Apr 29, 2021 - NatWest says fewer customers defaulting on loans despite Covid

Fewer people are defaulting on loans due to the pandemic than expected, two major banks have said.

NatWest Group, which owns RBS, was able to release £102m it had set aside for bad loans in the first quarter after "better than expected" repayments.

Standard Chartered meanwhile took a $20m hit from bad loans in the same period - down by $354m from the previous quarter. Earlier this week HSBC and Lloyds both reported a similar trend.

Last year, many big banks warned that business and personal banking customers risked being unable to repay debts as coronavirus battered the UK economy.

NatWest its...

Apr 29, 2021 - New Plan for Immigration: the proposed changes to nationality law

The New Plan for Immigration Policy Statement of March 2021 (the New Plan) contains proposals to make significant changes to immigration and nationality law and policy. This article addresses the proposals set out in Chapter 3, which concern changes to British nationality law, in the hope of enabling affected people and organisations to respond constructively to the consultation. The consultation closes on 6 May 2021.

Many of the proposals in this area are welcome, particularly those affecting British Overseas Territories Citizens and the Windrush Generation. Some others are far more troubling...

Apr 27, 2021 - Good character requirement unlawfully applied in Windrush cases

From ‘Citizens of the UK and Colonies’, to ‘Commonwealth Citizens’, to ‘subject to immigration control’: the legislative erosion of the Windrush generation’s British citizenship rights is laid bare at paragraphs 1-5 of Howard, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 1023 (Admin). Anyone with an interest in mid-late 20th century British nationality and immigration law should read it in full.

This particular case was a successful challenge to a 2018 decision of former Home Secretary Sajid Javid to continue to rigidly apply the “good character policy” to...

Apr 27, 2021 - Lawyers must lodge out of country appeals through MyHMCTS

Presidential Practice Statement (PPS) No1 of 2021 came into force on Monday 26 April 2021.

This expands upon, and replaces, Presidential Practice Statement No2 of 2020 by making it mandatory to lodge represented appeals from appellants outside of the UK via MyHMCTS unless it is not practicable to do so.  The statement also includes linked appeals where the appellant is represented.

If you haven’t already you can register for the service online.

The onus lies on the appellant to show why it is not reasonably practicable.

Additionally to the catch-all  exception, the following situations are aut...

Apr 26, 2021 - Brexit: UK and Australia agree vast majority of trade deal

The UK and Australia say they have agreed "the vast majority" of a free trade deal. After talks on Friday in London the two said they aim to seal a deal by June.

"Both countries are confident the remaining issues will be resolved, and will now enter a sprint to agree the outstanding details with the aim of reaching agreement in principle," a joint statement said.

It is estimated a deal could add £500m ($694m) to UK GDP over the long-term.

The final day of talks between UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan ended in London without a deal but both sid...

Apr 26, 2021 - Older workers see biggest jobs fall since 1980s

The pandemic has led to the biggest annual fall in employment for older workers since the 1980s, according to a new report.

The decline in the employment rate for the over-50s has been twice as big as for those aged between 25 and 49.

The Resolution Foundation also found that after losing work, older workers take the longest to return.

It called on the government to tailor retraining opportunities to over-50s.

The report suggests that the Covid-19 crisis has created a "U-shaped" employment shock, with older and younger workers affected more than those who are middle-aged.

Although workers aged...

Apr 26, 2021 - Treasury snubbing 'mortgage prisoners', say MPs

MPs are challenging the government to live up to a promise to help homeowners trapped paying high interest rates because the Treasury sold their mortgages to unregulated firms.

Since they cannot switch to a better deal, an estimated 250,000 homeowners are forced to pay standard variable interest rates.

These are well above what a competitive mortgage would charge.

But moves to ease their plight are being blocked, MPs say.

The House of Lords has passed an amendment to the Financial Services Act to cap rates for borrowers in that position, known as "mortgage prisoners".

But government whips are ...

Apr 26, 2021 - UK economy set to grow at fastest rate on record

The UK economy is set to grow at its fastest rate on record this year, experts have predicted.

The EY Item Club has upgraded its 2021 growth forecast from 5% to 6.8%, which would mark the fastest rate seen since 1973.

Chief economic advisor Howard Archer said the economy had "proven to be more resilient than seemed possible".

The vaccine rollout and relaxed restrictions had helped the recovery, it said.

The UK's GDP, which measures all the activity of companies, governments and individuals in the economy, shrank by a record 9.9% last year as coronavirus restrictions hit output, according to th...

Apr 23, 2021 - Covid costs push government borrowing to highest since WW2

The cost of measures to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic has pushed government borrowing to the highest level since the end of World War Two.

Government borrowing - the difference between spending and tax income - hit £303.1bn in the year to March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Compared to the previous year, borrowing is nearly £250bn higher. Measures such as furlough payments have hit government finances hard. Borrowing hit £28bn in March alone - a record high for that month.

Despite the record figure, Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Stud...

Apr 23, 2021 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system as of 23 April 2021

NHS workers

The Home Office announced on 31 March 2020 that around 2,800 doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire by 1 October 2020 would get a free one-year extension. A month later, the department said that it was broadening the scheme to cover other frontline workers, including midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists.

In November 2020, the scheme was extended to cover people with visas expiring by 31 March 2021. However, unlike the first phase in which extensions were “automatic”, those with visas expiring after 1 October 2020 have to apply to have them extend...