27th Apr 2020
Top Industry News from the Past Week - Monday 27th April 2020
Money makes the world go around. And while the UK lockdown remains in effect, here are the top industry news stories from the past week as money has been lent, held back and beginning to be spent once again.
During these difficult times when businesses are seeing revenue either drop dramatically or halt entirely dependent on their sector, it is understandable that governments will be borrowing money to keep their key industries above water to keep them running once the crisis is over. However, the level of borrowing is becoming increasingly troubling, with the UK government set to be in the hundreds of billions in debt in the coming months.
The UK was already deep into the red before the lockdown began with the deficit close to £50 billion at the end of the 2019-20 financial year, however with the NHS and other charities at full strain and world economies dropping further every day, it is believed that the deficit will reach levels unheard of in peacetime Britain. And with no real end in sight, it is unclear how high it could actually go.1
While necessary stores such as supermarkets have remained open during the lockdown to provide the public with the supplies needed to continue on as normal, most major stores, factories and restaurants have remained closed for over a month now with staff sitting at home hoping for the call to return to work. And for several businesses that call came this week.
After trials in several locations, businesses such as B&Q have opened their doors in many locations and car manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin have resumed production at several UK factories. Social distancing measures similar to those in supermarkets will remain in place to the safety of those on site and customers who venture out, but it is promising to see things somewhat return to normal for many workers around the UK.
As organisations began to move into remote working mode and business slowed down, the housing sector was forced to leave deals and agreements for loans on the table while they re-evaluated their positions for the safety of their staff and stakeholders, leaving many people hoping to pay deposits or be accepted for loans in limbo. Thankfully though, negotiations have begun to open up once again.
Several of the big providers such as Nationwide and Santander have now regrouped with staff being able to work and communicate with potential customers remotely and have began offering loans and mortgages once again knowing they have the finance behind them to keep both sides of the agreements happy in these difficult times.
Worldwide the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is currently around 2.73 million while nearly 200,000 people have tragically died from the effects. Everywhere health services and workers are working hard to help those in need under difficult circumstances and trials are underway in an effort to find a vaccine to halt the spread. And to all those people we appreciate all their hard work and dedication to keep us all healthy.
In the UK however, Severin Schwan, Chief Executive at Roche, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, has stated that he believes the healthcare sector has been vastly underappreciated and underinvested for many years, resulting in medical staff being highly unprepared to deal with the huge wave of patients coming through their doors. Mr Schwan expressed these views on BBC Newsnight early last week.2
Due to the outbreak, oil prices have fallen to their lowest levels since the turn of the millennium and this has been reflected in the price of petrol which currently averages £1.10 with some areas seeing it closer to the £1 mark. However, despite these decreases, drivers may still be being short changed as prices are not wholly reflective of the continuing drop in the value of oil.
Higher taxes placed on petrol by suppliers in order to make up for the drop in value is leading to drivers being swindled out of on average £20 million a day. And for those key workers still required to drive to and from work on a daily basis, this is seen as a huge slap in the face in these hard and financially trying times and has led to the UK government urging oil companies to do more to aid those in need.
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