UK Office of National Statistics puts ‘excess’ death figure during Covid pandemic at 55,000
As the UK has climbed the tables that count the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in each country, it has become obvious that it is one of the worst affected countries globally.
The UK has passed countries that suffered severe early outbreaks such as China, Italy and Spain in numbers of coronavirus deaths. Whilst the quality of official data varies dramatically between countries, the only assessment for the UK governments’ response to the pandemic is now poor.
As the UK government has rightly pointed out, however, the true test of the damage done will come from the statistics that measure the total number of excess deaths above the usual average. By that measure, according to the ONS, the UK has now exceeded 55,000 additional deaths since the beginning of the year.
Covid-19 will accelerate workplace automation, say business leaders
The majority of professionals expect the Covid-19 pandemic to accelerate the adoption of workplace and industry automation.
This is according to a survey by Internet of Things company Pod Group, which found that 73% of the 500 UK business leaders surveyed believed that Covid-19 will spark a new wave of automation.
Workplace automation refers to the use of software to automate part of a workflow, carrying out tasks that may be repetitive or mundane, the types of tasks humans are not well-suited to but robots are.
Covid-19 contact-tracing app risks excluding those without smartphone access
The digital divide may exclude vulnerable people from the Covid-19 tracing app, according to cybersecurity company Anomali.
A study conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Anomali surveying thousands of people across the UK has revealed that several hurdles may stand in the way of the app making a difference in slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Half of respondents said they know at least one person who does not have the technology, such as a smartphone, needed to use the Covid-19 tracing app.
Coronavirus business recovery: Three data-driven steps
The uncertain and fast-changing nature of the Covid-19 pandemic is an uncomfortable rollercoaster ride for business leaders.
But as the situation stabilises, organisations need to focus on how they are going to rise to the challenge of safeguarding the long-term viability of their business in the ‘new normal’.
By optimising existing data and analytics processes, automating tasks, reducing total cost of ownership of data platforms and embracing artificial intelligence, business leaders can maximise their chances of emerging from the Covid-19 crisis on a positive trajectory of profitable growth.
London job vacancies fell by 23% in the week before lockdown easing
Job vacancies in London dropped by 23% during the week ending 10 May.
This is according to real-time statistics from Broadbean Technology, a recruitment software company.
Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing the start of a lockdown ‘exit strategy’, job vacancy levels have fallen in the UK by 9%, suggesting that recruiters are exercising caution.
Coronavirus digital health passport to be supplied to 15 countries
Manchester-based cybersecurity firm VST Enterprises has signed a deal with digital health company Circle Pass Enterprises (CPE) to create a digital health passport designed to make it easier for individuals to return to work after the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The two companies have partnered to create “the world’s most secure digital health passport”, known as Covi-pass, and will work with governments and the private sector to deploy the technology to 15 countries around the world.
The Covi-pass will work using a colour system of green, amber, red to indicate whether the individual has tested positive or negative for Covid-19 and relevant health information.
Healthcare organisations are being targeted by state-backed hackers, governments warn
Government agencies in the UK and US have issued a cybersecurity warning for healthcare organisations over a rise in attacks by hackers with nation-state backing.
UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have advised staff to change passwords to three random words to make them more difficult to guess, and implement two-factor authentication.
The two agencies said that ‘advanced persistent threat’ (APT) groups, typically nation state or state-sponsored groups, are targeting such organisations likely with the aim of gaining information about the coronavirus outbreak.
London tech recruitment slumps 57% during pandemic
Recruitment for permanent technology roles has fallen by 57% in London during the coronavirus pandemic, according to recruitment firm talent.io.
Across Europe as a whole, 38% of companies are freezing most or all of their tech recruitment.
Firms have also been scaling back during the economic downturn, with tech companies Lyft, Bird, Eventbrite, Groupon, Magic Leap and Yelp among some of the firms that have made job cuts.
Investment in UK startups hit £663m in first month of lockdown, led by tech sector
British startups raised £663m investment in the first month after the country went into lockdown, with the tech sector seeing the most activity, according to new research released today by Plexal and Beauhurst.
The total value of investments has increased by 34% compared to the same period in 2019, but deal numbers were down by 39%.
However, nearly 263 small businesses are currently in administration and 707 are in liquidation. The week after lockdown was announced in the UK saw the lowest level of investment since w/c 28 March 2016.
How to build a secure remote working organisation
The recent impact of coronavirus has placed massive strain on businesses all around the world, changing working culture virtually overnight to make remote working an urgent priority.
What quickly became clear, however, is not all companies were in a position to enable their employees to work remotely at such short notice.
While remote access greatly benefits productivity, if the organisation is not equipped with the proper security tools, it leaves them vulnerable to a number of threats. So, what can organisations do to ensure their employees are working securely from any location, no matter what disruptions may arise?
Stimulus packages key to recovery from Covid-19 impact, according to leading macroeconomic influencers
As Covid-19 lockdown measures continue across the world, unemployment rates have spiked, and several businesses have collapsed. Stimulus packages are key to addressing these issues and reviving the economy. Although these packages may increase national debt, they are essential to avoid a protracted recession.
Rory Johnston, Managing Director and Market Economist at Price Street, shared a graph depicting the various rescue packages announced by countries across the world to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The graph shows that emerging markets are leading in handing out direct cash payments compared to advance economies.
Very handy visualization on COVID rescue packages.
I'd love to see the relative size of each package noted at the right axis (% of GDP of whatever measure you want). https://t.co/9b9McBQyFD
— Rory Johnston (@Rory_Johnston) April 22, 2020
Ernie Tedeschi, former US Treasury economist, tweeted that the Covid-19 outbreak and unemployment rate of more than 20% is a bigger problem than national debt. The tweet was in response to US Senator Mitch McConnell’s comment stating that states should declare bankruptcy rather than seek federal assistance.
Tedeschi added that the government should spend what is needed and reassess fiscal policy when the outbreak is controlled.
The coronavirus itself, and the prospect of 20+% unemployment, is a bigger problem than the national debt right now, by several orders of magnitude.
Let's spend what we need right now and we can reassess fiscal policy when we're recovered. https://t.co/9C3lfsFRM2
— Ernie Tedeschi (@ernietedeschi) April 22, 2020
Pedro da Costa
Pedro da Costa, a reporter, shared an article about the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on low-income communities. He added that low-income jobs in the fields of retail, hospitality and childcare are at risk during lockdowns imposed by governments. Such jobs do not offer paid sick leave or health insurance.
Governments should target their stimulus packages towards these low-income communities and create an adequate standard of living for everyone, the article added.
"Low-income jobs in fields like retail, hospitality, childcare, and the gig economy cannot be performed remotely, and in the US the majority do not offer paid sick leave or health insurance." https://t.co/vSHwTUZd1V
— Pedro da Costa (@pdacosta) April 22, 2020
Ludovic Subran, chief economist at Allianz, shared an article detailing how household saving rates in Europe are expected to increased by an average of 36% in the second quarter of 2020 due to lockdown restrictions. This will equate to €1.3tn in additional savings or 10% of GDP.
Government should develop policies that focus on unlocking these savings by creating a conducive environment for increasing spending, the article adds. Some of the ways in which spending can be increased include supplementing existing unemployment and public guarantee schemes, and access to wealth management facilities.
In Europe, household saving rates could increase by +20pp to 36% on average in Q2 2020. This means EUR1.3tn of additional savings, or 10% of GDP. Total savings could peak at EUR2.3tn. Twice as much as 2009. Tapping into savings will be key for the recovery https://t.co/7QI4L8UB2q
— Ludovic Subran (@Ludovic_Subran) April 22, 2020
Covid-19 lockdown restrictions should be lifted based on the needs of the economy, say leading macroeconomic influencers
The measures being implemented by governments across the world to control the spread of the Covid-19 are having devastating impact on the economies. Governments have tried to introduce unemployment benefits and implement fiscal stimulus measures but they seem ineffective. Assessing the needs of the economy and easing lockdown measures is essential to revive the economy.
Raoul Pal, founder and CEO of Global Macro Investor and Real Vision Group, tweeted that negative bond rates are expected to follow as the US has now witnessed negative crude oil prices.
Pal added that the negative bond rates will become a reality regardless of the steps taken by the Federal Reserve.
So, now we have had negative crude oil, are you so sure that we won't get negative rates in the US? I think the bond market will go negative, regardless of the Fed.
Truly extraordinary times. pic.twitter.com/FGNiuFuFxZ
— Raoul Pal (@RaoulGMI) April 20, 2020
Ferdinando Giugliano, an author, tweeted about the taxes expected to be imposed by governments after the Covid-19 pandemic to spread the cost of the crisis.
Giugliano cautioned that governments should be careful in raising the taxes as the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted both businesses and individuals alike. A simple wealth tax may not be the answer to raising taxes rather it should be based on how individuals and companies fared during the lockdown.
After the pandemic, some governments will want to raise taxes to spread the cost of the crisis. They should be very careful in understanding who the losers are. My column for @bopinion. https://t.co/9DgUKApgRJ
— Ferdinando Giugliano (@FerdiGiugliano) April 21, 2020
Stephen Koukoulas, an economist, shared an article that details the views of 122 economists in Australia who have signed a letter against the easing of lockdown measures.
Koukoulas opined that although lockdown was the right response to containing the spread of the Covid-19 disease and saving lives, it also led to the increase in unemployment rate and folding of businesses.
He added that the government should consider implementing strong fiscal measures and gradual easing of lockdown measures to undo the damage caused by the pandemic.
The 122 economists do not look at the health costs of the ‘lock down recession’ in areas outside the COVID-19 space. There is evidence of higher risks of suicide, domestic violence, drug & alcohol abuse from the millions unemployed & in financial ruin. https://t.co/CVihCDoKtb
— Stephen Koukoulas (@TheKouk) April 20, 2020
Pam Herd, Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University, shared an article detailing the number of workers who have filed for unemployment benefits in Florida. More than 1.5 million workers have filed for unemployment benefits in March but only 3% of them have received the benefits.
Herd noted that the consequences of relying on unemployment insurance are visible with many not receiving payments, while some being ineligible for the benefits.
The economic devastation that will flow from the reliance on unemployment insurance to provide relief is terrifying. And these consequences were easily foreseeable. https://t.co/AbyQVGb59C
— Pam Herd (@pamela_herd) April 21, 2020
Tips for scaling up VPNs to meet the remote working surge
The current Covid-19 pandemic is heralding a seismic shift in the way businesses work. Many companies have been required to switch to wholly remote working practices.
When it comes to working remotely, most people imagine they will need a computer and an internet connection. For an individual employee, that’s enough, but for a company, it also requires a solid virtual private network, or VPN for short. It is arguably the most essential piece of infrastructure.
A VPN is designed to mitigate against the risk of an insecure network that could threaten business continuity or intellectual property issues.
Future Fund: The tech sector reacts to UK Chancellor’s plans to help startups
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has pledged £1.25bn to support UK startups struggling to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic, including funding for high-growth companies and a “Future Fund”.
This £500m Future Fund, created in in partnership with the British Business Bank, will see the UK government provide £250m.
£750m of support for research and development-intensive small and medium-size businesses will also be available through Innovate UK’s grants and loan scheme.
Organisations from across the UK start-up ecosystem warned that previous measures did not go far enough to support startups.
“The mental health challenges are really significant”: How the switch to remote working is impacting wellbeing
Due to lockdown measures imposed in many countries due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many non-key workers have made the rapid switch to working from home for the first time, a significant change for both employers and employees.
Although the flexibility to work from home, driven by technology, may be something a growing number look for in a job, many now find themselves away from their routine, increasingly isolated or juggling other commitments.
Along with the current state of worry and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, this may lead to employees experiencing new mental health challenges.
The four contests that will shape the post-Covid-19 world
David Miliband in the New Statesman
The global pandemic has shown the limits of the politics of anger. Issues of contact tracing, health capacity, trust in government, cannot be solved by demonisation. So what comes next?
No one can yet know the social, economic and political consequences of this disease. Remote working could help lower carbon emissions. Mass volunteering for health and social services could help rebuild social solidarity. Or the new walls against foreigners could become the norm.
As the global order fragments, the alternative is not utopia. It is common sense as well as common humanity.
More from the New Statesman
Coronavirus layoffs expected by almost half of companies
Layoffs in response to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus are either expected or have begun happening at 44% of companies, according to a survey conducted by Verdict.
The survey was answered by 1,136 of Verdict readers, who primarily are from the US, the UK, India and Canada, and who primarily work in technology, finance and related industries.
The survey, which ran from 25 March to 15 April on our website, found that 24% of respondents expected their company to conduct layoffs as a result of the coronavirus, while 20% said this had already begun to happen.
Living with a pandemic: How networks can support the transition to a new normal
As the Covid-19 pandemic has taken hold over the past few weeks and months, it has become clear that we are facing an unprecedented situation on a global scale.
One of the most crucial components in enabling this ‘new normal’ to succeed has been the continuation of fast and reliable telecommunication networks.
In the space of a few short weeks of working ‘statically’ at home, this has become a secondary priority for operators who now need to ensure there is enough network capacity throughout the entirety of the day. It’s a situation compounded at weekends as people stay at home rather than go out, or travel to see friends and family.
Job market slump spreads amid growing economic gloom
The mining, oil and gas and automotive industries are the latest to see big falls in the number of active jobs.
The GlobalData jobs index – which counts posts open for application in real-time across the world – shows jobs in the automotive industry dropped by 16 per cent in the last week alone.
Jobs in mining were down 13 per cent and the automotive industry by 16 per cent. Over a slightly longer time-scale – since March 1 – the automotive, insurance and medical sectors have seen the biggest fall-off in active jobs.
Travel and tourism remains the worst-hit sector, with jobs down by 15 per cent week-on-week, and by a total of 61 per cent since the start of March. However, pharma and food service jobs have seen an increase.
Why UK Covid-19 deaths are being undercounted – and by how much
Data analysis from the New Statesman
Each day, in the early afternoon, the UK government announces a grim figure: the number of new deaths connected with Covid-19. But there are two problems with this statistic. One involves lag. Just because a patient’s death is reported on a particular day, this doesn’t mean that it happened on that day.
The second involves gaps. The government’s daily count doesn’t include people who died after contracting Covid-19 but either weren’t in hospital when they died, or were never formally tested.
In the New Statesman, David Ottewell examines new ONS figures showing that the government’s daily death totals are substantially lower than the actual number of Covid-19-related deaths on any given day.
Can governments escape prolonged recession?
Data analysis from the New Statesman
One of the striking features of the novel coronavirus outbreak is that it triggered near-unanimity among economists about how to tackle it. But now that unanimity is beginning to fracture: not over what should be done to weather the recession, but over whether the economy can in fact rebound. Initial hopes of a “Cape Cod economy” seasonal recovery have been replaced in some quarters by something far gloomier.
How to place employees on furlough leave: The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The coronavirus is affecting businesses right around the world. From retail to hospitality, many firms have had to make the tough decision to put staff on furlough leave in a bid to protect themselves and preserve jobs during this crisis.
For companies based in the UK, there are a range of funding measures and support schemes available. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, in particular, provides a crucial lifeline to both employers and employees.
But when it comes to furloughing an employee, this is something many businesses won’t have done before. In order to do this and receive funding from the government, there are several things businesses must be aware of and do. Here’s everything you need to know as an employer.
Vodafone app turns your phone into a coronavirus-fighting supercomputer
Want to do your bit to help fight the coronavirus pandemic? Thanks to Vodafone and Imperial College London all you need is a smartphone and the DreamLab app.
By pooling the processing power of thousands of phone owners it creates a virtual supercomputer that researchers say can carry out millions of calculations.
And the more people that download and switch on the app each night, the more calculations the researchers can complete – increasing the likelihood that scientists can glean useful insights to help treat coronavirus.
Startups: Five ways to find funding during the pandemic
We live in unprecedented times as the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe from East to West. Economic inactivity globally is at its highest for almost a century, and the consequences will be long-lasting, well after the virus subsides.
There is no doubt that we face a difficult trading environment that will only get worse. Investor activity will not be as prolific as it was just a few months ago, as funds become more internally focused, and concentrate on stress-testing their portfolios, and banks field a jump in demand for loans.
And yet amid all the market uncertainty, the world is still awash with investable cash: all of which will eventually find a home. Those with capital have their sights on the other side, and are looking for the innovative startups that will lead us through this crisis and beyond.
Why wasn’t the UK ready for Covid-19?
In the UK, a lethal pandemic was considered by the government a “level 5” threat – the most serious security risk. The only other level 5 threat has been large-scale biological or nuclear attack.
The coronavirus closely resembles the threat anticipated in government planning documents, and yet the government appears to have been unprepared. The UK lacks ventilators, personal protective equipment and testing kits, while emergency procedures for manufacturers and hospitals are being improvised on the fly.
In the New Statesman, Harry Lambert suggests that Britain may in fact have been prepared, just for the wrong outcome.
Workers lack faith in energy companies’ resilience plans: Prospect survey
According to a survey carried out by UK trade union Prospect, key workers in the energy sector do not think their employers are carrying out adequate contingency plans to deal with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Out of 1,000 responses, 48% are confident about the plans put in place to continue operations, with even lower figures among people working in electricity distribution networks.
Less than half of respondents believe that employers are enforcing appropriate safety measures such as reducing physical contact while 45% of them do not know if there shortage of personal protective equipment.
Covid-19 triggers 20% drop in oil demand
Early figures are suggesting that the outbreak of Covid-19 could have a significant impact on global oil demand, with Arij van Berkel, a director at US-based research firm Lux Research claiming that “early indications by traders suggest a 20% drop in demand.”
“In a sense, the current demand decrease is a preview of demand projections for 2030 and beyond,” he continued, noting that the outbreak could simply be accelerating a trend many have already predicted. “As an example, Barclays projects a global peak in oil demand between 2030 and 2035 followed by a steady demand reduction.
“We should watch how oil companies respond, as it will reveal vulnerabilities to decreasing demand and consistently low prices.”
Global GDP may drop by 1% in 2020, says Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs expects global real gross domestic product to contract by about 1 per cent in 2020, a sharper economic decline than in the year following the 2008 global financial crisis.
“The coronacrisis or more precisely, the response to that crisis — represents a physical (as opposed to financial) constraint on economic activity that is unprecedented in postwar history,” the investment bank said in a note to its clients published late on Sunday according to India Today.
OECD expects economic fallout to be felt ‘for a long time to come’
Speaking to CNBC, the OECD’s secretary general, Angel Gurria, stated: “What you have is an economic effect now that, very clearly, is going to be prolonged beyond the period of the pandemic.”
“We’ll hopefully get rid of the pandemic in the next two or three months and then the question is how many unemployed (will there be), how many small and medium-sized enterprises will be in a very, very severe situation if not disappeared by that time.”
“Life, and economic activity, is not going to be normalized any time soon,” he said. “We’re going to have the impact of this crisis for a long time to come.”