Treasury extends cuts-off date for furlough scheme
The Treasury has extended the cut-off date for the coronavirus furlough scheme to cover thousands more workers at risk of losing their jobs.
Employers can now claim for furloughed employees who were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before March 19 – the day before the scheme was announced.
Individuals originally had to be employed on February 28, 2020 to qualify. The Treasury estimates the change will benefit more than 200,000 employees.
Yesterday, there were reports dealer groups were still refusing to pay some sales staff commission under the scheme. Read our report here.
Porsche auctions final 991-generation 911 for Covid-19 fight
The final 991-generation Porsche 911 to roll off the production line will be auctioned to raise money for a coronavirus relief fund.
The German car maker has teamed up with auctioneers RM Sotheby’s to host online bidding over the course of a week, with the only lot being a Porsche 911 Speedster. The money raised will go to the United Way Worldwide Covid-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund.
The model going under the virtual hammer is a one-of-1,948 Porsche 911 Speedster, which is a convertible version of the sports car that features the 495bhp, 4.0-litre flat-six engine from the track-focused GT3 model
Car Dealer Magazine’s first digital issue published
Car Dealer has published its first digital only issue which is free to download as a PDF or view on the interactive app Issuu. Readers can click through the digital pages on their desktop computer, phone or tablet. Our Car Dealer Live stories have embedded videos too so you can watch the interviews back.
Renault pulls out of China joint venture
Renault has taken the decision to stop selling petrol-powered cars in China, scaling back from a strategy first put into action by former boss Carlos Ghosn.
It stated that it had pulled out of its joint venture with Dongfeng, and had come to a decision with the Chinese company to sell out of the 50-50 agreement it had.
The decision will also mean that Dongfeng will take control of the venture’s plant in Wuhan, and will see Groupe Renault transfer its shares in the joint Dongfeng Renault Automotive Company (DRAC) to the Dongfeng Motor Corporation. It will also see the stop in sale of all Renault-branded vehicles by DRAC.
Is my insurance invalidated if I drive during lockdown?
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has issued advice and has set up a specific coronavirus guidance page to answer questions like the one above. It assures drivers that their insurance cover will not be affected if they drive during the lockdown period.
The ABI says: ‘Your cover will not be affected if you drive during the lockdown period. However, all motorists should follow government advice and avoid non-essential travel.’
Further guidance indicates that anyone who has signed up for the NHS Volunteer Responders service will not have to update their car insurance for it to be valid. However, if you are a Community First Responder or other ‘Blue Light’ volunteer, you should contact your insurer or broker to inform them.
Three more weeks of lockdown expected
The coronavirus lockdown will be extended for another three weeks, the government is expected to announce amid renewed warnings that it is still too soon to start easing the restrictions.
Ministers will meet this morning (Thursday) to agree to prolong the social distancing controls announced on March 23, amid signs the epidemic in the UK is beginning to peak.
The Cabinet meeting comes after the number of people who have died in hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 reached almost 13,000, with growing concern over increasing deaths in care homes.
More than £1.1bn in coronavirus loans given to 6,000 UK businesses
Some £1.1bn has been handed to UK businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), according to new figures.
However, less than a quarter of firms which have applied for the loans have secured cash support. UK Finance said lending through the scheme has grown by £700m over the past week, an increase of around 150 per cent. It said 6,020 loans have now been provided to businesses through the programme.
The pace of loan approvals has increased in recent days, rising from 240 loans on April 2 to 910 on April 8, with a further 1,800 loans worth over £300m recorded over the bank holiday weekend.
Seat staff give car buyers ‘virtual tours’ from their homes
Seat employees have been adapting to the coronavirus lockdown by offering potential customers ‘virtual tours’ of its vehicles from their driveways.
Called ‘Live Showcase’, the system allows product experts to give customers an in-depth look at some of the firm’s latest vehicles without either party having to leave their homes.
The Seat Arona, Ateca and Tarraco models are available to view now, with a live stream from the product expert’s driveway giving buyers the opportunity to ask questions and look around the latest models in a situation which would have – in non-lockdown conditions – taken place in a dealership.
Spending surges seen in days before coronavirus lockdown
Households’ spending in specialist food and drink stores surged by 80 per cent annually in the days leading up to the coronavirus lockdown, analysis has found.
Barclaycard said that that from March 16 to 22, the week before tighter restrictions were put in place, there were some particularly high peaks in consumer spending.
Compared with the same period a year earlier, Barclaycard found that spending in specialist food and drink stores including off licences and greengrocer shops had increased by 80 per cent between March 16 and 22.
Supermarket spending was also up by 49 per cent, and spending on digital content and subscriptions increased by 18 per cent.
Retail sales fall at worst rate on record in March, says BRC
Retail sales declined at the worst rate on record in March as lockdown measures were introduced, according to a report.
Total sales were down by 4.3 per cent year-on-year – showing the sharpest decline since records started in January 1995 when excluding distortions – the British Retail Consortium-KPMG retail sales monitor said.
Petrol prices sink to lowest level in nearly four years
Petrol prices have dipped to their lowest level in nearly four years. The average cost of petrol at UK forecourts is £1.09 per litre, according to government data. It has not been that cheap since May 2016.
Some retailers are pricing their petrol at less than £1 per litre. Filling up a 55-litre family car is around £10 cheaper today than in late January. Diesel costs an average of £1.16p per litre, which is the lowest level since July 2017.
Hastings plans dividend payout in spite of Bank of England warning
Car insurer Hastings has revealed it plans to go ahead with its final dividend in spite of a recent warning from the Bank of England to the sector over shareholder payouts.
The group confirmed it intends to pay a 5.5p a share final dividend – a 39 per cent reduction on the previous year – and will seek shareholder approval for the move at its annual general meeting on May 21.
It stressed the group has no direct claims cost exposure to coronavirus, such as travel or business interruption insurance. Shares in the group rose five per cent.
Source: PA Media