Feb 12, 2021 - UK economy suffered record annual slump in 2020

The UK economy shrank by a record 9.9% last year as coronavirus restrictions hit output, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says.

The contraction in 2020 "was more than twice as much as the previous largest annual fall on record," said ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow.

In December, the economy grew by 1.2%, after shrinking by 2.3% in November, as some restrictions eased.

Hospitality, car sales and hairdressers recovered some lost ground.

Last month's growth means the UK economy looks set to avoid what could have been its first double-dip recession since the 1970s.

A double...

Feb 11, 2021 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 11 February 2021)

People stuck outside the UK

On 11 January 2021, the Home Office published a Covid Visa Concession Scheme. It is designed to help people who had permission to live in the UK but whose permission expired while they were stuck abroad due to coronavirus travel restrictions, leaving them unable to return. Provided they meet the eligibility criteria in the guidance, such people will be granted entry clearance valid for three months to allow them to travel back to the UK and apply properly to extend their stay. But the scheme is aimed at people who left the UK before 17 March 2020 (the date the Forei...

Feb 11, 2021 - Will the stamp duty holiday be extended?

With less than seven weeks until the stamp duty holiday is due to end, consumers in the process of buying a new home may miss out on the tax-reduction and instead find themselves paying out thousands of pounds more than they expected on completion.

Many buyers are keen to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday which is due to end on 31 March.

In July, the government suspended stamp duty on the first £500,000 of all property sales in England and Northern Ireland to help boost the market, until 31 March 2021. In Scotland, where the equivalent levy is called the Land and Buildings Transaction T...

Feb 11, 2021 - Brexit: London loses out as Europe's top share trading hub

Amsterdam ousted London as the largest financial trading centre in Europe last month as Brexit-related changes to finance rules came into force.

About €9.2bn (£8.1bn) worth of shares were traded on Amsterdam exchanges each day, against €8.6bn in London.

Following new Brexit rules, EU-based banks wanting to buy European shares currently cannot trade via London, meaning a loss of fees for City firms.

Bank of England chief Andrew Bailey has warned the EU not to cut off London.

On Wednesday (10 February), Mr Bailey said there were signs that the EU planned to cut the UK off from its financial mark...

Feb 10, 2021 - High Court judge threatens Priti Patel with contempt of court proceedings

A High Court judge has raised the prospect of contempt of court proceedings against the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, after her department breached a mandatory injunction. Mr Justice Chamberlain made the ominous comments in the case of Mohammad v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 240 (Admin). 

The case concerns an Iranian citizen with a sex offence conviction. He was released on immigration bail in 2018 but by October 2020 had nowhere to live and applied for government accommodation under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The Home Office agreed in principle ...

Feb 10, 2021 - Important report on reform of immigration enforcement

The hostile environment should be reformed by selective repeal of key provisions, addressing Home Office culture and improved routes to regularisation, an influential think tank has found. Beyond the hostile environment, a report released yesterday by the Institute for Public Policy Research, follows up on a previous look at the negative impacts of policies designed to make life intolerable for undocumented migrants. The IPPR has now turned to solutions, canvassing a range of options from straight repeal through to ID cards.

Of the various options suggested, the report recommends three main ar...

Feb 10, 2021 - Home Office given 48 hours to release immigration detainee despite coronavirus

In an interim relief decision the High Court has ordered the release of an immigration detainee within 48 hours, indicating that judges will not allow the Home Office to use the pandemic as cover to justify long “grace period” delays in releasing detainees. Those delays were common even before the pandemic.

The court case is R (SH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 177.

The case concerned an Egyptian national who had been detained since 13 May 2019. An internal Case Progression Panel had decided that SH should be released as long ago as November 2019 because of delays ge...

Feb 09, 2021 - Can I get a cold weather payment and how much are they?

Temperatures are freezing in many parts of the UK and are set to drop even lower as the week goes on. Fuel use and bills are likely to rise, and with more people at home under lockdown, those bills could grow very steeply.

However, there is help on hand for people receiving benefits, in the form of Cold Weather Payments from the government.

Cold Weather Payments are a government benefit top-up to help with fuel bills during times of exceptional cold weather.

These payments are not age-related. To qualify, you must already be eligible for one of five benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Sup...

Feb 09, 2021 - Covid-19: Travellers face £1,750 cost for England quarantine hotels

Travellers having to stay in quarantine hotels in England will be charged £1,750 for their stay, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

The measures, which come into force on Monday, apply to UK and Irish residents returning from 33 red list countries.

Those who fail to quarantine in a government-sanctioned hotel for 10 days face fines of up to £10,000.

Meanwhile, all travellers arriving into Scotland from abroad by air will have to go into quarantine hotels.

New, stricter travel measures are also being looked at in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Delivering a statement in the Commons, Mr Ha...

Feb 09, 2021 - Government unlawfully denied refugee status to Egyptian dissident on national security grounds

In the latest round of the legal saga involving Egyptian dissident Yasser Al-Siri, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Home Office acted unlawfully in only granting him restricted leave to remain after an earlier First-tier Tribunal decision that he is a refugee. There was, the court found, no fresh evidence allowing the Home Office to get around the First-tier Tribunal’s decision. The case is Al-Siri v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 113.


The political background to Mr Al-Siri’s case is well documented but, in brief, in 1994 he was convicted by a milit...