“Our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end”

In a significant step toward the ‘new normal’, the Prime Minister announced the next raft of lockdown easing measures in England, commencing from 4 July, including the re-opening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers. The two metre social distancing rule will be modified, moving to a one metre plus rule, from the same date.

Others able to re-open include cinemas, theatres, museums, libraries and theme parks. Those keen to book a summer break will be pleased by the inclusion of hotels, holiday apartments, campsites and caravan parks on the list of properties able to re-open in early-July. ‘Close proximity’ venues, such as indoor gyms, swimming pools, bowling alleys and nightclubs, will remain closed.

Two households in England will be able to meet indoors and stay overnight from 4 July. These households will need to ensure social distancing measures are observed.

The Prime Minister addressed the House of Commons, “Today, we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our shops, streets and homes and a new, but cautious, optimism is palpable. But it would be all too easy for that frost to return and that is why we will continue to trust in the common sense and the community spirit of the British people to follow this guidance, to carry us through and see us to victory over this virus.”

Voice of caution

He cautioned, “I will not hesitate to put on the handbrake and reverse some of these changes at local or national level as required.” Professor Chris Whitty, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, said the relaxation was a “reasonable balance of risk”, but that the UK would “get an uptick” if people did not take measures seriously.

During the final daily coronavirus briefing, the Prime Minister said task forces were being established to work out how ‘close proximity’ venues can safely reopen. Ad hoc briefings will take place for important announcements.

With the hot weather returning, Boris Johnson warned that spikes in cases overseas should act as a warning to those flouting social distancing rules. Concerns of surging cases in Leicester prompted talks of local lockdown.

In other nations…

Scotland and Wales will maintain the two metre rule for the time being, in Northern Ireland it reduces to one metre on 29 June. Nicola Sturgeon said the downward trend in cases and deaths in Scotland mean she can outline “more clarity on the path out of lockdown”. From 10 July, people in Scotland can meet up with two other households indoors. Hairdressers, restaurants, pubs and holiday accommodation can reopen from 15 July. She reiterated that these are “provisional” dates, reliant on the virus remaining suppressed.

“Uncertainty about the containment of the pandemic remains”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its global growth forecast for 2020 and 2021, predicting a decline of 4.9% in 2020, 1.9% below its last forecast in April. The UK economy is expected to contract more than 10% this year, with a partial recovery in 2021. The IMF stated: ‘As the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Lockdown has become more severe, many governments have stepped up their emergency lifelines to protect people, preserve jobs, and prevent bankruptcies. The steep contraction in economic activity and fiscal revenues, along with the sizable fiscal support, has further stretched public finances, with global public debt projected to reach more than 100% of GDP this year. As the lockdowns are unwound in many countries, policy focus needs to shift toward facilitating recovery, although uncertainty about the containment of the pandemic remains, and elevated debt could constrain the scope and effectiveness of further fiscal support.’

Financial markets fluctuated amidst fears that a resurgence in cases could trigger new restrictions and optimism over improving European economic data. Christine Lagarde, European Central Bank President, said the Eurozone is “probably past” the worst of the economic crisis, but the recovery will be uneven. Boris Johnson is due to set out his plans for a post-lockdown economic recovery on 30 June.

Here to help

Financial advice is key, so please do not hesitate to get in contact with any questions or concerns you may have.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.

“Together we rise to fulfil the greatest shared endeavour of our lifetimes”

Last week, the UK’s coronavirus death toll surpassed 40,000, a sombre milestone, and only the second country in the world, after the US, to register the grim statistic. Boris Johnson used the UK-hosted Global Vaccine Summit last week to urge world leaders to come together to find a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Presenting the closing statement, he said, As we make the choice to unite and forge a path of global co-operation, let us also renew our collective resolve to find the vaccine that can in the end defeat coronavirus… Just as Britain has been honoured to host this summit today, you can count on our full contribution as together we rise to fulfil the greatest shared endeavour of our lifetimes: the triumph of humanity over disease, now and for the generations that follow.

“It is vital that people stick to the rules”

During the Downing Street briefing on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock appealed to the public not to attend any large demonstrations with more than six people, saying he was “appalled” by the killing of George Floyd in the US but, “We are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat… It is vital that people stick to the rules this weekend to protect themselves and their family from this horrific disease”. Nicola Sturgeon also urged people in Scotland not to gather for mass protests. Despite these requests, large scale demonstrations continued to take place across the UK.

From 15 June, in England all hospital visitors and outpatients must wear face coverings, and all staff must wear surgical masks at all times. A move that prompted criticism from NHS trust leaders who say they weren’t consulted. From the same day, it will be compulsory to wear non-medical face coverings on public transport in England (with a few specific exceptions, including those with breathing difficulties). Those who do not comply face fines.

With new quarantine rules coming into place on 8 June, the travel industry continues to voice disapproval, warning that jobs will be lost and visitors will be put off by the 14-day isolation period.

Levels of school attendance “highly variable”

For the first time in over ten weeks, some primary pupils in Reception, and Years 1 and 6, returned to schools in England last week. However, head teachers reported “highly variable” levels of attendance, ranging from 40% to 70%. The Welsh Education Minister announced last week that all schools in Wales will reopen on 29 June, to pupils from all year groups for limited periods during the week, with only a third of pupils in school at any one time. In Scotland, the largest teacher’s union has cautioned it is heading towards disputes with some councils over the reopening of schools in August. It looks likely that schools in Northern Ireland will begin a phased re-opening in August.

“Progress remains limited”

Last week, the European Central Bank (ECB) increased its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme by a further €600bn, bringing the total stimulus package to €1.35trn. The ECB substantiated this, “In response to the pandemic-related downward revision to inflation over the projection horizon, the PEPP (Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme) expansion will further ease the general monetary policy stance, supporting funding conditions in the real economy, especially for businesses and households.”

In addition, European indexes received an extra boost, with the ECB’s decision to leave rates steady and the emergency bond-buying stimulus in place. On Friday, global stock markets reacted positively after better-than-expected jobs numbers were reported by the US. The most recent jobs report showed the headline unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May.

Round four of EU-UK trade talks took place on Friday, to no avail. Downbeat assessments were presented from both chief negotiators involved, the UK’s David Frost commenting, “Progress remains limited”, with the EU’s Michel Barnier saying, “We can’t go on like this.”

Here to help

Financial advice is key, so please do not hesitate to get in contact with any questions or concerns you may have.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.

“There is genuine cause to celebrate a great, British achievement”

At Tuesday’s Downing Street briefing, the Prime Minister announced a significant development in the fight against coronavirus. A low-dose, cheap and widely available steroid treatment, dexamethasone, has been found to reduce the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and by one-fifth for those on oxygen.

Boris Johnson praised the British scientists involved and patients who volunteered for trials. He said the drug will be made available across the NHS and that the government has taken steps to secure supplies, adding, “I am delighted that the biggest breakthrough yet has been made by a fantastic team of scientists right here in the UK… there is genuine cause to celebrate a great, British achievement and the benefits it will bring not just in this country but around the world.”

On Friday, the UK’s alert level was downgraded to level three, when the virus is considered in general circulation and a gradual relaxation of restrictions can be actioned. The government is said to be reviewing the 2m social distancing rule.

Preparing for a full return to school in September

The Prime Minister fleshed out details to help England’s school children catch up. Over the next academic year, £650m will be given to primary and secondary schools, plus £350m is pledged to fund a National Tutoring Programme for the most disadvantaged pupils.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that in September, the government was “signed up… to bring every child back, in every year group, in every school.” Williamson said class size limits imposed to curb the spread of the virus could be increased to allow every child to return.

Following Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign, the government made a u-turn, enabling around 1.3 million children to claim free school meals vouchers during the six-week summer holidays.

New test and trace technology required

Matt Hancock said the UK is moving to a test and trace model using technology provided by Apple and Google, abandoning the current coronavirus-tracing app after testing showed it was not effective on Apple smartphones.

Lockdown easing around the UK

On Thursday, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced lockdown easing measures, including the reopening of most shops from 29 June. On Friday, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced non-essential shops can re-open from Monday. In Northern Ireland, when schools re-open the 2m social distancing rule will be reduced to 1m to allow full classes to attend.

‘The outlook for the UK and global economies is unusually uncertain’

Last Thursday, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted to increase the size of its bond-buying programme and will pump an extra £100bn into the UK economy to help fight the coronavirus-induced downturn. The MPC also chose to retain interest rates at a record low of 0.1%.

The MPC expressed in their meeting minutes, that the fall in global GDP in Q2 will be less severe than expected and that there are signs that services output and consumer spending are picking up. The minutes cited: ‘The unprecedented situation means that the outlook for the UK and global economies is unusually uncertain. It will depend critically on the evolution of the pandemic, measures taken to protect public health, and how governments, households and businesses respond to these factors.’

US equity markets turned negative on Friday as fears of an increase in infections intensified. News of Apple’s temporary closure of 11 stores in the US as virus cases rise, dampened expectations of a quick economic recovery stateside. European stock markets edged higher on Friday, as hopes for more stimulus to boost the global economy and a reasonably quick rebound remain strong.

Back on the ball

It’s been a long wait for football-lovers, but on Wednesday, the Premier League kicked off again after a 100-day pause. All 92 league games left to play, will do so behind closed doors and packed into 40 days, before the season concludes on 26 July.

Onwards and upwards

We are here to guide you through these uncertain times. Financial advice is key, so please get in touch with any concerns or queries you may have.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.

“We must do everything in our power to avoid a second peak of infection”

Speaking at the Downing Street briefing last Wednesday, having confirmed the government’s five tests have been successfully satisfied, the Prime Minister announced plans to further ease lockdown restrictions in England. During the briefing he reiterated, “We must do everything in our power to avoid a second peak of infection that overwhelms the NHS – because that would lead to more lives lost, more families in mourning, and more disruption to our economy and way of life”.

To combat loneliness, from 13 June, single adults in England and Northern Ireland can spend time and stay overnight with another household, without observing social distancing measures, in what has been called a ‘support bubble’. The relaxation does not apply to people who are shielding. Boris Johnson also announced that outdoor attractions in England, will be permitted to reopen from 15 June. From the weekend, places of worship opened for individual prayer.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed that on 15 June, all non-essential shops in England can reopen, allowing high streets to “spring back to life”. Retailers will need to adhere to safety guidelines and complete a coronavirus risk assessment. If shops fail to follow the guidance, enforcement notices will be issued. In Northern Ireland, non-essential shops are now open, while only essential shops are currently open in Wales and Scotland. The Scottish Retail Consortium has called for the Scottish government to publicise a reopening date for non-essential retailers.

U-turn on school reopening in England

On Tuesday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that plans to bring all primary school pupils in England back to school before the end of term have been abandoned. Williamson told the House of Commons that if schools had the capacity, they could take more pupils if they were able to facilitate it. After it was confirmed most children will not return to classrooms until September, the Prime Minister announced a ‘catch-up programme’ for school pupils in England, with further details due to be outlined this week.

Scottish Education Secretary, John Swinney, is “confident that pupils will return in a limited fashion” from 11 August.

First test and trace data released in England

During the first week of the test and trace system in England, over 31,000 close contacts of people who tested positive with coronavirus, were identified, 85% of whom were successfully contacted and asked to self-isolate. Matt Hancock said it was the public’s “civic duty” to follow instructions given by contact tracers. Baroness Dido Harding, who runs NHS Test and Trace in England, said the system was working well but it “can, needs to and will get better”.

“The crisis will cast a long shadow over the world”

Data from the Office for National Statistics, shows the UK economy contracted by just over a fifth (20.4%) in April – the largest monthly contraction on record. This followed the most recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) outlook, which warned, “The crisis will cast a long shadow over the world”. The data highlighted that the UK is likely to be one of the hardest hit major economies, due to its service-based nature. This news understandably subdued UK markets. Focus now turns to the Bank of England, to see what fiscal measures they may choose to implement.

As concerns about a second spike of infection surfaced last Thursday, particularly in the US, many global stock markets suffered their worst day since mid-March, after a more promising start to the week. Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary, ruled out shutting down the US economy again.

Last Wednesday, Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chair, said the pandemic could result in permanent economic damage, indicating further stimulus efforts could be deployed. The Fed expects to hold interest rates near zero and to maintain its current rate of bond-buying.

It’s good to talk

Financial advice is key, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with any questions or concerns you may have.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated

The plight of uninsured householders affected by the Australian bushfires is a reminder of the importance of buildings and contents cover, even if securing it can be more difficult or costly when your home is at greater risk from natural forces such as storm, fire or flood. One victim did have their misfortune balanced out by an A$1m (£530k) lottery win, but it is perhaps unwise to rely on such luck.

Clearly, the greatest tragedy of the bushfires has been human fatalities and the massive loss of wildlife. However, those who have escaped injury but lost their homes and possessions have often suffered trauma, as well as the prospect of rebuilding their finances, their homes and their lives. Insurance cover can be a financial lifeline when such a disaster strikes.

Underinsurance: a false economy

Uninsured and underinsured householders in Australia, as elsewhere, could end up regretting their false economy. In fire-ravaged New South Wales, a levy on insurers pays the bulk of emergency service costs and this adds about 25% to premiums, meaning more people there aren’t insured. Other states fund emergency services through a property tax, making insurance more affordable.

The moral of the story? Wherever you are in the world, don’t be tempted to save money by underinsuring your property. You might end up paying for it down the line.

It’ll never happen here…

Well, actually it could. While wildfires are relatively unusual in the rainy UK, February’s dreadful storms reminded us of risks related to that, they do occur. In April 2019, firefighters tackled moorland blazes in Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. According to New Scientist, there were more UK wildfires last year than ever before, with fires in the Midlands, South West, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands recorded by the National Fire Chiefs Council.

When buying a property, it is generally best to have a survey carried out, even if your mortgage lender is also conducting a valuation that involves an inspection. A thorough survey conducted on your behalf may reveal defects or possible costly problems you need to be aware of.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is the professional body that sets standards across the profession. The qualifications it awards confirm that the surveyor concerned has passed their exams following rigorous study and training.

Qualification matters

Surveyors can gain various levels of RICS qualification: Associate Member (AssocRICS), Chartered Member (MRICS) and Fellow (FRICS). They can offer a range of survey types, including HomeBuyer Reports and Building Surveys, which are governed by laws and rules that may vary in different parts of the UK.

Other qualifications exist, including the Diploma in Residential Surveying (DipRSurv). This is a route some surveyors take to their AssocRICS. Surveyors may also belong to the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) or the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association (ISVA).

Georgian origins

It was back in 1792, during the architectural heyday of the Georgian era, that a group of leading surveyors set up The Surveyors’ Club. This was relatively informal, but in the ensuing decades, membership increased and plans were made for a more structured professional association.

The 19th century saw rapid urban, industrial and transport development, and reliable standards were badly needed. In 1868, about 50 participants gathered at a Westminster hotel and resolved to form the Institution of Surveyors under the presidency of eminent railway surveyor John Clutton.

Victorian charter

Premises near the Houses of Parliament were leased by the institution (still RICS HQ today). Its work was quickly recognised as beneficial to the many ambitious projects of the day and, in 1881, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors was incorporated by Royal Charter granted by Queen Victoria.

Much has changed since RICS became Chartered; its standards and qualifications have been updated over the decades to ensure they meet current needs. Always be certain about the credentials of anyone conducting a survey on your behalf. It is unwise to take any chances when buying a property.

As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments.

“We must renew our efforts”

With another sunny bank holiday weekend approaching, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, took the opportunity at the Thursday briefing to remind the public, “We must renew our efforts…Over the course of this pandemic, people all across the UK have been making difficult but vital sacrifices for the greater good. So, let’s not go back to square one.”

He said the government had secured a contract for the supply of over 10 million antibody tests. In addition, a faster form of swab testing, telling people if they have had the virus, is currently being trialled. During Mental Health Awareness Week, Hancock announced the provision of another £4.2m for mental health charities.

“world-beating” contact-tracing system

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson said that by 1 June, that England will have a “world-beating” contact-tracing system, with 25,000 contact tracers, able to track 10,000 new cases a day. Northern Ireland already has a telephone contact-tracing system, while the Scottish government is currently trialling one. The Welsh government intends to have its ‘test, trace, protect’ programme operational by the end of May.

UK arrivals to self-isolate from 8 June

In a blow to the aviation and travel industries, on Friday, Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed that from 8 June, people arriving in the UK will have to self-isolate for 14 days, saying: “Now we are past the peak of this virus, we must take steps to guard against imported cases, triggering a resurgence of this deadly disease.” In England, random spot checks will take place, with those who do not comply facing a £1,000 fine. The measure will be reviewed every three weeks.

Different national routes

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a four-phase route map, which outlined the reopening of schools on 11 August. Children will return to a blended model with a mix of school and home learning. She said that she will give clearer guidance this week about what people can and cannot do. The Welsh government is set to reassess lockdown measures on 28 May.

On Saturday, First Minister Arlene Foster said that Northern Ireland had reached a stage where some restrictions could be relaxed. The first measures to ease the lockdown began last week, with as many as six people who do not share a household, allowed to meet outside.

During the Sunday briefing, before facing questions regarding allegations that his special adviser Dominic Cummings had broken lockdown rules, the Prime Minister said he believed the country is in position to move to phase two of the lockdown easing of restrictions, with Reception, Year One and Year Six pupils set to return to school from 1 June in England.

On Monday afternoon, with the story refusing to go away, in the garden of Number 10, Dominic Cummings made a statement and answered questions about his decision to drive his family to Durham during lockdown. Later, inside Number 10, the PM outlined plans for outdoor markets and car showrooms to reopen in England from 1 June and for non-essential shops to open in mid-June.

Choppy economic waters

With lockdown measures effectively bringing the economy to a standstill, last week, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, warned that Britain is facing a “severe recession”.

President Trump’s warning that the US would react strongly to China’s plan for a national security law in Hong Kong, has raised concerns over Washington and Beijing defaulting on their Phase 1 trade deal. After a week of gains for many global indices, the US-China tension weighed on investor sentiment at the end of the week, amid ongoing uncertainty about the pace of economic recovery from the pandemic.

A helping hand for sport and creative industries

At the Wednesday briefing, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden outlined the setting up of a task force to help get live sport and creative industries in the UK back on their feet. He also announced that the Queen’s Birthday Honours List has been delayed until the autumn, so that people who have contributed to the coronavirus crisis can be recognised with a mark of “national gratitude”.

Here to help

Financial advice is key, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with any questions or concerns you may have.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.

“This is a supremely difficult balance to strike”

Further details of the government’s next steps in the fight against coronavirus were laid out in a statement in Parliament on Monday, accompanied by a 50-page three step plan. The Prime Minister continued to emphasise the conditional nature of the plan, “This is a supremely difficult balance to strike…the government is submitting to the House today a plan which is conditional and dependent as always on the common sense and observance of the British people, and on continual re-assessment of the data.”

COVID-19 secure guidelines were issued for UK employers on Monday, to help them get their businesses back up and running, and workplaces operating safely. The guidance covers eight workplace settings which are now permitted to be open, including construction sites and factories.

Increasing divergence

Scotland and Wales have chosen not to adopt the ‘stay alert’ slogan. Ahead of the weekend, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said changes to lockdown would not take place and will be “careful and gradual” when they are. She will share her thinking on the changes to lockdown this week. In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said he did not think it was the “right time” to change to the new message.

Further fiscal measures to support the workforce

On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the extension of the Job Retention Scheme to the end of October, confirming that employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500. The government will ask companies to start sharing the cost of the scheme from August.

The scheme will facilitate greater flexibility to support the transition back to work, allowing employers to bring furloughed employees back part-time from August.

On the move again

Last week, in England, the property market reopened for business after the government said estate agents could recommence viewings and home moves could proceed. Official guidance strongly advises online viewings where possible and warns that buying and selling a home will not return to normal.

Testing extended to all care home residents and staff

On Friday, the Downing Street briefing was led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who announced a further £600m has been made available to care homes in England and that all care home residents and staff will be tested for the virus by June. On Saturday, Welsh Health Minister, Vaughan Gething announced that testing will be extended to all care home residents and staff. In Scotland, staff and residents are tested if there is at least one confirmed case. On Sunday, Business Secretary Alok Sharma, pledged an additional £84m to accelerate the search for a vaccine.

Back to school

Concerns have been expressed over the re-opening of primary schools on 1 June, with unions representing teachers in England conveying fears over safety. At Saturday’s briefing, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he will be cautious, reiterating the government would only reopen schools providing the five tests had been met. He hoped that all schools would put the child centre-stage, “I would hope that any school, wherever it is in the country…is making sure we are delivering the very best for every single child in this country. Making sure we do everything we can do to give them the opportunity to get back in school, get learning and having the benefit of being with their teachers once more.”

Economic undulations

At the end of last week, stock markets responded positively to some solid industrial data from China, as production returned to growth in April. Sterling fell against the dollar on Friday, after third round post-Brexit trade talks between the EU and the UK broke up with little progress. As fuel demand strengthens, crude oil prices increased 7% on Friday to their highest price since March.

Onwards and upwards

We are here to guide and support you through these uncertain times. Financial advice is key, so please get in touch with any concerns or queries you may have.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.

“It is coming down the mountain that is often more dangerous”

Over the bank holiday weekend, the ‘stay at home’ message remained firmly in place, as a range of celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day were held. A nation in lockdown paused in a moment of unity and remembrance on Friday, as a two-minute silence was held.

The Red Arrows flew over the quiet streets of London and socially distanced parties took place up and down the country, to remember and step outside for a moment of respite. Renditions of the wartime classic ‘We’ll Meet Again’ were sung, drawing emotive parallels for many to the current situation.

On Thursday, Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary tempered expectations of an imminent end to lockdown, The virus is not beaten yet. It remains deadly and infectious…but because we held firm three weeks ago, we are now in a position to start to think about the next phase in this pandemic.”

The road ahead

After seven weeks in lockdown, the nation tuned in to the address from the Prime Minister on Sunday evening, who outlined the roadmap to reopen society. Boris Johnson started by thanking the nation for their effort and sacrifice so far, continuing, “it would be madness now to throw away that achievement by allowing a second spike.”

He unveiled the skeleton of a conditional plan, which will be fleshed out in a statement in Parliament on Monday. He was keen to emphasise “all of this is conditional, it all depends on a series of big ifs.” A new Covid Alert System was detailed, which has five levels and will govern how quickly lockdown restrictions could be eased.

He went on to outline a three-step plan. People who are unable to work from home should return to the workplace but avoid public transport if possible. From Wednesday, people can take unlimited outside exercise. The next step, at the earliest by 1 June, would be for some primary pupils to return to school in England. This stage would also involve reopening shops if the science is supportive. The third step could see some hospitality businesses and other public places reopen no earlier than 1 July. The PM reiterated, “if there are problems, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes. We have been through the initial peak – but it is coming down the mountain that is often more dangerous.”

He added that the time will soon come to quarantine everyone coming into the country arriving by air, more details are expected in the following days. He signed off, “For now we must stay alert, control the virus and save lives.”

The measures in the address apply to England, as most decisions relating to coronavirus and the lockdown in other parts of the UK are made by the devolved administrations.

Trade concerns dissipate

Equity markets were buoyed at the tail end of last week, as more governments around the world gradually began reopening their economies and trade tensions eased as US and Chinese trade representatives revisited the Phase 1 trade deal on Friday.

Market optimism conflicted with economic data as unemployment numbers in the US revealed 20.5 million jobs were lost in April. The Bank of England supported sterling by standing firm on monetary policy, whilst delivering a gloomy economic outlook.

A poignant address

Airing exactly 75 years on from her father King George VI’s address at the end of the Second World War, the Queen gave a poignant address to mark the anniversary. Commending the country’s response to the pandemic she said, “Our streets are not empty, they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other.”

Careful navigation

We will continue our considered, measured approach to carefully navigate these challenging conditions. Financial advice is key, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with any questions or concerns you may have.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.

While buyer sentiment has become more positive, sellers continue to be wary of uncertain economic conditions, according to the latest ‘State of the Property Nation’ report1 from Zoopla. The subsequent COVID-19 outbreak will no doubt have an impact

More buyers eager to make the move

Finding a property in the right location and within budget has always been challenging for buyers, but the good news is that the number of house hunters who have felt frustrated by these difficulties has fallen 5 percentage points in the past year. Meanwhile, nearly a third (32%) of active property seekers say they are more serious about moving than ever before.

Sellers remain wary

The sentiment gap is growing, however, as sellers appear less convinced by the so-called ‘Boris bounce’ and remain wary of ongoing economic instability. In particular, they fear not achieving their asking price, with 31% of aspiring sellers concerned that buyers won’t be willing to pay what they feel their property is worth.

A reason for caution?

Are prospective sellers right to remain so hesitant? Well, perhaps not. Experts predict modest house price growth this year, with Savills2 and Rightmove3 predicting 1% and 2% growth, respectively.

Looking to the future, Savills forecasts a more significant cumulative rise of 15% over the next five years – albeit with significant regional differences. While the true impact of Brexit remains uncertain during the transition period, property-buying firm Good Move has suggested that three-quarters of Britons overestimate the negative impact Brexit has had on house prices4.

Count on us

Property transactions can be a daunting process, whether you’re buying, selling or both, so it’s little wonder that many remain cautious. That’s where we come in. We can assess your financial situation and aim to help you find the most suitable mortgage deal for your circumstances and offer professional advice to help ease your doubts. Just get in touch.

1 Zoopla, 2020, 2 Savills, 2020, 3 Rightmove, 2020, 4 Good Move, 2019

As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments.