Chancellor Rishi Sunak has expanded his jobs support in areas hit by local lockdowns with the state paying two-thirds of wages at businesses closed by new restrictions.
Firms forced to shut over the winter months will be able to receive a grant of up to £2,100 per employee every month. The Chancellor said the new support for jobs, which will run until May, provides a "safety net" for businesses closed by lockdown.
The revamped scheme came as new GDP figures revealed that the economy slowed sharply in August even before widespread local restrictions were imposed.
Output rose by a weaker-than-expected 2.1pc compared to July despite a boost from Eat Out to Help Out.
Read how events unfolded below.
Report: job support scheme ‘not enough’ to save shattered industries
Hundreds of thousands of jobs are still at risk as Rishi Sunak’s new grants to businesses closed by local lockdowns and their staff are “not enough”, employers have warned.
The extra furlough scheme and handouts to companies are too little for those ordered to shut their doors, and do nothing for those whose incomes have been flattened by the curfew and other restrictions, firms said.
Firms react to the furlough extension
My colleague Harry Brennan has been speaking to small businesses about what they make of the new measures.
Peter Kinsella, who owns the Lunya deli and restaurant business based in Liverpool, where pubs are expected to face new restrictions, said the extra help could save more than half his workforce if he has to shut down his sites.
“We would have been forced to lay off two thirds of our workers without more help. We have 65 staff. We used to have 95 but we had to close one of our restaurants in Manchester. We now have just the two sites left in Liverpool,” he said.
But Debbie Marks, CEO of Qube Events, an events business in Manchester, said she would not be able to take advantage of the extension as her company is unlikely to be forced to close. She is now at the stage of talking to all her staff members about redundancy, following almost a year of having no income, she said.
'Dismaying' to see the self-employed 'excluded'
IPSE - the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed - has warned that self-employed are being left out of the Government'd thinking again. Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, says "the new support for employees and businesses in local lockdowns is the right move, but it is dismaying to see the self-employed excluded yet again from the government’s thinking".
Local lockdowns will affect many self-employed people just as much as employees, but as it stands they have much, much less support available to them. If a self-employed hairdresser, plumber or contractor is caught in a local lockdown and unable to work, they are entitled to just 20 per cent of their usual earnings. And there are over a million limited company directors and newly self-employed who are not even entitled to that.
FTSE closes up
Markets have been riding high all day on hopes that the US will get a Covid stimulus bill through. The FTSE 100 closed up 0.66pc a little earlier at 6,017.6.
The FTSE 250 closed up 0.69pc at 18,070.0.
In European stock markets, the French CAC 40 rose 0.6pc, and the German DAX was unchanged.
Technology shares have led US stocks higher for a third day while Treasury yields and a dollar gauge slipped.
The S&P 500 rose even with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi giving conflicting outlooks on a new comprehensive aid package, up 0.92pc.
'Not enough to offset a sustained cash crunch'
The reviews are coming in thick and fast and, well, it's a bit of a mixed reaction.
The British Chambers of Commerce welcomes the new measures including bigger grants for affected firms, but its boss, Adam Marshall, says "for most this will not be enough to offset a sustained cash crunch". He also notes that firms supplying business that may be shut down will be worried. He adds:
At the end of the day, no fiscal support will ever be a substitute for an open, functioning economy. While the Chancellor deserves thanks for enhancing the support on offer, the goal of all governments across the UK must be to get to a point where wide-ranging restrictions, and the economic disruption they bring, are no longer needed.
Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, zeroes in on the "high price" of delaying measures that were seemingly inevitable. The Foundation notes that "the Chancellor has recreated the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) in all-but-name". It adds that the tighter restrictions include a stipulation that "workers already laid off from affected firms will not able to be brought back, in marked contrast to the approach taken in March". Mr Bell adds:
It has been clear for some time that this form of a more sectorally- and geographically-targeted furlough scheme would be required to see us through a difficult winter. The delay in putting it in place will have come at a high price in jobs lost.
Nigel Morris, employment tax director at MHA MacIntyre Hudson, hopes that large businesses will be able to take advantage of the JSS extension, where they were excluded before. He adds:
Another related pitfall is that the administration of JSS could now become very complex for a business if it has employees at various locations. For example, some employees in one area of the country might be on ‘standard’ JSS for the pay period while others, trapped in a Covid-19 hotspot and forced to shut down, need to go on ‘enhanced’ JSS for all or part of a pay period. Finance and payroll staff will have a lot to contend with in this situation.
Everything you need to know
Inevitably there are many queries about who is and who isn't covered by the Jobs Support Scheme extension. And the original Jobs Support Scheme, announced just a few weeks ago, was a bit of a headscratcher, with complicated rules about how much employers had to top up staff pay.
My colleague Jessica Beard has updated her comprehensive piece on furlough and its replacement. And here's a helpful guide to the different schemes side by side:
Too late for many travel firms
Joss Croft, boss of trade industry group UKinbound, has given the thumbs-down to the extension:
Once again the Chancellor has ignored the fact that inbound tourism businesses, that deliver £28 billion in export earnings for the UK every year, are on their knees, unable to fund viable jobs as they’ve been excluded from virtually all Government support channels since March. Government has already stopped businesses trading due to measures such as quarantine and previous lockdowns, and it therefore needs to compensate all affected companies, not just those facing these new measures or with an obvious shop front.
Shift in focus?
More reaction on Sunak's new "extension" to the Job Support Scheme, with some commentators detecting a change of tone.
Quite a few suggestions this extension has come too late; we knew, after all, local lockdowns were on their way, and that the original furlough was ending at the end of October.
Here's the Institute of Directors, another of Britain's big business groups, on the Chancellor's action. Roger Barker, Director of Policy at the IoD, says:
It is absolutely right for the government to step up its support, which must match the restrictions businesses are being put under. This new intervention should provide a lifeline for many companies and people impacted by the efforts to stop the virus spreading. Alongside wage support, ramping up grants for affected firms marks a sensible step.
But he adds:
The Treasury has understandably focussed on defensive measures, but it should also try to get on the front foot where possible. To help those firms who are finding chinks of light to create jobs, employer national insurance costs should be cut. Tax reliefs to support substantial investment in technology, the green economy, and skills will help create new opportunities to replace those being negatively impacted by the pandemic.
The IoD's Jonathan Geldart wrote for the Telegraph a week or so ago on what they'd like the government to do to help create jobs. Have a read here.
Sunak: New support will not arrive every time health measures change
With the deficit already at eyewatering levels, the Chancellor hints that he would quite like to close his chequebook.
He warns in a video released this afternoon that more support will not arrive every time health measures change.
You can view the full video below:
New wage support a gamechanger for firms, say business leaders
Will this be enough to save jobs at firms hit by more closures? There was a feeling the Chancellor was initially a bit stingy with the Job Support Scheme but business leaders appear to be happy with Sunak's latest pledge.
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, head of the Confederation of British Industry, says the more generous support will "cushion the blow for the most affected and keep more people in work".
Mike Cherry, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, also praises the support, calling it a gamechanger. Here's what he had to say:
Thousands of small firms will be pleased to see the Chancellor embracing two of FSB’s suggestions to the Treasury for greater, targeted support for small businesses whose premises are enforceably closed by government lockdown.
Evolving the Job Support Scheme to provide 2/3 of total salary costs together with enhancing existing cash grants for those faced with this scenario are both game-changers, and it’s welcome to see them adopted today.
Sunak: Extension will provide safety net for businesses
Sunak has been forced to revamp his Winter Economy Plan just two weeks after unveiling it. That might feel like Déjà vu for some of our readers.
Many will remember his Budget in March was also left in tatters in a matter of days after Covid cases surged, forcing him to announce more support.
Mr Sunak says the latest measures will provide a "safety net" for businesses forced to close by the virus.
Here are the Chancellor's thoughts on the latest support for workers:
Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed. I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.
The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.
Expanded jobs scheme announced
We can now bring you the details of Rishi Sunak's latest bid to save jobs as local restrictions tighten.
- The Job Support Scheme will be expanded for firms forced to close because of Covid-19 restrictions over the winter months.
- The state will pay two-thirds of employees' wages at businesses forced to close. The grant will be worth up to £2,100 per employee every month.
- The extra support will run for six months from November 1.
- In addition to the extra wage support, businesses in lockdown areas will also be able to access an increased grant of up to £3,000 per month.
We'll bring you all the reaction and the Chancellor's thoughts shortly...
Oil set for strong week
Brent crude may be down slightly today, but it's on course for a strong week.
Bloomberg notes oil is poised for its biggest weekly gain since June with Hurricane Delta forcing the shutdown of almost 92pc of crude output in the Gulf of Mexico.
Delta regained strength to become a major hurricane and is forecast to slam into the already battered Louisiana coast later on Friday. While that has helped drive crude futures in New York 11pc higher this week, they slipped on Friday as Norwegian workers were set for mediation talks to end a strike that threatens 1 million barrels a day of oil and gas output.
Rival bid for G4S
G4S is in demand. It's just revealed it's had "an expression of interest from Allied Universal Security Services LLC (“Allied Universal”), regarding a possible offer".
The company adds: "There can be no certainty that an offer will be made for the company by Allied Universal, nor as to the terms on which any such offer might be made."
G4S, you may remember, is also subject of a £3bn offer by Canada's GardaWorld. The British security company has already told shareholders to reject GardaWorld’s "unattractive and highly opportunistic offer of 190 pence per share".
Shares are up 5pc on hopes of a bidding war now.
World stocks pushing higher
Here's a little bit more on the markets. Asian stocks closed in on two-year peaks, as growing expectations the Democratic party will win US elections next month revive hopes for more economic stimulus there, Reuters notes.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.4pc, set for its second straight week of gains, while the MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was up 0.2pc at a more than one-month high.
Wall Street futures were up 0.5pc after the S&P 500 gained 0.80pc and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.5pc on Thursday.
We do maintain a positive medium-term view for stocks into the middle of next year," Mark Haefele, chief investment officer, UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in a report.
"A stimulus deal will be struck eventually, central banks will continue to stay supportive, and medical developments still have scope to surprise."
The FTSE 100 is holding on to its gains; it's now up 0.76pc at 6022.5.
The FTSE 250, which has more exposure to the UK and so is probably more dependent on what Sunak has to say this afternoon, is up 0.5pc at 18034.5.
European stocks have also gained as a host of companies raised outlooks, from Denmark’s drugmaker Novo Nordisk to German online clothing retailer Zalando (read Laura Onita's report here).
US futures are also pointing up after the White House signaled an openness to large-scale stimulus. Futures on the S&P 500 Index gained 0.4pc.
Slightly further afield, there was some positive data out of China this morning, where the services industry recorded its fifth consecutive month of strong growth.
Output and new orders are rising steadily, allowing employers to ramp up hiring according to the Caixin purchasing managers’ index (PMI) survey from IHS Markit. It marks a steady return to growth after six months of falling employment, Tim Wallace writes.
Domestic demand is leading the recovery, with international orders still subdued as the world’s second-largest economy outpaces those countries that are still suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.
The PMI score rose to 54.8, the highest level in three months. Any number of above 50 indicates growth compared to the previous month. Read his full report here.
Jobs fears at Edinburgh Woollen Mill
More bad news on the jobs front. High street fashion chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM), which owns Peacocks and Jaeger, is close to collapse, with 24,000 jobs in the balance, according to documents filed with the High Court.
The company has lodged a notice of intention to appoint administrators to look for potential buyers to shore up the struggling business.
Heathrow loses bid to raise charges
Aviation regulators have dealt Heathrow a blow by rejecting a request to increase airport charges by £1.7bn to cover coronavirus losses.
My colleague Oliver Gill reports:
The Civil Aviation Authority said the demands by Europe’s busiest airport were not “proportionate”.
British Airways’ owner IAG welcomed the announcement and said it was “staggering” that Heathrow was seeking to recoup losses.
Heathrow airport operates under a regulatory mechanism that allows it to increase airport charges based on the costs it incurs.
Here are some of the day’s top stories from the Telegraph Money team:
- Jobs market to recover by January but some sectors are heading for a ‘bloodbath’, forecasts show: The number of available jobs is a third lower than the level at the start of the year, according to jobs board Adzuna.
- Questor: this property firm has worked wonders in the pandemic: Sirius Real Estate has had a good pandemic – almost all rent has been paid and the assets are being sweated.
- Lauren Davidson: Be warned, Mr Sunak: voters who support taxes on the rich mean taxes on the richer-than-themselves
Spain to announce state of emergency in Madrid – La Sexta
The Spanish government is set to announce a state of emergency in the region of Madrid as it tries to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the capital, TV station La Sexta reports.
Bloomberg has some background:
The decision comes as the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchezgrapples with a new outbreak of the pandemic in Madrid amid a standoff with the regional administration over how to handle the crisis. The state of emergency gives Sanchez extraordinary powers to order restrictions on movement.
Rolls-Royce shares continue to soar
Rolls-Royce shares are soaring for a fifth day today, following what analysts have called a “meteoric bounce”.
Its shares were trading at more than double Monday’s opening price at just before noon today, marking the greatest week ever for the company’s shares.
But despite the gains, it is still down some 66pc this year amid a torrid performance for aviation-linked stocks.
Broker Berenberg says the group still looks attractive to buy, but notes that its £5bn recapitalisation plan – including a £2bn equity raise – looks to be “painful for shareholders”.
In regards to the civil aerospace business, Berenberg says"
…provided there is some element of recovery in air travel in the coming years and management succeeds in its restructuring plans, we believe there is a path to materially higher cash flow from 2022
Furlough: how things stand
In case you’ve lost track of how Britain’s job support measures currently stand, my colleague Jessica Beard has answered pretty much any question you could have. She writes:
The scheme was due to close completely at the end of October, but an extension will reportedly be made available to employers “as long as pubs, restaurants and other businesses” are shut, and will subsidise two thirds of wages of staff working in those establishments.
Read her Q&A here:
The latest figures show around 2m workers were still on furlough in mid September, with arts, entertainment and recreation most reliant upon the scheme:
Marston’s shares jump as watchdog clears Carlsberg merger
Shares in Marston’s soared by almost a tenth on Friday after the competition regulator gave its approval to a £780m merger with Carlsberg.
My colleagues report:
The Competition and Markets Authority said it had cleared the combination of the businesses, after finding that concerns raised over the deal did not warrant blocking it.
The regulator said Marston’s owns many pubs across the UK that might choose to serve more Carlsberg products and fewer independent brands.
“The CMA found, however, that Marston’s pubs form only a small part of the potential UK customer base for brewers, and that independent brewers would continue to have sufficient access to pubs after the merger, allowing them to compete effectively,” it said.It drew a similar conclusion about the combined companies’ wholesale operations, saying that brewers will have sufficient alternative wholesalers to choose from after the deal.
Barnier will go back to Brussels after meeting with UK’s Frost – Reuters
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, is returning to Brussels today after meeting with UK’s lead negotiator David Frost, Reuters reports.
The news wire says:
The two negotiators’ teams are in fraught talks to reach a deal on the future relationship between the EU and Britain ahead of a meeting of the leaders of the 27-nation bloc next week. Further talks are scheduled in Brussels ahead of that summit.
That probably puts paid to any further Brexit news today, with next week the crucial test.
GDP: V for Viennetta?
Today’s GDP figures were a bit of a shocker – although 2.1pc is a chunky gain by typical monthly standards, economists had expected a rise of 4.6pc.
That’s put paid to hopes of a ‘V-shaped’ recovery in output – September would have to shown huge gains to regain momentum, but remember that August was the month of lightest restrictions.
Here’s how some experts have reacted.
Investec has possibly the most fun take on the figures – saying we may now be looking at a ‘V for Viennetta’ recovery in reference to the wavy ice cream (and, indeed, the 1980s comic series that became a film in 2005).
Analyst George Brown writes:
Overall, it is evident that the transitory boost from the easing of restrictions has now largely faded. But the recovery appears increasingly fragile as rising cases of the coronavirus has led to a tightening of social distancing measures…
A further clampdown risks sending GDP into reverse, creating a wave or ripple more characteristic of a Viennetta than a letter.
James Smith from ING said the UK’s recovery now looks set to “stall” in the fourth quarter (October, November and December). He wrote:
We're expecting another, similar-sized increase in September to reflect the reopening of schools and other education settings, which slightly strange though it may sound, is counted as part of the national accounts. Altogether, that probably means third-quarter growth should be in the region of 16pc, which would leave the economy some 8-9pc smaller than pre-virus levels.
Analysts at Citi reckon that August may be “as good as it gets”, warning Brexit will also increasingly emerge as a factor:
During the latter part of the year, we expect lingering virus concerns and ongoing restrictions to preclude any further rebound, with output now likely to lag pre-Covid levels by 7-10pc rather than the 6-7pc we had thought previously. The UK economy now faces a very substantial challenge in the months ahead, especially given the additional impact of Brexit
TP Icap confirms Liquidnet acquisition
Interdealer broker TP Icap has confirmed plans to buy “dark pool” trading facilitator Liquidnet, for a cost of $575m to $700m.
The FTSE 250 group initially announced the takeover plans last week:
- Market report: TP Icap knocked by Liquidnet buyout
Chief executive Nicholas Breteau said:
Acquiring Liquidnet is a unique opportunity to transform TP ICAP's growth prospects by materially accelerating the execution of our electronification, aggregation and diversification strategy.
Landsec says 62pc of September rent collected in five days
More real estate news: Land Securities says it had collected 62pc of the £110m of rent due from its tenants in September with in five days – compared to 95pc for the equivalent period last year.
Overall, 82pc of rent due was in from offices, while retail occupants had paid back just 33pc of rent due.
The FTSE 100 group said:
We continue to have supportive and constructive dialogue with our customers. In March, we established a fund to provide up to £80m of rent relief and, to date, £14m of concessions have been allocated to customers.
British Land resumes dividend
Property developer British Land has risen today after announcing the resumption of its dividend.
The FTSE 100 company said payouts would resume on a semi-annual basis, equivalent to 80pc of its underlying earnings per share.
It said collection rates for June had improved to 74pc overall, reflecting 98pc collection for offices, but just 57pc for retail locations. Some 69pc of its September rents have already been collected – 91pc of office rents, and 50pc of retail.
All its retail assets 86pc of its store are open currently, the company said, with retailer sales at 90pc of the same period last year.
LSE confirms €4.3bn sale of Borsa Italiana
London Stock Exchange Group has agreed to sell its entire holding in Borsa Italiana to rival bourse operator Euronext, for an equity value of €4.3bn.
LSEG has undertaken the divestment as it seeks to reassure competition regulators over its merger with data giant Refinitiv.
It plans to use the money raised to repay debts related to Refinitiv and other transactions.
The Borsa Italiana sale is expected to close out in the “first half of 2021”, while the merger with Refinitiv is expected late this year or in early 2021.
LSEG chief executive David Schwimmer said:
We continue to make good progress on the highly attractive Refinitiv transaction and we are pleased to have reached this important milestone. We believe the sale of the Borsa Italiana group will contribute significantly to addressing the EU’s competition concerns.
The Borsa Italiana group has played an important part in LSEG’s history. We are confident that it will continue to develop successfully and contribute to the Italian economy and to European capital markets under Euronext's ownership.
Treasury confirms new job support plans
The Treasury has confirmed last night’s Times story, that Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will announce some new job support measures to help companies that are forced to stop trading due to local lockdowns.
Reporting suggests the support is likely to constituent the Government paying two-thirds of affected workers’ pay packets – substantially more generous than the widely-criticised top-up scheme announced last month.
The Treasury said:
The chancellor will be setting out the next stage of the Job Support scheme later today that will protect jobs and provide a safety net for those businesses that may have to close in the coming weeks and months.
Recovery stalls despite Eat Out to Help Out
Today big news: the economy’s recovery slowed sharply in August even as Rishi Sunak’s dining discount provided much-needed relief for restaurants.
My colleague Tom Rees reports:
GDP rose by a much weaker-than-expected 2.1pc compared to July, a fourth consecutive month of expansion following the record collapse in output during lockdown, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The economy is still almost a tenth smaller than its pre-virus levels but the outlook has deteriorated in recent weeks as a second wave strikes the UK and local restrictions tighten.
Economists warned the disappointing figures killed off dwindling hopes of the economy enjoying a rapid V-shaped recovery with ministers considering more severe measures to curb surging Covid-19 cases.
Agenda: Sunak set to offer new jobs support as recovery stalls
Good morning. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce job support for lockdown-hit areas today, following a disappointing GDP report that showed the UK’s recovery lost steam during August.
Wall Street gained ground overnight as hopes were buoyed that further economic aid would be provided to help US companies survive the pandemic. Positive noises from the president and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lifted the mood across the world, with European indices also rallying yesterday.
5 things to start your day
1) EasyJet posts its first annual loss in 25 years: The boss of the airline yesterday said that summer trading was ruined by Britain’s chaotic quarantine regime, forcing the low-cost carrier to beg for a taxpayer bailout after plunging to its first annual loss.
EasyJet said that pre-tax losses topped £1.3bn in the year to Sept 30, the worst performance in its 25-year history following a collapse in passenger numbers. It is now seeking support from the state to help repair the damage from what is likely to be an equally brutal winter.
2) Covid crisis pushes working age benefit payouts towards £140bn: Working age benefits payments are poised to spike to almost £140bn this year as soaring unemployment, falling pay and hikes to universal credit push the Government’s costs to a record high.
In forecasts released this morning, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says it predicts, in total, they will amount to 7pc of gross domestic product (GDP), up from 5pc before the crisis.
3) British firm emerges as surprise TikTok bidder: A British investment firm has emerged as a surprise bidder for viral video app TikTok as the Beijing-based company’s bid to team up with Oracle awaits US and Chinese government approval.
Centricus – a four-year-old London firm run by former investment bankers – has been negotiating with the chief executive of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance for weeks, according to The Wall Street Journal.
4) Economy at risk of stalling, Bank of England warns: Andrew Bailey has warned the economy is at risk of stalling and vowed to ramp up stimulus if needed, as he prepares to fight the damage caused by another Covid wave.
The Bank of England Governor said that risks to the recovery are “very much on the downside” amid surging cases of coronavirus and a new crackdown on freedom. But he added that Threadneedle Street has enough monetary firepower to tackle a second or third wave of the virus.
5) ‘A million jobs at risk’ as pubs demand urgent furlough extension: Pub bosses have demanded a full extension of Rishi Sunak's furlough scheme to protect up to a million jobs as the industry steels itself for sweeping closures in the North of England within days.
Boris Johnson is mulling plans to shut hospitality venues in parts of the country hit hardest by Covid as the Government battles to control surging infection rates.
What happened overnight
Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Friday on hopes Washington will provide more aid to the struggling US economy.
Benchmarks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia advanced. Tokyo was off 0.1pc.
The Shanghai Composite Index, resuming trading after a weeklong holiday, rose 1.6pc to 3,271.08. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.1pc to 23,613.20 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained less than 0.1pc to 24,194.68.
Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.1pc to 6,108.50. New Zealand, Singapore and Indonesia advanced.
Coming up today
AGM: Baillie Gifford
Economics: Manufacturing production (UK), GDP (UK), balance of trade (UK)