Further COVID-19 related restrictions were introduced in October and more restrictions on commercial activity during November are possible. The COVID-19 Job Support Scheme opens on 1 November 2020, while Brexit negotiations are also likely to continue throughout the month.
Throughout October, more COVID-19 related restrictions on commercial activity were introduced by the government and there is the potential for further restrictions in November.
The Job Support Scheme (JSS) opens on 1 November 2020 and will run for six months. It is designed to assist those employers facing lower demand over the winter months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 22 October 2020, the Chancellor announced a package of further economic measures to support businesses affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including significant changes to the JSS and expanded grants for businesses in high-alert areas. Under the short-time working JSS, an employee will now only need to work and be paid for at least 20% of their normal hours, not 33% as originally announced. Business grants of up to £2,100 a month will be made available for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sectors that have not been required to close but are impacted by restrictions in high-alert areas.
Several support measures for businesses have been extended to 30 November 2020:
- The UK Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
- The UK Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).
- The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).
- The Future Fund.
Each scheme was originally open for six months, with the first to be introduced (CBILS and Future Fund) being due to close on 30 September 2020. The COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) will remain open until 22 March 2021.
A no-deal Brexit continues to remain a possibility. Following the conclusion of EU leaders’ discussions on the future UK-EU relationship at a summit in mid-October 2020, the European Council noted that progress on the key issues of interest to the EU was still insufficient for an agreement to be reached. The meeting had previously been suggested as a deadline for negotiations on the relationship, to be followed by ratification of any agreement before the transition period ends.
The Prime Minister subsequently stated that the UK should prepare for arrangements after transition “that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade”, which can be translated as a no-deal outcome. However, on 21 October 2020, the chief negotiators of the UK and the European Commission agreed principles for further negotiations on the future relationship. The parties agreed to intensify negotiations, with the initial phase being held in London from 22 to 25 October 2020.
Thomson Reuters is supporting The Chancery Lane Project (TCLP), which is a collaborative effort by the legal sector to develop contracts and model laws to help tackle climate change. Thomson Reuters is sponsoring TCLP’s second pro bono legal hackathon (The Big Hack). The Big Hack comprises activities throughout October, November and December 2020 with a focus on events during 5 and 6 November, as part of Pro Bono Week.
The FRC has published a discussion paper on the future of corporate reporting in which it outlines its proposals for a new model for corporate reporting. The proposed model would see the annual report replaced with a network of interconnected reports, centred around a mandatory Business Report (analogous to a concise strategic report). It would then include a series of additional network reports, which would be accessible on a standalone basis and could be a mixture of mandatory and voluntary reports.
Comments on the discussion paper are requested by 5 February 2021.
The CBI is launching a campaign calling for increased racial and ethnic diversity in British businesses at the end of October. Change the Race Ratio will identify four commitments to change, which include encouraging FTSE 100 companies to have at least one racially and ethnically diverse board member by the end of 2021 and for FTSE 250 companies doing so by 2024.
The Female FTSE Board Report 2020, published by Cranfield School of Management and EY, has found that despite significant progress in the number of non-executive directors on FTSE 100 boards (where women now account for a record 40.8% of non-executive directors) the increase in the number of executive positions being awarded to women remained “stubbornly low”. The report also warns that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse gender equality progress.
In October the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) imposed the largest fine to date for a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679). British Airways (BA) were fined £20 million for processing personal data without adequate security measures in place and leaving the personal data of more than 400,000 of its customers vulnerable to a cyber-attack in 2018, which went undetected for two months. The fine was a significant reduction on the £183.39 million the ICO announced it intended to fine BA in July 2019.
Key dates for your diary
2 November 2020
IPO consultation on review of IP enforcement framework closes.
3 November 2020
HMCTS hosts 4th Annual Public User online event.
4 November 2020
Closing date for FCA consultation on minor changes to the Listing Rules.
9 November 2020
Closing date for detailed comments to OTS call for evidence on capital gains tax.
12 November 2020
ICO consultation on Statutory guidance ends.
16 November 2020
Consultation on state of intellectual property rights in third countries ends.
17 November 2020
The Commercial Court 125th Anniversary Seminar Series: Seminar 2 (“State Immunity and Commercial Law: An ever-decreasing sphere?“) takes place.
20 November 2020
VAT grouping call for evidence closes.
30 November 2020
IPO consultation on intellectual property and artificial intelligence ends.