Business and Finance

UK economy contracted before COVID-19 crisis

Construction was one of the sectors suffering before the Covid-19 pandemic Photo: Dimitry Anikin

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has stated that UK GDP dropped by 0.1% in February, before the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Official statisticians say that poor weather impacting the construction sector and hampering growth led the UK economy to slump.

Head of GDP at the ONS Rob Kent-Smith said: ‘Today’s figures show that in the three months to February, which was before the full effects of Coronavirus took hold, the economy continued to show little to no growth.’

According to Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money, growth figures could get worse if Coronavirus prevention measures are not eased, while conceding that:

Doing so would be dangerous. The Government needs to put the health of the public ahead of the growth of the economy.

 

Government turns to Bank of England to temporarily finance Covid-19 spending

In an attempt to ensure sufficient funds for coping with coronavirus disruption, the government has expanded its overdraft with the Bank of England.

The move will allow ministers to spend more in the short term, minimising the need to raise additional funding from currency markets or bond markets.

According to the treasury, any money drawn from the Bank of England will be paid back as soon as possible and before the end of the year.

Last time the measure was used during the 2008 financial crisis, the value drawn from the facility briefly increased from £400 million to £19 billion.

In a statement, the Bank of England said:

The Government will continue to use the markets as its primary source of financing, and its response to Covid-19 will be fully funded by additional borrowing through normal debt management operations.

 

Unprecedented number of people in the UK looking for farming jobs

A record number of searches for fruit and vegetable grower jobs have been carried out in the last weeks, according to the job search engine Totaljobs.

Steve Warnham of Totaljobs said this may be because workers have been temporarily displaced in light of the Covid-19 crisis and are now looking for work in other sectors.

Another job search platform, Indeed.co.uk, has confirmed the spike in interest. The company has reported an increase of more than 6,000% in searches for farm worker roles between 18 March and 1 April.

However, with millions of workers furloughed from their normal jobs and unemployment on the rise, there is still an enormous surplus of labour in the UK.

Mark Bridgmene, president of the Country Land and Business Association said:

The challenge is matching that excess supply that is throughout the country with the demand, both in seasonal work, and also in food processing.

 

So-called ‘isolation retreats’ banned on Airbnb after backlash

Airbnb has announced it will block bookings for most customers in Britain to combat an increase in so-called ‘isolation retreats’ being listed on the site.

In spite of travel restrictions and a national lockdown, Airbnb hosts have been offering properties across the country as hideaways amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now only key workers will be allowed to book to stay in home rentals listed on Airbnb during the nationwide lockdown.

Airbnb director Patrick Robinson told SkyNews:

Restricting bookings on Airbnb to key workers and other essential stays will allow hosts to continue supporting frontline workers while following government guidance.

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