Sep 21, 2020 - Rising virus rates threaten economy, warns Bank of England

The Bank of England has warned that the rising rate of coronavirus infections and a lack of clarity over the UK's future trade relationship with the EU could threaten the economic recovery.

The UK is still in a deep recession, while Covid-19 infections are at their highest level since mid-May.

Citing the uncertainty, the Bank held interest rates at 0.1%, a historic low. It added that it would continue its monetary support for the economy but stopped short of increasing its bond-buying programme or reducing interest rates further.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which sets interest rate po...

Sep 20, 2020 - EU Settlement Scheme “still unknown to many migrants”

Many eastern European migrant workers don’t know that the EU Settlement Scheme exists, new research suggests.

A survey of EU citizens in Cambridgeshire by the Social Market Foundation think tank found that barely half were aware of the Settlement Scheme.

The report concludes that “the EU Settlement Scheme is still unknown to many migrants, and poorly understood by users”.

The findings come from interviews in early 2020 with 90 migrant workers in the Cambridgeshire fens. Most were Lithuanian, Romanian or Bulgarian. Almost all worked in jobs considered “lower-skilled”.

The Home Office is yet to ...

Sep 20, 2020 - UK businesses voluntarily return £215m in furlough cash

UK firms have voluntarily returned more than £215m to the government in furlough scheme payments they did not need or took in error.

Data released by HM Revenue and Customs shows that 80,433 companies have sent back £215,756,121 as of 15 September, according to a Freedom of Information request sent by PA Media.

Some employers returned money sent to them, while others asked for smaller payments in subsequent rounds of funding.

A total of £35.4bn has been paid out as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).  HMRC officials believe £3.5bn may have been paid out in error or to fraudste...

Sep 15, 2020 - Government extends support to stop business evictions this year

The government has extended support to prevent business evictions until the end of 2020, providing commercial tenants with greater security and protecting vital jobs.

These measures are on top of the wider ranging financial package provided by the UK government, backed by £160 billion, to protect jobs, incomes and business throughout and beyond this pandemic.

The government is clear that where businesses can pay their rent, they should do so, as this support is aimed to those businesses struggling the most during the pandemic.

This move will help those businesses most in need of additional sup...

Sep 14, 2020 - Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 15 September 2020)

General immigration policy rules

Some people who were in the UK when the pandemic hit were unable to leave before the expiry of their visa because of travel restrictions. The government had been extending people’s visas through a simplified online application process, but that concession is now pretty much at an end.

People requesting exceptional indemnity/assurance need to contact the coronavirus helpline to explain why they can’t leave by 31 October. The guidance emphasises that anyone whose leave expired before 31 August is too late to apply for exceptional assurance and “must make arrange...

Sep 10, 2020 - New Immigration rules for students

The changes relate to students: what have so far been known as the Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (children) routes will now be Student Visa (for adult applicants) and Child Student Visa (for applicants aged below 16 years old).

In terms of timeline, the changes will take effect on 5 October 2020 at 09 am. Applicants made before then will be considered in line with the Rules in force at the time.

What is new for students?

  • Brexit did happen, and we are coming to the end of the transition period. This means that the rules will apply to EEA nationals. EEA nationals applying in-country will only...

Sep 10, 2020 - Lockdown grants welcome but more support needed, say business groups

The government's announcement of new cash grants for businesses affected by local lockdowns has been welcomed by business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Businesses in England that are required to shut because of local interventions will now be able to claim up to £1,500 per property every three weeks.

However, both the CBI and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) have warned that more targeted help is still required.

Payments are triggered by a national decision to close businesses...

Sep 08, 2020 - The Government of the UK may break international law over Brexit negotiations

Boris Johnson has urged MPs to support a bill which modifies the Brexit deal he signed with the EU in January. The PM said that the Bill would ensure the integrity of the UK internal market and hand power to Scotland and Wales, as well as it would protect the Northern Ireland peace process.

Concerns had been raised about legislation being brought forward which could change parts of the withdrawal agreement, negotiated last year.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis conceded it would go against the treaty in a "specific and limited way". Senior Conservatives have warned it risks undermining...

Sep 07, 2020 - Coronavirus: Up to £3.5bn furlough scheme claims may have been wrongly paid out

The government believes it may have paid out up to £3.5bn in wrong or fraudulent claims for the furlough scheme.

Jim Harra, the top civil servant at HM Revenue & Customs, said that his staff had calculated for the possibility that from 5% to 10% of the money might have gone to the wrong places.

The government has so far made £35.4bn in furlough payments, according to the latest figures. It means that somewhere between £1.75bn and £3.5bn could have been paid out wrongly.

Mr Harra said HMRC would not be seeking to root out employers who have made legitimate mistakes but will instead be focusing ...

Sep 06, 2020 - UK visa updates for international students: Here’s what you should know

The UK will implement a points-based immigration system from 2021 onwards, as announced earlier this year by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the division of the Home Office responsible for the country’s visa system. Following this announcement are a host of UK visa updates for visa applicants and temporary residents. Here’s what you should know as an international student.

You can apply for Tier 4 visa six months ahead

Under the latest UKVI guidelines, students can apply for a study visa as soon as they gain admission into the university and confirm their UK travel. This is a welcome change t...