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Reopening the property market during lockdown
Reopening the property market during lockdown
From the Queen’s Speech to the next election: what now for the government’s agenda?
From the Queen’s Speech to the next election: what now for the Government’s agenda?

Posts Tagged ‘lockdown’

How your business will need to communicate as the lockdown changes

There is no doubt it’s time for businesses to prepare for their second stage of communications in response to the Covid-19 lockdown.

The first phase of communications we all witnessed firsthand: the urgent rush to communicate changes in business practices to employees, customers and beyond, along with rapid government lobbying, in response to the lockdown.

But there is a shift happening now that the country is trying to define how and when lockdown will end – or continue to change shape over the coming months. This ‘new normal’ is going to require even more sensitivity in how businesses communicate their messages.

This crisis has impacted every business, whether for good or bad, and certainly every individual.

Communications that now ignore such a seismic change will be seen as inauthentic and simply won’t resonate with audiences. Remember, good communication always focuses on understanding your audience: and every business is guaranteed that their audience is thinking about Covid-19 and how it will continue to impact their personal life.

All businesses need to apply a new lens to their communications as a result.

This means the tone of voice and nuance of your messages are more important than ever. A tokenistic nod to Covid-19 in your communications won’t suffice.

It’s time to take a thoughtful look at how you can adapt your company’s messages to maturely acknowledge the worry that is in the community, along with the very real need for businesses to be moving ahead with their economic recovery.

Our recent webinar unpacked this change, exploring how businesses can practically manage their communications during this time.

We hope you find this advice useful as you take a look at your messages, the different scenarios you are planning for, the channels of communication you are using, and tips for communicating with your different audience groups.

It’s likely not going to be ’business as usual’ for some time still. So don’t make the mistake of ‘communications as usual’.

 

To watch a recording of WA’s recent webinar ‘After the Shock: Managing the Recovery’ please enter your details below:

 

 

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Exit Strategy: What can the UK learn from European countries’ plans to ease the lockdown?

Despite the UK lockdown being extended for another three weeks, much of the focus is starting to shift to the exit strategy; when and how might we see some of the restrictions lifted?

The UK Government is alive to this and the need to give citizens a sense that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” as  Dominic Raab put it in yesterday’s briefing.

The extent to which epidemiological or behavioural theory is driving the government has been much debated, with the UK’s relatively slow move towards social distancing and then lockdown supposedly driven by fears of ‘behavioural fatigue’ if measures were put in place for too long.

An end in sight?

Understandably, however, it is to our neighbours in mainland Europe that the Government may look for ideas on exiting lockdown, with most countries a few weeks ahead of the UK in dealing with Covid-19.

On Wednesday the European Commission put forward a “roadmap for common lifting of containment measures” to provide a pan-EU standard, but individual member states had already moved to announce partial relaxations with some already reopening schools and retail.

A full list of current exit strategies is detailed below.

What does it mean for the UK?

From the measures announced, it’s clear that there are some similarities among those countries beginning to ease lockdown, with incremental lifting of restrictions focused on schools and some retail a common approach. It is logical to think the UK will follow suit.

What is interesting is that no country is adopting a demographic-based approach, such as releasing young people from lockdown first, a potential measure widely covered in the UK press following a paper from the University of Warwick’s Department of Economics.

UK Timescales

The big question then becomes when lockdown might be eased in the UK. With Boris Johnson out of action for a few weeks making his own recovery from Coronavirus, people are beginning to look towards the bank holiday on the 8th May for his return and an announcement about easing the lockdown.

This week Dominic Raab also outlined five assessment points that the government will use before any lockdown can be lifted. These are:

  1. that the NHS has sufficient capacity to cope with the number of coronavirus patients across the UK;
  2. that there is a sustained fall in the death rates from Coronavirus;
  3. that data shows infection rates are decreasing to a ‘manageable level’;
  4. that testing capacity and the quantities of PPE can meet any future demand;
  5. and that any adjustment to the measures will not risk a second peak in infections.

As usual in Government, there will be a conflict between Departments looking to exert influence – between the Treasury pushing the relaxation argument to minimise the economic damage and the Department of Health and Social Care who will be understandably cautious about the public health impact.

However, one of the biggest drivers on the timing just might be the PM’s personal journey back to full health.

It will need his authority to balance competing Ministers and Departments and his public profile to deliver effective cut-through to a nation that has been isolated for, by that time, six weeks.

 

 

Lockdown Europe: how other countries are relaxing measures

 

Austria

Denmark

France

Germany

Italy

European Commission

 

 

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Energising our way to a recovery: How have priorities in the energy sector been impacted by COVID-19?

In recent weeks, the outlook has changed for every sector of the UK economy and energy is no exception. WA takes a look at how government and Ofgem have responded to the COVID-19 crisis, whether their priorities have changed and the emerging opportunities for businesses in the energy sector.

Where are we now?

April should have been the month that the government sold us their vision for the energy sector, yet they have been forced to postpone the release of their White Paper to focus efforts on ensuring consumers are protected during the ongoing pandemic. Similarly, Ofgem should have been actioning its work programme, but they are now working with companies to keep essential services running.

The challenges faced by the government and regulators are profound, but that does not mean that pre-COVID-19 pledges will simply fall by the wayside. Instead, they are even more important to securing the UK’s economic recovery. At some point in the near future, the government’s focus will shift towards rebuilding lost momentum. Companies should prepare to take the opportunity to shape the energy sector’s future policy environment.

COVID-19 shouldn’t be an excuse for failure by energy companies, says regulator

During a recent Utility Week webinar, Ofgem Chief Executive Jonathan Brearley stated that COVID-19 should not be used by energy companies as an excuse for failure. In particular, Brearley noted the energy sector was too timid in how it supported consumers during the financial crash in 2008, and now is not the time to repeat similar failings. The regulator is going full steam ahead with its plans to decarbonise the economy and will be delivering the new RIIO-ED2 framework as planned, though this will be reassessed if the outlook worsens. Overall, Ofgem is being pragmatic and trusting companies to do the right thing by their customers, and it’s clear they see the road to net-zero as a fundamental step towards securing the UK’s economic recovery.

In the weeks ahead, Ofgem will be reviewing its work programme in light of COVID-19. This is an opportunity for the sector to re-engage with the regulator and demonstrate what support is needed to help businesses impacted by the virus and fulfil the regulator’s plans.

Fresh ideas and a new Chair for the BEIS Committee

Keir Starmer’s appointment of Rachel Reeves as the new Shadow Chancellor of the Duty of Lancaster means the chairmanship of the BEIS Committee is vacant.

As Labour MPs compete for the role, the Committee is inviting comments on issues it should investigate over the course of this Parliament. At such an important time in our country’s history, the Committee will be looking at suggestions beyond the response to COVID-19, which will be covered by a myriad of inquiries. Instead, they will be looking to the sector to offer insights into business areas the UK needs to strengthen if it is to thrive in the new digital, carbon-neutral age.

Energy White Paper will return

We understand that the Energy White Paper, which has already been delayed on several occasions, will be delayed further as a result of the ongoing response to COVID-19.

While this is frustrating, as it will provide crucial insight into the government’s policy direction on the retail market and reaching net-zero, this presents an opportunity to influence and feed into a document which is further away from completion than widely thought. With much of the country confined to their homes, now more than ever the government will be looking to industry for answers. For example, the government’s manifesto included commitments to introduce new measures to lower bills and invest in clean energy solutions to reduce carbon emissions. While detail around these measures is light, the delay to the White Paper is a good opportunity for the industry to shape what activity in these areas should look like. This will be even more important as the government considers the role of the energy sector in the UK’s economic recovery.

So, what does this all mean for the energy sector?

We have a government with a fresh mandate and a new Chief Executive at Ofgem, both of whom will want to make a bold start to their tenures which will go a long way to securing their legacy.

As the country shifts towards its plans for economic recovery in the weeks ahead, the energy industry has an opportunity it never expected – to help the government and regulator overcome the COVID-19 crisis and help achieve their shared goal, which remains unchanged: to achieve net-zero by 2050.

Those companies able to start that forward-looking process, to demonstrate how they can protect consumers and offer solutions to support decarbonisation efforts, stand to benefit a great deal from their ability to shape the policy environment in the months and years ahead.

WA is supporting organisations across a range of sectors in their response to COVID-19 – whether it is engaging with government and regulators or helping to manage their reputation at this critical time. Please get in touch if you would like to learn more about how our experienced consultancy team can help your business.

 

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