1615: CBI responds to interest rate cuts

Commenting on the news that the Bank of England is cutting interest rates to a historic low of 0.1% to try and protect the economy during the coronavirus crisis, Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said: “This latest move by the Bank of England shows a desire to do whatever it takes to protect the economy from the worst of the Covid-19 crisis.

“For many firms the situation is already critical, with dwindling cash flow forcing tough decisions. Companies are doing all they can to help employees through these unprecedented times. And the response from government and the Bank of England so far has been encouraging. But the economic impact also requires urgent, swift intervention to protect pay and livelihoods to be delivered within days.”

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1600: UKWA offers to provide extra warehouse space if needed

Following the news yesterday that online giant Amazon has decided it cannot stock certain items in its warehouses due to the current COVID-19 crisis, due to what it describes as ‘overwhelming demand’, members of the leading trade organisation UKWA (UK Warehousing Association) have stepped forward to offer temporary or permanent warehousing services to companies struggling to fulfil orders at this challenging time.

“Although warehousing space was already in short supply prior to this pandemic, the situation has become considerably more difficult for companies attempting to maintain supplies to customers as big warehouse operators like Amazon move to stock essential household items only. However, our members - many of whom are SMEs – have the flexibility to plug some of the gaps,” said UKWA CEO Peter Ward.

He continued, “There is evidence of various ‘operators’ jumping in to provide ad hoc warehousing and distribution services as supply chains come under pressure, however UKWA members are accredited businesses that adhere to our high standards and can provide reliable, highly flexible, ‘plug and play’ services - not just space, but order fulfilment services too. We urge companies struggling in the current crisis to visit our website and search for a logistics partner, or to contact us directly to source much needed space.”

UKWA predicts a further increase in demand for additional warehousing services as labour shortages in warehouses are exacerbated when workers become ill, self-isolate to protect colleagues, or must stay at home as childcare becomes priority due to school closures.

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1220: Make UK calls for further government assistance

Make UK has called on government to allow for extra measures to help prevent 'thousands' of potential lay-offs.

Britain’s manufacturers are calling for an immediate deferment of VAT, PAYE and National Insurance payments as part of a package of measures, as the prospect looms of companies having to lay off thousands of skilled employees.

The call was made by Make UK on the back of distress signals it has picked up from manufacturers across the country over the last week. According to Make UK, while the measures announced by the Chancellor on Tuesday were extremely welcome they will take some time to feed through into the system, whereas measures which will have a more immediate impact will help employers’ cashflow and enable them to retain staff.

Make UK’s Q1 Manufacturing Outlook survey published on Monday showed that even before the escalation of the Covid 19 crisis export orders had slumped and turned negative for the first time in three years, while domestic orders were enduring their worst run since 2015.

The particular measures Make UK is calling for include:

Immediate deferment of VAT, PAYE and National Insurance payments, initially for three months and renew as needed to ease cashflow challenges

Extending the financial support of Statutory Sick Pay announced in the Budget – increasing reimbursement from two weeks eligible per employee to a longer period, and increasing the scope of the size of the company from 250 employees to businesses of all sizes

Financial support for employers for their employees wages as a result of lay-offs and short time working, similar to schemes in France and Germany

Extend the valuation cycles for DB pension schemes which are expected to be valued in the next three months.

Extend the period for which businesses are required to publish accounts and withdraw penalties for late reporting this year.

Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK, said: “There are alarm bells going off right across the manufacturing sector with the prospect of substantial lay-offs looming. Order books are collapsing and this is creating immediate cashflow issues for companies which need addressing within days not weeks.

“The measures already announced by the Chancellor are welcome but, events are so fast moving that we need to go further. As such, we need urgent measures which will have an immediate impact on the ability of companies to stay afloat during this crisis and retain their staff.”

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1000: MMS and Subcon postponed until September 2020

Subcon 2020, The Engineer Expo and Manufacturing Management Show to be postponed until September 28-30 2020

MA Exhibitions Limited, which owns and runs Subcon, The Engineer Expo, and The Manufacturing Management Show, has taken the very difficult decision to reschedule the event from June 9 -11 to September 28 -30, 2020.

As organisers, our number one priority is to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of all of our exhibitors, visitors and staff. Given the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the concerns shared by a number of the show’s partners, we have decided that in order to minimise the risks to visitors and exhibitors, the event will now take place at the end of September in Hall 6 NEC.

We also believe that by moving the show to September, we will be able to offer a better experience for visitors and exhibitors than we would under the current conditions.

All existing exhibitor bookings will be automatically transferred to the new dates and a member of the team will be in touch over the coming days to discuss any questions you might have. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the show’s partners for their understanding in this matter and we look forward to working with you to deliver an outstanding event in September.

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0930: HVM Catapult chief to remain in post

Having announced in January that he was to retire in August of this year, Dick Elsy, Chief Executive Officer of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, has announced that he will defer his planned retirement to support the manufacturing sector’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Coronavirus presents immense challenges for the UK’s manufacturers," he said. "In the short term they will be called on to step up to supply the nation’s needs at an extraordinary moment in our history. Looking further ahead, they will need to be strong to weather the shock that the virus has given our economy. I want to play my full part in mobilising the outstanding resources of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to underpin their success until the situation stabilises and I can hand over to a successor.”