How to defeat covid – business news 22 July 2021

James Salmon, Operations Director.

How to defeat covid, Shoppers told there is no need to panic buy,  UK borrowing falls amid swift recovery, London staff want to be paid to return to office, UK property sales hit new record in June and more business news.

How to defeat covid

Covid-19 can be beaten if 70% of every nation’s population is vaccinated by mid-2022, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as he called for a massive global inoculation drive. “The pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it,” he said.

A global failure to share vaccines, tests and treatments is fueling a two-track pandemic. “The haves are opening up, while the have-nots are locking down,” he said in a speech at the International Olympic Committee Session.

Shoppers told there is no need to panic buy

Supermarkets have warned the rising number of retail workers being forced to self-isolate is beginning to affect the availability of some products. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwateng said the government was “concerned about instances of shortages” “I don’t want people to get the impression that every shelf in every supermarket is bare – that is not the case but we are certainly concerned about instances of shortages, we are looking at the supply chains of critical industries and we are reviewing that situation,” he added.

However, the pingdemic has hit many industries, including retailers themselves. HGV drivers are also in short supply as both the self isolation rules and a shortage following a return of many to Europe has hit the industry.

Supermarkets emphasized though that any shortages were only in isolated, short term instances and urged shoppers not to panic buy, saying it was not necessary.

UK borrowing falls amid swift recovery
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show the Government borrowed £22.8bn last month, the second highest June total on record but £5.5bn lower than June last year. Borrowing was £69.5bn for the first quarter of the year, £18.9bn lower than the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast, indicating that the economy is recovering more quickly than expected. However, with inflation surging, the state spent a record £8.7bn in interest on repaying its debts last month – more than three times as much as the £2.7bn in interest payments seen in June 2020. The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that the lower-than-expected borrowing was likely to prove only temporary, and combined with rising debt interest costs, would leave the Chancellor Rishi Sunak with “very little room for manoeuvre” in his forthcoming Spending Review.


The UK Government said it plans to sell a part of its stake in NatWest in a trading plan managed by Morgan Stanley. The UK Treasury currently owns 6.34 billion shares in NatWest, representing a 54.7% stake. While the trading plan has been entered into on Thursday, the earliest that the sales will commence is August 12. The plan will run no later than August 11, 2022.

London staff want to be paid to return to office
London office workers want an average pay rise of £5,100 pounds, equivalent to the cost of an annual railway season ticket, if they are to return to their desks full-time after the pandemic, according to a survey. With Covid-19 restrictions leaving many offices empty, white-collar staff have spent 16 months mostly working from home. Just 17% now say they actively want a full-time return to the office, research for workplace analytics firm Locatee shows.

While the Chairman of Natwest said in a TV interview that he thinks Covid had permanently changed office work and he didn’t expect staff to return to the 5 day week in the office.

UK property sales hit new record in June
Property sales in the UK hit a new record level in June, according to figures from HMRC. An estimated 213,120 sales were completed during the month – more than twice the total in May. Some 428,620 house sales took place in the second quarter of this year – the highest quarterly figure since the third quarter of 2007 and the highest total for the second quarter of any year on HMRC’s records. Experts say a rush to buy before the end of the stamp duty holiday fuelled the boom, but with demand outstripping supply, prices are expected to keep on rising.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail said its first-quarter revenue grew 13% and said its prospects for the full year were unchanged. Revenue for the three months through June increased to £3.16 billion, up from £2.81 billion year-on-year

Inheritance tax hike warning as Sunak ‘needs to pay Covid bill’
Inheritance tax could be used by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to raise funds for the UK’s economic recovery as Government insiders warned “we’ve got to start paying the bill for the pandemic”. Meanwhile, a Treasury report suggested a rise in inheritance tax would be a “politically sound move, as it would not disproportionately hit lower income families, and could be presented as a wealth tax”. Separately, figures from HMRC show IHT receipts for April to June 2021 were £1.5bn – £0.4bn higher than the same period a year earlier. Ami Jack, the Head of National Tax at Smith & Williamson, commented: “This 33% year-on-year rise indicates that IHT collections are starting to become more lucrative for the Treasury, at a time when it is far from certain how the pandemic will pan out in the coming months and what the final bill to fund the Chancellor’s economic support schemes will turn out to be.”

Johnson attacked for planning NI hike to pay for care reforms
Boris Johnson has been forced to put off announcing his social care reforms until the autumn after he failed to reach agreement with leading ministers over how to fund the changes. He was understood to be considering a 1p-in-the-pound increase in National Insurance contributions, but critics said such a plan would hit the low-paid while well-off pensioners would be spared from paying extra. Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the plans amount to a “jobs tax” and would deter businesses from hiring extra people.


Talking of another NI, Northern Ireland, the European Union has said it has no intention of renegotiating the Northern Ireland protocol, despite the British government’s call for a “significant change” to that part of the post-Brexit trade agreement. David Frost, the Brexit minister, said disruptions to trade with mainland Britain could damage the union or the Good Friday Agreement, but promised that the government would not unilaterally suspend the protocol.

Meanwhile the Government has promised to  pay France £54m to fund patrols to catch illegal migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats. A new daily record of 430 migrants was set on 19th July. The Government is also proposing to make arriving in the country without permission a crime, which it hopes will act as a further deterrent.

Nord Stream 2

The USA and Germany came to an agreement over Nord Stream 2, the pipeline set to run gas directly from the Russia to Germany, circumventing the current route through the Ukraine. The White House was worried that the $11bn project might enable Russia to apply political pressure on Central and Eastern Europe. Under the deal Germany promised to retaliate, should the Kremlin attempt to weaponise Europe’s fuel supply.

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