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Latest update from London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

September 16, 2020
General News
Merton Chamber

Round-up of key policy changes from the last seven days (14 September).

Biggest increase in redundancies since financial crash

• The UK labour market has lost almost 700,000 jobs since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in March, with more than 5m workers still temporarily away from work

• Data from the Office for National Statistics highlighted that the number of employees on company payrolls was down by 695,000 in August compared to March, pushing the unemployment rate up to 4.1% in the three months to July.

• The BBC reports that young people have been hit particularly hard by the job losses, with those aged 16 to 24 years old suffering the biggest drop in employment compared to other age groups

Internal Market Bill passes second reading, moves onto committee stage

• The Bill passed with a majority of 77. Politico has a write-up of next stages.

• The IMB moves to committee stage now, with the next key date Tuesday 22nd September – when the House will vote on Bob Neill’s tabled amendment.

• Neill’s amendment would force an additional vote in Parliament before the Government breaks the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Potential extension to evictions ban

• The Government is preparing to extend coronavirus measures put in place to prevent restaurateurs and retailers from being evicted by their premises by landlords until the end of 2020.

• The measures are set to expire on 30 September, but ministers are reportedly looking to extend it to the end of the year.

Grants for businesses in lockdown areas

• The Treasury has announced that businesses in England that are required to shut because of local interventions will now be able to claim up to £1,500 per property every three weeks.

o Smaller businesses will be able to claim £1,000.

Review into UK’s competition regime announced

• The Treasury has announced that John Penrose MP will lead a review considering how the UK’s competition regime can be enhanced in the context of COVID-19 and the end of the transition period.

o John Penrose will gather expert opinion and produce a short, independent report later this year.

o The terms of reference for the report can be found here.

Fund opened for innovative transport firms

• Innovative transport start-ups with a focus on decarbonisation or COVID-19 recovery can bid for a share of over £1 million in Department for Transport funding from today.

o Transport-Technology Research and Innovation Grants (T-TRIG), which is now in its 11th round of funding, is open to entrepreneurs and innovators pioneering new ways of creating a better transport system. Over 60% of grants so far have been awarded to SMEs and 30% to universities.

Letters sent to businesses that trade with the EU

• These letters have been sent to VAT-registered businesses in Great Britain trading with the EU, or the EU and the rest of the world.

• They explain what businesses need to do to prepare for new processes for moving goods between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021, including:

o making sure they have a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number

o deciding how they will make customs declarations

o checking if their imported goods are eligible for staged import controls

TSC report on economic impact of COVID-19

• The Treasury Select Committee has published its second report of its inquiry into the Economic Impact of Coronavirus – the Challenges of Recovery.

• Of note, the Committee has called for a “carefully consider” targeted extensions to Job Retention Scheme. It raised concerns about the ability for SMEs to pay back loans. With reports from last week indicating that the Chancellor has not backed industry’s plans for a recapitalisation body. The report also called on the Government to review there manifesto pledge by considering lifting the Triple Lock next year.

• See the full details here.

UK-Japan trade agreement signed

• The UK and Japan have signed a free trade agreement, which marks the UK’s first major trade deal as an independent trading nation

• The deal is estimated to increase trade with Japan by £15.2 billion and has been “tailored to the UK economy”. The deal covers a range of areas, including facilitating the free flow of data, improved market access for UK financial services and tariff free access for more UK goods.

• See more details about the trade deal here.

NHS app launch announced

• The NHS COVID-19 app will launch in England and Wales on 24 September, including QR checkin at venues.

o Businesses across England and Wales like pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas are urged to ensure they have NHS QR code posters visible on entry so customers can easily check-in.

Funding announced for boosting manufacturing productivity

• The Government has announced £300m of joint government and industry funding to support businesses to implement new tech to boost their manufacturing productivity.

o Announced at London Tech Week, the funding will be made available through the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge.

o The first £50m of funding is being allocated to 14 projects involving around 30 SMEs, 29 larger enterprises and 9 universities. The rest of the funds are due over the next 5 years.

o It is hoped that the investment will give a lift to pharmaceuticals, food & beverage and aerospace sectors.

Support for renters during winter period

• Government has set out comprehensive support for renters this winter.

o The government has changed the law to increase notice periods to 6 months meaning renters now served notice can stay in their homes over winter, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.

o Additionally, if an area is in a local lockdown that includes a restriction on gathering in homes, evictions will not be enforced by bailiffs.

From the Policy Research team at

The London Chamber of Commerce & Industry