Weekly Digest – 22 December 2021
Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward. This is the last weekly digest for the year. We hope you have a relaxing holiday break and we’ll be back with more updates in the New Year.
No New COVID-19 Restrictions Before Christmas
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that there will be no new COVID-19 restrictions before Christmas. However, the government is monitoring Omicron closely and does not rule out new measures after Christmas.
£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.
New National Security Regime
The government has announced the full commencement of the National Security and Investment Act 2021 on 4 January 2022. It will introduce new powers for the government to investigate and intervene in investments and other acquisitions of entities and assets in the UK where they could harm national security.
To prepare, follow these steps:
- Check if the rules will apply to your acquisition.
- Check if you will need to tell the government about your acquisition.
- Tell the government about your acquisition by submitting a notification online from 4 January 2022.
- The government will review your acquisition and decide if it will clear the acquisition, impose conditions, or block or unwind it.
You can find the published guidance to ensure a smooth transition to the new rules here. Further guidance will be published 6 months after the new Act commences.
UK- Australia Free Trade Agreement
The UK and Australia have signed a Free Trade Agreement, eliminating all tariffs on UK exports and making Australian products more accessible for the UK market. It is expected to boost the UK economy by £2.3 billion and add £900 million to UK household wages.
The deal will also allow British nationals 18 to 35 years old to work and travel in Australia for up to three years at a time, eliminating previous visa conditions.
Government Borrowing Surges Again
The UK government borrowed £17.4 billion in November, beating economists’ forecasts and suggesting debt could far overshoot officials’ forecasts if the Omicron variant slows the economy as expected.
The government spent £32 billion during November, £2 billion more than it did in the same period last year, partly due to the ramping up of the vaccine programme and test and trace.
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.
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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