Insolvency rule changes enable business to recover

Business Secretary Alok Sharma says the government told workers and business leaders that he “appreciates just how tough the situation is”.

Sharma told them: “You are delivering for our nation through this difficult time.”

He also announced that there will change elements of the insolvency system to help UK companies keep trading.

He said that legislation will be introduced soon to allow UK companies to “weather the storm” of the virus.

There will be a temporary suspension of “wrongful trading” rules which make it a criminal offence for a company director to keep on trading if they know the business is unable to repay its debts.

Companies required to hold annual general meetings will also get help – either being able to postpone or hold the AGM online.

Sharma also said that workers can now defer their annual leave for another two years.

“This will protect staff from

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Regus under fire for charging start-ups rent on empty offices

Workspace provider Regus is facing criticism for charging rent on deserted offices to start-up businesses that have been ordered to shut by the government.

As the UK battles to contain the coronavirus outbreak  global office space provider Regus continues to chase and charge clients for full rates, and has refused requests to terminate or suspend contracts.

It has sparked concerns that the organisation is putting “profit before welfare” in the wake of an ongoing global health crisis.

The head of partnerships at one company still paying in full for rent of their empty office space said: “It’s deeply worrying, distressing and disappointing that despite the challenges at present for many businesses across the UK, Regus have offered no formal or official communication to tenants, who are mainly small businesses, during this time.

“They have offered no reassurance that rent breaks will be considered. It is also worrying that, despite government

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Collapse of rent-to-own giant BrightHouse puts 2,400 jobs at risk

Britain’s biggest rent-to-own retailer will next week become the latest corporate casualty of the coronavirus outbreak when it collapses into administration, putting 2,400 jobs at risk.

It is understood that BrightHouse is to appoint Grant Thornton, the accountancy firm, as administrator within days after its investors withdrew support for a proposed restructuring.

The insolvency will reinforce fears of a cataclysm on the high street as non-food retailers close their stores – potentially for a period lasting several months.

BrightHouse, which provides loans to consumers to purchase electrical items such as televisions and washing machines, trades from 240 stores across the UK and has roughly 200,000 customers.

Sources said an announcement was likely to be made on Monday.

Its administration is likely to mean that customers with outstanding mis-selling complaints will receive only a fraction of the sums they are seeking.

A spokesman said: “The national response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Next closes online operation as staff complain about working warehouses

Next will be shutting down its online operations from tonight amid the nation’s coronavirus outbreak.

The high-street fashion chain confirmed it would be closing down its online stores after workers raised concerns at being asked to come into shops and warehouses to pick goods during the coronavirus lockdown.

A statement from the company said it had listened ‘very carefully’ to the concerns of employees and it was apparent that ‘many increasingly feel that they should be at home in the current climate.’

Bosses have faced sustained pressure from politicians and staff, who felt like they were being pressured into stores.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that the company had offered a 20 per cent pay rise to any worker willing to continue picking jumpers, socks and other clothes for customers.

In a statement issued shortly after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that details of the Government’s support package for employers,

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Home coronavirus test for millions available through Amazon in days

Millions of people will soon be able to order a home finger-prick test from Amazon that will tell them if they have had Covid-19, health chiefs have promised.

People could be allowed back to work if they have recovered and tests show they are now immune, Sharon Peacock, director of the national infection service at Public Health England, said.

About 3.5 million antibody tests have been bought and millions more are being ordered with the aim of selling them to the public within days, she told MPs. However, government sources cautioned that the timetable was likely to slip as they decided who should get priority.

Boris Johnson has described the tests as a “total game-changer”, allowing people to know once they are no longer at risk of catching or passing on the virus. Validation of the tests to prove that they work is due to finish this week, Professor Peacock

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