Good morning and welcome to this week’s Friday Brief, albeit not on a Friday. This was the weekend that the country was supposed to come together to celebrate 75 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany but rather than doing that we have been keeping apart. Yesterday saw confirmation from the Prime Minister that he would be making an announcement on Sunday about the beginning of the relaxation of lockdown controls.
Of course most manufacturers have been operating, albeit at a reduced tempo, for most of the last six weeks but this weekend the PM will hope to signal that there will be a phased return to work for the rest of the economy over the coming weeks and months. However draft guidance has left as many questions as it provided answers and we’ll be keen to see what is eventually published either over the weekend or early next week. The Government is hosting a number of webinars over the next few weeks for employers on how to use some of the Coronavirus measures, you can sign up for them here: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – How to make a claim and here: Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme .
The MTA is constantly feeding information and contributions into Government and we need insight from our members, more now than ever. If you haven’t already done so, please fill out this month’s Business Survey. The on-line form is available at www.mta.org.uk/mta-business-survey-apr20 .
One scheme of which we have heard mixed reports is the CBILS, which offer interest free loans to businesses effected by Coronavirus. The scheme now has a little brother Bounce Back loans for amounts for up to £50k, which has additional flexibilities, something the MTA and others asked for after the original scheme launched. Another variant, which is not as widely known about as it might be, is the ‘sale and HP back’ version of the scheme. MTA Associate member, Compass Business Finance, has a specialised product in this area, you can find out more below.
Of course, the Coronavirus is causing problems right around the world, but one thing which is heartening is the way that businesses are working together to move forward. An area of real challenge over the next few months is going to be the difficulties of international travel which present particular problems to globally trading businesses. The MTA is part of a network of global trade associations, and so has contacts right round the world especially in Europe and with our friends AMT in the United States, who might be able to help with some of the problems that will arise as we all get use to operating with less travel possible or desirable. If you have an issue that you are struggling to resolve let us know and we may be able to put you in touch with people who can help.
An area which has attracted controversy is the supply of PPE. The CBI is compiling data on the PPE requirements of firms across the country. The responses will help give them an idea of total demand across different product types that they can feed into government and business planning. If you’d like to help you can find the survey, which closes on Wednesday 13 May, at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9VVXMPY
At the outset of the crisis, PPE was not the only supply chain that came under intense pressure. Ventilators are vital to the treatment of Covid-19 cases and the UK’s supply was very constrained. UK manufacturers, including many MTA members, responded heroically pulling together a response that created a supply of these complex machines initially with very little to work on. One of the manufacturing hubs has been at AMRC Cymru on the site of Airbus’ factory in Wales and you can read about how it was put together below.
We’ve news below of a newly launched service from midlands based Tech start up Hana Tech which aims to help your company get a grip on where your digital baseline is and how to move it forwards with clear and affordable recommendations for quick wins, see below for the details.#
EMO 2021 will be in Milan and promises to be an exhibition capable, like no other, of interpreting the industrial “spirit of the age”. The website is now live at https://emo-milano.com/en/exhibit/ and an early bird rate for bookings up to the beginning of December has been confirmed.
The economic news this week focuses on the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data; the trends are similar with the manufacturing sector PMI reading somewhere in the 30’s in most countries with Netherlands and Switzerland just managing to stay in the 40’s, although this still represents a significant reduction in activity - 50 is the marker between contraction and expansion and nowhere managed a positive PMI in April. The exception to this general trend was in Asia which has both the worst affected country in India where the PMI went from having the best reading in March (51.8) to the worst in April (27.4) and China which had a manufacturing PMI of 49.4 in April. This region also saw three countries with a PMI reading in the low-40’s in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The PMI is an indicator of change rather than levels, so these variations highlight the sudden shutdown in India while the East Asian countries have seen smaller reductions in activity but spread over two or three months (so far).
That’s all for this week, enjoy the long weekend.