Regional Insights from UK & Europe, May 2021
The budget outlined continued support for businesses and individuals to take the UK through the remaining stages of the pandemic, with a focus on job retention schemes. Extensions announced by the Chancellor of the furlough scheme until September has helped to protect 11.2 million jobs since the pandemic began. Changes to this will see employers asking to put in contributions of 10% from July and 20% from August.
For the hospitality and tourism sectors, the roadmap to opening is on track. Accommodation providers and indoor dining businesses will be able to operate with guests allowed to return from 17th May, looking towards 21st June when further restrictions should be lifted. The reopening of businesses is expected to cause a re-balancing of consumer discretionary spend back to cafes, pubs and restaurants.
The business rate holiday will continue until the end of June and business rates will be discounted for the remaining 9 months of the financial year, whilst the reduced 5% rate on VAT has also been extended for hospitality & tourism sectors.
The easing of lockdowns has seen an increase of store sales up 4.6 percent, as well as a 24 percent increase in store visits, the most stores have seen in 13 months. As we open up, there are plenty of opportunities for our New Zealand exporters to be a part of this continued growth.
We are beginning a new phase of the “new-normal”. In person meetings are starting to take place again and there is a trickle back into offices. This month international travel has been announced with a green light for 12 countries who can enter the UK with no quarantine required on arrival, including New Zealand and Australia.
We look forward to welcoming back out our friends, whānau and colleagues from home as international travel starts to slowly return. Please remember to be well organised and sensitive to the changes and challenges that we are still facing here on this side of the world. We may not want to shake your hand just yet, please don’t take this that we aren’t happy to see you or to do business, it’s been a long time between hugs and we’ll need a bit more time to get used to them again.