November has been an eventful month so far with the announcement of a second national lockdown from the 5th. Although the government was eager to avoid another blow to the economy, medical experts advised that action was necessary given the significant surge in Covid-19 cases. The month-long lockdown is scheduled to end on December 2nd, but the news came as a blow for many hard hit industries attempting to get back on their feet. While the government has extended the furlough scheme and increased support for the self-employed, unemployment figures continue to rise as many companies respond to the worsening economic outlook.
45% of businesses experienced a drop in turnover
There were three industries where more than 50% of businesses experienced a decrease in turnover, compared with 45% across all industries. These were the accommodation and food service industry at 72%; the arts, entertainment and recreation industry at 69%; and the education industry (private sector and higher education businesses only) at 57%. The wholesale and retail trade industry had the highest percentage of businesses experiencing an increase in turnover at 16%. Total online job adverts remained unchanged from the previous week, at 70% of their 2019 average. For more news on firms that are currently hiring see here.
Health Unions call for NHS pay rise before Christmas
Although the effects of the second lockdown are yet to be fully felt, another sector faring well with stable and continued hiring is the health sector. As NHS staff face a tough winter dealing with casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to introduce an NHS pay rise before Christmas. 14 health unions including Unison and the Royal College of Nursing have written a letter to Mr Johnson outlining the “immense” strain on services and staff. Under current plans, NHS staff on the Agenda for Change (AfC) contract are not due a pay rise until April 2021. However, the unions are arguing that a “significant” pay rise this year would help to boost morale among staff and place the NHS in a better position for the future by attracting much needed recruits.
Pro-enterprise budget needed for next year
Meanwhile, the government is expected to deliver a pro-enterprise budget in 2021, in order to encourage people to take the plunge into independent enterprise. In light of this, it’s been pointed out that the self-employed are facing a tough time during the pandemic, with many contractors slipping down cracks in the government support schemes. A ‘triple whammy’ of Covid-19, IR35 reform and Brexit is expected to create mass uncertainty next year, yet it’s this uncertainty that experts predict will create a need for independent skills and a flexible workforce.
Brexit Bill suffers House of Lords defeat
This week the government’s Brexit Bill suffered a heavy House of Lords defeat. The Internal Market Bill contains measures that overrule parts of the UK’s Brexit agreement with the EU. Peers voted overwhelmingly to remove a section of the bill that would allow ministers to break international law. The Internal Market Bill is designed to enable goods and services to flow freely across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland after 1 January – when the post-Brexit transition period runs out. The government say that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and the huge gains of the peace process. They intend to reinstate the clauses when the bill returns to the House of Commons next month.
As the Covid-19 pandemic redistributes the need for certain skills, opportunities are opening in some areas. If work in your sector has dried up, why not consider recycling your skills where they’re most needed? If you’re starting a new contract, ContractingWISE has a range of hassle-free services that can help you set up a fast and efficient payroll. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679