By Powerscourt on 11/10/2020
Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 11 October 2020
‘You cannot do Covid lockdown on the cheap’ are the words ringing in the Chancellor’s ears this weekend. He only announced the extension to his Jobs Support Scheme on Friday, but Mr. Sunak has already been hit with a northern backlash and accusations of a Red Wall betrayal.
Four regional leaders including Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham have written to the government to make clear they will not accept Sunak’s recovery package. Instead they are demanding that 80 per cent of wages are paid – as per the original furlough scheme – rather than the two thirds on offer by the Treasury. They also want an extension of the scheme to companies in the supply chain and self-employed trades such as taxi drivers.
Burnham said that rather than helping local residents, the current package would actually ‘level down’ the north and ‘surrender’ people to hardship in the run-up to Christmas. Alongside his fellow mayors, Burnham has called for the package to be put to a parliamentary vote as well as threatening a possible legal challenge.
Sunday papers report that millions of people will be asked not to travel outside their local areas and could be banned from mixing with other households, even outdoors, when the government announces its three-tier Covid response strategy tomorrow. Liverpool is one city expected to be placed in the third tear, which comes with the toughest restrictions. In an effort to win local support for these measures, ministers will give town hall bosses more control over the test and trace system.
U.S. officials are reportedly aiming to open a travel corridor between New York and London ‘as soon as the holidays.’ The growing availability of tests has reportedly encouraged officials to revive plans to open safe corridors with certain international destinations, providing travelers are tested for Covid-19 before departure and again on arrival.
The never-ending US fiscal stimulus saga looks set to continue. Following yesterday’s report that President Trump had ‘gone big’ with his $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief offer, it has already been dismissed as nowhere near big enough by Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Meanwhile, Trump’s favorite frenemy and mask-free ally Kim Jong-un has demonstrated that not even Covid can dent his nuclear dreams as North Korea unveiled what analysts called a ‘monster’ intercontinental ballistic missile at a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the ruling party.
So, while Rishi Sunak struggles with his new big-spender image, ‘Rocket Man’ is clearly quite settled in his, although he did apologise for the continued hardship his people face, which is due to sanctions, typhoons and the coronavirus…apparently.
WHAT ARE COMPANIES SAYING?
The CEO of the high-speed line between London and the Channel Tunnel has called for urgent state support, warning that Eurostar has cut services and is paying track charges only when needed as passenger numbers fall. The railway company is currently running just five services a day to Paris and Brussels, at a sixth of its pre-pandemic levels. Crowther told MPs and peers last week that Eurostar had not booked train paths for December either, in an attempt to conserve cash as long as possible. The Department for Transport said it would “continue to engage with [Eurostar] as part of our efforts to support the recovery of international travel”.
Financials & Real Estate
Lloyd’s of London
The world’s largest insurance market is considering forgoing traditional office working even after coronavirus restrictions are lifted, following the success of remote working over recent months. Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown said: “In the longer term, we are likely to see a more blended approach that enables the best of remote working with the benefits of a flexible work space” adding “Covid-19 has accelerated Lloyd’s progress towards becoming a truly flexible workplace.”
The care home provider has warned of the toll the pandemic is taking on the business. It has cautioned that rising costs from buying protective equipment for its staff and a falling number of residents as the death rate increases has had a “significant” impact of its profitability and cash flow, with future demand for beds unclear. In accounts signed off on September 30, directors said the potential impact of the virus on its finances represented “a material uncertainty that may cast doubt on the group and the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”.
The state-owned broadcaster is reportedly facing privatisation, as the Government prepares for a review which could see an investor with “deep pockets” brought in and all or part of the network sold. This comes as the broadcaster battles an advertising recession and an accelerated shift towards streaming. The television advertising market is expected to fall by 20 per cent this year as brands cut their budgets as a result of the pandemic. Channel 4 receives no taxpayer funding and depends almost entirely on advertising revenues.
IN THE NEWS
Business events industry faces ‘devastation’ – The Times
Millions will be ordered not to leave their local areas in new Covid clampdown – The Daily Telegraph
Mayors in northern England call for greater financial support – The Financial Times