14th Apr 2020
Top Industry News from the Past Week - Tuesday 14th April 2020
Another week of restrictions and governments advising their citizens to help prolong the spread of COVID-19 as deaths continue to rise across the globe. While aid is starting to be provided to some of the worst hit areas and deaths are slowing in numbers in China, there is still a long way to go till normality returns to the world of business. Therefore, here is the top industry news from the past week as a quick recap.
In an address to the press, US President Donald Trump made comments about the World Health Organisation’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, stating that the organisation had got some things very wrong and accusing it of having ‘minimised the threat’. The United States has the most confirmed cases (over 430,000) and deaths (close to 15.000) of any country in the world.
The President’s administration itself has been criticised for its handling of the outbreak, failing to lockdown areas in a reasonable amount of time following news of cases in areas of the country as well as developing their own virus testing kits which proved to be ineffective, as opposed to taking advantage of kits provided by the WHO themselves.
A government package has been agreed upon by the UK government worth £750 million with the goal of helping charities across the country who are struggling to stay afloat in the midst of the fear and uncertainty as shops have been forced to close their doors and many organisations have placed a large number of staff on furlough for the foreseeable future.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that close to half the funding would be in the form of grants for charities providing key services in the UK to help them get through the lockdown period, while the other half has been earmarked for smaller local charities, particularly those providing financial aid and advice as well as those delivering medicines to those who cannot access it themselves.
As a result of the uncertainty around the COVID-19 outbreak and advice from financial regulators, major UK insurers including Aviva, RSA and Direct Line have agreed to hold off on plans to pay dividends to shareholders until further notice and focus on protecting their policyholders at this difficult time.
This follows advice given by the Bank of England several weeks ago for banks and insures to freeze dividends in an attempt to avoid businesses going bankrupt and conserving their worth for what could be a trying few months, or even years as the world’s economy attempts to return to normality.
For the first time in four years petrol prices across the UK are approaching £1 a litre as oil prices continue to drop during the coronavirus crisis. Following Russia’s decision not to back production cuts that had been agreed with the other members of the Opec oil producers' group, oil prices have dropped dramatically since the turn of the year falling from $70 a barrel in January to under $25 in recent weeks, it’s lowest price since 2002.1
With thousands of people in the UK moving to reduced hours, being put on furlough or being made redundant as there is no work to go to, there has been an increase in the number of job applications for roles in the farming industry including as fruit and vegetable pickers to replace their lost income.
Due to the restrictions on travel, British farms are set to experience major problems in the summer as import and export is expected to drop considerably. And rather than stay indoors as the weather turns and hope for roles in the same sector months down the line, job websites have seen a massive spike in interest in agricultural roles, perhaps finding a new lease of life while the rest of the world tries to make sense of the crisis.
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