In this edition of our 2021 predictions, we interview Stephen Britton from East Midland’s law firm Sills & Betteridge. Stephen is head of the firms’ employment team and also manager of the Nottingham office.
I think you’ve got to be quite brave to stick your neck out to predict what is going to happen in 2021. Especially given that much of the early months will be shaped by an invisible threat. I am of course talking about COVID-19, something that none of the predictors from last year would have even thought to consider. Who would have predicted a virus could pretty much floor the economy of every nation, and throw a spanner in works of most plans!
That said, I’ll give it my best shot!
Given that I am an employment law specialist and a fee paid tribunal judge I think I will start there!
Sadly, I think jobless figures will continue to rise. The Government has offered some great financial support, but there are many businesses that will fall thorough the gaps and at best will need to restructure – if only to adapt to changing buyer behaviour. I think my team and I will continue to be busy helping businesses review their head count and make changes as sensitively as possible. The furlough scheme is currently available until April 2021, but I predict that this may have to be extended further, until lockdowns are no longer a requirement.
My next prediction also has devastating social consequences, but there is no denying that lockdown has placed a strain on relationships. We have already seen an increase in demand for our family services and, regrettably, some will end in divorce. In addition, our team has also been supporting people seeking to escape abusive relationships, and I’m afraid this demand will continue to be high until at least Summer.
As a result of the above and changes in the high street, I think both commercial property leases and residential conveyancing work will steadily rise as businesses re-assess their building needs and people move house to adapt to changing circumstances or take advantage of the zero % rate stamp duty on the first £500k purchase price of a main residence until 31 March 2021.
Finally, I predict a return in demand for overseas holidays and a more stable outlook for the hospitality sector – the sooner the better!
The pandemic has delivered both positive and negative outcomes and we will continue to see these highs and lows until businesses and relationships stabilise and the vaccine roll out enables a return to normality.