Winding up petition ban extended  – business news 18 June 2021.

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Winding up petition ban extended, food exports to Eu halve, working from home & commuting costs, retail sales fall, forecasts upgraded, commodities, outsourcing and more.

Winding up petition ban extended

The Government have announced an extension of the ban on winding up petitions and statutory demands until 30th September 2021

Food & Drink exports to EU halve

UK food and drink exports to the European Union almost halved in the first quarter, compared with Q1 in 2020. The Food and Drink Federation figures show EU sales dropped by 47% in Q1. The trade body said the decline was largely due to changes in the UK’s trading relationships, but said the pandemic was also a factor.

The border delays, new checks, red-tape and tariffs have particularly hit goods with a limited shelf life as they have less time to arrive.

Dominic Goudie, the FDF’s head of international trade, said the drop in exports his federation had recorded was a “disaster” for the industry. “It is a very clear indication of the scale of losses that UK manufacturers face in the longer-term due to new trade barriers with the EU.”

“Trade that would take 12 hours in the past can now take a day or even a week”, said Mr Goudie. “If you lose two days or even three days it takes a big chunk out of the of shelf life of the product, which makes the trade itself less viable”.

Compared with the first quarter of 2019, before Covid became a factor,  exports of cheese were down 72%; fish sales were down 52% and chocolate was down 37%. Exports of food and drink to nearly all EU nations fell significantly in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year.

The government said it was “too early to draw any firm conclusions” on the long term impact of Brexit.

Ministers will not tell workers to return to the office

Government sources have told the Guardian that ministers will not tell workers they should return to their offices when lockdown restrictions are fully lifted, with officials “minded to let companies make their own decisions”.

A source told the paper that the pandemic “has made everyone reappraise how they balance their lives”. They added that while a flexible working consultation pre-dates the pandemic, “this past year has made everyone see that presenteeism isn’t always necessary.”

Another source said: “Once the advice to work from home lifts, there’s an argument to say it shouldn’t be something the government takes a view on.”

Think-tank: Employers should contribute to commuting costs

Think-tank Autonomy has suggested that employers should cover half of workers’ commuting costs once working from home ends, arguing that subsiding travel would incentivise the use of public transport and improve workers’ real incomes significantly. It says a Claim the Commute scheme could see firms pay 50% of their employees’ commuting fares as they begin to return to the workplace. It calculates that up to 20m workers would see their real incomes rise if employers subsidised their travel costs.

WFH shift could hit the economy

A report from EY suggests that if there is broad adoption of a home working model post-pandemic, the economy could take a £15.3bn annual hit, with most of this stemming from lower spending on items such as lunch, drinks and evening entertainment

Retail sales fall

UK Retail Sales fell by 1.4% between April and May as people chose to visit reopened bars and restaurants instead of buying food at supermarkets. The Office for National Statistics said sales fell most significantly at food stores as consumers took advantage of covid-19 restrictions being lifted in the hospitality sector to eat out.


The UK Economy will bounce back to its pre-pandemic level by the end of the year, despite a delay to the end of lockdown restrictions, economists said today. The CBI has upgraded its latest forecast for the UK economy, predicting GDP growth of 8.2% this year, up from a previous forecast of 6% .


Tesco has reported a 1.1% one-year sales change in its quarter one results published 18 June 2021. The food giant said that last year’s growth reflected lockdown measures and a higher conversion of ‘out of home’ consumption. This year, it reports a +9.3% two-year like-for-like sales growth, which includes benefits retained from customers consuming more meals at home as a result of covid-19. Sales peaked in March at +14.6% and evened out in April and May as restrictions eased.


2021 was supposedly the year of the commodities boom as prices rose as the economy recovered. Some sectors though have already surrendered their 2021 gains. Soybeans dropped yesterday, following on from corn and wheat. Lumber has fallen as has oil. But it is far from an even picture with some commodities holding on tightly to their annual gains.

One in three firms plan to increase outsourcing

A survey by Whitelane Research and PA Consulting shows that 33% of UK firms plan to increase their outsourcing in the next two years. The poll of more than 250 British businesses found firms in the financial industry are among the most likely to move more or all of their services out-of-house, with 46% planning to do so. While 65% of firms are planning to outsource the same or more of their business in the next two years, 16% are planning to outsource less. When quizzed on what would drive the decision to outsource services, reducing costs was given as the main reason, with 66% citing it. Manish Khandelwal of PA Consulting said the pandemic had been a key driver in companies increasingly turning to outsourcing, saying it has “accelerated the pace of digital transformation”. “As businesses look to grow post-pandemic the demand is expected to increase, digital transformation across all industries will speed-up and the war for talent will only intensify”, he added

Starmer: Economic model left UK ‘exposed to pandemic’

Labour leader Keir Starmer has criticised the Government’s plans for the economic recovery, saying the Conservatives “want to go back to the economic model that weakened Britain’s foundation and left us exposed to the pandemic”. Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce’s annual conference, he called for a “new partnership between an active state and enterprising business”. He added that Labour wants to work with businesses to “deliver the fundamental change we need,” pointing to a need for investment in skills and more support for business start-ups.

£1bn of furlough money paid back

Businesses have paid back more than £1bn in previously claimed furlough payments to the Government. Figures show that £709m of money claimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been repaid to HM Revenue and Customs, while £319m has been paid back to HMRC after accounting errors led to some companies claiming too much. Between its launch in April 2020 until mid-May 2021, the furlough scheme, which will run until September, has seen £64bn handed to firms to subsidise workers’ wages. HMRC has not yet disclosed how much of the job retention scheme had been misused or stolen through fraud, saying an assessment of this would be included in its 2020/21 annual report.

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