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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, December 11

The ongoing coronavirus situation is changing by the hour with announcements being made about businesses and services that are being forced to adapt and change.

Punchline is committed to trying to keep you up to date with all the news that matters to you and your business.

Our team will update this story throughout the day, to ensure the latest important developments can be found in one - clickbait free - place.

If you or your business has any news, views or advice to share with the Gloucestershire business community, get in touch with Punchline team at news@moosemarketingandpr.co.uk.

Friday, December 11

Update #8178 - 13.26 2020 outlook worsens for Rolls-Royce

British engineering company Rolls-Royce downgraded this year's cash outflow forecast and warned of a challenging outlook as the slump in air travel continues.

But the company said its deep cost-cutting plans were on track and would help turn its cash burn rate around, as reported by Reuters.

The company, whose engines power Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s, has been hit by the travel slump during the coronavirus pandemic. To help it survive, it raised £2 billion from shareholders in November.

READ MORE  

Update #8177 - 11.51 Banks given the go ahead to re-start dividend payments

The banking regulator Prudential Regulation Authority has announced that UK banks can start paying shareholders dividends again.

In a statement, it said: The Prudential Regulation Authority [PRA] judges that an extension of the exceptional and precautionary action taken in March is not necessary and that there is scope for banks to recommence some distributions should their boards choose to do so.

"The PRA will expect to be satisfied that any distributions would not create excess vulnerabilities to stress for a given bank or impede its ability or willingness to support households and businesses." 

Update #8176 - 11.37 Ambassadors set to help promote safe shopping in Cirencester

A new team of town centre 'ambassadors' will hit the streets of Cirencester from Saturday in a bid to ensure a safe Christmas shopping environment for everyone.

Every day from Monday to Saturday until December 23, a member of the team will patrol the streets from 10am - 3pm reminding shoppers about social distancing and staying safe as well as encouraging them to visit local retailers.

READ MORE 

Update #8175 - 08.35 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 63,082 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 516 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 20,964 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,787,783 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 8,808 as of Thursday afternoon - an increase of 100.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 523 - a rise of six on the day before.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,517 cases (increase of 41)

Cheltenham - 1,694 cases (increase of 17)

Stroud - 1,534 cases (increase of 10)

Tewkesbury - 1,115 cases (increase of seven)

Cotswolds - 1,013 cases (increase of five)

Forest of Dean - 935 cases (increase of 20)

Thursday, December 10

Update #8174 - 12.37 Care home staff feel 'amazing' as vaccination brings hope

Staff from a Cheltenham care home charity were among the first in the county to receive Covid-19 vaccines yesterday (9th December).

The day marked a turning point in Lilian Faithfull Care's fight against coronavirus, as care staff Tom Crooke and Suzanne Booker were amongst the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

SEE MORE  

Update #8173 - 12.35 Ocado raises profit forecast again

Online supermarket Ocado has raised its full-year profit forecast the third time this year, as sales continue to increase.

The business has revealed that sales within Ocado Retail (its partnership with Marks and Spencer) jumped 35 per cent to £580million in the 13 weeks to November.

It added that average orders per week rose three per cent to 360,000 in the fourth quarter, and average order size was £133.

This has pushed profit guidance up and Ocado estimates that full-year underlying earnings will be more than £70million, up from the £60million forecast last month. 

Update #8172 - 11.59 Treasury looks at VAT charge for gig economy

As a method of recouping the billions spent to combat the impact of the coronavirus, the Treasury has revealed it is considering forcing VAT onto self-employed gig economy workers.

If the changes come to fruition, self-employed Uber drivers, Airbnb operators, and other gig economy workers could find themselves having to pay VAT.

This means that we may also see costs of using these services rise by 20 per cent.

Chris Sanger, global tax leader at EY, spoke to The Times and said: "The tax system normally seeks not to draw a distinction between different types of business model. Now it provides an incentive in favour of the sharing economy and self-employed, and that creates a risk for the exchequer." 

Update #8171 - 11.31 Economy grows at slowest rate since recovery

The UK economy expanded by just 0.4 per cent during October - the smallest amount since it began a recovery following the slump at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Office for National Statistics figures revealed GPD grew for a sixth consecutive month, but was still 7.9 per cent pre-pandemic levels in February.

Growth was down from 1.1 per cent in September and is expected to return to a decline in November.

Manufacturing grew by 1.7 per cent and construction one per cent, but the largest services sector was up just 0.2 per cent as the latest restrictions limited trading.

Update #8170 - 11.29 McColl's see sales grow during pandemic

Convenience store retailers McColl's saw revenue grow by 2.3 per cent to £1.25billion over the last 12 months as it benefited from strong demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sales climbed by 12 per cent in the year to the end of November which saw the company close 179 shops as it turned its focus to larger outlets.

Chief executive Jonathan Miller said: "Since the onset of the pandemic, we have seen strong demand driven by our customer offer and the positioning of our stores in key neighbourhood locations.

"At the same time, we have faced significant Covid-19 related costs and our operating margins have been reduced by a change in customer behaviour and product mix.

"The importance of neighbourhood stores has never been greater, and we are well positioned to continue enhancing our convenience offer by further developing our partnership with Morrisons, and further improving the quality of our estate and our overall customer experience."

Update #8169 - 10.13 Inspection awards top marks to Gloucester Crematorium

Gloucester Crematorium has been highly praised with a 100 per cent rating following an inspection.

The Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities, who carried out the inspection, said the level of service provision was 'excellent' and no further recommendations needed to be made.

It was undertaken on 15 September 2020 and awarded 330 points out of 330 in the assessment - giving a 100 per cent compliance rating.

Cllr Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: "This is an excellent report that shows the fantastic job being done by the team at Gloucester Crematorium. It's pleasing to know we are providing a high standard of service for mourners at a difficult time for them." 

Update #8168 - 08.25 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 62,566 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 533 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 16,578 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,766,819 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 8,708 as of Wednesday afternoon - an increase of 195.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 517 - a rise of five on the day before.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,476 cases (increase of 32)

Cheltenham - 1,677 cases (increase of 17)

Stroud - 1,524 cases (increase of 13)

Tewkesbury - 1,108 cases (increase of 17)

Cotswolds - 1,008 cases (increase of four)

Forest of Dean - 915 cases (increase of 12)

Wednesday, December 9

Update #8167 - 12.49 Lockdown lifestyles see demand for new-builds in Gloucestershire rise, says housebuilder boss

House buyer demand for new-build homes in Gloucestershire and parts of the West is at its highest level as people put a premium on spacious layout designs and good-size gardens, according to a housebuilder boss with more than 20 years' experience in the region.

Supriya Ray, managing director of Vistry Cotswolds - which includes Bovis and Linden Homes - said a range of new-builds in the county, from larger family homes to one and two-bedroom apartments, near Bristol, were proving as popular as ever with many locations selling out of properties.

READ MORE 

Update #8166 - 12.40 Update on Gloucestershire's mobile testing unit locations for December 2020

An important part of minimising and managing any future spread of Covid-19 is the speed at which people can be tested and isolation measures put in place, should an outbreak occur.

The mobile testing unit is now available at locations across the county. Please click here to see this  week's locations below. 

Update #8165 - 12.33 Nando's cash boost to beat pandemic

Restaurant chain Nando's has raised £100 million from shareholders to help it survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

The popular chain, which has restaurants in Gloucester and Cheltenham, said that raising the funds was decisive action to reduce liabilities and preserve its cash, after restaurants were forced to close during lockdown, as reported by Then Times.

Nando's latest accounts show it invested £20 million in making its UK restaurants Covid secure.

READ MORE 

Update #8164 - 08.25 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 62,033 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 616 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 12,282 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,750,241 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 8,613 as of Tuesday afternoon - an increase of 94.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 512 - a rise of 11 on the day before.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,444 cases (increase of 34)

Cheltenham - 1,660 cases (increase of 16)

Stroud - 1,511 cases (increase of 16)

Tewkesbury - 1,091 cases (increase of 14)

Cotswolds - 1,004 cases (increase of two)

Forest of Dean - 903 cases (increase of 12)

Tuesday, December 8

Update #8163 - 12.30 Opening the gateway to more Kickstart opportunities

More than 700 small firms have offered placements through a gateway created by the Federation of Small Businesses under the Government's Kickstart programme.

The scheme, will will see Adecco Working Ventures act as the intermediary employer to enable small employers and sole traders to provide work placements for 16-24 year olds, has been backed by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Adecco will provide support throughout six-month placements with mentoring, a dedicated placement manager, skills development, help with CVs and job applications plus post-placement support towards future employment.

SEE MORE 

Update #8162 - 11.25 No playing games with increased profits

Games Workshop is predicting pre-tax profits of at least £90million for the six months to the end of November after increased demand during the November lockdown.

The figure compared to a profit of £59million a year ago and predictions at the start of November of around £80million.

Sales for the specialist retailer, which has branches in Gloucester and Cheltenham, are forecast to reach £185million, up 25 per cent on a year ago.

A company statement said: "We are delighted with the global team performance in the first half given the backdrop of major projects and some government restrictions."

Update #8161 - 11.22 Sales growth slowest for six months

November saw the slowest growth in retail sales for six months across the UK according to figures from the British Retail Consortium.

The year-on-year total retail sales growth was down from 4.9 per cent in October to just 0.9 per cent as non-essential shops in England were shut for much of the month - the weakest performance since a 5.9 per cent fall during the initial lockdown in May.

But like-for-like sales comparing online and those essential shops which could stay open were up 7.7 per cent on the year before.

Update #8160 - 11.20 Supermarket tills keep ringing in November

Supermarket sales in the UK rose by 10.1 per cent in November compared with the same period last year.

And figures from market researcher Nielsen showed the growth peaked at 13 per cent in the week prior to November 7 as shoppers got ready for England's month-long lockdown.

Visits were down 12 per cent on a year ago, but average spending rose by 16 per cent - alcohol sales growing by 23.2 per cent and frozen food 19.7 per cent.

Online sales increased by 109 per cent and made up 13.6 per cent of total grocery sales, up from 7.1 per cent a year ago.

And the grocery growth is expected to continue throughout December with Nielsen predicting £1billion more will be spent this month than a year ago.

Update #8159 - 08.35 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 61,434 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 189 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 14,718 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,737,960 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 8,519 as of Monday afternoon - an increase of 121.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 501 - a rise of one on the day before.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,410 cases (increase of 44)

Cheltenham - 1,644 cases (increase of 20)

Stroud - 1,495 cases (increase of 21)

Tewkesbury - 1,077 cases (increase of 13)

Cotswolds - 1002 cases (increase of three)

Forest of Dean - 891 cases (increase of 20)

Monday, December 7

Update #8158 - 12.33 Post-lockdown shopping boost falls short

After England came out of lockdown last week retail numbers have increased as shoppers prepare for Christmas, but they are still well below pre-pandemic levels reports the BBC.

There has been a marked increase in shippers returning to high streets across the country, but on average, the BBC said that numbers are a quarter below 2019 levels.

The BBC report prepared using data from retail analysts Springboard said that footfall across the UK was down by 30 per cent compared to the same weekend in December last year. 

Update #8157 - 12.05 Ann Summers launches CVA

Lingere and adult toy retailer Ann Summers has revealed a new restructuring plan which will cut rent at 25 of its stores.

The business has entered discussions with landlords over plans to move to turnover-based rent agreements.

Jacqueline Gold, Ann Summers chief executive said: "Ann Summers has a bright future but, if the business is to fulfil its potential and prosper in the post-Covid trading environment, we need to align our property costs so they reflect the challenges facing today's high street.

"I'm grateful to the majority of our landlords who have worked constructively with us to agree sensible terms on the vast majority of our stores, and these landlords will not be affected by the CVA." 

Update #8156 - 11.14 Bid increased for McCarthy & Stone

The retirement housing developer said private equity group Lone Star has increased its takeover offer for the business by 4.3 per cent to 120p per share.

This offer values the group at £647million and stakeholders are expected to vote on the takeover later today.

Lonestar made an offer of 115 per share in October and was recommended by the McCarthy & Stone board.

At the time of the original offer, president of Lone Star Europe Donald Quintin, said: "As a leading developer and manager of retirement communities in the UK, McCarthy & Stone represents an attractive opportunity in a market underpinned by clear fundamentals: a rapidly ageing population and a structural undersupply of suitable housing options for older people."

Update #8155 - 08.30 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 61,245 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 231 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 17,272 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,723,242 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 8,398 as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 500.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,366 cases

Cheltenham - 1,624 cases

Stroud - 1,474 cases

Tewkesbury - 1,064 cases

Cotswolds - 999 cases

Forest of Dean - 871 cases

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