FOB Chief Executive’s Weekly News for 6th July 2020

CBI Economic and Covid Update: As the UK moves into economic recovery, policies and behaviours that reverse trends in injustice and inequality are essential. To that end, we were delighted to be joined, last Friday, by Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, CBE and Naeema Choudry, a Partner at Eversheds Sutherland. This was the third in our webinar series on the crucial issue of race and equality in the workplace. We discussed the importance of companies reporting on any pay gaps that exist on the basis of ethnicity and/or gender.

We’ve also had the opportunity to hear from many of you directly and are continuing to reflect your ideas and concerns in our daily conversations with government.

Here is some of the progress we have seen over the course of the last week:

Over the weekend, we saw the government’s reopening phase put into practice with the opening of outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, galleries, theme parks, places of worship and pubs and restaurants. The safe reopening of these sectors marks a critical step forward in the recovery and means millions more will be able to return to work and economic activity can resume.

On Friday, the Department of Transport announced that people arriving in England from more than 50 countries including France, Spain, Germany, and Italy will no longer need to quarantine from 10th July. These new exemptions mean people arriving from selected countries will be able to enter England without needing to self-isolate unless they have been in or travelled through non-exempt countries in the preceding 14 days. The travel industry and the wider economy depend on the movement of people and products across borders and these changes to the 14-day quarantine policy and the FCO foreign travel advice are a huge step forward.

That said, there is still more to do to ensure business travellers can move to and from other countries that are also vital trading partners for the UK. Added to this, ensuring international travel corridors are quickly agreed with partner countries, will accelerate the reawakening of our economy which will help protect jobs, investment, and the UK’s future as a global hub.

Earlier in the week, the Prime Minister delivered his ‘Build Build Build’ speech in which he announced plans for the acceleration of infrastructure projects, reinforced the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, and promised an ‘opportunity guarantee’ for every person to have an apprenticeship or in-work placement.

The Prime Minister’s commitment to upgrade and decarbonise our transport infrastructure, in all UK regions and nations, is welcome. Upgrading and building new English schools, prisons and hospitals will mobilise the construction industry, supporting millions of workers. Cutting red tape should help prioritise the building of widely available, truly affordable homes. These are the first steps on the path to recovery, but more is needed to prevent the uneven scarring unemployment leaves on communities.

Alongside this, guaranteeing apprenticeships and in-work placements are a great start, but details are needed now so providers are ready. Other ideas business would like to see include further wage support to protect jobs, a new jobs programme to create opportunities and more funding for future skills in high potential areas such as digital, low carbon and health. The reality is that longer-term plans will falter without continued help for firms still in desperate difficulty.

And finally, on Wednesday, we saw the start of flexible furloughing arrangements for businesses across the UK. There is now no minimum furlough period allowing employers a higher degree of flexibility to decide the hours and shift patterns employees can work as they return. This measure will hopefully help support businesses’ restart plans and allow more staff, who have been furloughed full time over the last few months, back into the workforce gradually. Alongside this, an important point to highlight is that, while employees will continue to receive 80% of their wages up to £2,500 until October, a mix of government subsidy and employer contribution will begin from August.

Looking ahead to this week, on Thursday we will hear from Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, who will reveal the next wave of economic support measures. Businesses across the country will be eagerly anticipating the Chancellor’s announcements, which will be pivotal for the country as we emerge from this crisis.


Barclays Economic Report(1) UK gross domestic product (GDP) decreased by 2.2% in q1’20

According to the data published by the office for national statistics (ONS), UK real GDP in volume terms decreased by 2.2% in q1’20 compared to q4’19, due to the spread of covid-19 and the measures undertaken by the government in response to this. In q1’20, the decline in overall UK GDP is a result of drops in output across the services, production and construction industries.

Production output decreased by 1.5% in q1’20, primarily due to declines in manufacturing, mining & quarrying, electricity, gas, steam and air output. Manufacturing output decreased by 1.1% in q1’20, an upward revision due to an increase in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products.

In q1’20, services output decreased by 2.3%, primarily due to a decrease in food & beverage, accommodation, travel agencies, education, wholesale & retail trade and repair of motor vehicles & motorcycles. In q1’20, construction output decreased by 1.7%. According to an IHS Markit UK construction PMI report, the primary reason for this decrease in construction output is the suspension of work on site and decline in new orders amid the covid-19 pandemic. The output decreased across housing, commercial and civil engineering sectors.

 Barclays Economic Report(2) Eurozone industrial producer prices decreased by 0.6% in May’20

According to the data published by Eurostat, industrial producer prices decreased by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.5% in the European Union (EU) in may’20 compared to apr’20, as covid-19 containment measures continue to be implemented in a number of member states.

With regards to different sectors in the euro area, the industrial producer prices decreased by 1.4% in the energy sector, by 0.6% for non-durable consumer goods and by 0.4% for intermediate goods, whereas prices remained stable for capital goods and for durable consumer goods in may’20 compared to apr’20. Compared to may’19, the industrial producer prices decreased by 5.0% in the euro area and by 4.6% in the EU. Industrial producer prices decreased in the euro area in may’20, compared to may’19, by 17.2% in the energy sector and by 2.9% for intermediate goods, while prices increased by 0.9% for capital goods and for non-durable consumer goods and by 1.3% for durable consumer goods.

In terms of geographical regions, the largest monthly decreases in industrial producer prices in may’20 were observed in Belgium by 4.6%, Slovakia by 1.7% and Lithuania by 1.3%. The only regions with increase in industrial producer prices were Greece at 1.2%, Estonia at 0.7% and Czech at 0.4%.

Food Drink Europe Economic Update:

Food and drink industry Agricultural commodities Retail Focus on …

Food and drink industry

Slight increase in production, turnover and manufacturing prices

• In Q1 2020, EU food and drink industry production increased by 0.4% compared to the previous quarter.

• EU food and drink industry turnover increased by 2.8% compared to the previous quarter.

• The year-on-year comparison shows that food and drink industry production growth exceeded total manufacturing production growth (0.2% vs. -4.9% compared to Q1 2019). The year-on-year growth in food and drink industry turnover exceeded that of total manufacturing (5.4% vs. -4.7% compared to Q1 2019).

• Food manufacturing prices increased by 1% in Q1 2020 and were 3.2% higher compared to Q1 2019.

Industry employment remained unchanged

• In Q1 2020, employment in food and drink manufacturing remained unchanged to the previous quarter whilst it declined for total manufacturing (-0.2%).

• Year-on-year, employment growth in the food and drink industry exceeded that of total manufacturing (Q1 2020/Q1 2019: +0.7%, +0.2%, -0.7%).

EU exports reach €35.5 billion

• EU exports of food and drinks totalled €35.5 billion in Q1 2020 (Q1 2020/Q1 2019: +4.1%).

• The trade balance reached a surplus of €15.5 billion (Q1 2020/Q1 2019: +8%).

• The top 5 products with the largest share in export value generated €17.8 billion in Q1 2020 (meat products, dairy products, wine, processed fruits and vegetables, and cocoa, chocolate and confectionery).

• EU imports of food and drinks reached €20 billion (Q1 2020/Q1 2019: +1.2%).

Click here for more information: FoodDrinkEurope Economic Bulletin Q1 2020 graphs tables


Agricultural commodities

FAO food price index up by 1%

• The FAO food price index increased by 1% in Q1 2020 compared to the previous quarter and was up by 7% compared to Q1 2019.

• In Q1 2020, the commodity prices for WMP, rapeseed, rape oil and coffee decreased compared to the previous quarter. All other EU and world commodity prices were up between 0.2 to 6.4% (soybean, soybean oil, soybean meal, SMP, cocoa, maize, palm oil, sugar, soft wheat).

• The year-on-year comparison shows an increase in world market prices for all major agricultural commodities: soybean, soybean meal, maize, WMP, coffee, soybean oil, rape oil, cocoa, sugar, soft wheat, SMP and palm oil.

Click here for more information: FoodDrinkEurope Economic Bulletin Q1 2020 graphs tables



Increase in retail trade in foodstuffs

• Retail trade in foodstuffs in Q1 2020 registered an increase of 3.5% compared to the previous quarter and in contrast to the overall drop in total retail trade volume.

• Year-on-year, retail trade in foodstuffs increased by 4.3%, compared to -0.7% registered for total retail trade.

• Consumer prices increased by 1.7% in Q1 2020 compared to the previous quarter, and by 3% year-on-year.

Click here for more information: FoodDrinkEurope Economic Bulletin Q1 2020 graphs tables


Focus on …

Farmers and the food and drink industry are strongly interdependent

• The EU food and drink industry buys some 70% of all EU agricultural raw materials and also relies on imports of some key ingredients that are not produced in the EU or at least not in sufficient quantities, and which play a complementary role in the production of many value-added products.

Click here for more information: FoodDrinkEurope Economic Bulletin Q1 2020 graphs tables

Plans for managing the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Leicester: Last week (29 June 2020), Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock spoke about local measures to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Leicester.

Booking process for Covid-19 Tests: DHSC has now digitised the process for booking Covid-19 tests. The portal enables individuals to book a test themselves, accessible via

Alternatively, employers can refer staff using an employer portal. Accounts for this portal can be requested by emailing


HMRC Update: As of  1‌‌ July 2020, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.

Employers will be able to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time and decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of their business. From 1‌‌ August, employers will be asked to contribute towards wage costs.

For the latest information, join the following live webinar:

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing – we’ll take you through the changes, flexible furloughing, claim periods and key dates.

Choose a date and time

If you haven’t managed to join, we’ve also added more dates for our popular live webinar:

Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme – you can get the latest on who can claim, who you can claim for, how to make a claim, what you may be entitled to, and more.

Choose a date and time

You can ask questions using the on-screen text box.

We will endeavour to bring you the most up-to-date information to keep you fully informed of changes as they develop.


FSA publishes its Annual Report and Accounts for 2019/20:
Read more:



Obesity Action Plan: Parliamentarians have continued to ask Ministers questions this week – which receive no definite answers – about when the UK Government will announce its next steps in terms of its obesity action plan, including the calorie reduction programme. Health campaigners hope that the apparent links between Covid-19 risk and obesity will encourage the Government to adopt further measures in line with the proposals on which they consulted last year



Agriculture Bill Committee Stage: The Agriculture Bill (Explanatory Notes) Committee stage is scheduled to begin on 7 July.  A running list of all amendments was published on 26 June. Amendments are updated within 24 hours of being tabled or altered on the Lords Amendments webpage.  The Bill as amended in the Commons was introduced in the Lords on 18 May and the Second Reading debate took place on 10 June, when the principles of the Bill were debated by Peers, it was approved and committed to a Committee of Whole House.  The Bill’s progress can be followed on its website.



NEW MSD online assessment tool

The latest online assessment tool in the range from HSE. The new musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) tool is an all-in-one digital solution for the well renowned MAC tool. It has been designed to simplify the process of completing each assessment, with a logical step by step approach, saving your assessors time in populating and interpreting the results manually.

Employers and safety representatives can use the tool to assess the risks posed by lifting, carrying and team manual handling activities. The assessor can then understand, interpret and categorise the level of risk, and implement the appropriate control measures.

In addition, the automated management reports include:

  • Tracking of assessments that have been completed
  • Identification of priority areas and tasks for improvement
  • Supports Identification of common themes across multiple departments/sites/locations

Register for a live webinar demoing the tool to see it in action:

Tuesday 7th July at 3pm – sign up here

Wednesday 22nd July at 10am – sign up here