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Sunday newspaper round-up: Vouchers, Grocers, Boohoo

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Sunday 05 Jul 2020

Sunday newspaper round-up: Vouchers, Grocers, Boohoo

(Sharecast News) - Radical plans to give all adults £500 and children £250 in vouchers to spend in sectors of the economy worst hit by the Covid-19 crisis are being considered by the Treasury. The proposals, drawn up by the Resolution Foundation think tank, which has had recent talks with the Treasury about its ideas, are aimed at kickstarting economic recovery by triggering a highly targeted surge in spending. Under the plans the vouchers could only be spent in certain sectors, such as hospitality and "face to face" retail, as opposed to online. - Guardian

Britain's grocers are gearing up for a massive price war amidst fears unemployment could rise above four million. More than 14,000 jobs were lost this week as a coronavirus jobs bloodbath hit the economy. The jobs cull has left supermarket bosses scrambling to show they are competitive on price as household budgets are squeezed due to the crisis. They are worried that the German discounters Aldi and Lidl will repeat the sort of market-share gains made after the 2008 financial crash. - Mail on Sunday

Workers in Leicester making clothes destined for the fashion giant Boohoo are being paid as little as £3.50 an hour, an undercover Sunday Times investigation has found. [...] The undercover reporter spent two days working in the factory where he was told to expect £3.50 an hour, despite the minimum wage in Britain for those aged 25 and over being £8.72. He obtained covert video footage of himself packing garments made in the factory under the label of Nasty Gal, which is owned by the fast-fashion brand Boohoo whose boss, Mahmud Kamani, is set to scoop a £50m bonus. - Sunday Times

Employers planning mass redundancies of furloughed workers face restrictions that may force them to pay back months of wages to the taxpayer. The Treasury has panicked some businesses by rewording the purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to say it is "integral" that its money is "used by the employer to continue the employment of employees". The change, unveiled last week, has meanwhile sparked hopes among 
 campaigners that employers will think twice before laying off swathes of Britain's 9.3 million furloughed workforce. - Sunday Telegraph

Glaxo Smith Kline and Sanofi are close to agreeing a £500m deal to supply the British government with 60 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine. The business department is understood to be taking an option to buy the vaccine from the pharmaceuticals giants should it work in human trials, which are due to begin in September. The deal for an as yet unproven vaccine underlines ministers' desperation to secure a supply as countries scramble to buy up possible Covid-19 treatments. - Sunday Times

Rolls-Royce is preparing to close its final salary pension scheme four years early to conserve cash as grounded aircraft pile pressure on its finances. The jet engine maker is seeking to end accrual of future benefits now, rather than in 2024. If Rolls gets the go-ahead from pension members and trustees following a consultation, it is likely to save a total of about £500m in contributions. Under the current arrangements, in the last financial year Rolls made total cash contributions to the pension scheme of more than £150m. - Sunday Telegraph

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has written to lenders warning them of the challenges negative interest rates would bring. Bailey, who succeeded Mark Carney as the virus crisis was taking hold in March, said that adapting to an unprecedented move into negative territory, where the Bank would charge commercial lenders to store reserves, would be "a significant operational undertaking for firms". He noted that many would need 12 months to change computer systems, update financial contracts designed for a world of positive interest rates and work out how to communicate with clients. - Sunday Times

The Panelbase survey also shows a commanding lead for the SNP heading into next year's Holyrood elections, with a resounding victory for Nicola Sturgeon likely to heighten calls for a second referendum on independence. Support for Scottish independence stands at 54% according to Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times, with 46% support for the union. It is the second survey in recent weeks to show this level of support among Scots for leaving the UK. - The Scotsman

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