Published on October 20, 2020 by Holly Porter

What’s been happening in the commercial world over the past week? Read on to find out!

New Unemployment Prediction

 The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has revised its unemployment prediction figures. The new estimate is that 3m Brits will be unemployed by the end of the year, following a surge in redundancies in the run-up to Christmas. The survey revealed that many businesses plan to lay off more than one third of their furloughed workers, following the conclusion of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at the end of October. This year has seen the two fastest rises in unemployment on record with 156,000 made redundant in the three months to July and 227,000 in the three months to August. CEBR’s new figures come after circuit breaker and further regional lockdown discussion, hinting at an even faster rise of the coming months.

Which groups and areas have been worst affected by unemployment this year? 16-24-year-olds account for 60% of the 480,000 who have lost their jobs since the start of the year. Blackpool and Hull recorded the highest percentage of working-age adults claiming benefits in the country at 9.9% and 9.8% respectively for August. Other cities with high rates of unemployment are Birmingham, Bradford and Liverpool. It should also be acknowledged that areas of high unemployment growth include Crawley, Slough and Luton, all of which are close to Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton.

Talking point: In which sectors and industries do you think unemployment will rise in the coming months?

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British Airways Fined by ICO

This week, it was announced that British Airways will be fined £20m by the Information Commissioner’s Office. This comes after a cyber-attack in 2018, which went undetected for more than two months and affected more than 400,000 customers.  The data exposed includes names, payment card numbers, CVV numbers and addresses.

The data protection watchdog argued that the airline had a vulnerability in its security measures which should have been detected and worked on. Due to this inaction and the sheer number if customers impacted by the data breach, BA has been issued with the largest fine from the ICO under GDPR to date. This marks a significant moment for data privacy and GDPR.

The ICO’s powers in recent years have expanded, with frequent dawn raids now carried out in some of the UK’s largest companies.

Talking point: What other high-profile companies have been issued fines by the ICO in the past year or so? Do you think COVID-19 may have heralded a new and more pro-active era for data protection? If so, why might this be? 

Flybe Set to Fly Again

Exeter-based airline Flybe has had a tumultuous few years before finally subsisting into administration  in March 2020. However, it looks as though the company’s fortunes may be about to change. A former shareholder has offered to buy Flybe’s remaining assets, enabling new owner Thyme Opco to re-start the airline. Initial estimates say that Flybe could be carrying passengers again by the end of 2020. One key question is whether the airline still has a valid operating licence. This was revoked by regulators at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) back in March. Without it, Flybe will not have access to slots at airports such as Heathrow and Manchester.

It should be noted that a return from Flybe would see significantly fewer flights than before. Nevertheless, given that Flybe carried over 8m passengers a year a ran 40% of regional UK flights, it is an important part of the UK’s aviation industry. Flybe operated 80% of flights from Southhampton, Exeter and Belfast City airports, employing over 2,000 people. Its return would be welcomed by many and has been endorsed by pilots’ union Balpa.

Talking point: Do you think there is enough demand for regional flights for Flybe to make a return?

Companies Turning Green

As ESG investing and CSR grow in popularity, companies are taking note of their environmental policies. There have been several big announcements in the past week.

Firstly, some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets have announced that they will not be using glitter in their own-brand Christmas products. This includes Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. Asda’s range will be sustainable and Tesco will use only edible glitter. Similarly, health and beauty retailer Boots is aiming to reduce 2,000 tonnes of plastic from its ranges by cutting out single-use plastic packaging from Christmas gifts. The ecological hazard posed by glitter into rivers and oceans has fed into consumer demand for more environmentally friendly products.

Secondly, Swedish retailer Ikea has unveiled its second-hand furniture venture. The scheme means Ikea will buy back certain furniture items and offer vouchers worth up to 50% of the original price to the seller, depending on its condition.

Talking point: How else can companies innovatively deliver an economically sustainable way?

Words by: Holly Porter

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