Ben Chapman, The Independent

Ben Chapman

The Independent

United Kingdom

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Recent articles by Ben:

Furloughed workers can go back to work part-time from 1 July, chancellor announces

Employers will have to start paying 10 per cent of furloughed workers' wages in September and 20 per cent in October, the chancellor has announced, as he laid out how the government will unwind its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. People on furlough will be able to come back to work part-time from 1 July, a month earlier than had previously been announced - a move that was → Read More

Couriers delivering coronavirus test samples vote to strike over health and safety concerns

Medical couriers delivering coronavirus testing samples for the NHS have voted to strike after the company employing them refused to offer the riders themselves tests. They also allege that NHS contractor The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) targeted eight couriers for redundancy because they had been active in campaigning for improved working conditions. → Read More

Nissan spares Sunderland plant from job cuts as Barcelona factory to close with loss of 2,800 staff

Nissan has spared its Sunderland plant from cuts as it announced the closure of a factory in Barcelona with the loss of 2,800 jobs. The Japanese car maker revealed on Thursday it had slumped to a 671.2 billion yen (£5bn) annual loss, its first in eleven years, as the industry battles an array of problems including falling demand in China, a shift to low-emission vehicles, → Read More

Furlough scheme: UK government paying wages and self-employed earnings for 10.7 million people

The UK government is now contributing to the wages of more than 10 million people through support schemes for employees and self-employed workers, new official figures show. The Treasury revealed on Wednesday that 1 million employers had claimed £15bn through the coronavirus job retention scheme to cover the costs of 8.4 million workers’ salaries. An additional 400,000 workers → Read More

UK supermarket sales surged at fastest pace on record during coronavirus lockdown

Supermarkets saw their sales jump at the fastest rate on record during the lockdown as restaurants shut their doors and shoppers stocked up, new figures show. Sales at UK grocery chains jumped 14.3 per cent in the 12 weeks to 17 May, according to market research company Kantar. Overall supermarket sales shot up particularly strongly in the latest four weeks, rising 17 per → Read More

As high streets reopen on 15 June, what will socially distanced shopping be like?

Britain’s high streets will begin to get back to something like normality next month when non-essential retailers are allowed to open their doors again after almost three months in lockdown. That will come as some relief for businesses, many of which were already struggling before the coronavirus pandemic hit. But what will the socially distanced shopping experience be like? → Read More

Lufthansa bailout: Travel company shares surge as hopes of summer holidays grow

Shares in travel companies surged on Tuesday morning after German airline Lufthansa secured a €9bn (£8bn) bailout and countries across Europe eased lockdown conditions, prompting renewed optimism that tourists will be able to jet off on holidays before the summer is over. British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group’s shares shot up almost 20 per cent in → Read More

Coronavirus: Government to consider bailout for 'strategically important firms' at risk of collapse

The government has authorised a plan allowing the bailout of firms considered strategically important as a "last resort" to prevent them going under as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury confirmed that it may try to bail out companies whose collapse would “disproportionately harm the economy”. → Read More

Extending the mortgage payment holiday further highlights the precarious situation of renters

Homeowners struggling to make ends meet because of the coronavirus pandemic are to be allowed to stop paying their mortgage until the end of October under plans announced on Friday. That will come as huge relief to many people in difficulty, but it also further underlines the inferior position that renters find themselves in. The government has temporarily suspended eviction → Read More

Businesses may be getting more optimistic, but the UK is still heading for a long recession

It seems the slight increase in optimism is more likely a reflection that dread and uncertainty about just how badly businesses could be impacted by coronavirus has been replaced by resignation, writes Ben Chapman → Read More

UK property sales fall to record low in April during coronavirus lockdown

The number of homes sold fell to a record low in April after dropping by almost half on the previous month, new figures show. Residential property transaction numbers fell 46.1 per cent to 46,440, compared to 86,200 in March. HMRC data published on Thursday showed that sales were also down by more than half on April last year. The monthly total is the lowest since HMRC began → Read More

Scotland bans companies based in tax havens from accessing coronavirus bailout money

Scotland has become the latest country to block companies based in tax havens from accessing coronavirus bailout funds, in a move that will increase pressure on Boris Johnson's government to introduce similar measures. MSPs approved new rules on Wednesday night that will mean companies that are registered in tax havens, or are a subsidiary of an offshore company, cannot apply → Read More

Coronavirus: New insolvency law to help businesses survive in face of 'aggressive debt recovery' during pandemic

Businesses struggling to stay afloat through the Covid-19 crisis could be saved by new rules designed to protect them from "aggressive debt recovery" and stop them going bust. The government introduced new insolvency legislation on Wednesday, giving companies time to restructure, refinance and keep trading when they might otherwise go out of business because of debts caused by → Read More

Coronavirus: Gas, electric, petrol and clothing prices plunge, sending inflation to four-year low

Plunging prices for petrol, diesel, gas, electricity and clothes sent inflation to a four-year low of just 0.8 per cent in April, prompting fears that the economy is being battered more than expected by coronavirus. → Read More

Coronavirus: Large firms that take bailout loans can't pay bosses bonuses or dividends

Large companies that borrow money under the government's coronavirus loan scheme will not be able to pay cash bonuses to executives or dividends to shareholders until the money is repaid. The new rules apply to companies borrowing more than £50m under the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS). Dividends and bonuses already agreed before the loan is taken → Read More

Analysis: Why the government must act now to stop the UK experiencing a coronavirus jobs catastrophe

At first glance the UK’s latest job numbers might not look that bad. A rise of 50,000 to 1.3 million out of work is entirely manageable and we entered the coronavirus pandemic with very high levels of employment anyway, even if average pay packets have barely risen in a decade. We also know that the Job Retention Scheme, the central pillar of the government’s measures to → Read More

Coronavirus pandemic could hurt young people’s incomes and mental health for years, research suggests

The coronavirus pandemic could hurt the earnings and mental health of younger workers for years to come, while those approaching retirement may see their pension income permanently reduced, a report has warned. It forecasts a “U-shaped” living standards crisis that will see young people take the biggest hit, followed by older generations, while the middle-aged are less badly → Read More

Stilton sales plunge during lockdown, threatening future of British cheesemakers

Cheesemakers are urging shoppers to buy British cheeses like stilton as the coronavirus lockdown caused sales to plunge by 30 per cent, putting the future of some businesses in doubt. Closing the hospitality and events industries, farmers markets and exports has led to plummeting demand for Stilton, the first British cheese to be awarded protected designation of origin status → Read More

Coronavirus: Shopping centre owner Intu warns it will default on debts as retailers stop paying rent during lockdown

Shopping centre owner Intu has warned it will soon start defaulting on its multibillion-pound debts as retailers stop paying rent during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the UK's largest retail landlords, which operates sites including Manchester's Trafford Centre and Lakeside in Essex, called on banks to stop taking repayments on its lending until December 2021. → Read More

Coronavirus: What is the pension triple lock and why might the pandemic threaten it?

The state pension “triple lock” may be under threat as the government looks for ways to save money to pay for the cost of the coronavirus crisis. Leaked Treasury documents revealed this week that ending the triple lock could be part of a series of cost-saving measures being considered by ministers. That could mean pensioners' incomes drop over the next few years. But what is → Read More