Displaying items by tag: Business
UK businesses, hospitals, schools and charities will have their energy bills cut by half their predicted level under a support package that fixes wholesale gas and electricity prices for six months from 1 October, shielding businesses from crippling costs. The scheme will be reviewed after three months and possibly extended for vulnerable businesses. Government officials have not said how much the package will cost taxpayers: Cornwall Insight estimates £25bn. Energy-intensive industries, like steel manufacturing, could close because of energy costs surging after Russia's invasion. Household bills would be limited to £2,500 annually until 2024 under a separate scheme. Business analyst Simon Jack said few businesses plan with only a six-month time horizon. There will be some whose plans to cut production, close premises and let staff go will not change in spite of this intervention. Retail and hospitality organisations see this as giving them a fighting chance over the commercially crucial Christmas trading period.
The Bank of England has raised interest rates to 2.25%, the highest level for 14 years. This will make it more expensive to borrow, which should - theoretically - encourage people to borrow less and spend less. It should also spur people to save more. However, there is also a risk that it can drag on growth, harming the economy. The bank's monetary policy committee, which sets rates, believes that the economy is already shrinking, which would officially push the UK into recession. The Bank of England has also warned that the government’s energy price freeze will push up inflation in the medium term. With energy bills rising less sharply, households will have more money to spend on other goods and services (although some people are already having to skip meals due to rising bills).
Ofgem says a typical household gas and electricity bill will rise to £3,549 a year from October. Save the Children warned the rise could put young people's health at risk, with families unable to afford to heat their homes. Money expert Martin Lewis predicted grave consequences without more state help. Liz Truss has ‘ruled out’ further direct support for everybody to help cover the costs of surging energy bills, and was not considering further support like the £400 payment that all households will receive this winter. Rishi Sunak says the government must provide some direct support to everyone. Ovo Energy has proposed a ten-point plan for the Government to subsidise soaring gas and electricity bills so that the poorest households get the most support. A key proposal is for energy firms to borrow from a government-backed fund to subsidise bills.
The UK chancellor Nadhim Zahawi visited the USA for cost-of-living talks during what could be his final week in the job. The two candidates for PM have signalled they will offer more help when elected, though neither has given details. Mr Zahawi insists he has been working tirelessly to come up with proposals for either leadership candidate to bring in more support. The chancellor met banking chiefs in New York to discuss co-operating on financial services, before heading to Washington DC to discuss support for Ukraine, the global economic outlook, and energy security. He said that global pressures must be overcome through global efforts.
Oman’s economy is heavily dependent on declining oil reserves. It has begun focusing on tourism as a new source of economic growth. Diverse untouched landscapes of coastlines, deserts, and mountains are unique destinations for travellers. The Oman Arab Bank recently sponsored their third tourism forum to train young adults in the tourism industry. While this boosts Oman’s economy, it is also an opportunity for the Gospel to reach five million people who have never heard the good news of Jesus’ love and gift of salvation. Proselytising is illegal, and those in active Christian ministry experience pressure to leave the country. But as tourism increases, creative access to new people groups will become more feasible. Pray for successful expansion of current Oman ministries: relief and water projects, media, literature, business as ministry, urban evangelism, and church planting. As tourism meets the financial needs of Oman, may the Church go forth to meet the spiritual needs.
Companies were forced to give bribes to cajole employees to return to the office last year: free breakfast, ice cream and even popcorn to workers who came in. Now bribes are replaced with stern summons issued to workers still wanting to stay at home. Apple’s chief executive ordered every employee to return to the office three days a week from September. That is the latest in similar demands issued by other companies, who all feel that office life improves productivity. But efforts to lure staff back may not be necessary when the country plunges into recession. Experts and City professionals are now saying workers are keen to get back in front of managers to save their jobs as a crisis looms. However, as the harsh reality of the cost-of-living crisis hits, they will still have to escort some of their colleagues to the door anyway.
Parents are facing buying expensive school uniforms in time for the new academicl year. In 2020 the average cost of a uniform was £337 for secondary schools, £315 for primary schools. This year a quarter of parents will try to reuse old school items rather than buying new, according to Barclaycard research. One in five are donating old uniforms to others who cannot afford new ones. Demand for free school uniforms has rocketed recently. Although a new law protecting parents from unnecessary spending on branded items for school uniform costs will come into effect in September 2022, schools have until September 2023 to introduce change. Pray for schools quickly and thoroughly to review their uniform policies to make them more cost-effective sooner rather than later.
Sanctioned Russian oligarchs from Putin's inner circle have exploited a UK secrecy loophole left open by the Government. They use a type of company which does not need to identify its real owners known as an English Limited Partnerships (ELP). ELPs are also linked to fraud, terrorism and money laundering. Since 2017 over 4,500 have been set up to dodge anti-money laundering laws which require the real owners to be disclosed. Pray for the UK Economic Crime Programme, police and government to make ELPs illegal. Meanwhile Shell Plc has given employees a ‘Special Recognition Award’, equivalent to 8% of their annual salary, after recording profits for a second consecutive quarter thanks to soaring oil and gas prices and legally strong refining margins. The one-time payment will be made to most of Shell’s 82,000 employees. Shell said the award was not a response to the rising cost of living. See
SNP ministers are facing a new legal battle over the definition of women, after they were accused of flouting a court ruling stating that biological men cannot be counted as female. The campaign group For Women Scotland claimed Nicola Sturgeon’s administration was trying to ‘redefine women yet again’ by issuing transgender rules it says are ‘wholly incompatible’ with a landmark court victory, which it won only five months ago. The feminist organisation was backed by Scotland's top civil court in its claim that SNP legislation designed to increase the number of women on public boards was unlawful as it stated that anyone ‘living as a woman’, regardless of their biological sex, would count as female. However, the Scottish Government has issued new statutory guidelines which state transgender women should still be counted as female in the workplace quotas, so long as they hold a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). Trina Budge, a director at For Women Scotland, said, ‘The Government seems incapable of either abiding by a court order, or understanding that the definition of woman does not include any males.’
The Bank of England’s chief economist pledged to ‘deliver inflation back to its 2% target’ despite the challenges of rising food and energy costs and a fall in the pound’s value that has made both more expensive. The central bank’s single purpose at the moment is to bring down the rate of price growth - a clear hint that more interest rate rises are on the way. His comments follow an equally stark warning from a deputy governor of the Bank, who said its monetary policy committee (MPC) would ‘do whatever is necessary’ to prevent the rocketing cost of living from becoming a lasting inflation problem. The Bank has raised interest rates five times since December in response to soaring prices.