Industry
PM announces post-virus recovery plan

Boris Johnson has presented his plan for post-pandemic infrastructure investment in the UK. KPMG’s head of infrastructure Jan Crosby said: “The programme should be even more ambitious – much larger and focused on other areas that also need levelling up – social housing; communities and high streets, digital infrastructure, championing accelerator infrastructure for the creation of new export industries,” and noted that although it seems like a lot of money, the £5bn announced by the Prime Minister does not “go very far” in terms of individual projects. Brendan Sharkey, head of construction and real estate at MHA MacIntyre Hudson, noted: “This is exactly what we need to keep work flowing to the sector and to shore up the future of SME construction firms.”

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Business
Recovery plan includes planning shake-up

Revealing his “New Deal” for the British people to rebuild the post-Covid economy, Boris Johnson announced reforms to the planning system that will make it easier to turn commercial buildings into residential homes without requiring consent. It will also become easier to develop brownfield sites for housing, whilst builders will no longer require a normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes. Changing the use of a commercial building will also be simplified. For example, a building used for retail will be able to be permanently used as a café or office without requiring a planning application and local authority approval.

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Business
Local Lockdown Business Fund called for

David Hough, business advisory partner at tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg, has said that firms which have just re-opened and now face closure again as local lockdowns are considered will need support. He stated: “If they don’t act then businesses that have just got back to work and are just starting to get income flowing again will fail and that would be a disaster.” Mr Hough continued: “A Local Lockdown Business Fund that is administered by local authorities with help from the government can be used to ensure that small and medium businesses, who have played by the rules, can get means tested support. This relief should be designed to ensure that businesses in the most exposed sectors, such as hospitality, can reopen with confidence because they can rely on support in the event of a local lockdown outside of their control.”

Business Money
Finance
More than £43bn borrowed by UK firms

New HMRC data show that businesses in the UK have borrowed more than £43bn so far under the government’s coronavirus lending programmes. The approval rate for the coronavirus business interruption loans scheme remains about 50%, with 52,275 claims out of 104,569 applications approved. The bounce back loan scheme has seen almost 1.2m applications made so far, remaining the most popular of the various initiatives. The Future Fund, which is aimed at start-up firms, has so far approved 322 bids to a total value of £320.6m.

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