Sirius News Bulletin - 6th April 2021
This bulletin provides a summary of topical news, announcements and policy developments affecting business across the UK.
Retail sales begin to recover
The Office for National Statistics has revealed that in February 2021 retail sales increased by 2.1%. However sales were down by 3.7% compared to February 2020. Online retail spend reached a record high and increased to 36% of all retail spend in February 2021, compared with 35% in January 2021 and 20% in February 2020.
Read more about the statistics at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/bulletins/retailsales/february2021
Retail opening hours extended
The Government has announced that the daily opening hours for non-essential retail in England will be extended. From 12 April 2021 shops will be open until 10pm Monday to Saturday to give shoppers more flexibility and ease transport pressures.
Read more about the extension at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extended-opening-hours-to-continue-when-non-essential-retail-returns
Shortage of plants and garden products
Garden retailers are warning of a shortage of plants, garden furniture and equipment. Supply has fall by around 50% over the past year due to the impact of Brexit and the Coivd-19 pandemic. Meanwhile demand for plants and garden products is two or three times higher, due to more people taking up gardening during the lockdown.
Read more about the shortage at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/mar/28/all-is-not-rosy-for-uk-gardens-as-brexit-hits-supplies-and-covid-hikes-demand
Plastic carrier bag charge increases in Scotland
From 1 April 2021, the minimum price of a single-use carrier bag in Scotland will increase from 5p to 10p in an effort to help tackle plastic waste.
Read more about the increase at: https://www.acs.org.uk/news/acs-plastic-carrier-bag-charge-increase-comes-force-scotland-1st-april
Leisure and hospitality
Vaccine passport scheme unworkable
UKHospitality has warned against the use of vaccine passports to help ease Covid-19 restrictions. UKHospitality believes a passport scheme would create confusion and conflict among businesses, customers and staff.
Read more about the issue at: https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/news/557923/Vaccine-passport-scheme-unworkable-says-UKHospitality.htm
Report reveals contribution of gambling sector
A study published by the Betting and Gambling Council (BGC) has revealed that since the beginning of 2020, 374 betting shops and six casinos have closed, with an estimated loss of 5,000 jobs. The majority of closures have been attributed to the impact of the Covi-19 pandemic. The report also revealed that BGC members contributed 7.7 billion in gross value added to the UK economy in 2019, and directly employed 61,000 people and generated an additional 58,000 jobs.
Read the study at: https://bettingandgamingcouncil.com/news/report-reveals-jobs-and-tax-contribution
PII restrictions harming construction firms
According to the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) significant cost increases and the introduction of new restrictions on professional indemnity insurance (PII) are preventing construction firms from taking on projects. Research by the CLC has revealed that firms are changing the type of work they do because of restrictions on insurance cover, with a quarter losing jobs due to limitations placed on them by insurers.
Read more about the restrictions at: https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/news/professional-indemnity-insurance-restrictions-harming-industry/
Funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
The Government has announced that £300 million of extra funding will be invested to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from homes in England through energy efficiency and low-carbon heating schemes. The Government has also confirmed that the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme closed to new applications on 31 March 2021.
Read more about the funding at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-boosts-energy-efficiency-spending-to-13-billion-with-extra-funding-for-green-homes
Farmer confidence impacted by removal of BPS, survey finds
The NFU’s latest Confidence Survey has revealed that 78% of farmers believe the withdrawal of direct payments under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will have a negative impact on their business. More than half of farmers (59%) believe a rise in fuel fertilizer and energy prices will have a negative impact and 53% are concerned about changes to legislation due to Brexit.
Read more about the survey at: https://www.fwi.co.uk/news/farm-policy/farmer-confidence-rocked-by-phased-removal-of-bps-survey-finds
US threatens tariffs on UK exports over digital tax
The US has warned it could apply tariffs of up to 25% on a host of UK exports in retaliation for a UK tax on tech firms. Products including ceramics, make-up, overcoats, games consoles and furniture could all be affected. The tariffs are designed to raise £235 million, the amount the US believes the UK will raise in tax from US tech firms.
Read more about the tariff at: https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2021/03/us-threatens-tariffs-uk-exports-over-digital-tax
One in four smaller exporters stop sales to EU
An FSB survey has revealed that 23% of smaller exporters have temporarily halted sales to the EU. A further 4% have decided to stop selling into the EU permanently and 11% are considering a halt to sales. The survey also revealed that 11% have established, or are thinking of establishing, a presence within an EU country to make exporting easier.
Read more about the survey at: https://www.fsb.org.uk/resources-page/one-in-four-small-exporters-halt-eu-sales-three-months-on-from-transition-end-new-study-finds.html
UK consumers reduce borrowing
Consumer borrowing in the UK fell by 9.9% year-on-year in February 2021, the biggest fall since records began in 1998. According to the Bank of England, in February 2021 borrowing was down for the seventh consecutive month and unsecured lending fell by £1.25 billion.
Read more about the fall at: https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-britain-economy/uk-consumer-lending-fell-at-record-annual-pace-in-february-boe-idUSKBN2BL0WO
DISCLAIMER While all reasonable efforts have been made, the publisher makes no warranties that this information is accurate and up-to-date.
© Cobweb Information Ltd, 2021