Furlough support ends – business news 29 September 2021

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Uncertainty ahead as furlough support ends. The Fuel crisis latest. Small firms face Brexit barriers. Inflation expectations hit decade high. Half of Brits expect economy to get worse. Insolvency risks and more business news.

Uncertainty ahead as furlough support ends

David Milliken of Reuters looked today at the impact of the furlough scheme coming to an end, saying more than 1 million workers face an uncertain future as the support is withdrawn on September 30.

He says many observers believe officials are right to bring the Job Retention Scheme to an end, with employers reporting record-high job vacancies and acute shortages of workers in some sectors.

Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies think-tank, says: “Now we need to start focusing more on active measures to help people take up the jobs that are available, rather than passive measures that pay people not to work.”

Mr Milliken notes that official figures show that 1.56m jobs were fully or partly on furlough at the end of July, with this far below the peak of 8.86m seen in May 2020.

Looking ahead, Anna Leach, the Confederation of British Industry’s deputy chief economist, calls for targeted support for sectors still feeling the impact of the pandemic, while the Trades Union Congress would like furlough to become a permanent feature to support jobs.

Reflecting on the furlough scheme, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) senior economist Alexander Hijzen says it has “worked very well,” adding: “It definitely should be part of the toolkit that governments have to deal with other economic crises, not just pandemics.”

Fuel crisis

Some 150 military drivers are being trained to assist with the current fuel delivery issues and should be ready to go in a few days.  On Tuesday, speaking for the first time since issues began at filling stations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also sought to reassure drivers about supplies, saying that people should be “confident” to go about their business. A government source confirmed reports that 16% of all petrol stations were now fully supplied with fuel, compared with 10% at the weekend during some of the worst of the fuel rush. The source said that 40% of petrol stations being fully supplied was a more normal figure before demand spiked. The PRA, which represents nearly 5,500 of the UK’s 8,000 stations, said about 37% of its sites had run out of fuel – compared with two-thirds being without on Sunday.

Small firms face Brexit barriers
Emma Jones, founder of small business support network Enterprise Nation, says that while the “energy and ambition of Britain’s start-up community is palpable”, firms are being “woefully” let down by “unfathomable” regulatory constraints, and counter-intuitive logistics that are causing extra work and higher costs.

Ms Jones highlights Global Entrepreneurship Monitor research showing that two-thirds of UK adults are looking to start a business in the next three years. She also notes a report from Enterprise Nation and GS1UK showing that 75% of start-ups and small firms see international trade as a viable route to growth, saying this marks a “seismic shift”.

Warning that this could be hampered by “Brexit barriers”, she calls for guidance for small businesses to be simplified and a central hub where SMEs can bulk buy to reduce shipping costs.

5-year RPI inflation expectations hit decade high
A measure of financial markets’ medium-term expectations for inflation has risen to its highest level in more than a decade. The gauge, which focuses on the RPI measure of inflation used for British government bonds rather than the lower CPI measure targeted by the Bank of England, saw five-year forward inflation expectations rise to 3.9054% yesterday, up 3 basis points from Monday’s reading. Analysis of historic data shows that the gauge previously had an end-of-month peak of 3.8689% in June 2008. It last averaged above its current level in February 2000.

Half of Brits expect economy to get worse
An Ipsos MORI survey for the Evening Standard shows that optimism around the economy has slipped in the last month. The poll found that 53% of respondents expect the economy to get worse over the next 12 months, with this up on the 39% who said the same in August, while 31% believe it will improve, down from 44% last month. This means the Economic Optimism Index now stands at -22 compared with +5 a month ago. The Standard notes that the poll of 1,008 adults was conducted before the petrol crisis but suggests “the storm had broken” over issues such as an upcoming National Insurance increase, higher energy bills and the removal of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.

Insolvency risks

According to insolvency insiders, one of the business sectors showing particular low confidence (post pandemic) are beauty salons/hairdressers/beauty products.  These businesses still have staff on furlough and anticipate making redundancies after furlough due to decreased turnover. If any of our members have exposure to this sector then they should review their ledgers and keep a strict watch on the credit exposure they are granted. If you have overdues,  collect earlier before these customers go out of business.


The U.K. and European Union are going to attempt again to resolve amicably the rising tensions over the Northern Ireland protocol  The EU is said to be planning to offer a set of proposals next month aimed at addressing British complaints which will initiate intensive talks that could last until December.


The giant Chinese conglomerate that sparked a market sell off last week is said to be selling  its stake in Shengjing Bank for $1.5billion in order to pay off some of its troublesome debt.

Labour calls for City focus in future trade deals
Labour has called on the Government to include more provisions for financial services in post-Brexit trade deals, with Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry saying that the economic crisis would have been “substantially worse if it wasn’t for the preparedness and resilience of the financial services sector”. She told a TheCityUK event at the Labour conference that she does not see “sufficient plans” for the Government to build on the strength of the financial services sector in trade negotiations, adding: “That needs to change if we’re going to maximise the export potential for our services sector and reap the benefits it will bring the UK in jobs and growth”. Ms Thornberry urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to push for the UK to regain access to EU financial services markets by brokering an equivalence deal with the bloc, noting that Labour believes securing regulatory equivalence for the financial services sector and mutual recognition of qualifications “should be top priority when it comes to trade policy”.

Labour conference votes through £15 minimum wage policy
A motion from union Unite which committed Labour to a £15 minimum wage and raising statutory sick pay to a living wage was voted through by delegates at the party conference. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has supported calls for the £15-an-hour rate in the past, said he would not back the motion and instead supported the party policy of a £10 minimum wage.


Oil Prices fell on Wednesday after US crude inventories unexpectedly rose as doubts over demand resurfaced, with Covid-19 cases continuing to increase worldwide and some regions facing gasoline shortages.


Next swung to a first-half profit and upgraded its annual guidance as its sales come roaring back following a subsidence of lockdowns. Pre-tax profit for the six months through July amounted to £346.7 million, compared to a year-on-year loss of £16.5 million, as revenue jumped 59% to £1.33 billion.Compared to the same period in 2019, pre-tax profit was up 5.9% on a 5.2% increase in sales.  Next has forecast price rises and said its operations won’t be as efficient ahead of Christmas unless immigration rules for workers are relaxed. The UK retailer said some areas of its business were “beginning to come under pressure”, including warehouse and logistics staffing. It added that the lorry driver crisis was “foreseen, and widely predicted”.

House prices still rising as stamp duty holiday deadline nears
Zoopla analysis shows that UK house prices have continued to rise in the months leading up to the end of the stamp duty holiday. The analysis shows that prices have risen 1.2% over the past three months, taking the average up to £235,000. Over the past year, prices across the UK are up by 6.1%. While some commentators had expected the property market to start to cool as the stamp duty holiday deadline of October 1 neared, Zoopla said that there had been “no sign of a cliff edge in demand” as the cut-off approaches. The Zoopla report also shows that the time it takes for a property to sell remains at record low levels, taking 27 days on average while pre-pandemic it would typically take more than 50 days to find a buyer. Looking ahead, Zoopla expects the property market to remain “busy compared to historical norms”, saying that this will see prices continue to rise but probably at a slower rate than in recent months.

EU set to update tax haven blacklist
EU finance ministers are set to remove the Seychelles, Dominica and Anguilla from the bloc’s blacklist of tax havens, although Panama has failed in its request to be delisted. Experts have recommended the delisting of the three jurisdictions as they have committed to undergo a supplementary review of their tax systems with the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, the leading international body on tax evasion.

Why should you become a CPA member!

The Credit Protection Association (CPA) has been assisting thousands of UK businesses to get paid since 1914. We have seen many financial crises, this one will be particularly deadly for suppliers for some time to come.

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When you see your money come in, you will be so glad you used CPA.

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections

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The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections.