Weekly Digest – 23 February 2022

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

COVID-19 Restrictions to End in the UK

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said pandemic restrictions including the legal requirement to self-isolate for people who test positive for COVID would be removed on Feb. 24 while free universal testing would end on April 1.

Additional COVID-19 Vaccine Shot for Over 75s and the Vulnerable

Adults over the age of 75, nursing home residents and immunosuppressed over-12s will be given an extra dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the spring as a precautionary strategy for 2022.

Economy Faces Difficult Start to 2022

UK real GDP grew by 1.0% quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared with an identical rise in the previous quarter. However, despite the end of COVID-19 restrictions from late January, the outlook for 2022 is uniformly less upbeat. Supply chain disruptions and labour shortages will continue to constrain output and intensifying price pressures and imminent tax hikes will erode household incomes.

Get Ready for £150 Council Tax Rebate

Households across England are being urged to set up direct debits with their local council to receive a £150 council tax rebate that will help millions of families manage costs of living. Around 20 million households in council tax bands A to D – including 95% of rented properties – are set to benefit from the £3 billion council tax rebate, which doesn’t have to be repaid.

£1.4 Million Support for Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

Eight new projects that are part of the Fisheries Industry Science Partnership have been awarded a share of £1.4 million to jumpstart sustainable fishing and aquaculture initiatives. This is the first part of the £24 million earmarked for science and innovation projects.

UK Business Activity Strongest Since June

The economy bounced back in February, with business activity the strongest since last June, led by a recovery in consumer spending on travel, leisure and entertainment, the latest snapshot from IHS Markit shows. Services firms benefited from the easing of pandemic restrictions.

UK Exporters Say Brexit Trade Deal Hurt Business

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has surveyed 1,000 businesses, and found that a majority said the EU trade deal has created problems such as pushing up costs, increasing paperwork and delays, and putting the UK at a competitive disadvantage. With this, businesses are calling on the government for more help exporting to Europe.

Study: Profit Margins Hit Hard Due to Supply Chain Disruptions

A recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting reveals that UK organisations will lose out on £451,000 every year in lost productivity, as a result of supply chain issues. It also found that those with outdated pricing strategies will struggle to navigate the complexities of unpredictable supply chains.

Wales: £330 Million Package for Cost-of-Living Crisis

The Welsh Government has announced a £330 million package aimed to support people in overcoming the cost-of-living crisis. This includes a £150 cost-of-living payment to be paid as soon as possible and an extra £200 for low-income households through the Winter Fuel Payment next winter.

£350 Government Support to Help with Energy Costs

The Energy Bills Rebate will provide around 28 million households with an upfront discount on their bills worth £200 from October. Households in England, which are in council tax bands A-D, will also receive a £150 rebate from April.

This £9.1 billion government support is intended to help with the cost of living after the increase in energy costs.

Lump Sum Exit Scheme Support for Farmers

Farmers who wish to leave the industry will be supported by a new Government scheme that provides a lump sum payment, allowing them to exit the sector in a managed way. In exchange for their payment, farmers will surrender their entitlements and be expected to either rent or sell their land or surrender their tenancy, in order to create opportunities for new entrants and farmers wishing to expand their businesses.

The Lump Sum Exit Scheme, where farmers could receive up to around £100,000, is due to open in April and the application period will run until the end of September.

Over £700 Million New Grant Fund for Businesses Impacted by Omicron

Businesses in England most impacted by the Omicron variant will be able to tap into a new £700 million support package in the coming weeks.

Firms in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors will be able to apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises depending on rateable value. In addition, more than £100 million worth of discretionary funding is also being made available for local authorities to support other businesses.

£1 Billion Support for UK Businesses Impacted by Omicron

The government is providing one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England. More than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses.

The government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK. To enable more cultural organisations to apply for support during the winter, further funding amounting to £30 million will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund.

Deadline Extension for Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Scheme

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy confirmed that it is proposing a 12-month extension to the non-domestic RHI’s application deadline, moving the date from 31 March 2022 to 31 March 2023.

Also set to be extended are the second and third allocations of the scheme’s tariff guarantee, which will allow organisations to secure a fixed tariff before their installation is commissioned and accredited.

New Laws and Code of Practice to Resolve Commercial Rent Debts

From 25 March 2022, new laws introduced in the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill, will establish a legally-binding arbitration process for commercial landlords and tenants who have not yet reached an agreement, following the principles in the Code of Practice.

The new laws will be implemented in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland will have the power to introduce similar legislation. The Commercial Rent Bill will apply to commercial rent debts related to the mandated closure of certain businesses such as pubs, gyms and restaurants during the pandemic.

Cold Weather Payment Scheme

From 1 November 2021, households have become eligible for the Cold Weather Payment scheme which involves a weekly reduction on their energy bills.

You can receive this payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days. Eligible individuals will get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November 1 and 31 March 2022.

£500 Million Plan for Jobs Expansion

Workers leaving the furlough scheme and unemployed individuals over 50 years old will be supported back into work as part of more than £500m expansion of the government’s Plan for Jobs. People earning the lowest wages will also benefit and existing schemes targeting young people will be extended into next year as part of the new package.

Starting in April 2022, the Government is enhancing its programme of support for workers on Universal Credit.

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