Weekly Digest – 8 December 2021

Weekly Digest – 8 December 2021

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

Changes to Travel Rules to Prevent Spread of the Omicron Variant

All international travellers to the UK are now required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test to control the spread of the new Omicron variant. These requirements have come into effect from 4 am on 7 December.

Travellers will need to submit evidence of a negative lateral flow or PCR test to enter, which must have been taken a maximum of 48 hours before departure. People only need to self-isolate until they test negative within two days of arrival.

CBI: Rising Costs, Declining GDP, and Capital Crunch May Hinder Economic Recovery

Short-term headwinds such as rising costs and supply chain shortages have grown since the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) June forecast. In its latest economic forecast, CBI said long-term challenges and poor productivity continue to underline the need for a booster for business investment to support sustainable growth.

Business investment appetite is predicted to increase briefly above pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2022, growing by 8.2% over the year as a whole. CBI has also predicted for GDP growth to come in at 6.9% this year and 5.1% next year, revised down from 8.2% and 6.1%, respectively.

For 2023, CBI expects figures of 3%, while the unemployment rate is estimated to fall back to 3.8% at the end of 2023.

Meanwhile, the economic forecast predicts CPI inflation to peak at 5.2% in April next year, above the Bank of England’s 2% target until Spring 2023. This will hit pay packets and consumer spending.

£700 Million to Support NHS this Winter

Hospitals across the country will benefit from £700 million worth of targeted investment for 785 schemes across 187 hospital trusts to increase capacity and reduce waiting lists.

Out of the £700 million announced, £330 million will be used for upgrading NHS facilities, £250 million for new technology, and £120 million for any supporting revenue costs.

£64 Million Funding Competition for Carbon Capture Innovations

The UK Government has opened a new funding competition for innovators developing direct air capture (DAC) technologies and other greenhouse gas removal systems.

The Direct Air Capture and Greenhouse Gas Removal Programme was first announced in June 2020 and the second phase of the funding scheme is now open for applications. Only projects which were successful in the first phase of the scheme will be eligible to bid for phase two.

A total of 24 projects were successful under the first phase of the scheme.

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 a 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.

Starting 10 November, the government is also protecting commercial tenants from debt claims, including County Court Judgements (CCJs), High Court Judgements (HCJs) and bankruptcy petitions, issued against them in relation to rent arrears accrued during the pandemic.

Cold Weather Payment Scheme

From 1 November, 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.

SME Brexit Support Fund

The SME Brexit Support Fund will help businesses adjust to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

Traders can apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to pay for practical support for importing and exporting. This fund will help businesses prepare for the implementation of import controls that will take effect from April and July.

More details can be found here.

Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme:

  • Provides funding to employers to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit
  • Covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage) for 25 hours a week for a total of six months
  • Also covers National Insurance contributions
  • Employers can spread the start date of the job placements until the end of December 2021

Applications close in December. More information can be found here.

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