Weekly Client Update – Friday 5 November

Local update

Antiviral pills which can cut the risk of hospitalisation or death from Covid by half could be available in Jersey within weeks after they were given approval by the Uk’s medicines regulator.

Elderly patients and those with particular vulnerabilities such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease are set to be the first in line for the new groundbreaking oral drugs. The first supplies of the drug, called Lagevrio and also known as Monupiravir, are set to be delivered to the Uk no earlier than mid-November and are suitable to be taken at home according to national media reports.

Dr Ivan Muscat Jersey’s deputy medical officer for health welcomed the news and confirmed that the island would be in line to receive a share of UK stocks in the same way as has been applied to doses of Vaccines. He said, “the approval of new antiviral drugs would mark a new phase in the fight against Covid-19.

The Drugs will be the fourth and final ‘corner stone’ used to combat infectious disease”. The Uk is poised to become the first country in the world to make the drug available with a batch of 480,000 doses already ordered.

In Jersey, the Government has announced additional support for businesses affected by the pandemic and travel disruption, following the expiry of the Co-Funded Payroll Scheme (CFPS) at the end of October.

Businesses in the most affected sectors will be able to defer their employer and employee Social Security contributions (12.5% of total wage costs) and GST for the final quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, for five years. 

In addition, the Business Disruption Loan Guarantee Scheme, where the Government guarantees 80% of loans up to £500,000, has been extended to 31 December 2021. Three other support schemes, which provide up to 80% of fixed costs, are continuing until March 2022.

The CFPS, established in April 2020, will close at the end of October, with businesses making their final claims during November.

The Minister for Treasury and Resources, Deputy Susie Pinel, said: “The CFPS was established as an emergency measure to protect employees when businesses were required to close. It has been extremely effective in meeting this objective”. 

He continued: “As we are now in the recovery phase, there are new challenges facing businesses, including labour shortages, and we must ensure our business support measures are adapted to these new circumstances.” 

Even in the most affected sectors, more than 85% of businesses no longer qualify for CFPS as they are recovering, but they may still face cash flow difficulties.  Deferrals will provide a high level of cash support in a much more even way and are available to all businesses in affected sectors.

The Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “We will continue to support businesses that were most severely affected by the pandemic and are still working through the recovery phase.  Although circumstances have largely changed for the better, there remains considerable pressure on some sectors”.

The Visitor Attractions and Events Scheme, Visitor Accommodation Support Scheme, and the Fixed Cost Support Scheme for those businesses connected to events will run until March 2022 and the additional support announced will help businesses to manage the recovery process as we move into 2022.

Those businesses wishing to defer contributions and GST payments will need to make an application.  Further details will be issued by Revenue Jersey in the coming weeks.

In Jersey, there are currently 584 known cases of Covid 19 with 4 Islanders in Hospital.

Following the system flaw, that was identified with Jersey’s Digital COVID Status Certification (CSC) platform on Wednesday, 20 October, the Government has said that officers are working at pace to fix the security issue and will be reinstating the service as soon as possible.

The ambition is for the service to be available at the end of next week. 

In the meantime, Islanders who are travelling to those countries that require CSC can: call the Coronavirus helpline on 0800 735 5566 to get a PDF version of their CSC, including QR codes, emailed to them or use the secure paper CSC document that was sent to Islanders in the post and which many countries are still acceptable as evidence of vaccination status.

 Islanders who successfully downloaded their CSC before the service was removed on Wednesday 20 October, will be able to use them for 30 days from that date. 

Because the QR codes expire after 30 days from the point of generation, Islanders are reminded to only request their PDF version of their CSC from the Coronavirus helpline a couple of days before they plan on travelling to maximise their use.

Mixed markets

The FTSE 100 rose today and was slightly above the 7,300 mark on Friday, gaining 0.4%, the highest level since February 2020. It was led by banks and healthcare major Astrazeneca, while British Airways parent IAG fell after flagging a bigger-than-expected annual loss. With the FTSE 250 adding 0.3%.

European markets are higher today with shares in London leading the region. The FTSE 100 is up 0.46% while France’s CAC 40 is up 0.41% and Germany’s DAX is up 0.12%.

The stock market was heading to record highs Friday as investor attention turned squarely to the key U.S. jobs report later in the day.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicated an open 20 points higher after the index slipped 33 points yesterday to close at 36,124. Futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq —which both rose Thursday to all-time highs—signalled a similar start at new records.

Asian markets finished broadly lower today with shares in Hong Kong leading the region. The Hang Seng is down 1.45% while China’s Shanghai Composite is off 1% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 is lower by 0.61%.

BoE apologises

The governor of the Bank of England has expressed that he is “very sorry” that UK inflation is growing, despite predictions that the cost of living may rise by as much as 5%. “I’m extremely sorry this is happening,” he apologized. “None of us want it to happen.”

The Bank of England stunned financial markets on Thursday by opting to maintain the interest rate steady.

It indicated that the interest rate, which is presently at a historic low of 0.1%, will climb in the coming months as inflation is likely to rise.

However, the majority of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) opted to keep borrowing costs unchanged at its November meeting, in part to assess how the labour market had fared since the termination of the furlough arrangement.

At 3.1%, inflation is currently higher than the Bank of England’s target of 2%. It is anticipated that it will reach 5% by next April.

The latest figure for inflation in Jersey remains at 2.9%.  

UK – first net-zero aligned financial centre

The Chancellor will lay out plans for the United Kingdom to become the world’s first net-zero aligned financial centre, calling on other countries to follow suit.

Thanks to climate commitments by financial services corporations, over $130 trillion – or 40% of the world’s financial assets – will now be aligned with the Paris Agreement’s climate targets.

New UK climate finance initiatives funded through the UK’s international climate finance commitment, will assist poorer nations in financing green growth and adapting to climate change.

According to new Treasury rules, most large UK corporations and financial institutions will be required to demonstrate how they aim to meet climate change targets.

By 2023, they will be required to publish detailed public plans outlining how they want to transition to a low-carbon future, in line with the UK’s 2050 net-zero ambition.

An expert panel will establish the standards that the proposals must achieve in order to be considered genuine.

Jersey Heritage applies to UNESCO

Jersey Heritage has announced plans to apply to become a UNESCO Global Geopark by 2024.

Jersey Heritage has released a timeframe for the application process, arguing that a successful bid would boost the Island’s conservation, economic development, and identity.

If authorised, the Island would join other Geoparks such as the Black Country, English Riviera, Fforest Fawr, GeoMôn, North Pennines, North-West Highlands, Shetland, and the Marble Arch Caves, which cross the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Fishing woes

Due to international accords, it would be ‘impossible’ for Jersey to exclude French boats from its seas even if it wanted to, and doing so would just ‘inflame’ the long-running fishing issue, according to the Environment Minister.

Deputy John Young made the remarks in the States while explaining that a ‘nature and extent’ clause that determines the catch limits of individual boats, among other factors, had been halted in response to an EU request and would need to be renegotiated.

He also stated that, despite the fact that some Jersey fishermen and merchants were told they could not land in France, it would be impossible to restrict Jersey’s waters to EU fishermen in reprisal.