FOB Chief Executive’s Weekly News for 29th March 2021

Dear All,

Detailed below is the Weekly News for 29th March.

Please note that the anticipated announcement on the availability of home testing has been confirmed and the date has been extended to 12 April for registration to receive free test kits.

There will be no Weekly News next week.

Have a good week and a happy Easter weekend and enjoy the relaxations!

Gordon Polson

Chief Executive

Federation of Bakers Ltd

New Office for Health Promotion to drive improvement of nation’s health

The new Office for Health Promotion will lead national efforts to improve and level up the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity.

New Office for Health Promotion will lead national efforts to improve and level up the public’s health

It will help ministers design and operationalise a step change in public health policy

New approach will see action across government to improve the nation’s health by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity

The new Office for Health Promotion will lead national efforts to improve and level up the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity.

The Office will recruit an expert lead who will report jointly into the Health Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty. The Office’s remit will be to systematically tackle the top preventable risk factors causing death and ill health in the UK, by designing, implementing and tracking delivery policy across government. It will bring together a range of skills to lead a new era of public health polices, leveraging modern digital tools, data and actuarial science and delivery experts.

The Office for Health Promotion will sit within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and will lead work across government to promote good health and prevent illness which shortens lives and costs the NHS billions every year, building on the work of Public Health England.

It will enable more joined-up, sustained action between national and local government, the NHS and cross-government, where much of the wider determinants of health sit.

A large proportion of people’s health outcomes (around 80%) are not related to the healthcare they receive but due to wider preventable risk factors (such as diet, smoking, exercise). The new Office will help inform a new cross-government agenda which will look to track these wider determinants of health and implement policies in other departments where appropriate. This Office and approach will be modelled on successful methods to this agenda internationally, such as in Singapore, which has a Health Promotion Board, and has pioneered new digital public health schemes, such as their ‘National Steps Challenge’.

The Office will address and tackle important public health issues, including obesity and nutrition, mental health across all ages, physical activity, sexual health, alcohol and tobacco, amongst other areas.

As England cautiously eases restrictions over the coming months, preventing the onset of avoidable physical and mental illness and protecting the nation’s health will be the top priority for this government. From today, outdoor organised sport resumes as part of the roadmap, and the government is urging people to get outside and get active to help improve their health and prevent some illnesses.

The new office will recruit expert leadership, ensuring it is informed by high-quality data and evidence to support decision-making and delivery to improve health across the nation.

The new Office will combine Public Health England’s health improvement expertise with existing DHSC health policy capabilities, in order to promote and deliver better health to communities nationwide. By combining and enhancing these functions, the Office will play a vital role in helping the public lead healthier lives.


CBI Global economic outlook: March 2021

The global economic outlook has generally improved in recent months

The OECD’s latest global economic forecast (March) sees global GDP growth of 5.5% this year, following a fall in global GDP of 3.5% in 2020. In many countries household spending has proved more resilient to social restrictions than earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments have also extended further fiscal support, while vaccine roll-outs have been gathering pace, lifting confidence. The OECD now expects global output to rise above its pre-pandemic level by mid-2021.

Growth in Q1 is likely to be fairly weak, but vaccine roll-out and a relaxation of social restrictions will pave the way for a surge in activity from Q2

High-frequency indicators point to a mixed performance across major economies in the early part of 2021. For example, Google’s mobility data shows activity improving in some countries, such as the US and Japan, relative to countries such as the UK, France, Italy and Germany, where tighter social restrictions remain in place. A similar pattern can be seen in business surveys, with PMI output indicators generally weaker in the major European economies, particularly in services.

The US looks set to lead the recovery among developed economies, reflecting a comparably larger fiscal stimulus

The OECD forecasts US GDP growth of 6.5% in 2021 (following a decline of 3.5% in 2020). This partly reflects the rapid vaccination roll-out, with daily vaccination rates in the US now having overtaken the UK (as of mid-March the US had vaccinated around one third of its population vs 39% in the UK). Crucially, the US is also undertaking a substantial fiscal stimulus: the OECD estimates the Biden Administration’s $1.9trn “American Rescue Plan” could raise aggregate demand by 3%-4% over the year ahead. There is likely to be an immediate boost from stimulus payments to households (around one-fifth of the overall package), while the impact of other measures (such as additional Federal & State level spending, and tax credits), will be felt over the next year or so. Stronger US demand bodes well for the global economy, with the OECD estimating the US package could boost output in the UK alone by around half a percentage point.

Among other major economies, China’s recovery is also well under way, with real GDP recovering its pre-pandemic level in Q4 2020

Reduced travel during the Chinese New Year holidays will restrain consumption growth in Q1, but household spending is expected to become a key driver of growth in 2021 as employment rises and households draw down excess savings. Meanwhile, business investment should begin to recover after stagnating in 2020 amid improved profitability and a stronger export outlook. The OECD expects China’s economy to growth by 7.8% this year (following 2.3% in 2020).

The pandemic has been relatively well contained in many other countries in Asia-Pacific

In Japan, the relaxation of the current state of emergency from Q2 and further fiscal support should see growth recover to 2.7% this year (from a contraction of -4.8% in 2020). India’s economy recovered its pre-pandemic level in Q4 2020. Growth slowed at the end of last year, however, and is likely to ease back further during 2021, as the fiscal impulse fades and the recent rise in COVID-19 cases requires restrictions to be tightened again in some areas. The OECD expects India’s economy to grow by 12.6% over the next fiscal year (starting in April), following a decline of -7.4% last year.

Activity in the eurozone remains limited by social restrictions, but a moderate recovery should take hold from Q2 that is likely to gather pace from in the second half of the year

Following a small decline in GDP in the final quarter of last year, 2021 appears to have got off to subdued start with a similar decline in activity likely in Q1. With COVID-19 case numbers still elevated in many eurozone states and vaccine roll-out off to slow start, restrictions are currently being extended in some countries. Rising vaccine numbers and the return of warmer weather should nonetheless enable a return to growth during Q2, with a more substantial acceleration from mid-year. Overall, the OECD expects the eurozone to grow by 3.8% in 2021 (following a drop of -6.8% in 2020).

With global growth recovering, cost pressures have begun to emerge in global commodity markets, which will put pressure on headline inflation rates in the near-term

The price of a barrel of oil is currently just below the $70 mark, a 13-month high, while copper and iron prices have hit peaks not seen since early last decade. Rising prices reflect the recovery of demand as well as temporary supply disruptions. Higher commodity prices will feed through to higher inflation over the coming months. But underlying inflationary pressures remain more subdued, with many economies operating with spare capacity and higher unemployment meaning wage pressures are likely to remain subdued. Although global bond yields have risen from the lows reached last year, central banks are unlikely to move to contain inflation through higher interest rates any time soon.


UK Manufacturing Output Increased by 3% in the Quarter to Mar’21

According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) quarterly industrial trends survey, manufacturing output increased by 3% in the quarter to mar’21, reaching the highest balance since may’19. The survey was conducted on 321 manufacturers.

The survey indicated output growth in 8 out of 17 sectors. the growth in electronic engineering and plastic products sub-sectors was primarily offset by a decrease in paper, printing & media and aerospace subsectors.

The total orders book decreased by 5% in the quarter to mar’21, compared to a decrease of 24% in the quarter to feb’21. Export orders decreased by 20% in the quarter to mar’21, compared a decrease of 39% in quarter to feb’21. Stock adequacy decreased by 3% in mar’21 compared to increase of 8% in feb’21.


UK Flash Composite Output Index Increased to 56.6 in mar’21

According to data published by IHS Markit⁄CIPS, UK flash composite output index increased to 56.6 in mar’21 from 49.6 in feb’21. The upturn was led by an increase in business activity across the UK private sector in mar’21. The rate of expansion was the fastest since aug’20.

The seasonally adjusted UK flash manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) increased to 57.9 in mar’21 from 55.1 in feb’21, the highest since nov’17.

The report indicated acceleration in the recovery of UK manufacturing output, with production growth reaching its highest since the end of 2020. Despite a passive increase in export sales, new orders increased at the fastest pace for three months to mar’21. However, in mar’21, backlogs of work across the manufacturing sector reported the highest increase since may’10, due to capacity pressures and supply shortages.

The seasonally adjusted flash UK services PMI business activity index increased to 56.8 in mar’21 from 49.5 in feb’21. The report highlighted positive growth in new orders and employment across the services economy.


Workplace Testing: In the next major push for the Government’s workplace testing programme, all employers will now be able to offer their employees free, rapid and regular testing that can be taken at home

  • Government makes rapid home testing available for all businesses with over 10 employees who cannot offer on-site testing
  • Businesses must register interest by 12 April to access free tests
  • Over 60,000 businesses already registered for regular and rapid tests for employees


Workplace Testinghttps://


Over the weekend we saw notable announcements on workplace testing in England which we have been involved with. You can find the press release is here where you will also see a CBI comment from Matthew Fell.


  1. Government makes rapid home testing available for all businesses with over 10 employees who cannot offer on-site testing

– From April 6th, the workplace testing programme will supply home test kits to companies with over 10 workers where it is not possible to set up testing on-site, due to a lack of space or because companies operate across multiple sites.

– Businesses across the country will be eligible to order the home test kits online to distribute to their employees.

– These self-test kits will be picked up by staff from their employer with clear instructions about how to take the test.

– Staff will then complete the home test in the normal way, before reporting their results to the NHS using the provided address.


  1. The deadline for signing up to government funded asymptomatic testing, both for home testing and for setting up a testing site, has been extended from 31st March to 12th April



  1. Employers with fewer than 10 people can alternatively access regular testing through the community testing programme, which is now offered by all local authorities in England. Work is also underway to allow staff of small businesses to order tests online to be sent to their home.


James Forsyth, DHSC, will be running webinars this week Monday-Wednesday 2pm for those wishing to understand more about ‘workplace collect’.


WEBINAR Q&As – Please use the below links. Each day is a unique invite.

















Testing Regime for Arrivals to the UK: The UK government has today (Sunday 28 March) set out new details of a bespoke testing regime for international arrivals who will be exempt from quarantine for work purposes, including for hauliers arriving from outside the Common Travel Area into England.



Letters to businesses about importing and exporting goods between Great Britain and the EU

HMRC have published letters to VAT-registered businesses in Great Britain trading with the EU, highlighting the new rules and actions to take for importing goods from or exporting goods to the EU.


Business rates relief boosted with new £1.5 billion pot

Business ratepayers adversely affected by COVID-19 are to get a £1.5 billion discount on their bills.

new Business Rates relief fund of £1.5 billion for businesses affected by COVID-19 outside the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors

targeted support delivered as appeals against rates bills on basis of material changes of circumstance due to the pandemic to be ruled out

the relief fund will get cash to affected businesses in the most proportionate and equitable way

Ministers have today set out plans to provide an extra, targeted support package for businesses who have been unable to benefit from the existing £16 billion business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses have not been paying any rates during the pandemic, as part of a 15 month-long relief which runs to the end of June this year.

Many of those ineligible for reliefs have been appealing for discounts on their rates bills, arguing the pandemic represented a ‘material change of circumstance’ (MCC).

The government is making clear today that market-wide economic changes to property values, such as from COVID-19, can only be properly considered at general rates revaluations, and will therefore be legislating to rule out COVID-19 related MCC appeals.

Instead the government will provide a £1.5 billion pot across the country that will be distributed according to which sectors have suffered most economically, rather than on the basis of falls in property values, ensuring the support is provided to businesses in England in the fastest and fairest way possible.

Allowing business rates appeals on the basis of a ‘material change in circumstances’ could have led to significant amounts of taxpayer support going to businesses who have been able to operate normally throughout the pandemic and disproportionately benefitting particular regions like London.


Peers press Government to respond to folic acid fortification consultation

Lord Rooker has once again led Peers in pressing the Government to respond to its 2019 consultation on folic acid flour fortification, which closed 18 months ago. He pointed out that since he last questioned the Minister on this issue in September, on average there will have been 500 pregnancies affected by neural tube defects, resulting in more than 400 terminations and around 80 live births of babies with a lifelong disability.  In response the Health Minister, Lord Bethell, acknowledged the strong case for folic acid flour fortification and said the Government would respond to the consultation as soon as possible, regretting the delay in responding to date which he attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Lord Bethell, who has personal experience of the impact of a baby born with a neural tube defect, also made clear that the Government takes this matter “extremely seriously”.  Lord Northbrook did request that smaller, traditional artisan mills be exempted from the proposal to fortify flour with folic acid, but otherwise several Peers, including Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Baroness Jolly, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff and Lord Balfe were emphatic in their support for folic acid flour fortification which Baroness Jolly described as a “no brainer”.  Responding to Lord Northbrook’s comments Lord Bethell said he expects the Government to “build a policy that takes into account the very special needs of those important artisanal trades” and he undertook to “ensure that this issue makes progress as soon as possible.”

Food and You 2” – FSA survey results published

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published its latest set of results from the “Food and You 2” survey (July-October 2020), which measures self-reported consumer knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to food safety and other food issues among adults in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  The issues covered include trust in the FSA and the food supply chain, concerns about food, food security, food shopping and food safety in the home.  The results show a high level of confidence among respondents that the food they buy is safe to eat (92%) and that the information on food labels is accurate (86%).  Across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, 16% of respondents were classified as food insecure (9% low, 7% very low). Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents who had changed their eating habits in the last 12 months reported the changes were, at least partly, due to Covid-19 and the lockdown. The FSA has also published the findings of a recent “snapshot poll” conducted for it by Ipsos Mori in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which found that 44% of adults simply regard “use-by dates” on their food as a “useful guide”; 50% of adults do not recognise that food cannot be safely eaten after use-by dates and 76% of these adults have knowingly eaten food after its use-by date. [Source: FSA website 22 March & 19 March 2021]

Restricting the promotion & advertising of HFSS foods

Responding to a question from Ben Bradley on Parliamentary scrutiny of the proposed restrictions on the promotion and placement of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS), the Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill, revealed that the Government intends to use powers in the Food Safety Act 1990 to lay secondary legislation before Parliament by mid-2021. Subject to progress in Parliament, it will then allow at least a 6 month implementation period before the restrictions come into force in April 2022.  Ms Churchill has also confirmed, separately, that the Government will publish the final impact assessment on further advertising restrictions on television and online alongside the full response to the consultation “shortly” and this will feed into the wider impact assessment for the Health and Care Bill.