap in 2020 was 22% compared to 19% in 2019 and 25% in 2018. Move Me On’s co-founder Nick Patterson says the 23% gap at director level is “simply staggering”, adding that with greater transparency around pay, “these hugely unfair inconsistencies can begin to be ironed out”.

Premier League clubs lose revenue for the first time

Calculations from Deloitte show that Premier League clubs have seen their biggest ever collective pre-tax loss amid the pandemic. Pre-tax losses were close to £1bn in the 2019/20 season, while clubs posted their first ever collective fall in revenue, with a 13% decline to £4.5bn compared with the previous season. While revenues fell, wages climbed 3% to £3.3bn, meaning that the wages to revenue ratio across top-flight clubs rose to a record high of 72%. Deloitte’s Dan Jones said: “The absence of fans, postponement of matches and rebates to broadcasters had a significant impact on revenue clubs have been able to generate.” He added that while the pandemic has delivered “the most challenging period for all concerned in the football industry”, Premier League clubs have showed “impressive resilience” in mitigating the financial impact.

London mortgages pricier than rents

According to analysis by real estate agent Hamptons, it is now cheaper to rent in London than own a home for the first time in four years. The reports shows that while owning a property in March last year was £123 cheaper than renting, those in rental accommodation are now £251 better off following monthly payments than homeowners with a mortgage. Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “Falling rents in the capital have made renting cheaper relative to buying by a bigger margin than anywhere else. And with rents still falling, the differential looks set to continue growing”.

Central bank digital currency could transform the economy

Josh Ryan-Collins, head of finance and macroeconomics at UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, reflects on a new Bank of England consultation focused on a UK central bank digital currency (CBDC) and the regulation of private digital currencies, arguing that the economy could be transformed by a central bank digital currency. Mr Ryan-Collins says that by a creating a CBDC, a central bank can considerably reduce the threat posed by non-bank currencies. He goes on to say that a CBDC could also provide the central bank with a new and potentially highly effective tool for monetary policy. Mr Ryan-Collins argues that a “well-designed digital cash with appropriate attention to the functioning of the banking system” could increase the resilience of the economy.

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