CONFEDERATION OF BRITISH INDUSTRY (CBI) – USEFUL NOTES ON CORONAVIRUS-RELATED ISSUES FROM A RECENT WEBINAR

Job Retention Scheme

  • Flexible furlough introduced, minimum of three weeks is now only one week, starting at beginning of July
  • Costs will start being shared, transition from employers paying NICS and pension contribution and paces up to 20% contribution
  • Also saw extension of support for self-employment
  • Clarity that JRS will end at the end of October
  • More evidence of HMT listening to businesses
  • Should be under no illusion how difficult this is going to be for businesses – still think there will need to be more help for those sectors that can’t open
  • What does recovery plan look like to support training, supporting people to get into new jobs
  • We will see a wave of redundancies and it is going to be painful

 Concerns at Opening Up

  • June is going to be a really busy month – some schools, nurseries, car showrooms, outdoor markets opening today, non-essential retail from 15 June
  • Employers remain concerned over their responsibilities and liability – test and trace is confidence building to get people back. Question is what happens if employee/s has to self-isolate – what is state support in that eventuality – pushing for SSP support for big businesses, not just SMEs
  • Bigger question is if you have a large number of people self-isolating, what level of support is available
  • Strong message from government that nothing has really changed, nothing changed in terms of H&S guidance, it is guidance and it is best efforts – some communication needed to firms so that they don’t feel too concerned about employer liability. We have a sensible H&S regime, not too over-zealous, firm intention of Government is that it shouldn’t become so. Advice sheets will be published over the course of this week

 Changes to the 2m rule

  • WHO rule is 1m, other countries have different distances. CBI can demonstrate the difference it makes to a sector, eg transformational to hospitality, creative industries and would benefit to manufacturing

 Quarantine

  • We are imposing quarantine on 8 June, at that point Italy is lifting their quarantine – important not to hang a Closed sign over the UK

 Government Policy

  • Philosophical decisions being made in government now on interventions and spending levels – Tory mainstream philosophy will back investment in skills
  • Want to see new prioritisation of infrastructure – not blue sky thinking, but really useful infrastructure eg full fibre broadband, switch out boilers in homes

Brexit is Back

  • Carolyn had meeting with Michel Barnier – set out the same  case that we are setting out to Government, businesses not prepared for a hard deal or no-deal Brexit
  • Brexit stocks have been run down, businesses are going all out on survival – everyone needs to recognise lack of resilience
  • Important joined up business voice required across Europe that says both sides need to compromise – have to put entrenched positions aside and find a deal that protects everyone
  • Unlikely we will see an extension to transition in June, opportunity has gone – we are into ticking clock again in autumn
  • The idea of a temporary deal is interesting, but concerned that damage will have already been done by time we get to November
  • We know how much gets spent and wasted on stockpiling and preparation – ideal is to try and get to something by September, that is point of no return and a real cost to the economy – even if we do a last minute deal, we will have cost jobs at a moment when we will be back to 1980s unemployment levels

 Access to Finance

  • Bounce-back loans – £18.5bn, approval rate 80%. There is a caution though, concern in banking community that they are being seem as grants and we are storing trouble up for ourselves – need to recognise they are loans to be repaid.
  • CBILS – £8.2bn, 50% approval rate – still hear about people being turned down for unclear reasons
  • Larger CBILS – particular EU State Aid issue that is being taken to HMT, not every country is interpreting the rules the same way we are