Category Archives: News Roundup

End of Week News Friday 6th December 2019

End of Week News Friday 6th December 2019


TAX – End of Week News Friday 6th December 2019


Conservatives plan tax cut in ‘Brexit budget’

Boris Johnson has pledged a £200 tax cut for millions of families within days of Brexit. In a statement of intent for the first 100 days of a new Conservative government, the Prime Minister has revealed that a “Brexit budget” in February is among his priorities. This budget, he insists, will allow the party to deliver on a manifesto pledge to cut taxes by raising the National Insurance threshold from £8,632 to £9,500 from April. Such a move will deliver 31m workers an £85-a-year tax cut. The Mail suggests the national insurance threshold increase is viewed as a “down payment” on broader manifesto plans to raise it in line with the £12,500 income tax threshold.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 1 The Guardian, Page: 13 Daily Mail, Page: 6 The Sun, Page: 1 Daily Express, Page: 4

Countries ready for digital taxes despite US threat

The UK, Canada, Austria and Indonesia plan to introduce taxes on internet companies, despite the US suggesting some French goods could see 100% tariffs in retaliation over the hit American firms face from France’s digital services tax. However, David Henig, UK director at the European Centre for International Political Economy trade think-tank, says the need for the UK to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the US may hit the planned digital sales tax, arguing that Britain may look to scrap the proposed levy in return for the removal of tariffs on British goods.

Financial Times, Page: 8 The Guardian, Page: 5 City AM, Page: 19

Labour promises to save average households £6k a year

Labour says its plans to renationalise parts of the economy while cutting the cost of childcare and rail travel will save average households £6,716 a year without having to put up taxes. The figures are based on the assumption that an average household has two adults who commute to work via train, get no help with childcare and get free school meals for their children. Considering the analysis, independent charity Full Fact said: “Labour’s figures do not reflect an average family or the costs of price inflation over time,” while the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank went as far as to declare the figures “naked deceit”.

The Sun, Page: 8

Main parties pledge to review IR35 tax reforms after election

The Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP have pledged to review tax changes that could hit contractors, although only the Lib Dem and SNP manifestos commit to reviewing IR35 reforms.

Financial Times

No relief for Scotland’s private schools

Scotland’s private schools will lose their charitable status tax relief, with public finance minister Kate Forbes telling a Holyrood committee that the government intends to change private schools’ tax status from September 2020. Under the current system, private schools are eligible for 80% mandatory rates relief if they are registered as a charity. Loss of the relief could cost the schools £37m between 2020 and 2025.

The Scotsman, Page: 21

Labour: Political donors must prove tax position

Labour is planning reforms to party funding rules that would mean political donors would have to prove they pay tax in the UK. If elected, Jeremy Corbyn’s party would ban donations from anyone not domiciled in the UK or non-resident for tax purposes, as well as anyone not compliant with UK tax laws.

The Independent

How can I prepare for business tax changes?

BDO ’s Paul Falvey and Zena Hanks of Saffery Champness offer advice on tax changes due to come into force in April, including those related to corporation and capital gains taxes.

Financial Times


Tax burden at 30 year high

Figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that Britain collected more than £700bn in tax for the first time last year. Tax receipts rose by £28.5bn to £710bn in 2018, equivalent to 33.5% of GDP – the highest proportion since 1988. The OECD ranked Britain 20th out of 36 countries on tax-to-GDP, with the average at 34.3%. France is the highest-taxed country, at 46% of GDP. Considering the figures, Tax Justice UK executive director Robert Palmer said: “The table shows that there is plenty of scope for higher levels of tax as a proportion of GDP.” The Times’ Philip Aldrick notes Conservative and Labour tax plans, with the Tories looking to lower national insurance contributions, with this offset by scrapping a scheduled reduction in corporation tax to 17%. Labour, meanwhile, plans to raise £83bn, taking tax receipts to levels not seen since the Second World War at 37% of GDP.

The Times, Page: 40

Rivals question PM’s tax pledge

Boris Johnson has promised to cut taxes within weeks of the UK leaving the EU. He says a post-Brexit budget will deliver on an existing Conservative pledge to raise the threshold for national insurance contributions. The PM notes that increasing the threshold to £9,500 would result in a £2.5bn tax cut, adding that a subsequent shift would eventually see the threshold raised to £12,500. Liberal Democrat deputy leader Sir Ed Davey has branded the plan “pure fantasy”, saying the Prime Minister “is once again lying to the British public by pretending he can actually deliver on any of these promises.” Labour’s shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne also questioned the plan, suggesting that the Tory government has failed working people and that “it’s clear that more of the same failed austerity, privatisation and tax giveaways for the few is not the answer.”

The Independent Daily Mail Daily Express Daily Mirror The Scotsman

Johnson refutes tax increase claims

The Prime Minister has insisted his party will not increase taxes, despite Conservative manifesto costings showing that taxes would climb over the course of the next parliament. Boris Johnson said he was “not aware of the data” described when told the manifesto would, overall, raise tax. The costings show tax cuts would amount to £3.195bn in 2020/21, compared to tax increases of £3.3bn. When the figures were put to him, the PM said: “I don’t know what you’re talking about – we’re cutting taxes on business rates, we’re cutting national insurance contributions for everybody in the country.”

Daily Mail Financial Times, Page: 2

Freelancers miss out on £24m in tax cuts

Analysis shows that freelancers are missing out on at least £24m a year in tax breaks, with the majority of the 5m self-employed people allowed to deduct certain work-related costs from profits before paying income tax failing to take advantage of the benefits. The study, by accounting software firm Freeagent, shows that almost 80% do not claim business expenses that could be refunded. Around two in three freelancers do not claim back expenses of less than £10, while a third do not deduct the cost of food when travelling for work and nearly a fifth fail to declare money spent on accommodation. Ed Molyneux of Freeagent advises that small purchases can soon add up, calculating that if a self-employed person buys a coffee a day when visiting clients it equals an unclaimed £49 a month, adding “all of a sudden you have lost out on £585 in one year.”

The Daily Telegraph

CORPORATE – End of Week News Friday 6th December 2019


Accounting scandal deepens at M&C Saatchi

M&C Saatchi has admitted that an accounting scandal was much worse than previously thought and issued its second profit warning in less than three months. The group said that following an external review by PwC that identified the “misapplication of accounting policies”, it would be taking an £11.6m hit – up from an initially reported figure of £6.4m stemming from internal investigations. The company would not rule out any potential additional charges. Chief executive David Kershaw said a “robust” review has been undertaken and the firm has, under its new group finance director, “started implementing processes and procedures to prevent such issues arising again.” The Times’ Ben Martin says the issue “is an embarrassment” for KPMG, which had been M&C Saatchi’s auditor but tendered its resignation in Septemb er due to a clash over fees, while the paper’s Alistair Osborne notes that “M&C isn’t blaming KPMG for its blooper”. The Mail’s Alex Brummer also highlights KPMG’s role.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 47 Financial Times, Page: 15 Daily Mail, Page: 85 The Guardian, Page: 50 Daily Express, Page: 44 The Sun, Page: 51 City AM, Page: 5

Stobart lines up administrators

Trucking company Eddie Stobart has lined up Deloitte to prepare it for insolvency if investors reject a rescue led by DBay Advisors. It is understood that if investors fail to back the deal, Eddie Stobart’s holding company will be put into administration shortly afterwards, enabling the firm’s operating entities to continue trading while an alternative rescue plan is devised.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 City AM, Page: 5

Clintons seals rescue deal

Clintons has been bought out of administration in a deal that safeguards 2,500 jobs. The greetings card retailer will be salvaged through a complex transaction that allows it to be sold back to its existing owners. KPMG said the deal means Clinton’s 334 stores can keep trading throughout the crucial Christmas season.

BBC News The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 7 The Times, Page: 44 Financial Times The I, Page: 41 The Guardian, Page: 47 Daily Star, Page: 2 The Scotsman, Page: 11

Buzzfeed issued strike-off warning

Companies House has lodged a proposal to strike Buzzfeed from the official register as its 2018 accounts, which were due by 30 September this year, have yet to be submitted. Pointing to concern over the firm and pre-tax losses recorded in 2017, City AM notes that auditors Blick Rothenberg received assurances of continuing support from Buzzfeed’s US parent company.

City AM, Page: 17

Numis falters in plodding equity conditions

Analysis of stockbroker Numis’ performance notes PwC figures showing that only five companies listed their shares in London in Q1 2019 – a low not seen since the financial crisis in 2009.

Financial Times, Page: 20


Ted Baker appoints consultancy to review operations

Ted Baker has appointed AlixPartners to review its operations after a stock overstatement of up to £25m, while forensic accountants and law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are looking into the issue.

Financial Times, Page: 20

Police probe tourist agency

West Yorkshire Police says a probe into expenses claims by tourist agency Welcome to Yorkshire is ongoing. A BDO report earlier this year identified around £26,000 worth of expenses had been claimed for personal items with no business justification.

Yorkshire Post, Page: 11

SMEs – News


Labour vows SME support

Labour says it will create a state-run business support agency if elected, vowing a number of policies designed to help SMEs that include creating two state banks, scrapping quarterly reporting for businesses under £85,000 and “stamping down” on late payments. The mooted Business Development Agency would help smaller firms to access business advice, finance and large scale government contracts. Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “Small businesses, the lifeblood of our economy and our communities, are being stretched to breaking point by global corporations which evade their taxes and fail to pay their suppliers on time. This inequality scars our country.”

City AM, Page: 7 Yorkshire Post, Page: 4



Permanent job placements at decade low

Research by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation shows that the number of permanent job appointments fell in November as growth in the demand for staff fell to a 10-year low. The dip marked the ninth consecutive fall, with political uncertainty cited as a contributing factor. However, demand for temporary staff remained strong.

The Times, Page: 48 City AM, Page: 2

Charter seeks to close tech gender gap

An initiative to address gender balance in technology roles in Scotland has been launched, with PwC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Morgan Stanley backing the Tech She Can Charter. The initiative was created following PwC research which found that only 23% of people working in Stem jobs were female. Claire Reid, regional leader of PwC Scotland, said: “This is an important societal problem and the charter will see industry in Scotland working together to tackle the root cause of the lack of females in technology roles.”

The Scotsman, Page: 32 The Press and Journal, Page: 27

LEGAL – End of Week News Friday 6th December 2019


City braced for tax scandal

Lawyers predict that London could be caught in the fallout of an alleged tax evasion scheme that is understood to have cost European treasuries €55bn. British investment bankers Martin Shields and Nicholas Diable are on trial in Germany accused of helping to facilitate the cum-ex trading scheme, which took advantage of the differing tax treatment of dividends in different countries, allowing multiple tax credits to be claimed. Lee Adams, partner at JMW Solicitors, says tax lawyers in the UK will “undoubtedly” come under increased scrutiny, adding: “This could be the next Libor scandal.” Rachel Cook of Peters & Peters says HMRC may find a probe challenging, as it is difficult to “discover or undercover this sort of sophisticated tax evasion scheme, with its complex transactions and jargon”.

The Times, Page: 60

FINANCIAL SERVICES – End of Week News Friday 6th December 2019


New climate for stress tests

Writing in City AM, Rob Smith, a banking partner at KPMG, looks at the impact climate change may have on financial sectors. With results of UK bank stress testing due soon, he notes that in 2021 these tests will include a scenario on climate change.

City AM, Page: 36

PROPERTY – End of Week News Friday 6th December 2019


Homeowners could face Christmas mortgage penalty

Research by MoneySavingExpert has calculated that homeowners whose mortgages expire over the festive period could be left more than £100 out of pocket, even if they have remortgaged to a new deal with a low interest rate. The consumer website said that in the worst instances homeowners could be paying £130 in extra interest payments this Christmas. A borrower with a typical outstanding loan of £350,000 would pay £70.98 in extra interest if their loan expired on Christmas Eve. This would rise to £131.78 for a homeowner with a £650,000 mortgage outstanding. This issue only affects those switching to a different lender, rather than to a new deal with the same provider.

The Daily Telegraph


M&G suspension highlights property concerns

Investors withdrew £31m from Standard Life Aberdeen’s Aberdeen UK Property fund on Wednesday, close to the total for the previous four months combined. This came after the suspension of a rival M&G product. Andy Bell, boss of investment platform AJ Bell, suggests that it is only a “matter of days” before other property funds with small cash holdings follow M&G and block investors from accessing their money. Figures show ordinary investors pulled a net total of more than £1.7bn from open-ended UK property funds in the 12 months to October, with some concerned over falling property prices. Meanwhile, data shows Columbia Threadneedle and Kames Capital property funds have sold off more than £156m of property in the past two months.

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 37 Financial Times

ECONOMY – End of Week News Friday 6th December 2019


Services sector shrinks

The services sector in the UK has seen its sharpest fall in eight months, with the final IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index for services dropping to 49.3 in November from 50 a month earlier. A sub-50 figure marks contraction in the sector. Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at the consultancy Capital Economics, said services seemed to have “done no better than flatline” in the month, while IHS Markit economics associate director Tim Moore said the sector was “falling back into decline after a brief period of stabilisation”. The UK economy is “staggering through the final quarter of 2019,” he added. Duncan Brock, group director at CIPS, said Brexit nerves have “descended over European clients,” leaving them “reluctant to commit until there is more clarity in the UK’s future direction”.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4 The Times, Page: 44 The Guardian Financial Times The Sun, Page: 51 City AM, Page: 12

Lending set to slow

EY Item Club ’s latest outlook for financial services suggests bank lending to businesses and consumers will slow next year, climbing by just 2.1%. This would mark the weakest increase since 2015. The analysis forecasts that consumer credit growth will slow to 3.8% – a low not seen since 2013 – while mortgage lending growth will be stable at 3.7%.

The Times, Page: 50


Household debt climbs

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that debts are climbing, with average household financial debt rising 9% to £9,400 in the two years to March 2018. Median financial debt grew 12% to £4,500. In total, debts excluding mortgages have risen 11% to £119bn. The analysis shows that personal loans account for £35bn of total household debts, £32bn is from student loans, £25bn is hire purchase, and £22bn is on credit cards, while the remainder includes £3bn of overdrafts. The ONS study, which is published every two years, shows the poorest 10% of households have debts three times bigger than the value of assets they own, while the top 10% have total wealth worth 35 times their debt. Britain’s total wealth increased by 13% in the two years to 2018 to reach a record £14.6tn.

The Times, Page: 40 The Guardian, Page: 47 Financial Times, Page: 2 BBC News

Sales fell ahead of reductions

Like-for-like sales fell 17.1% in the week before Black Friday, BDO figures show. However, the week of Black Friday saw instore and non-store sales soaring by 24% and 28% respectively. Data adjusted to take account of the fact that Black Friday fell a week later than in 2018 this year showed that bricks and mortar sales were up 3% in November, while non-store sales were up 8% year-on-year. Sophie Michael of BDO comments: “Shoppers simply weren’t willing to part with their pounds until hefty price cuts took place, as the steep decline the week before Black Friday illustrates.”

The Independent, Page: 55 Daily Mail, Page: 85 City AM, Page: 2 Daily Star, Page: 2 Yorkshire Post, Page: 1

OTHER – End of Week News Friday 6th December 2019


Sol puts the boot in on Macclesfield

Former Macclesfield Town manager Sol Campbell wants the football club wound up and is supporting a court application from HMRC. Judge Catherine Addy, who heard that the club owed a “very large” amount of tax, was told that Mr Campbell is owed around £182,000. The judge said Macclesfield should get time to clear debts and said the case would be reconsidered on December 18.

The Times, Page: 71 The Guardian, Page: 63 Daily Express, Page: 51 The Sun, Page: 7 Daily Star, Page: 4


Regulators call for new rules

Regulators have proposed rules to make banks and payment firms more resilient to major problems after MPs called for regulatory changes on the back of technological failures by some lenders. The Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority say banks and payment firms should have to identify their most important businesses and set the maximum level of disruption they would accept. Simon Chard, IT financial services partner at PwC, said firms will “need to show that they understand their business and the impact that an operational shock could have on customers and the system as a whole”. He added: “This could well be the regulatory challenge that impacts organisations’ operations the most, and no firm can afford to ignore it.”

City AM

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward






Tech giants face tax avoidance claims

Tax transparency campaign group Fair Tax Mark says the big six US tech firms – Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Apple and Microsoft – have “aggressively” avoided $100bn (£77bn) of global tax over the past decade by shifting revenue and profits through tax havens or low-tax countries. The report also suggest that in some cases they have delayed payment of taxes. Amazon is identified as the worst offender, with Fair Tax Mark highlighting that it has paid $3.4bn (£2.6bn) in tax on its income despite revenue of $960.5bn and profits of $26.8bn. It adds that Amazon’s accounting is so complicated there is “no way to discern” how much tax it should be paying or is paying in the UK. Alex Cobham, chief executive of Tax Justice Network, said: “When multinational corporations abuse their tax responsibilities to society, they weaken the supports that our economies need to work well and create wealth.” Meanwhile, GMB and T UC officials will protest outside Amazon’s London offices today, saying the retailer should pay more in taxes.

Daily Mail, Page: 77 The Guardian, Page: 24, 43 Daily Mirror, Page: 9

Corbyn denies tax hike

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has insisted removing the marriage tax allowance is not a tax hike. With it suggested that 4.2m married couples face losing £250 a year from Labour plans to scrap the marriage tax allowance, Mr Corbyn told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “We’re not raising tax.”

The Sun, Page: 10


Chancellor promises review of tax rule

Chancellor Sajid Javid has pledged to review tax rule changes coming into force next April under the IR35 regime, with Mr Javid saying he wants to ensure the reforms are appropriate. The rule change is shifting the responsibility for assessing the tax status of contractors from the individual to the employer. The reform is designed to prevent disguised full-time employees gaming the system to pay lower taxes but has raised concern among firms worried they will fall foul of HMRC rules, prompting some to cut ties with contractors. Seb Maley of Qdos, a tax firm for freelancers, welcomed the Chancellor’s promise of the reform coming under scrutiny, but said any review “must be genuine and not lip service simply to win the votes of independent workers, who could be crucial in the outcome of the election.” The review will come under a wider investigation into how new policies could help freelancers.

The Daily Telegraph

Retailers overcharged £1.4bn in business rates

Figures suggest that retailers may be overpaying £1.4bn in business rates, with 118,390 appeals having been lodged by firms that saw their bills increase following changes to how the tax is calculated. Of the appeals lodged with the Valuation Office Agency since April 1, 2017, 109,610 have been resolved, with two-thirds resulting in tax rebates for firms. With concerns that a rise in the number of outstanding cases risks creating a bottleneck, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has described the appeal system as “broken”. Considering the number of appeals and proportion delivering rebates, the BRC says shops, restaurants and pubs may have overpaid £1.4bn in business rates over five years – or £280m a year. The Conservatives and Labour have both pledged to overhaul business rates if they win the upcoming election.

Daily Mail, Page: 73


PM to push ahead with digital tax

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to deliver a digital sales tax, saying: “I do think we need to look at the operations of the big digital companies and the huge revenues they make in the UK and the amount of tax they pay,” adding that there is a need to “make sure they make a fairer contribution.” The Conservative manifesto promises to implement a digital services tax that would place a 2% tax on UK revenues, with this set to come into force in April 2020. The tax could put the UK at odds with US president Donald Trump, whose administration has hit out at a similar levy imposed by France, saying it may place 100% tariffs on some French goods in response to the 3% levy. Lobby group British American Business said the UK’s proposed tax could damage “the momentum” of any trade talks between the countries and “distract from efforts” to come to a free trade agreement. Pau l Monaghan, chief executive of the Fair Tax Mark, has warned that if the UK does not roll out the digital services tax, it would be “enormously significant” and represent a “complete capitulation to the US.”

The Times, Page: 1 The Independent, Page: 3 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 Financial Times, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 5 The Sun, Page: 5 City AM, Page: 1

Corbyn: Tax rise will boost public services

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told ITV’s This Morning of his plans to fund improvements to public services, saying some of the cash will come from tax rises for big business. This, he noted, will come through corporation tax “which will go up to ultimately 26%, which is still less than it was in 2010 and less than it is in most industrial countries.” Mr Corbyn said he has raised the issue with business organisations, noting that “they didn’t welcome the tax rise but they said it’s something they could live with.” Elsewhere, businessman Surinder Arora, founder of hotel operator Arora Group, has hit out at Labour’s plans to increase tax on corporations and wealthy individuals, saying the plans could drive businesses and investors away from the UK.

Daily Express City AM, Page: 9

IFS: SNP manifesto short of tax plan detail

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has analysed the SNP’s general election manifesto, saying that without new taxes to balance the SNP’s proposed spending, taxes would have to rise or further cuts would be needed elsewhere. IFS associate director David Phillips said that unlike its previous manifestos – and those produced by other main parties ahead – the SNP has not provided detailed costings or tax plans.

The Scotsman, Page: 1

Tax and charity

Mike Warburton, who was previously a tax director with Grant Thornton, offers advice on tax and giving to charity in the Telegraph, saying tax rules encourage charitable giving “so making donations can be useful for your finances”. Among advice, he highlights th at people can save inheritance tax by naming a charity in their will, with charities receiving bequests from about 10,000 estates each year, giving inheritance tax relief of £1.8bn. Mr Warburton cites HMRC analysis showing that while gift aid is worth about £1.3bn each year to the charity sector in reclaimed tax, a quarter of eligible donations are not gift aided at a cost to charities of £560m.

The Daily Telegraph



Banks tighten lending to SME retailers

Figures from Moore show that lending to SME retailers has fallen 6% since 2016. Lending to SME retailers has fallen from £15.6bn to £14.7bn, with banks more reluctant to hand out loans amid Brexit-related uncertainty. Despite the fall in loans to smaller entities, lending to large retailers by banks rose by 20% from £31.5bn to £37.8bn. Bridget Culverwell, director at Moore, said: “It is a real worry for smaller retailers if banks are treating them less favourably than larger retailers.” She added that banks are expected to be “apprehensive to lend to the sector in the months ahead” while the final outcome of Brexit remains uncertain.

City AM, Page: 9

Uppal: Greater resources needed to support small firms

Paul Uppal, the former Small Business Commissioner, says a lack of resources and indifference from Whitehall officials have thwarted attempts to ensure small firms are treated more fairly by large customers, saying his budget was too small to tackle the “huge task” of getting big businesses to pay their bills on time. He said his successor will need more financial and strategic support from the Government, with more resources needed if the Small Business Commissioner “is going to do the job”. Bill Esterson, Labour’s Small Business Minister, said small companies were being failed because the commissioner does not have the resources required.

The Times, Page: 43


SME bosses warn of challenges ahead

A poll by small business platform Xero shows that a quarter of small business owners believe their company will go bust within 5 years. The survey saw 54% warn that late payments pose a risk to their firm, while 44% voiced concern over tax rates and the same proportion pointed to uncertainty over Brexit. Some 31% said maintaining or increasing levels of productivity presented a challenge, while 27% cited the risk of cyber-attacks, 25% were concerned by rental costs, 21% said retaining staff was an issue and 19% flagged the cost of recruiting new workers. The study of 500 business owners reveals that 40% believe the current climate is the most turbulent period they’ve ever experienced as an SME owner, while more than a third said their mental health has been affected by running a firm. The report shows that, on average, owners work an extra nine hours a week and have pumped £11,846 of their own money into their busi ness.

Daily Mirror

Small firms fear for the future

Research from Notonthehighstreet shows that 22% of smaller UK businesses believe they could collapse within 12 months if Christmas trading is below average, while one in 12 said they would go under in a matter of weeks. Figures from KPMG show that 44 retail businesses went into administration in the six months to September.

The Independent, Page: 47



Business confidence slips in Scotland

Research from the ICAEW reveals that business confidence in Scotland turned negative in the fourth quarter, with its Business Confidence Monitor showing Scottish businesses reporting slowing sales and profits growth as well as limited improvements in productivity. Despite the decline, confidence north of the Border remains above the UK average. ICAEW Scotland director David Bond said: “It is disappointing but not unexpected that business confidence has fallen back into negative territory this quarter, with ongoing uncertainty on issues such as Brexit likely to have had an impact.”

The Press and Journal, Page: 32


Ted Baker reveals accounting error

Fashion retailer Ted Baker has revealed an accounting error that saw it overstate the value of its inventory by between £20m-£25m. Law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is to carry out a review and independent accountants are to be appointed to investigate. It has been suggested that auditor KPMG could come in for criticism following the revelation. In its latest audit of the retailer’s accounts, KPMG acknowledged there was a “risk” to the inventory valuation arising from the fact that “sales in the fashion industry can be extremely volatile with consumer demand changing significantly based on current trends.” KPMG has been Ted Baker’s auditor since 2001, with the audit last put out to tender in 2012. The Financial Reporting Council handed the audit firm a £3m fine last year for providing Ted Baker other services outside of audit.

The Times, Page: 43 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 Financial Times, Page: 13 The Guardian, Page: 41 The I, Page: 41 Daily Mirror, Page: 43 The Independent, Page: 50 Daily Mail, Page: 71 The Sun, Page: 43 City AM, Page: 4 The Scotsman, Page: 32 Evening Standard BBC News

Kiddies Kingdom eyes Mothercare stores

Independent baby goods chain Kiddies Kingdom has put a proposal to Mothercare’s administrators PwC, saying it wants to take on some of the collapsed retailer’s stores and distribution centres, while also purchasing stock and retaining some staff.

The I, Page: 43

Trying times for rugby club creditors

The Times looks at financial woes at rugby club Yorkshire Carnegie which saw Begbies Traynor drafted in. The firm, which drew up a CVA that would pay out 15p to every £1 owed, issued a report showing that the club’s unsecured creditors include future player contracts worth £1,031,560.

The Times, Sport, Page: 64

Shipyard taken into public ownership

The Ferguson Marine shipyard has been formally taken into public ownership, the Scottish government has announced. Administrators from Deloitte had said public ownership was in the best interests of the creditors, despite receiving three commercial bids.

The Scotsman, Page: 64


Business creates firms for fraudsters

A Times investigation has found that London-based company Formations House has created a web of businesses, banks and tax havens used by international crime gangs and fraudsters. It says the formation agent has repeatedly failed to carry out proper due diligence on clients and has set up companies for known criminals. The paper says that directors of at least 40 UK companies that Formations House has created have been disqualified after allegations of wrongdoing, while Charlotte Pawar, its chief executive, told an undercover reporter that it was possible for company owners to conceal their identities and deposit funds at foreign banks. The Times says “lax” controls surrounding company creation agencies will prompt concerns that “fraudsters and organised crime are damaging Britain’s reputation for corporate governance.”

The Times, Page: 1



Disabled staff see 12% pay gap

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that disabled employees are paid 12.2% less than their non-disabled peers, with the median pay for non-disabled workers in 2018 at £12.11 an hour, compared to £10.63 for disabled staff. The ONS said disabled females were typically paid 10.1% less than non-disabled females last year, while the pay gap between disabled and non-disabled male employees was 11.6%. London had the widest disability pay gap between disabled and non-disabled staff at 15.3%, with Scotland’s 8.3% gap the UK’s narrowest. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s Dr Jill Miller, said: “Businesses that aren’t inclusive – and don’t manage health and disability effectively – risk missing out on hard-working and talented individuals, and damaging their reputation among staff and customers.”

BBC News


Half of Scottish boards fall short on gender target

A body set up to monitor the gender balance in FTSE 350 businesses has found that seven of Scotland’s 14 publicly listed groups must improve boardroom diversity if they are to meet the UK government’s goal of 33% female board representation by December 2020. Hampton-Alexander review chair Sir Philip Hampton has urged business leaders to ensure that 50% of leadership position appointments next year are women. Across the UK, women’s representation in the senior leadership of FTSE 100 companies has risen to 28.6%, up from 27% in 2018. Across the FTSE 250, women’s representation has climbed to 27.9%, up from 24.9% a year earlier. Catherine Burnet of KPMG, which sponsored the review, said: “For too long now, women have faced unnecessary obstacles, damaging their prospects and compromising the opportunities that a truly balanced board creates for a growth-hungry company.”

The Scotsman, Page: 32



US threatens tariffs over France’s digital tax

The US says France’s digital services tax unfairly discriminates against US technology companies, adding that it may in turn impose 100% tariffs on $2.4bn of French goods and “fees or restrictions” on French services. US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said its investigation found that the French proposal was “inconsistent with prevailing principles of international tax policy, and is unusually burdensome for affected US companies”, such as Google , Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

City AM, Page: 3 Financial Times



Sector bodies call for VAT rethink

Property and construction bodies are calling on would-be ministers to cut VAT on home maintenance. In a letter to leaders of the four main political parties, groups including the Federation of Master Builders, the British Property Federation, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the UK Green Building Council say cutting VAT on improvements to 5% could create 95,000 jobs and generate an extra £15bn in taxes. They add that such a move would promote and incentivise energy efficiency works.

The Times, Page: 46



CBI expects modest growth

The latest report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggests economic growth for the next two years will remain “modest”, at 1.3% this year and 1.2% in 2020 before rising to 1.8% in 2021. The CBI says this is based on an assumption that the UK leaves the EU by 31 January and has “clear line of sight” to a trade deal involving alignment with EU rules. CBI chief economist, Rain Newton-Smith, said: “Transforming a lost decade of productivity will only be possible if supported by a good Brexit deal – one that keeps the UK aligned with EU rules, essential for frictionless trade, along with protecting the UK’s world-beating services sector, which accounts for 80% of our economy.”

The Independent, Page: 53 The I, Page: 38 Daily Express, Page: 11 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

Manufacturing confidence climbs

A report from BDO and manufacturing industry body Make UK shows confidence in the economy rose after the threat of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 was averted, while export orders increased in the quarter to November and output was boosted by stockpiling ahead of the October deadline. Make UK expects growth of 0.1% this year, with a 0.3% increase in output next year. Tom Lawton, head of manufacturing at BDO, said: “Investment levels have slightly improved this quarter following a series of declines since the start of the year. While this is positive, and possibly a sign that the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is less of a short-term worry, firms are still facing an uphill battle.”

The Times, Page: 44 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 The Independent, Page: 52 The I, Page: 38

Consumer debt at record high

Bank of England figures show consumer debt levels rose to an all-time high of £225bn last month, increasing by £1.3bn between September and October.

The Times


Manufacturing sector employment dips

Factories are laying off workers at the fastest rate in seven years, the IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing shows. The analysis shows employment dipped for the eighth month in a row and the pace of job losses hit its steepest level since September 2012. November also saw new orders fall for the seventh consecutive month. The PMI slipped to 48.9 in November from 49.6 in October, with a reading below 50 indicating that a majority of businesses reported falling output. Brexit uncertainty, attempts to cut costs, and redundancies were cited as contributing factors for the dip. Rob Dobson, a director at IHS Markit, said uncertainty created by a further delay to Brexit “was accompanied by growing paralysis ahead of the forthcoming general election.” He added: “Destocking at manufacturers and their clients following the latest Brexit delay was a major contributor to the weaknes s experienced by the sector.”

The Guardian, Page: 42 Financial Times The Independent

Retail sales up in November

British Retail Consortium/ KPMG data shows that retail sales grew 0.9% in November from a year ago. Stripping Black Friday sales from the data shows sales were down 4.4% and 4.9% on a like-for-like basis. Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Over the course of November, consumers will have held off making purchases in anticipation of discounts to come, despite many retailers spreading out promotions across several days, if not weeks.”

The Times, Page: 50 Daily Express, Page: 47 Yorkshire Post, Page: 4

Apps deliver an extra £400m for restaurants

Deloitte analysis suggests that food delivery apps such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats are contributing an extra £400m in revenue for European restaurants. The study shows that £1.6m of extra meals were sold each week over a year in Paris, London, Madrid and Warsaw – with independent restaurants accounting for almost half of the additional sales. London restaurants saw revenue climb £323m and profit increase by £189m.

City AM, Page: 11


Construction sector shrinks

New survey data has shown that the UK construction sector contracted for the seventh month running in November as new work fell sharply amid yet more political uncertainty. The IHS Markit/CIPS UK construction PMI came in at 45.3 in November, compared to 44.2 in October. A figure below 50 indicates contraction. Economists had predicted a score of 44.5, meaning November’s figure beat expectations and was the slowest drop in overall construction for four months. Duncan Brock, group director at CIPS, said: “Brexit uncertainty, an impending general election and wet weather all combined to keep the construction sector firmly in its contraction hole last month.” Tim Moore, associate director at IHS Markit, commented: “Construction companies reported a particularly sharp fall in demand for commercial projects amid a greater squeeze from domestic political uncertainty and delayed investment decisions.”</>

Financial Times City AM



UK insurers forecast to post losses as costs and claims rise

EY forecasts that the motor and home insurance industries will see underwriting losses next year, with the ratio of claims and costs as a proportion of premium income hitting 107% and 102% respectively.

Financial Times

New chapter for audiobooks

Deloitte ’s annual technology and media trend predictions report suggests audiobook sales are on course to overtake ebooks. It forecasts that the global audiobook market will grow by 25% to almost £4bn in 2020. The report also predicts that the global podcast market will pass £850m in 2020.

The Times, Page: 1

Comment on content

City AM looks at the challenge broadcasters face in ensuring output reaches audiences, with David Elms, head of media at KPMG, saying: “Future business models will be increasingly driven by the quality of the programmes and the ease with which viewers can access them.”

City AM, Page: 17

Drug could treat condition

Research supported by PwC and the Medical Research Council UK suggests the symptoms of endometriosis could potentially be reduced with a drug previously investigated as a cancer treatment.

The Guardian, Page: 25


Six richest Brits have as much money as poorest 13m

Analysis by the Equality Trust shows that the UK’s six richest people control as much wealth as the poorest 13m. The study found that the six richest people in the country have a combined fortune of £39.4bn, a sum equal to the assets of 13.2m Britons.

The Independent, Page: 51 Daily Mirror, Page: 8

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward's News Roundup






UK tax whose regime relatively middle of the road

The Times’ David Byers talks to PwC’s Martin Muhleder, who has analysed whether higher earners in the UK pay more tax than they would in other western nations. Sweden scored the highest for tax contribution across five of the six incomes looked at by PwC. Top earners on £250,000 would lose 54.91% in tax and social security compared with 42.59% in the UK; Italians pay the second highest amount but it’s the most expensive country for those earning £80,000, who pay 46.41%.Germans also have a higher tax burden than the UK, whose regime is middle of the road when compared with the other ten: Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Britain, Spain, Australia, Singapore, and the US states of California and Texas. Separately, Merryn Somerset Webb discusses in a piece for the FT the complexities around determining who exactly the rich are before they can be “soaked”.

The Times Financial Times, Page: 13

The general election and your finances

The tax plans of the main parties are considered across the press today, with the Telegraph reporting that investor bills would double under the Liberal Democrats or Labour. A higher-rate taxpayer with a £60,000 portfolio who sold off just £3,000 of profits each year would be hit with an annual CGT bill of more than £700 under Labour’s plans. Currently, they could sell £12,000 of their profits each year and pay nothing in tax. Under the Lib Dems, the same higher-rate taxpayer would have to fork out more than £12,000 for regularly selling off parts of the £60,000 portfolio over a 10-year period. The Telegraph also looks at how the different parties are targeting specific age groups for their votes. Elsewhere, FT Money reviews key policies on personal tax, pay, pensions and property being touted by the three main parties with Blick Rothenberg providing a chart of proj ected income tax and national insurance changes.

The Daily Telegraph, Your Money, Page: 5, 10 Financial Times, Money, Page: 8-9

Soft-play centres should pay VAT

HMRC recently sent out an advisory note reminding not-for-profit providers they cannot claim VAT on soft-play centres because it doesn’t consider them to have “an exercise purpose”. In contrast, adult exercise venues run by not-for-profit institutions, such as climbing centres run by charities or the local council, are VAT-exempt. Scott Harwood, a tax director at RSM, described the edict as “bizarre” as most people would consider soft-play centres somewhere to tire out their children.

The Times, Page: 67


McDonnell: Those on low incomes will pay more tax

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has told the BBC’s Money Box that those on annual salaries of £20,000 a year will be subject to tax reforms under a Labour government. He said that while “the bulk” of those who will pay more will have “incomes over a million, investments over a million”, there will be some “that have a small income”. He added that Labour is “trying to establish a system where everyone is treated fairly,” saying it is “fundamental” that “however you earn your income you should be treated the same”. This came after Money Box presenter Paul Lewis suggested that dividend tax “is going to be raised from quite a low rates up to the same rates as income tax,” calculating that pensioners earning £10,000 in dividends and “roughly” £10,000 from pensions “will be paying an extra £1,000 compared to what they are now.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Business and Money, Page: 9 Sunday Express, Page: 12

High earners in tax warning

HMRC has warned that high earners are failing to declare their pension contributions and may owe millions of pounds in tax. In a letter to pension scheme administrators, HMRC said people may be forgetting to declare in their yearly tax returns big pension increases that may breach their annual allowance – noting that in some cases the oversight may be deliberate. Steve Webb, director of policy at the insurer Royal London, said many taxpayers do not understand they have to declare any contributions over the threshold in their tax returns, while others are unable to work out how much they have put in so simply give up.

The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 16

IHT system ‘complex and baffling’

Marc Shoffman in the Mail on Sunday describes his experience of the inheritance tax system, which he describes as “complex, baffling and, in the midst of grief, utterly soul-sapping”. He looks at the weight of paperwork involved and notes that a form he filled in after his father’s death was one of 275,500 that HMRC receives each year. Mr Shoffman cites Laura Kearns, a private client solicitor at law firm Royds Withy King, who says inheritance tax “isn’t straightforward from an administrative point of view,” and notes that the Office of Tax Simplification has called for the system to be simplified and digitised.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 104



Eddie Stobart urges investors to back rescue bid

Eddie Stobart is recommending investors back a rescue deal from shareholder DBay warning that a rival bid by former boss Andrew Tinkler would lead to banks demanding immediate repayment of its £200m debt. DBay is offering a £55m high interest loan in exchange for a 51% stake in the company and its lenders, KBC, Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and BNP Paribas have agreed to give the company up to a year to repair its finances if shareholders supported the takeover. The trucking company has suffered from an accounting blunder and auditor PwC is yet to sign off half-year figures to May.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 33 Financial Times

Harley Medical bought in pre-pack deal

Harley Medical Group has been sold by RCapital through a pre-pack administration handled by BDO. The company will now come under the ownership of Lasercare Holdings Limited, controlled by private equity investor TriSpan.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 35



Buy-to-let repossessions soar

Figures from UK Finance show the number of rental properties being repossessed by lenders because the owners are too far in arrears on their buy-to-let mortgage has risen by 40% compared with last year. Some 4,550 buy-to-let mortgages were in arrears of 2.5% or more of the total borrowing in the third quarter of this year. Of those more than a thousand are in serious arrears of 10% or more.

The Independent, Page: 50


Labour to act on empty shops

A Labour government will tell landlords of empty shops to “use it or lose it”. Plans would see councils set up a register of shop owners, outlining strict limits on how long a shop can remain empty before it is taken over. Labour is also vowing to deliver an overhaul of business rates.

The Sunday Mirror



Investors quitting Hargreaves Lansdown face huge delays

According to the Daily Telegraph, investors who are using Hargreaves Lansdown are facing huge delays transferring Isas and pensions to rival fund shops, as the stockbroker collects extra fees. The paper suggests that some customers have been left waiting for over three months to move to a new provider.

The Daily Telegraph

Banks end cheapest credit card deals

Halifax, Tesco Bank, Lloyds Bank, MBNA and Barclaycard are among Britain’s biggest credit card providers who have been withdrawing their best deals and putting up their rates as Christmas approaches. Rachel Springall from Moneyfacts said the banks are reining their offers in after having come under pressure to reduce unsustainable levels of consumer debt.

The Times

UK consumers ‘counting on credit’

A study by credit management company Intrum found consumers in the UK come second only to the Finnish for financial literacy, however, Brits are twice as likely than the average European to use credit to pay bills.

Financial Times, Money, Page: 3



Lump sum warning for those with public-sector pensions

The Times’ David Byers advises readers that taking large tax-free lump sums from final-salary public-sector pensions can leave savers facing huge charges. He says some of the schemes run by local councils, the civil service and the NHS are charging savers an average of £1 in annual income for every £12 of a tax-free lump sum they take out. “Public-sector pension schemes, in particular, offer very poor value when members sacrifice a pension for a lump sum,” says pensions expert Steve Webb. “It is vital that people seek advice or guidance so that they do not give up far too much of their hard-earned retirement savings.”

The Times

Self-employed women, how good is your pension?

Emma Maslin explains how women’s pensions are effected by motherhood or being self-employed, with a third of those who work for themselves saving nothing at all into a pension.

Financial Times, Money, Page: 10


Review coming for pension anomaly

The Government has promised a comprehensive review of a pensions anomaly that has led to 1.75m people, mostly women, losing tax relief on their pensions. The issue affects workers earning between £10,000 and £12,500 a year, with the average person losing an average of around £64 a year. Gregg McClymont, director of policy for The People’s Pension, said the issue “threatens to damage public confidence in the system and lets down those who need to boost their retirement savings the most.”

The Sunday Times, Page: 14


Christmas concern for small businesses

Research from online marketplace Not On The High Street shows that 22% of small businesses say they will be forced to close within the next 12 months if they experience below average Christmas trading, with almost one in 10 saying they would be forced to shut within weeks. The analysis shows that while the average consumer plans to spend £362 on gifts this Christmas, just £92 of that will be with small businesses. Not On The High Street chief executive Claire Davenport said: “Brits love to shop with small businesses and believe they support them but they aren’t quite putting their money where their mouth is.”

Sunday Express, Page: 43

BDO in ‘pro-enterprise, pro-business’ call

Stuart Lisle, co-chairman of BDO’s Brexit taskforce, calls for a “pro-enterprise, pro-business agenda” from the next government, saying it will “put Britain on the front foot.” He notes that BDO has created a “new economy” manifesto to champion those running mid-sized entrepreneurial businesses. He says the new government should prioritise local infrastructure projects as well as higher-profile national initiatives and suggests manufacture require targeted support.

The Sunday Times, Fast Track 100, Page: 4



Which party’s pledges will boost your wealth most?

The Mail on Sunday’s Jeff Prestridge examines which political pledges will boost consumers’ wealth the most. He concludes that Labour will hit the wealthy harder – with the party’s taxation plans for those who invest deemed “draconian”. Jason Hollands, director of Tilney, says they are a significant hindrance to investing. Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says Labour’s scrapping of the marriage tax allowance should act as a call to arms for 700,000 couples who currently are eligible to take advantage of it, but don’t use it. Labour’s pledge to cut the dividend allowance will also hurt, according to Moira O’Neill, head of personal finance at wealth manager Interactive Investor. Mr Prestridge suggests that like much of their manifesto, the Tories taken a somewhat defensive approach towards personal taxation, with no grand promises, nor a nasty round of tax rises in the pipeline.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 75



Brits launch Black Friday spending frenzy

Retailers are expecting record sales of £2.5bn from Black Friday, according to Barclaycard, which recorded a 12.5% rise in transactions compared with last year. PwC said data suggested that three quarters of purchases would be made from the home or office. Elsewhere, Jason Gordon, a consumer analyst at Deloitte, said: “This weekend’s extended Black Friday promotions are not the end, and we are likely to see a continuation of discounting throughout the run up to Christmas.”

The Times, Page: 9 BBC News The I, Page: 13 Daily Mirror, Page: 15 Daily Mail, Page: 23 The Sun, Page: 24 Daily Express, Page: 10

UK firms lose £9.2bn to fake imports

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has warned that the flood of fake goods into the UK is costing companies £9.2bn a year in lost sales. Britain’s economy has lost more than 86,000 jobs and the exchequer £4bn in tax revenue as a result. China and Hong Kong were the worst culprits for counterfeiting and piracy, the OECD said. Marcos Bonturi, the OECD’s director of public governance, said: “Countries need to work together if they want to win the fight against illicit trade and against all other illicit activities linked to it.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 33


Stores see Black Friday boost

Figures from retail consultant Springboard show that Black Friday footfall rose for the first time since 2016. The number of people visiting stores was up 3.3% overall, compared to a decline of 5.4% last year and a fall of 3.6% in 2017. Shopping centres led the way, with a 6.6% increase, while visitors numbers climbed 2.4% on the high street and 1.8% at retail parks. With tomorrow set to see further discounts as part of Cyber Monday deals, Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, commented: “There’s no denying that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become firm fixtures on the UK’s retail calendar. Year-on-year shoppers have notably held off their purchases until the discounting begins.”

Sunday Express, Page: 43

IFS: Crashing out will drive up national debt

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests that crashing out of the EU would cause the national debt to rise by £221bn over the next five years. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Britain will not extend the transition period with the EU beyond the end of 2020, even if no trade deal is in place, a move Liberal Democrat deputy leader Ed Davey says “will create a tidal wave of debt that would jeopardise funding for our schools, hospitals and vital public services.”

The Observer



EC in tax haven blow

The Observer’s Business Leader column says the European commission has, for the time being, lost its battle with the EU’s tax havens as it sought greater visibility on how much tax multinational companies pay and where they pay it. This comes after 12 of the 28 member states voted against a proposed rule that would have forced multinationals to reveal the revenues and profits they make – and how little corporate tax they pay. The column suggests that with a number of influential countries utterly dependent on being tax discounters, they “need a carrot and not just a stick” before they can look to tackle tax avoiders.

The Observer, Page: 58



County Armagh couple jailed for VAT fraud

Farmer Joseph Cassidy and his wife have been jailed for their role in a £610,000 VAT fraud, after a HMRC investigation into their County Armagh beef cattle farm.

Press Release


Automation expectations

The Sunday Telegraph looks at “an imminent and inevitable wave of technological innovation in AI, robotics and automation that is poised to upend traditional work habits.” It notes PwC research which suggests 30% of Britain’s workload could be undertaken by machines within 15 years, up from about 5% currently.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business and Money, Page: 4

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward's News Roundup

News to 29th November 2019

News to 29th November 2019




Corbyn’s taxation plans break £80,000 pledge

Several papers follow up on the news that Labour’s tax increases will not be restricted to those earning more than £80,000. Jeremy Corbyn was forced to concede during an interview that couples would lose the marriage allowance and savers would be hit with a hike in tax on dividends. But the Federation of Small Businesses warned that business owners would be hit too. National chairman Mike Cherry said: “These dividend proposals would mean a huge rise in tax payments that would threaten small business owners earning relatively modest amounts. On the face of it, a small business owner making £40,000 could face thousands of pounds more tax every year. This is a huge concern and urgent clarification is needed.” But responding to a question by the FT, Mr Corbyn clarified that Labour’s tax pledge in relation to those earning less than £80,000 only applied to income tax and national insurance. Elsewhere. the Independent’s James Moore says that Mr Corbyn is simply attempting to tax income from wealth at a similar rate to income and this will understandably annoy the wealthy. But the UK’s richest need to “step up”, says Moore, in light of the stark levels of inequality in the country. Finally, the Times’ Simon Nixon says those earning £80k or more may be in the top 5% of earners, but they are not necessarily in the richest 5%. The challenge will be to shift the burden onto these people, he suggests.

Financial Times, Page: 3 Daily Mail, Page: 1, 2, 10 The Independent, Page: 54 The Times, Page: 45

EU to vote on country-by-country reporting for global firms

European government ministers are set to vote on a new directive requiring multinational companies to reveal how much profit they make and how much tax they pay in each of the EU’s 28 member states. The new rules will require “country-by-country reporting” by companies with an annual turnover of more than €750m (£640m). The Guardian’s Nils Pratley says country-by-country disclosure rules are “mild”. He says: “It’s not about changing tax rates – it’s about allowing outsiders to see financial information that companies already file to national tax authorities. It’s extraordinary that it could take three years for the EU even to contemplate such a small advance. In the world outside Brussels, voters are enraged by corporate secrecy over tax.”

The Guardian, Page: 49, 52

Labour and Tory spending pledges set to bust budget rules, warns think-tank

The Resolution Foundation has warned that both a new Conservative and a Labour government would need to implement higher taxes or cut spending pledges as soon as they were elected if they intended to stick to their budgetary rules.

Financial Times, Page: 1 The Guardian, Page: 10

New Advisory Fuel Rates from 1st December 2019

HMRC have published company car advisory fuel rates for use from 1 December 2019.  See the details here: –

New Advisory Fuel Rates


EU’s country-by-country reporting plans widely rejected

Ireland was among twelve EU countries to vote against a proposal to introduce country-by-country reporting for multi-nationals. The move was designed to open up to scrutiny those companies which shift profits from high to low tax jurisdictions, such as Apple, Facebook and Google, to avoid paying an estimated $500bn a year in taxes. Ireland’s decision to vote against the proposed directive coincided with a warning from the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) that the country’s economy could collapse if there was a global clampdown on tax avoidance. The IFAC said half of all of corporate taxes paid in the nation come from just 10 global companies. Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Croatia were among the other countries to vote against the plans. Sweden voted against because amid fears the directive might water down their higher standards on transparency. France, Spain and the Netherlands were among those voting for the proposals. Germany abstained while the UK did not vote because it is in purdah before the general election. Elena Gaita, a senior policy officer at Transparency International, said: “It’s an outrage that member states have once again put the interests of big business above those of citizens.”

The Guardian, Page: 46 The I, Page: 57

Economists warn of tax rises across the board after election

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that neither the Conservatives nor Labour have realistic spending plans as the general election approaches, with director Paul Johnson saying that both were being dishonest with voters. He claimed the Conservatives were continuing to “pretend that tax rises will never be needed to secure decent public services”, stating: “It is highly likely that the Conservatives would end up spending more than their manifesto implies, and thus taxing or borrowing more.” As for Labour’s plans, the IFS said the party’s claim that only the top 5% of taxpayers would be affected by its tax rises was “false” and that “many millions” of ordinary working people would in fact be hit. Labour’s plan to force firms to put 10% of their shares into joint employee ownership funds would effectively hike corporation tax to 33%, the IFS added.

BBC News Financial Times, Page: 2 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 7 The Times, Page: 8 The Independent, Page: 11 Daily Mail, Page: 12, 18 The Guardian, Page: 14 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4 The Sun, Page: 10

LinkedIn Irish subsidiary paid no corporation tax on £70m profit

An Irish subsidiary of LinkedIn paid no corporation tax last year despite posting a profit of almost £70m. LinkedIn Technology enjoyed a profit of $86.7m (£67.1m) in 2018, up on the $10m posted the year before. A note in LinkedIn Technology’s accounts stated: “As the company is Isle of Man tax resident, accordingly the company is subject to the Isle of Man income tax at a rate of 0% on any profits made.” Moreover, LinkedIn Ireland, posted a profit of $2.7bn in 2017 driven by the sale of LinkedIn’s intellectual property to Microsoft after its $26bn takeover in 2016. However, it paid just $127m in corporation tax on its profit for 2017, well below the standard rate of 12.5%.

City AM

Helen Brown: How tax relief can work for your business

Helen Brown of Anderson Anderson & Brown explains in the Scotsman how small businesses can make tax reliefs work for them. However, rules are complex and change frequently, she says, underlining the need for business owners to have a proactive and skilled tax advisor.

The Scotsman

Wealth taxes will not solve inequality

Megan Greene writes on wealth inequality in the Financial Times, arguing that “history shows wealth taxes do not usually work.” She notes that administrative costs often offset any extra revenue.

Financial Times, Page: 11



UK’s top firms urged to pay workers living wage

A letter organised by campaign group ShareAction calls on companies including Royal Mail, British Airways and JD Sports to pay their workers a real living wage. Legal & General Investment Management, Candriam Investors Group, BMO Global Asset Management and responsible investment group Hermes EOS are among the signatories. Pauline Lecoursonnois, who negotiates with companies for Hermes EOS, said: “The case is clear: a workforce that is fairly paid, well valued and respected will perform better than one that isn’t and therefore we are asking UK companies to consider paying the living wage as a key indicator of a responsible and sustainable business.”

The Guardian

Tories claim Labour free movement pledge will cost £4bn

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has dismissed Conservative claims that Labour’s plans to retain free movement with EU countries would add £4bn to Britain’s benefits bill within a decade. The average EU migrant claims £848 a year in working-age benefits and the Tories estimate that an additional 837,000 European citizens in the UK over the next decade will add up to an extra £4.1bn in handouts. Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: “This is yet another line item in Labour’s long list of uncosted pledges.” But Ms Abbott said the claims were “dodgy Tory accounting”.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 8 The Sun, Page: 9 Daily Express, Page: 4

Wage growth slows

Slowing global trade and Brexit uncertainty hit pay growth in October as business confidence fell, according to Guardian analysis. Average wage rises dropped back to 3.6%, down from 3.8% in September and 4% in July while employment fell at its fastest rate in four years. The inactivity rate increased as thousands of workers withdrew from the jobs market. David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, said a rise in inactivity and persistent under-employment helped to explain why wages growth had started to fall.

The Guardian, Page: 50



Quindell shareholders seek compensation

Shareholders in the insurance services group Quindell have initiated legal proceedings against the company, now called Watchstone, accusing it of disadvantaging investors by misreporting its finances when it was at its peak. The company was forced to restate its accounts for 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2013 alone, a £107m profit became a £64m loss. A Serious Fraud Office investigation is continuing and the Financial Reporting Council fined KPMG £3.2m over its auditing of the company. The proposed lawsuit will seek damages from former CEO Rob Terry.

The Times, Page: 47


Blackmore’s interest payments delayed again

Blackmore Bond, a minibond company that has raised at least £25m for property developments, has warned its 2,000-plus investors that it will miss its self-imposed deadline of paying their quarterly coupons today. The interest had originally been due at the end of October and this further delay will raise questions about the company’s financial health. Blackmore has also twice this year postponed the publication of its 2018 accounts after Grant Thornton resigned as its auditor. The firm must now file its accounts by the end of December. A spokesman for Blackmore said: “We have been working tirelessly to pay the interest due, however a number of properties have not yet completed. Contracts have been exchanged and completion dates are now agreed, so we expect to be able to be in a position to pay interest by the end of December.”

The Times, Page: 53 The Daily Telegraph

Bonmarche deal could see firm find its way out of administration

Womenswear retailer Peacocks could acquire rival Bonmarche, which entered administration last month, in a deal that could result in the closure of 30 branches of the latter before Christmas. Tony Wright, partner at administrator FRP Advisory, stated: “We have now begun advanced negotiations with Peacocks on a going concern basis and aim to complete a transaction that will maximise returns for creditors, but also provide the best opportunity to keep the retailer open and protect the greatest number of jobs.”

The Guardian, Page: 48 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1, 2 Daily Mail, Page: 93 The I, Page: 56 Yorkshire Post, Page: 18 The Press and Journal, Page: 31 City AM

Eddie Stobart Logistics rescue deal faces vote

TVFB has said it would like to see equity fundraising from new investors and existing Eddie Stobart shareholders of as much as £70m, to help reduce the haulage firm’s almost-£200m debt pile. The company earlier this year announced the discovery of an accounting error, suspended trading in August and issued a profit warning. Meanwhile private equity group DBAY, which floated Eddie Stobart two years ago and today holds a 10.1% stake, has proposed injecting £55m into the firm in return for majority ownership of its operating companies, with shareholders due to vote on the issue next month.

Evening Standard The Daily Telegraph

Thomas Cook’s aircraft maintenance unit to close

The plane-maintenance arm of Thomas Cook is to close two months after the tour operator collapsed, the Insolvency Service has said. Thomas Cook Aircraft Engineering will wind down as the group is liquidated. KPMG, appointed as special manager of the company, is contacting staff with the information they will need to claim redundancy payments.

The Times, Page: 59 The Independent, Page: 61 The I, Page: 59 The Sun, Page: 85 Yorkshire Post, Page: 18

PwC to help Intu raise cash

Shopping centre landlord Intu is said to have drafted in PwC to help with the tapping investors for more capital.

City AM, Page: 8



Nationwide figures reveal growth in house prices

Nationwide has issued figures revealing that annual growth in UK house prices has been under 1% every month for the last year, with the market remaining relatively stagnant. However prices were up 0.8% in the year to late November, representing a slight increase on October’s figures, while the housing market as a whole is being affected by Brexit-related economic uncertainty and weak global growth. The Nationwide said the average home in Britain now costs £215,734 and its chief economist Robert Gardner added that election periods tended not to directly affect the housing market, with wider economic conditions influencing buying and selling decisions more.

BBC News The Daily Telegraph The Times City AM



Labour’s pensions compo plan will benefit richest women

The Times reports that Labour’s £58bn plan to compensate women for rises in the state pension age will disproportionately benefit the better off. Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows 25% of the women are in the top fifth of British households – with a disposable annual income after housing costs of more than £37,000 – while only 16% were in the bottom 20% of households, with annual income of less than £13,000. John Ralfe, an independent pensions expert, pointed out that Labour’s policy might also “discriminate against 1950s-born men who could mount a legal case for equal treatment”.

The Times, Page: 8


Men could claim Waspi’s compo under Labour’s gender plans

Labour’s pledge to compensate women whose state pension has been cut by changes to the retirement date has come under further scrutiny after experts raised the prospect of compensation being claimed by men as a result of Labour’s separate proposal to allow people to self-declare their gender. James Roberts, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Letting people redefine their gender for pensions purposes could see canny baby boomers cheat the system.”

Daily Express, Page: 6 The Sun, Page: 10



HBOS compensation report delayed again

The findings of a review into the redress scheme set up by Lloyds for business owners damaged by the HBOS fraud scandal has been delayed for the second time. Owners of small businesses lost out when consultants linked with an HBOS “turnaround” unit in Reading exploited defective business lending processes to steal from the bank, damaging people’s livelihoods in the process. Nikki Turner, a director of SME Alliance, an organisation that campaigns on behalf of small business owners, said: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

The Times, Page: 47


Eyebrows raised over Labour’s small business tax plans

The Labour party has been accused of failing to understand the difference between turnover and profit after the party outlined plans in its election manifesto for a “small profits rate” of corporation tax for companies with a “turnover” under £300,000 a year. Labour has since published a revised document which outlines its plan to reintroduce a small profits rate for firms with “profits” greater than £300,000. But Robert Salter, director at Blick Rothenberg, said: “One must worry whether the initial communication in this regard indicates a potential lack of awareness about businesses and the difference between turnover and profit.” Jonathan Samuels, chief executive of the lender Octane Capital, added: “If businesses were worried about the prospect of a Labour government, this kind of schoolboy error suggests they have reason to be.” Tim Walford-Fitzgerald, a tax partner at HW Fisher, said: “It was a surprise to read this in the manifesto, as corporation tax is usually a tax on profits, but then it’s not unusual for chancellors to fiddle around in order to tax as broadly as possible.”

The Times, Page: 55

UK ahead of France and Germany in SME stakes

Analysis of 13 economies by Euler Hermes concludes that Britain provides a better environment for SMEs than France and Germany. Canada was rated the best place to run an SME, followed by Hong Kong and the United States. Britain was ranked seventh in the list of large and developing economies with its strong showing in areas such as access to finance offset by issues such as the relative difficulty its companies have in doing business overseas. Parity with larger companies when it comes to corporation tax rates also went against Britain. Canadian small businesses pay a corporation tax rate of only 9%, compared with its standard rate of 28%.

The Times, Page: 56

Former Gib regulator to mediate in bank clashes

Samantha Barrass, the former chief executive of Gibraltar’s financial services regulator, has been appointed as the first chief executive of the Business Banking Resolution Service. Ms Barrass, who is a former director of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, said the new service would be a “landmark moment for dispute resolution in the UK, bringing independent, transparent and effective closure for tens of thousands of businesses across the country”. Alexandra Marks, a deputy High Court judge and expert in dispute resolution, has been appointed chief adjudicator.

The Times, Page: 60



Services sector optimism falls

Business optimism in the service sector fell in the three months to November, according to the CBI Service Sector Survey. Business & professional services – which includes accountancy, legal and marketing firms – saw volumes decline over the last quarter with volumes expected to fall at a similar pace in the three months to February 2020. Consumer services volumes declined at a sharper rate in the three months to November, marking the fifth consecutive quarterly fall. Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI, said: “The current economic climate is holding back UK services firms, which are reporting falling sentiment, declining volumes and weaker profitability. Neither is the outlook expected to improve, with firms pessimistic about their prospects for expansion, investment plans having been scaled back and hiring on hold.”

The Times, Page: 44 Daily Express, Page: 55 City AM, Page: 5


ONS figures on household net worth released

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures showing that UK households saw the weakest growth in their net worth for 10 years in 2018, with slowing property price growth resulting in UK household net worth increasing by 0.6%, or £58bn, to £10.3trn. Meanwhile, the UK’s net worth of financial assets was down by £2254bn in the same period.

Daily Mail

UBS cautious on UK shares

UBS says earnings growth for UK equities will not improve in 2020 regardless of which party wins the upcoming General Election. If the Tory party wins, uncertainty over the future trading relationship with the EU will continue, limiting the benefits of pushing through a Brexit deal. If Labour wins, corporate tax rates, greater regulation, and the prospect of nationalisation will cause UK domestic stocks to suffer, analysts said.

City AM, Page: 2



How money laundering is poisoning American democracy

Edward Luce, writing in the Financial Times, claims that law firms, real estate companies and lobbying bodies in the US are thriving on ‘dirty money’, with some $300bn laundered annually.

Financial Times



Sri Lanka’s new government poised to slash VAT rate

Sri Lanka’s newly-installed government is cutting the country’s VAT rate by nearly half in a move experts say is likely to increase strain on public finances and put the country on collision course with IMF.

Financial Times, Page: 7

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward

Midweek News Roundup

Midweek News Roundup


TAX – Midweek News Roundup


Johnson sets out his vision for post-Brexit Britain

Boris Johnson pledged an extra 50,000 NHS nurses, thousands of doctors and primary care staff and to restore a nurse bursary in his manifesto launch yesterday. Central to Mr Johnson’s manifesto was his commitment to “get Brexit done” in order to move the country forward. He contrasted his “sensible, tax-cutting One Nation Conservative Government” with “the Friday 13th horror show if the Corbyn-Sturgeon coalition of chaos is triumphant”. The PM pledged not to raise the rates of income tax, national insurance or VAT – a “triple tax lock” – and promised a £10bn plan to raise the national insurance contributions threshold for working people. Mr Johnson acknowledged that the Tories were “not prioritising tax cuts for high earners at the moment” and the manifesto did not include a previous promise to cut stamp duty. The Conservative Party’s manifesto also pledges to increase the R&D tax credit rate fr om 12% to 13% and initiate “the fastest-ever increase in domestic public R&D spending, including in basic science research”. A review of the definition of R&D to include investment in areas such as data gathering and processing, and cloud computing would also be undertaken. Business leaders welcomed the “pro-enterprise” manifesto but some were left in doubt that it alone would be sufficient to turbocharge Britain’s economy. British Chambers of Commerce director general Dr Adam Marshall said: “While the manifesto strikes some of the right notes, business communities across the UK will be looking to see more substantial measures to boost growth, enterprise and investment.” The Tories are widely regarded to have played it safe with this manifesto, with day-to-day spending increases 28 times lower than Labour’s. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: “As a blueprint for five years in government the lack of significant policy action is remarkable.”

Financial Times Financial Times, Page: 3 The Times The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 5 The Guardian, Page: 7 Daily Express, Page: 1, 4-5, 12 Daily Mail, Page: 1-2, 7, 69 The Sun, Page: 6

VAT ruling to make holiday camps cheaper

A tax tribunal has found that one of the largest holiday activity camps for children had been wrongly paying hundreds of thousands of pounds in VAT, which as a provider of childcare it ought never to have paid. Get Active Sports is in line to receive a refund of £500,000 from HMRC. Mitch Young, co-founder of Fusion Consulting, the tax adviser that represented Get Active Sports , said: “The bottom line is that tens of thousands of providers could be paying tax they do not owe. This will have an impact on how much parents are charged for summer camps. It could have a knock-on effect for an awful lot of people.”

The Times, Page: 26

IFS says Labour’s tax plans are a good start

Paul Johnson of the Institute of Fiscal Studies comes out in support of some of Labour’s tax plans, arguing that raising income tax rates on those with incomes over £80,000 would reduce inequality. He adds that Labour’s proposed reforms to CGT and tax rates on dividends would improve the equity and efficiency of the tax system. However, Johnson adds that predicting revenue from the latter moves would be difficult and “the dividend tax proposal, in particular, would hit plenty of those well outside the top 5%.”

The Times, Page: 45

Number arrested for tax evasion falls

Arrests for suspected tax evasion fell by 11% this year, with 782 arrests made in the 12 months to March 2019, compared with 877 a year earlier. In 2015-16, 1,072 people were arrested. Adam Craggs, partner at RPC, said that there had been some criticism of the taxman for being too “trigger happy” in the past, and added: “Fewer arrests could be a sign that HMRC is now exercising its powers of arrest more responsibly and in accordance with the law.”

The Times, Page: 44


Boris Johnson too timid to break with Europe

The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that the Conservatives’ tax policies as outlined in their manifesto indicate a signal alignment with the EU rather than any desire to promote free market economics. He points to digital taxes, the hike in the minimum wage, the failure to cut corporation tax and maintaining income tax rates at “the upper end of the OECD pack”. Mr Evans-Pritchard says the Tory message to Europe is “the post-Brexit model will be aligned with their ideology” and that the UK will remain “hemmed in by maximalist ‘level playing-field’ clauses, and not really rid of EU law.” To conclude, Mr Evans-Pritchard contends that the Tories “also see Brexit as damage control rather than a chance to lift the UK’s trend growth rate and restore lost dynamism with radical change.” Juliet Samuel follows a similar line elsewhere in the paper, accusing the Tories of promising “fiscal stasis” – Boris Johnson “does not dare cut taxes, for fear of rewarding the beneficiaries of a system that needs reform, but nor does he dare raise them to fund their public spending promises.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1, 4 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2

£8.8bn may well prove a low estimate of tax take

Avinash Persaud backs Labour’s plans for a financial transaction tax, adding that the estimated £8.8bn annual tax take from the tax “will probably prove on the low side.”

Financial Times, Page: 10


Check out our guide to the tax allowances that airline pilots and uniformed flight deck crew can claim: –

Tax Allowances for Airline Pilots


Jeremy Corbyn admits low-earners will pay more tax too

Jeremy Corbyn’s BBC interview with Andrew Neil receives widespread coverage after the Labour leader refused to apologise to Britain’s Jews for the antisemitism in his party. During the interview, Mr Corbyn was also forced to admit the party’s £58bn pledge to compensate women hit by a rise in the pensions age would have to come from borrowing and that people earning less than £80k would also be hurt by his tax policies – be it through the loss of the marriage allowance or rises in dividend taxes. Mr Corbyn also did not know that the top 5% of earners pay 50% of all income tax and denied high earners would flee the country, destroying the tax base the party would rely on to fund its plans.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1, 4-5 Financial Times The Times, Page: 1, 2 Daily Mail, Page: 1, 2, 9 City AM, Page: 7 Daily Express The Guardian, Page: 1, 2 The Independent

Javid pledges to cut taxes at every single Budget

The Chancellor has warned that Labour would need to introduce six new taxes and impose rises on six existing taxes to pay for a “spending black hole” in the party’s manifesto costings. Speaking at an event in Bolton, Sajid Javid predicted that the UK would be in crisis “in days and weeks” if Jeremy Corbyn got into power with the “pound crashing in the early hours of the morning” and “foreign investors rushing their money out of the country”. Working people would have to pay £2,400 each to fill a £385bn black hole in Jeremy Corbyn’s spending plans, Mr Javid claimed. He added: “Unless they find that magic money tree in the next couple of weeks, they’re going to bring in the biggest tax hike of modern times.” Mr Javid pledged that the Conservatives will increase the national insurance threshold to £9,500 in his first budget and work towards a £12,500 “when we can afford it.”

Daily Mail, Page: 14 The Sun, Page: 10-11 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 7 City AM, Page: 7

Britain’s biggest companies increase tax contribution

The total tax contribution of Britain’s biggest listed companies increased to £84.7bn last year, up from £84.1bn in the 2017-18 financial year, according to PwC. The figure included £26bn in direct taxes and £58.7bn was collected by companies on behalf of employees.

The Times, Page: 50

PROPERTY – Midweek News Roundup


Business groups welcome Tory business rate pledge

Business groups have welcomed plans by the Conservative party to “cut the burden of tax” by reviewing business rates, specifically promising to cut rates for retailers, alongside plans to create a £3bn National Skills Fund to retrain workers and meet the needs of business and a promise to “drive down costs” and “support small businesses”. The British Retail Consortium’s chief executive Helen Dickinson welcomed the focus on retailers, describing the current rates system as “broken” and responsible for job losses and store closures. She said a reduction in business rates was needed and should be applied to retailers of all sizes to support the struggling British high street. Mike Cherry, from the Federation of Small Businesses, said the manifesto clearly recognised small businesses and their needs, and was effusive over the Tories’ skills and retraining policy. He said the proposed fund was essential to no one being left behind.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 Daily Mail, Page: 69


Mortgage approvals fall to seven-month low

According to data from UK Finance, new residential mortgage lending was £25.5bn last month, 0.9% lower than in October 2018 and a seven-month low. The number of approvals for house purchases fell by 1,000 to 41,219 from 42,216 – the third month running they had dropped. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said: “With Brexit uncertainties extended and the UK facing a general election, it looks a racing certainty that the housing market will continue to find life challenging in the near term at least, keeping prices soft.”

City AM The Times

SMEs – Midweek News Roundup


Investment community concerned over relief review

Conservative Party plans to review entrepreneurs relief, which allows business owners to pay a lower rate of capital gains tax when they sell a business compared to the normal rate, has led to concern among entrepreneurs. Nimesh Shah, a partner at Blick Rothenberg, said: “It’s one of the key reliefs that they strive to achieve when they’re setting up a business. It’s really a measure of success when you ultimately sell your business and you do benefit from that favourable rate.” Steve Chandler, from Notion Capital, added: “Whilst I’m open to tightening requirements to ensure it does what was intended, anything that curtails entrepreneurial risk appetite at that end of the market is a negative in my view.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1

Is the end in sight for hard cash?

Arthi Nachiappan looks at how hard cash could be on the way out as an increasing number of small businesses ditch physical money not only because of the expense of dealing with it but also the risk of it being stolen. Natalie Ceeney, who chaired the Access to Cash Review, comments: “It’s harder to bank cash when small business owners have got it in their till because bank branches are closing down. But if they keep money in their till for longer, it raises security concerns. In comparison, digital providers are making it easier to pay for digital. This isn’t about beating up local shops. Everybody is behaving economically rationally. Whether that is a good thing for society is another question.”

The Times, Page: 48


Shoppers urged to buy locally this Christmas

The Mirror is launching a campaign to persuade people to shop locally to support their high streets this Christmas. The move coincides with research from the Centre for Retail Research, which found 10,503 small independent shops closed in the first nine months of 2019, costing almost 45,000 jobs. The paper also reports that the GMB union has calculated that Amazon should have paid £103m in tax last year, compared with the £14m it did pay. Mick Rix, of the GMB, said: “Small businesses are being forced to the wall while billion-dollar multinationals enjoy tax breaks thanks to a cosy relationship with Tory cronies.” Amazon disputed the calculations describing them as ”completely incorrect.”

Daily Mirror, Page: 2


Entrepreneurs publish Start-up Manifesto

Over 250 British entrepreneurs have signed an open letter calling for reforms to help the UK’s start-up sector. The Start-up Manifesto urges the next government to reform the visa system so firms can attract the best talent and streamline tax reliefs and reform pension regulations to attract more funding in early-stage businesses. The manifesto is published today by the Entrepreneurs Network and Coadec and signatories include the founders of Transferwise, Lendinvest, Mumsnet and Zopa. Philip Salter, founder of the Entrepreneurs Network, comments: “The party manifestos have policies that will impact business owners, but they don’t go far enough in terms of the reforms needed to boost UK entrepreneurship and ultimately support economic growth.”

City AM, Page: 14

Bank launches top rate account for small firms

Shawbrook Bank has launched an easy access account for small businesses paying 1.05%. The move follows a Centre For Economics & Business Research study that shows small businesses are keeping £100bn sitting in business current accounts earning no interest. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, says: “More competition from smaller banks is welcome.”

Daily Mail, Page: 50

PENSIONS – Midweek News Roundup


Labour pledges compensation for pension age rise women

Labour has promised to pay £58bn in compensation to more than three million women who lost out on years of state pension payments when their retirement age was raised. Those expecting to retire at 60 were told they would have to wait years longer when changes to the state pension age were accelerated in 2010.

BBC News The Times, Page: 8 The Daily Telegraph


Labour would hand Theresa May £22k in pension compo

Labour’s plans to spend £58bn compensating more than three million women left out of pocket by rises in the state pension age would see Theresa May handed nearly £22,000, the Times’ Steven Swinford reports. Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointed out on BBC Radio 4 yesterday that some “women really have suffered hardship as a result of not realising that this pension age increase is happening, although it was announced back in the early 1990s, [but] many of them are actually quite well off.”

The Times, Page: 7 Daily Mail, Page: 9


Huge tax bills await thousands for failing to report pensions growth

HMRC said yesterday it was aware some individuals have not reported exceeding the annual allowance for pensions contributions, which currently stands at £40,000. Royal London policy director Sir Steve Webb, a former pensions minister, said: “This admission means that potentially thousands of people may have failed to declare large pension inputs on their tax return and could face a large bill when HMRC finally catches up with them.”

City AM, Page: 12 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 8

EMPLOYMENT – Midweek News Roundup


Labour to extend pay gap reporting

Labour will today publish a Race and Faith Manifesto that will outline how schools will teach children about the “historical injustice” of the British empire and promise to diversify the teaching workforce. Charges for passports , visas and Home Office tests would be scrapped and a probe into far-right extremism launched. If in government, Labour would also extend pay gap reporting to tackle discrimination based on race, and scrap name-based recruitment. Companies with more than 250 employees would be required to disclose wage disparities for ethnic minority workers.

The Daily Telegraph The Independent


UK employer confidence down

New data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) show a fall in employers confidence to its lowest level in over three years. Confidence levels in the economy fell from minus 31 in October to minus 34 in November, the worst since records began in 2016. However, significantly more employers were looking to increase rather than decrease their permanent staffing but were being held back by political and economic uncertainty. Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said: “This month’s figures show there is a great deal of potential in Britain’s businesses waiting to be unleashed.”

City AM, Page: 14

ECONOMY – Midweek News Roundup


UKs tech sector suffers weakest growth since 2015

KPMG ‘s UK Tech Monitor report shows a global economic slowdown and domestic political uncertainty led to the slowest rate of growth in the UK’s tech sector in almost four years in Q3. KPMG UK vice chair Bernard Brown said: “Businesses are losing confidence and combined with activity expectations nearing lows last seen during the recession, it is easy to see why.” “Any positive growth forecasts cited for 2020 are often dependent on a clearer path to Brexit in the coming months, painting a pretty gloomy picture,” Brown added. Separately, a report from BDO found that Scotland and Northern Ireland are home to most of the 20 areas in the UK with the lowest figure for gross value added (GVA) from the technology sector.

City AM, Page: 7 The Scotsman, Page: 32

Londoners will spend most on Black Friday

PwC research reveals that Londoners plan to spend the most in the UK on Black Friday, with an average spend of £326, more than £100 above the national average, and 75% of Londoners plan to do their shopping online.

City AM, Page: 9


Retailers expect stable conditions ahead

The CBI’s latest distributive trades survey shows retail sales were broadly unchanged in November in a sign that retailers are entering the Christmas period on a stable footing. Anna Leach, deputy chief economist at the CBI, said: “Retailers are entering the festive season with a bit of hope that sales will head up, with the strongest expectations in half a year. Actual sales have also stabilised and have nudged above average for the time of year. Employment has stopped falling after three years of decline. But Brexit uncertainty continues to weigh on investment plans for the year ahead, which remain weak.” However, Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said. “Other factors may limit consumer spending. In particular, many consumers may be keen to avoid “dissaving” [spending more than one has earned in a given period], especially given current major uncertainties.”

The Times, Page: 42

Regional productivity lagging behind London

A report by PwC claims that productivity levels in London are significantly ahead of the rest of the country, and that the regions have been falling further behind. It estimates that the economy would be boosted by 4% (£83bn) if regions with sub-par productivity were able to close just half of their shortfall with the national average. Wales, the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber are the lowest-productivity areas in the UK. Productivity in London is 40% above the national average. PwC says Britain needs to invest in transport infrastructure and to raise skills through workplace training schemes.

The Times, Page: 47 City AM, Page: 5 The I, Page: 42 The Scotsman, Page: 32 The Press and Journal, Page: 30


Goldman bullish on the UK economy

Goldman Sachs has taken a bullish position on the UK economy urging clients to buy up stakes in British firms. Goldman economists have upgraded their growth forecasts for the next three years, predicting a rise of 2.4% in the second half of 2020. For 2021 the bank is expecting growth of 2%, up from 1.6%, and in 2022 it has raised its forecasts from 1.8% to 2.1%, providing Brexit clarity and fiscal stimulus can be delivered. Goldman’s economists also expect a modest recovery in global growth in 2020 adding that “downside risks to equity markets seem limited”.

City AM, Page: 1

OTHER – Midweek News Roundup


Capital flight if Labour wins

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has warned that Labour’s manifesto pledges “would not inspire market confidence” with the think tank’s founder Douglas McWilliams adding that if Labour was elected, “it is likely that there could be capital flight and a falling pound”. Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, concurred, arguing that a surprise Labour win would see a dramatic response; Ruth Lea, an economic adviser at Arbuthnot Banking Group, expects a “cash flight” adding: “There’s no doubt the Labour Party would have to consider bringing in exchange controls.” Writing in the Telegraph, Fidelity’s director of investment, Tom Stevenson, says the super-rich may be sweating at the prospect of a Corbyn-led Labour government but “the markets are telling us to relax. The odds on it being delivered remain long.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

Domestic abuse against women costs UK businesses a total of £316m a year

New research by KPMG for Vodafone suggests that per woman, the potential loss of earnings as a result of the negative impact domestic abuse can have on career progression could be as much as £5,800. The study also found that more than half a million working women in the UK have experienced domestic violence and abuse in the past 12 months. Of these, 122,000 have taken time off work in the past year.

City AM, Page: 17 The Scotsman, Page: 5


The Labour party deserves to form the next UK government, say academics

David Blanchflower tops a list of 163 economists who argue that Labour “has devised serious proposals for dealing with” the “deep problems we face” and “deserves to form the next government.” Roger Bootle, chairman of Capital Economics, proffers a different view in the Telegraph, asserting that the Labour leadership is intent not on creating a system of social democracy but rather “socialism red in tooth and claw” and that they realise full well that their programme would lead to economic disaster, taking the view that “it is only through a period of economic chaos that the country can be shifted radically towards the truly socialist society that they want.”

Financial Times, Page: 10 The Daily Telegraph


Katie Price declared bankrupt

Former glamour model Katie Price was declared bankrupt on Tuesday, meaning a trustee can now be appointed to sell off her assets. Price, married three times with five children, is believed to have debts of £800,000 and has been failing to pay £12,000 a month to her creditors but chose not to attend or send a lawyer. Adam Taylor, from JMW Solicitors, who represented the insolvency practitioner overseeing her Individual Voluntary Agreement, brought the case to court after she failed to stick to the terms of her agreement, noted: “She hasn’t acknowledged the petition. ”

Daily Mail, Page: 25 Daily Express, Page: 11 The Times, Page: 4

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward

Weekend Roundup up to 24th

News – Weekend Roundup up to 24th November 2019




Business warns Labour’s reforms will wreck the economy

The Labour party’s tax plans have come under fire from the business community which says measures such as hiking corporation tax and dividend tax rates would stymie innovation and hurt the economy. The City UK says a new financial transactions tax would be “bad for business, bad for investors, bad for savers, and bad for the economy” while the Federation of Small Businesses said Jeremy Corbyn had broken a promise not to raise the small business corporation tax rate. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said that “a small business owner making £40,000 could face thousands of pounds more in tax”. The FT cites IFS analysis which suggests Labour’s election manifesto would create the harshest tax regime on business income among the G7 but adds that if Labour’s inclusive ownership fund plan is included another 10% can be added to the corporate tax rate, making it effectively higher than any other country in the OECD. Experts also point out that Labour’s tax rises are likely to make Britain a less attractive place to invest, depressing share prices and hitting the value of savings and pensions. Labour touts its plans as a “radical reform programme” but the Times’ Philp Aldrick says “Labour is using disenchantment with corporatism as a cover to rip up capitalism. The party won’t change the economy, it will break it.”

The Times, Page: 9 Financial Times, Page: 2 The Times, Page: 51 Daily Mail, Page: 105, 107

Brexit Party reveals “Contract With The People”

The Brexit Party on Friday pledged a “political revolution” including the abolition of the House of Lords and an overhaul of the postal voting system to combat fraud and abuse. Party leader Nigel Farage said he preferred the term “contract” because manifestos were now dismissed as promises bound to be broken. Mr Farage said the party would push for a “clean break” from all EU institutions, reduce immigration, abolish inheritance tax, cut VAT on fuel bills and waive corporation tax on the first £10,000 of profits. The Brexit Party would also increase police numbers, bolster the NHS, abolish student loan interest, simplify planning consents for brownfield sites, invest £2.5bn in fishing and coastal communities and spearhead a global tree-planting initiative. Voters would also be given the right to hold a referendum on a subject of their choice every ten years if they secure five million signatures. Mr Farage added that his party would choose NATO over the European Defence Union, review the Universal Credit system and the position of women affected by recent rises in the state pension age.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4 The Times Daily Express, Page: 6

Corbyn in Amazon protest vowing clamp down on a “tax and wage cheat culture”

The Labour leader is to stage a protest outside an Amazon depot today as he seeks to highlight his party’s manifesto pledge to reform tax rules for multinationals. Jeremy Corbyn will say: “We aren’t afraid to take on the corporate giants and the elite few, who are hoarding wealth and power.” He will accuse multinationals of using both their “power and our weak laws to rip off both the taxpayer and their workers.” Rain Newton-Smith, the chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, warned Labour’s plans to increase business taxes will depress wages and investment and mean higher prices for consumers.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4 Yorkshire Post, Page: 5


Tories pledge “triple tax lock” and Brexit boost

Launching the Conservatives’ general election manifesto today, Boris Johnson will say a Tory government will not raise income tax, VAT or national insurance for five years – a “triple tax lock” – while protecting the value of state pensions and boosting spending on childcare. Mr Johnson will focus on the boost to the economy from getting Brexit done, promising to bring back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill before Christmas to achieve Brexit by the end of January. Other policies will include scrapping parking charges at NHS hospitals for patients, relatives and staff; spending billions on making homes energy efficient; a ban on the export of plastic waste to developing countries; a review of CGT relief for entrepreneurs. In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson says his pledges are all fully costed and sound and that tax cuts will be paid for by “turbo-charging the economy”. The PM argues that Jeremy Corb yn’s planned £400bn spending splurge and tax rises targeted at the rich would take “a total sledgehammer to the economy”, adding: “Even the most Left-wing commentators are stupefied by the recklessness.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 1, 7 The Sunday Times, Page: 14-15 The Sunday Times, Page: 1, 2 The Mail on Sunday, Page: 18-19, 20-21 Sunday Express, Page: 1, 4-5 The Observer, Page: 1, 2



Eddie Stobart handed a stay of execution

Eddie Stobart’s lenders have given the lorry operator more than a year to repair its finances. KBC, Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and BNP Paribas, who between them are owed £200m, have agreed a rescue plan hatched by the offshore investment fund DBay Advisors, which floated Eddie Stobart in 2017. The company hit trouble three months ago when auditors PwC uncovered a series of accounting discrepancies and figures for the six months to May have still not been finalised and signed off.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 1

Branson among those eyeing the National Lottery

Sir Richard Branson is among those vying to win the licence to run the National Lottery, with media boss Richard Desmond along with Dutch and Czech lottery operators also hoping to become the next operator. Canadian-owned Camelot has run the National Lottery since its launch 25 years ago. The Gambling Commission has appointed bankers from Rothschild, accountants from EY and Deloitte and lawyers Hogan Lovells to run the bidding process.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 1

Power giants shift ownership offshore

The Sunday Times reveals that National Grid and SSE have shifted ownership of their British operations into offshore companies to protect against Labour’s threat of nationalisation. National Grid has shifted its gas and electricity businesses into new subsidiaries in Luxembourg and Hong Kong while SSE has put its UK business into a new Swiss holding company. Switzerland, Luxembourg and Hong Kong have “bilateral investment treaties” with the UK that ensure investors are paid properly in the event of any state asset grab.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1



Ministers risk NHS pension tax breach in bid to avert pre-poll crisis

Matt Hancock has signed off an emergency package of pension reforms to encourage senior doctors to work extra shifts after they were penalised with hefty tax bills for doing so. Now, NHS boss Simon Stevens has said clinicians can pay any tax bill from their pension pot without paying up front and the NHS will make up the difference in annual pension payments. Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “This is fantastic news and means that clinicians can finally deliver the best patient care without having to worry about the impact of punitive pension taxes.” However, Mr Hancock warned Mr Stevens that the scheme could constitute tax avoidance and that he should “seek to minimise this risk” when deciding on the detail. Steve Webb, director of policy with Royal London, and a former pensions minister, said: “It is astonishing that the NHS and the NHS Pension Scheme are having to bend the rules about tax pla nning to fix a problem that is all of the Treasury’s making.”

Financial Times, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 17 Daily Express, Page: 16 The Independent, Page: 10 Daily Mirror, Page: 17



Labour will herald ‘an exodus of entrepreneurs’

A slew of entrepreneurs have warned that Labour’s plans for the country pose a “huge threat” to wealth and job creation and would lead to businesses leaving the country. Investment veteran Peter Hargreaves, Carpetright founder Lord Harris and plumbing boss Charlie Mullins said Labour’s manifesto could lead to an exodus of successful businessmen. Mr Hargreaves said: “When people work very hard, have very successful businesses and are very entrepreneurial – government interference in their businesses and punitive taxes are just the things to cause them to leave.” Lord Harris of Peckham described Labour’s plan as “probably the worst manifesto I’ve ever seen” while Mr Mullins accused Jeremy Corbyn of not understanding business and called his policies “a vote-grabbing exercise rather than anything based in reality.” A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Labour welcomes the news t hat the vested interests who make a fortune from Tory tax breaks and ripping off the public don’t like our plans.” Separately, Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, said Labour’s plans for a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas firms to help the UK “transition” to a green economy would “drive investors away and damage the competitiveness of the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry”.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 99 The Sunday Telegraph The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 5

Cynergy to encourage more women to run the family firm

A survey of small family firms conducted by Cynergy Bank found that 42% of owners were likely to pass on their company to a son but only 22% of those surveyed said that a daughter would inherit the family firm. Cynergy Bank is launching a £75m fund early next year to invest in family businesses run by women.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 103



Overseas buyers face higher stamp duty

The Conservatives plan to introduce a 3% stamp duty surcharge for non-UK residents, whether the overseas buyer is an individual or a company. Rishi Sunak, the Treasury chief secretary, said the move could raise up to £120m, adding that this would be used to tackle rough-sleeping. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats would crack down on foreign buying of second homes with a stamp-duty surcharge on overseas residents buying such properties.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 6 Daily Express, Page; 5 The Independent, Page: 14 The Sun, Page: 2


HMRC pressures tenants to reveal details of overseas landlords

The Times reports on how HMRC has been writing to tenants asking them to provide details on their overseas landlords and threatening to charge penalties if the tenant has not deducted tax from their rental payments. But Ray Boulger from the mortgage broker John Charcol says: “It is outrageous for HMRC to ask tenants any questions beyond the name and address of their landlord, unless they want to offer the tenant a contract to do some sleuthing.” A letter sent to tenants in August says: “This property is legally owned by an overseas company. You may need to take off tax from your rent. We want to make sure you take off the right amount of tax and pay this to us.” Brian Slater from the Chartered Institute of Taxation says tenants have no legal obligation to respond to the letter.

The Times, Page: 61

Labour plans extra property tax on foreign buyers

Labour has pledged to put an extra tax on foreign companies and trusts buying property in the UK. It is part of the party’s wider tax plans and would charge offshore firms 20% for property purchases, on top of existing stamp duties and surcharges. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the levy, which will raise £3.3bn a year, was needed to “raise essential revenue for our public services”. The move comes after the Conservatives said companies and individuals who buy property in the UK, but are not tax resident here, will have to pay a 3% surcharge, raising an estimated £120m a year. The Lib Dems have also pledged to increase stamp duty for foreign buyers of residential property.

BBC News



The cost of coupling

Research from Lloyds Bank shows that being in a relationship can cost you £3,600 a year, seemingly contradicting what has been dubbed the “singles tax”, a claim that those without a partner face a greater financial burden. Analysis of Office for National Statistics data found that single people spend £300 less on living costs per month – or £3,600 less a year – than those in a relationship.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 15


Labour’s manifesto sparks flight from equities to cash

Investors have been shifting their money out of UK equity funds and into cash at a rapid rate as fears over a Corbyn-led Labour government grow. According to the investment analysts Morningstar £2bn was withdrawn from UK equity funds in October alone with funds such as Invesco High Income among the biggest losers. “People are nervous, so it’s not surprising to see the UK is one of the least-loved regions for investors,” said Emma Wall, head of investment analysis at Hargreaves Lansdown. “Our clients are least confident in the UK market, preferring the investment prospects of global emerging markets such as Japan, Asia and even the US – even though stock valuations look expensive.”

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 13

Labour would wash away incentive to invest

James Coney explains in the Sunday Times how Labour’s plan to peg dividends and capital gains to income tax rates would be one of the party’s most iniquitous policies as it would hit those who cannot afford to pay for accountants the hardest – workers, families and pensioners who are just trying to show personal responsibility and look after their retirement. He says it would also drain investment away from companies, harming their chances of growth. Labour’s financial transactions tax would not be paid by investment banks or pension funds, adds Coney, but end investors: “That’s you and me. Mr Corbyn, it’s not their money, it’s ours.”

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 14



Rich prepare to flee Labour’s ‘unreconstructed Marxists’

The Sunday Telegraph details how wealth managers and advisers are on alert with Britain’s wealthiest readied to flee the UK should Jeremy Corbyn win the keys to No 10. A raft of tax grabs and the threat of a further tax on wealth and capital controls add to concerns for the super-rich. Iain Tait, head of the private investment office at London & Capital, says there has been a “huge pick up in worried talk” among his clients as fears have moved from Brexit to Corbyn and McDonnell. “McDonnell is an unrepentant Marxist. He would have no issues whatsoever with the expropriation of private property,” Tait says. An editorial in the Sunday Telegraph makes clear that Jeremy Corbyn “is not trying to exploit capitalism to meet his social goals” but wants to destroy it altogether. “And he wants the process to be, in the words of John McDonnell, ‘irreversible’. This will destroy th e achievements and dreams of millions.” Finally, the Observer’s Will Hutton mourns the fact that although he considers Labour’s manifesto as “laudable” Jeremy Corbyn has handed ammunition to his enemies. “The 2019 manifesto, notwithstanding the virtue of its ambition, stretches even the kindest observer’s credulity to the limit,” he states.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 5 The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 23 The Observer, Page: 11



Sterling falls on weak survey data

The pound weakened on Friday after surveys showed British business suffering its deepest downturn since mid-2016. According to the “flash” early reading of the IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers index both the services and manufacturing sectors contracted in November. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said: “The weak survey data puts the economy on course for a 0.2% drop in GDP in the fourth quarter, and pushes the PMI further into territory that would normally be associated with the Bank of England adding more stimulus to the economy.” Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, commented: “There is very little – if anything – in the survey on which to pin hopes for a pick-up in activity in the near term.”

Daily Express, Page: 37 The Guardian, Page: 41 The I, Page: 74


Treasury hikes borrowing amid council bankruptcy fears

A surge in councils borrowing to buy commercial property in the hope of generating rental income has spurred the Treasury to increase the cost of borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board by 1%. Sources tell the Telegraph there are concerns the borrowing could become unsustainable and councils could be left stranded with declining assets. But Pantheon Macro economist Samuel Tombs said the Treasury’s intervention means borrowing costs have “skyrocketed” and has jeopardised “many capital projects that local authorities had planned”.

The Sunday Telegraph



Tax bills prompt jungle exploits?

The Mirror’s Mark Jefferies suggests former footballer Ian Wright may have joined this year’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here to help pay off a tax bill, noting that he once owed £2m and admitted he was “at the mercy” of HMRC. This comes after fellow contestant actor Cliff Parisi said he had initially turned down the show until his accountant showed him a huge tax bill.

Daily Mirror, Page: 14 Daily Star, Page: 4


Conservatives have 19-point lead over Labour

The latest Opinium poll for the Observer puts the Conservatives 19 points ahead of Labour, with a 47% share of the vote compared with Labour on 28% and the Liberal Democrats on 12%. The Brexit Party’s share of the vote has fallen to 3%. The poll comes as the Tories launch their election manifesto today, which will attempt to deliver a stripped-down manifesto that focuses on extra funding and the party’s main pledge to “get Brexit done”. Elsewhere, analysis of five polls by Electoral Calculus for the Sunday Telegraph puts the Conservatives on course to win about 357 seats, giving Boris Johnson a 64-seat majority, while Labour would lose 55 seats. The poll lead is dependent on the Remain vote not shifting behind Labour, however, according to analyst Sir John Curtice.

The Sunday Telegraph Sunday Express, Page: 4 The Observer

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward's News Roundup

News for the week to Thursday 21st November 2019

News for the week to Thursday 21st November 2019


TAX NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019


PM pledges £1bn tax cuts

Boris Johnson is set to detail an ambitious package of business tax cuts worth £1bn a year. The Prime Minister will tell the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference he plans to cut levies on firms to spur economic growth. Mr Johnson’s election pledges for businesses will reportedly include: launching a wide-ranging review of business rates that will overhaul the system and reduce the overall burden on firms; an increase in the threshold at which employers begin paying Class 1 National Insurance contributions on their employees earnings from £3,000 to £4,000; boosting the structures and buildings allowance, with tax relief on buying, purchasing or leasing buildings climbing from 2% to 3%; and increasing the research and development tax credit rate from 12% to 13%. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, has welcomed the PM’s proposals, saying: “Cutting the jobs tax i s a strong, pro-small business move, as it will help half a million small firms raise wages and keep more people in work.” He added: “Actions to reduce the cost of employment and fix business rates should be complemented with clear commitments to tackle the scourge of late payments and help ensure the Government is helping the self-employed.”

The Times, Page: 1 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 The Guardian, Page: 2 Financial Times, Page: 2 Daily Mail, Page: 16 The I, Page: 6 Daily Mirror Daily Express, Page: 1 The Sun, Page: 2 BBC News

Taxman vows fines over suppliers

HMRC has warned firms that they could face prosecution and fines if they fail to spot tax evasion by their suppliers. Firms are being advised to carry out due diligence on their suppliers and contractors and be aware of their responsibilities under corporate criminal offence legislation as the taxman looks to tackle VAT and contractor tax fraud. Advisers are reporting more use of the powers handed to HMRC two years ago, with the tax office reportedly having several investigations under way. James Egert of BDO notes that the use of legislation is seeing “dawn raids and office visits with requests to review all supplier documentation and interviews with employees to see if they had an awareness of the legislation.”

The Times, Page: 45

Doubts cast on Johnson’s tax ambitions

The FT cites public finance experts who warn that limited budgetary leeway, recent spending increases and pressure on public services leaves little room for tax cuts in the Conservative election manifesto.

Financial Times, Page: 2

Video games score tax relief

Think-tank Tax Watch UK says video game developers behind blockbusters such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Grand Theft Auto are likely to have benefitted from the £324m awarded in video games tax relief over the past five years, despite the incentives being designed to encourage smaller homegrown companies. Access to the tax relief relies on a game being defined as “culturally British”, with this assessed by a cultural test overseen by the BFI. Criteria used to gauge this includes if the game is in English, developed in the European Economic Area or has a script or narrative written by a British citizen.

The Times, Page: 49

Pubs would drink to tax cuts

The British Beer & Pub Association has called for a cut in beer tax, saying such a move by the next government would help safeguard an industry which is “vital to the UK economy, our culture and way of life”. The body has called for a real-terms cut in beer duty and suggested beers up to 3.5% in strength should be brought into the low tax threshold. It has also urged an overhaul of business rates, saying pubs face an “unfair” burden as they pay 2.8% of the total rates bill while only accounting for 0.5% of business turnover.

Daily Mirror, Page: 2 The Sun, Page: 13


PM postpones corporation tax cut

The Prime Minister has announced that planned cuts to corporation tax are to be put on hold. The rate paid by firms on their profits was due to fall from 19% to 17% next April but Boris Johnson said the potential £6bn cost would be better served going on “national priorities” such as the NHS. Mr Johnson told the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference that the UK already had the lowest rate of corporation tax of “any major economy”, highlighting that corporation tax had already fallen from 28p to 19p in the pound since 2010, adding that further cuts would be “postponed”. He added that the move comes as the Conservatives “believe emphatically in fiscal prudence”. Mr Johnson also said the Tories plan to lower business rates, saying a reduction – “particularly for SMEs” – will boost the high street. He also said employers’ national insurance contributions – which he described as a “jobs tax” – will come down. Elsewhere at the CBI event, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would reform business rates if elected. He also suggested Labour could raise corporation tax from 19% up to “2010 levels”, when it stood at 28%. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said she would scrap business rates, replacing the system with a levy on landowners. She added that abolishing business rates would cut taxes in 92% of local authority areas and help rebalance the economy.

The Guardian, Page: 6 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4 Financial Times, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 6 The Times, Page: 33 Daily Express, Page: 9 Daily Mail, Page 18 Daily Mirror, Page: 8 The Sun, Page: 10 The Independent, Page: 7 The Scotsman, Page: 7 City AM, Page: 6 Evening Standard BBC News

Doctors offered tax bill deal

The NHS is to offer doctors an emergency deal that will see the health service pay some medics’ tax bills amid concern that consultants refusing to work overtime because they are hit by a pensions “tax trap” could see a winter crisis caused by understaffing. The issue stems from tax rules meaning doctors earning more than £110,000 a year can be hit with tax rates of more than 90% on their earnings, including their pension contributions. The new deal would see tax bills caused by overtime paid out of the doctor’s pension, with the NHS later topping up their pot so the total value is not reduced.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 2 The Times, Page: 2 Daily Mail, Page: 2 Financial Times

Lib Dems to add 1p on income tax to boost care

The Liberal Democrats will pledge to add 1p on income tax to fund an extra £7bn a year for the NHS and social care. The penny increase would be on each tax band, with the £35bn raised over five years ring-fenced to be spent on the NHS and social care. Someone earning £15,000 would pay an extra £33 a year in tax, with someone on £50,000 paying an extra £383.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4 Daily Mail, Page: 18

Opinion: Tax reforms would boost economy

Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph looks at reforms he feels could make the economy more competitive. He suggests cutting taxes on employment, noting that firms have to pay national insurance and mandatory pension contributions. This, he adds, raises a lot of money but also deters a lot of employment, proposing a steady reduction. He also calls for measures to help the gig economy and the self-employed, suggesting: “Why not make the first employee free of taxes?” Mr Lynn adds a suggestion that the rate of corporation tax could be reduced to 10%, saying the most competitive rate in the developed world “would be a massive boost for inward investment.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2


IFS in Labour tax plan warning

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that Labour’s tax plans could cost the economy £1bn and see 1.6m middle-class workers paying more. It says that by the end of a five-year Labour government, 1.9m people – 6% of taxpayers – would be paying a new 45p tax rate because of wage increases. Labour has said it plans to lower the threshold for the 45p rate of income tax from £150,000 to £80,000 and introduce a 50p rate on earnings over £125,000. The IFS said the amount of tax the measures would raise is “highly uncertain” because the highest earners would alter their tax arrangements. It said that if people’s tax arrangements remained as they are currently, tax changes could bring in £10bn a year, but added that a “reasonable” estimate was closer to £3bn. Meanwhile, former Shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie has urged Labour to “come clean” on how much extr a tax “ordinary people” will have to pay to fund its spending plans. He said: “It’s ludicrous to suggest that Labour could fund its ever-growing and expensive wish-list simply with tax rises on just a tiny number of very wealthy people.”

The Times, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 10 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 7 City AM, Page: 8

Hospitality sector urges rates reform

UK Hospitality, which represents 90% of the industry, has called for a root and branch reform of business rates, calling it a “discriminatory” tax. UK Hospitality has called for a digital services tax to be levied on online business and also wants taxes on out-of-town warehouses brought in line with those levied on town centre shops.

Daily Mail, Page: 71

Doubt raised over OECD’s call for tax based on sales

The French Council of Economic Analysis says the OECD’s plan to allow governments to tax multinational firms profits based on sales in their countries would not deliver a substantial change in corporate tax receipts.

Financial Times, Page: 4

Opinion: Tories top for tax

David Smith in the Times points to calculations showing that the current government is taxing more, relative to gross domestic product, than any of its peacetime predecessors. He cites a tweet from Lord Macpherson, the former permanent secretary to the Treasury, who said that, if re-elected, “the next Tory government will be collecting more of the nation’s income in tax than any previous Tory government.” Mr Smith says a combination of high taxes and slow growth is a scenario the next government must seek to avoid.

The Times, Page: 43


PM plans to cut NI

Boris Johnson says the Conservatives aim to change the National Insurance threshold so people do not pay it until they earn £12,500. The Prime Minister said it would be raised from the current £8,628 to £9,500 in the party’s first budget, with plans to increase it by a further £3,000 in the future. This would, he says, ensure “low tax for working people”. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said an increase to £9,500 in 2020/21 would mean a £85 boost for workers, while an increase to £12,500 could save workers up to £465 a year. Details of the tax plans were revealed by the PM during a Q&A at an engineering plant in Middlesbrough, with Mr Johnson also saying: “We are going to be making sure we cut business rates for small businesses.” “I am a tax-cutting Conservative but I want the people who need it most to feel the benefit of the tax cuts,” he added. A City AM editorial looks at tax policies proposed on the campaign trail, suggesting Mr Johnson’s “is not perfect” but “is a reminder that at least some in Westminster still have a desire to reduce the burden on hardworking families.”

BBC News The Times, Page: 1 The Independent, Page: 16 Financial Times, Page: 1 The I, Page: 6 The Guardian, Page: 10 Daily Express, Page: 8 City AM, Page: 1, 2

Lib Dems to tax high flyers

The Liberal Democrats plan to withdraw the marriage tax allowance, saying it is “ineffective” and removing it would raise £630m per year for the government. The party would also look to add a penny on both income and corporation taxes; replace business rates with a levy on land owners; and launch a crackdown on tax avoidance. The Lib Dems have also vowed to reform Air Passenger Duty so people who travel abroad frequently pay more. The party’s manifesto says a Lib Dem government would ”reduce the climate impact of flying by reforming the taxation of international flights to focus on those who fly the most,” adding that costs for those who take one or two international flights a year would come down. The Lib Dems also revealed plans to legalise cannabis and raise £1.5bn a year by 2024/25 from taxing the drug.

The Times, Page: 10 The Independent, Page: 13 The Daily Telegraph Financial Times, Page: 3 Daily Mirror, Page: 10 Daily Mail, Page: 18 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4 The Sun, Page: 8

Farage: Tax breaks on private ops would help the NHS

The Brexit Party manifesto is set to offer tax breaks to wealthy taxpayers who opt for private healthcare in a plan designed to ease pressure on the NHS. Party leader Nigel Farage said offering tax breaks to the wealthiest in society could lift as much as 10% off the burden on the NHS .

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 5

HMRC in scam warning

HMRC has warned people to be wary of potential scams, having received almost 900,000 reports of people impersonating HMRC and trying to obtain taxpayers’ personal details via bogus calls, text messages and emails. The most common method involves correspondence related to fake tax refunds, with more than 620,000 complaints about bogus tax rebates. HMRC has sought to reiterate warnings over such scams in the run up to the self-assessment deadline, reminding people that it will never contact customers asking for their PIN, password or bank details.

Daily Mirror, Page: 38 The I, Page: 2 Daily Star, Page: 2 Yorkshire Post, Page: 2

Banker: Wealth tax would hit risk appetite

Josef Stadler, head of ultra-high net worth division at UBS, has warned that wealth taxes being proposed by left-wing politicians on both sides of the Atlantic would prevent billionaires from taking risks. He said the situation would be “worse than billionaires relocating,” saying: “They will say: ‘If you cap my upside, then I cap my risk appetite’.”

City AM, Page: 2

INDUSTRY NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019


FRC could claw back bonuses

City AM looks at reports that the Financial Reporting Council could ask the government for powers to claw back bonuses from audit partners if audit quality falls below a certain level. It notes that the Competition and Markets Authority has proposed an operational split between the audit and non-audit arms of the sector’s biggest players, and has also proposed the introduction of joint audits to help boost competition.

City AM, Page: 11

LEGAL – week to Thursday 21st November 2019


Investors in High Court tax win

HMRC has lost a court battle over a £263m investment scheme, meaning investors who have already paid tax demands will be able to claim money back. The tax office claimed a number of celebrities had benefited excessively from tax relief for the project to build two data centres but the High Court ruled against this position. Some 675 investors including former England captain Wayne Rooney and comedian Jimmy Carr invested a combined £79m, securing £131m in tax relief via the scheme designed to boost economic growth in deprived areas.

Daily Mirror, Page: 21 Daily Express, Page: 11

FINANCE NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019


Family firms do not favour external finance

Research conducted by KPMG shows that more than two thirds of UK family businesses believe retaining profits is the most attractive form of funding, compared to half of family businesses in other European countries. The poll of 1,613 family business executives in 27 countries shows that British companies are less likely to use equity or loan finance from family members, but are more likely to prioritise investment in areas such as training or upgrading technology than their European peers. Tom McGinness, a KPMG partner, said it was understandable that family companies “want to keep control when it comes to financing further expansion or other investments in their businesses … given the current economic climate and the fact that they tend to be more risk averse and often much better at planning for the long term”.

The Times, Page: 51

SMEs – news for the week to Thursday 21st November 2019


Late payments rise £10bn

Figures from retail payment authority Pay UK show the value of late payments to UK SMEs have risen by £10bn in a year, with firms waiting on £23.4bn compared to £13bn in 2018. Pay UK said the average amount owed to each firm is £25,000, up from £17,000 last year. Half of the firms are chasing payments, with the cost for doing so at £4.4bn. Pay UK chief executive Paul Horlock comments: “’It is concerning so many smaller businesses are struggling because of late payments, especially as there are so many ways they can get paid.”

Daily Mail, Page: 83

CORPORATE – news for the week to Thursday 21st November 2019


Insolvency figures at five-year high

Analysis by Moore shows that the number of manufacturing companies entering insolvency has hit a five-year high, with a 7% increase over the last year as the total hit 1,466. The firm says a slowdown across Europe, coupled with ongoing Brexit-related uncertainty, has contributed to the increase. Robert Branch, of Moore, said: “The latest figures show the doom and gloom around the UK’s manufacturing sector continues”. “Many are saving as much cash as they can to tide them through until order books recover, as banks and other finance houses are indicating they will be reluctant to provide additional funding to support working capital,” he adds.

The I, Page: 41 Daily Express, Page: 47 City AM, Page: 8 Yorkshire Post, Page: 8

Restaurants serve up a loss

UHY Hacker Young research shows that the UK’s top 100 restaurants swung to a collective loss of £93m in the last 12 months, with rising overheads and falling sales hitting the sector. This compares with profit of £37m reported the year before.

The I, Page: 43 City AM, Page: 3

Staff question payout delays

Workers from a former Astrazeneca drugs factory have spoken out over delays in receiving money from a £12m fund the company agreed to set aside to cover enhanced redundancy payments after it collapsed. Auditor KPMG has been managing the fund on behalf of Astrazeneca and reviewing eligible employees. Union Unite, which has been liaising with KPMG, had previously notified staff that payments might be made by Christmas but KPMG has now said that it is unclear when the funds will be made available. In a letter to eligible staff from the Avlon site, KPMG said that although it had received tax clearance from HMRC, it was still awaiting details of the statutory payments made by the Redundancy Payments Service.

The Times, Page: 49

Former boss planning Eddie Stobart rescue package

Former Eddie Stobart boss Andrew Tinkler is reportedly planning a rescue package for the logistics group which is subject to a bid from private equity group DBay. City AM reports that Mr Tinkler is working on a £50m package, with existing shareholders putting in a further £25m, while the FT suggests that Mr Tinkler hoped to raise as much as £125m.

The Times, Page: 45 Financial Times City AM


Corbyn: Anti-business claim ‘nonsense’

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry conference, Jeremy Corbyn said a Labour government would deliver an “investment blitz” that would create “immense” opportunities for businesses. Describing suggestions he is anti-business as “nonsense”, Mr Corbyn said: “ It’s not anti-business to say that the largest corporations should pay their taxes just as smaller companies do.” He also suggested Labour’s Brexit policy would provide “the certainty of a customs union and access to the single market”. Stuart Carrington of Thomas Westcott said that while he did not believe Mr Corbyn’s Brexit stance would end the uncertainty hanging over businesses, “I don’t believe that Boris Johnson can deliver a sensible approach either.” Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, praised Mr Corbyn’s “very positive” decision to put reforming business rates and dealing with late payments “at the top” of Labour’s business policy programme.

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 43 City AM

Oliver launches new chain

Almost six months to the day after his UK empire collapsed, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is converting Jamie’s Italian sites in Bali and Bangkok into new brand Jamie Oliver Kitchen. Although Mr Oliver poured £25m of his own money into the business in a bid to save it, his eponymous UK chain of eateries collapsed. Administrator KPMG managed to save three of his 25 restaurants and sold them to Upper Crust owner SSP.

The Daily Telegraph The Guardian, Page: 35


Firms consider links with Duke

A number of businesses are considering their links with Prince Andrew following a BBC interview in which the Duke of York addressed his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, with KPMG and Standard Chartered confirming they would not be renewing sponsorship deals for the Pitch@Palace initiative.

Daily Mail, Page: 14 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 3 Daily Express, Page: 7 The Guardian, Page: 18 Daily Star, Page: 7 The Sun, Page: 4 Daily Mirror, Page: 4 City AM, Page: 1 The Scotsman, Page: 17 Yorkshire Post, Page: 9

Moss Bros looks to Ted Baker for new finance chief

Suit retailer Moss Bros has appointed former Ted Baker interim chief financial officer Bill Adams as its new finance chief. Previously a finance director at Argos and Homebase, he will take over from Tony Bennett in February.

City AM


Digital publishing revenue dips

Figures from Association for Online Publishing and Deloitte show digital publishing revenue slipped 3.7% to £113.1m in the second quarter, with a 15% dip in display advertising driving the fall. More positive figures were seen across online video and subscriptions, which rose 20% and 14% respectively.

City AM, Page: 15

Zest Food reveals restructuring plan

Zest Food is seeking a CVA, asking landlords to agree to a combination of zero rent and rent reduction arrangements as part of the rescue plan. Zest, owner of healthy eating brand Tossed, is the latest casual dining chain to try and take the controversial route out of trouble, after Mexican chain Chilango last week revealed talks to secure its long-term future with RSM.

City AM, Page: 4

Arcadia set to name chair

Andrew Coppel, who qualified as a chartered accountant with PwC, is expected to be named as the new chairman of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group today.

The Times, Page: 45

PROPERTY – news for the week to Thursday 21st November 2019


Capital construction dips

Deloitte ’s biannual crane survey shows that construction of new office buildings in central London is at its lowest level in five years. Construction on 1.8m sq ft of office space across 24 buildings was started in the six months to the end of September, a fall of almost 50% on the six months before. While almost half of the space under construction is pre-let, just 18% of landlords and developers expect appetite for pre-leased space to improve. Mike Cracknell, of Deloitte Real Estate, said: “Central London still has 3m sq ft of proposed office space in demolition, which indicates the next survey could see an uptick.”

The Times, Page: 46 City AM, Page: 7

Javid backs landowner tax

Chancellor Sajid Javid has backed a “morally justifiable” tax on landowners, saying the boost in land values when planning permission is granted should be shared with the state to help pay for infrastructure such as new schools and hospitals. He backs the policy in a book called Home Truths, with Mr Javid saying that when he was Communities Secretary, “we worked on a 50-50 split of the valuation between local government and landowners.” “The state is expected to create the infrastructure around new housing and that needs to be paid for, so 50-50 makes sense – this would be an efficient and morally justifiable tax.” Advocates of such policies say it would discourage land price speculation and reduce the cost of new homes.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1


Office space insight

The Scotsman looks at commercial property supply in Glasgow, noting a Grant Thornton research report showing there are just seven buildings in the city centre capable of providing more than 1,858 sq m with floors larger than 929 sq m.

The Scotsman, Page: 36


First-timer mortgages rise in September

Figures from UK Finance show there were 29,100 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in September, a 1.6% increase on September 2018. The number of home movers was also up year-on-year, climbing 1.8%, but these were outnumbered by those taking their first step onto the property ladder, with 50 more first-timers than movers. The data also shows that 5,500 new buy-to-let home purchase mortgages were completed in September, a dip of 3.5% on the same month a year ago. September saw 17,740 new remortgages with additional borrowing, a 5.9% rise, while re-mortgages with no additional borrowing were up 8% on September 2018, with 19,140 completed.

Daily Mail


House prices will trail inflation for years

UK house prices will not match low inflation until 2021, according to new research by Reuters. The continuing Brexit malaise will cause prices to fall 1.5% in London this year, Reuters said. Rod Lockhart of property finance hub LendInvest says: “We do not anticipate a material price rebound in London until at least 2022, although we may experience some recovery from 2021 – if and when the political dust begins to settle.”

City AM

BTL repossessions jump 40%

There has been a 40% rise in buy-to-let (BTL) repossessions this year on last year, according to banking trade body UK Finance, with around 800 BTL-mortgaged properties taken into possession in the third quarter of 2019 and 4,550 BTL mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance in the same period. Separate figures from a study of around 2,000 landlords by the RLA has found that a third of private landlords are looking to sell at least one property over the next year.

Daily Mail

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019


The FT’s Susie Mesure looks at the support firms offer staff going through the menopause, carrying insight from EY’s Alison Martin-Campbell and Sarah Churchman, head of diversity, inclusion and wellbeing at PwC.

Financial Times, Page: 20


Matrix of measures will deliver diversity

Rachel Engwell of Grant Thornton considers the lack of gender diversity in senior leadership roles, pointing to data showing that among the world’s top 500 companies, only 10.9% of senior executives are women, while Grant Thornton research has revealed the highest recorded proportion of women in senior management globally at 29% – an increase of five percentage points from 2018. She looks at the practical actions business leaders can take to achieve gender parity, saying it will “require a matrix of different things happening for organisations to achieve an inclusive and supportive business culture.”

Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Vision, Page: 18


Hiring firms hit by skills shortage

A quarterly recruitment outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) shows that 73% of firms that attempted to take on extra workers faced recruitment difficulties in Q3, up from the 64% recorded in Q2. The analysis, produced in partnership with Totaljobs, shows that 11% of businesses decreased their workforce in Q3, with a quarter increasing their total headcount. BCC director-general Adam Marshall said: “Jobseekers will welcome the fact that many businesses are continuing to hire staff, but policymakers should be alarmed that skills shortages continue to bedevil firms – particularly in the skilled roles that will be needed to drive healthy manufacturing and export performance following Brexit.”

The Scotsman, Page: 39

INTERNATIONAL – news for the week to Thursday 21st November 2019


FedEx questions tax claims

FedEx boss Frederick Smith has challenged the publisher of the New York Times to a public debate after it carried a story claiming the courier company paid no tax last year. The front-page story said the company had saved at least $1.6bn after corporate tax cuts reduced its tax rate from 34% in 2017 to less than zero the following year. Mr Smith said the article was “distorted and factually incorrect”.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3


Think-tank backs minimum global tax rate

German economic think-tank the Ifo Institute has backed the OECD’s plans for an international minimum corporate tax rate. It said the plan, which would ensure companies pay a minimum tax rate in their home countries, “would limit unwanted tax avoidance arising from companies’ ability to shift their profits.” On the OECD’s call for firms to be deemed to have a taxable business even where its presence is only digital, the think-tank commented: “This should be a key feature of future international taxation rules.”

City AM

ECONOMY – news for the week to Thursday 21st November 2019


Brits are top Xmas spenders

Britons are set to be Europe’s top spenders this Christmas, with a study from Deloitte suggesting UK shoppers will spend an average of £567 each this Christmas. This total is 39% higher than the European average of £409 and includes £299 on presents and £143 on food and drink. The average spend is up 1.3% on last year’s figure. The survey found that a third of UK shoppers plan to buy most of their presents in November, while three in five said they preferred to shop for Christmas presents in stores.

Daily Mail, Page: 77


Factory orders up but still low

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says that factory orders remain near decade lows despite growth this month. The CBI said while orders are up to similar levels as those recorded in August, they are still close to October’s nine-year low. while over 300 manufacturers’ total order books improved compared with October, the sector officially contracted in Q2 and flat-lined in Q3, leaving it close to recession. The analysis shows that that manufacturing sector was 1.4% smaller in the three months to September than in Q3 2018. Anna Leach, the CBI’s deputy chief economist, said that while “the thick fog of uncertainty from a no-deal Brexit has lifted somewhat”, weak global trade and a subdued domestic economy means pressure remains, adding: “It’s clear that the outlook for the sector remains precarious.” Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at the EY Item Club, said: “The manuf acturing sector could well be a drag on UK GDP in the fourth quarter. This reinforces our suspicion that GDP growth is likely to be limited to just 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter.”

The Times The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 City AM

OTHER NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019


Former footballer branches out

The Times interviews former footballer Michael Branch who, having spent time in prison for supplying drugs when his career dwindled, has turned his life around and now works as part of Everton’s community team on projects including helping teenagers excluded from school back into mainstream education. The paper notes that Mr Branch is now qualified to Association of Accounting Technicians level in accountancy and is on day release from the club to top up his qualifications.

The Times


UK leads on decarbonisation

PwC ‘s low carbon economy index shows that the UK comes out top for decarbonisation rates within G20 countries since 2000. However, its annual rate of 3.7% is well short of the 9.7% required if it is to achieve its 2050 net zero emissions pledge.

City AM, Page: 11

Economy set for tech boost

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (VR) technologies are forecast to add £62.5bn to the UK economy in the next decade. Research from PwC suggests that more than £44bn of the 2.44% injection to UK GDP will come from AR, with VR to provide over £18bn as businesses embrace innovation. On a wider scale, VR and AR could add £1.4trn to global GDP in the next 10 years, the report suggests.

City AM, Page: 3


Child poverty undermining London’s success, Grant Thornton warns

High levels of child poverty are undermining London’s success as a dynamic and economically-thriving city, according to Grant Thornton’s Vibrant Economy Index assessment. Rob Turner, a director at Grant Thornton, said: “These divisions need to be narrowed through concerted and focused action”.

Evening Standard

Taxman sent actor to the jungle

Actor Cliff Parisi says his accountant showing him his tax bill prompted his decision to sign up to appear on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. The former EastEnders star said: “What made me sign up? The taxman,” quipping: “What is the worst case scenario? A big snake is going to bite you or the taxman is going bite you. Which do you want?”

Daily Mirror, Page: 10 Daily Star, Page: 4 Daily Express, Page: 3 The Sun, Page: 13


Duke steps back

Prince Andrew is to step back from royal duties in the wake of a widely criticised BBC interview relating to his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The issue has seen corporate sponsors including KPMG withdraw support for the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace entrepreneurship initiative.

The Guardian, Page: 17 The Times, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 1 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 2 City AM, Page: 1

Contact Paul Southward.

Weekend News 18 November 2019

Weekend News 18 November 2019


TAX – Weekend News 18 November 2019


Property-related IHT refunds climb

Research from financial adviser NFU Mutual shows the rate at which people who inherited properties are claiming money back from the taxman as homes have fallen in value by the time they were sold. The analysis shows that property-related refunds granted by HMRC rose 86% from 2,177 in the 2016/17 tax year to 4,052 in 2017/18 and climbed 11% to 4,516 in the year to this April. Sean McCann at NFU Mutual said many people may have paid more IHT than they need to, noting: “When property prices and share values fall, rebates are not given automatically and need to be proactively claimed.” While people who sell a property for less than its IHT valuation within four years of paying the tax can reclaim the tax they have overpaid, there are concerns over a lack of knowledge about the potential rebate. George Bull of RSM, says: “For more valuable properties this is becoming a significant issue and the level of public knowledge in this area is poor.”

The Times, Page: 63

Stamp duty reform could trim 63% from bills

Analysis suggests that reform of stamp duty could save the average owner-occupier £4,300 and cut the typical stamp duty bill by 63%. Research from Purplebricks and property market economists Glenigan suggests that increasing the stamp duty threshold from £125,000 to £500,000 could see 131,000 more moves completed in the next 12 months while trimming movers’ average bill from £6,800 to £2,500. Rethinking the threshold would also mean the levy is not applied to 89% of home purchases. While the Government would lose £3.2bn in stamp duty revenue, increases in areas including VAT and other tax receipts are estimated to potentially hit £1.2bn.

Daily Express

Labour broadband plan questioned

A number of papers carry comment on Labour’s proposed plan to nationalise the broadband network and provide free full-fibre coverage to every home and business in the country by 2030. The Times notes that Labour has suggested the £20bn bill for such a move could be raised from tax revenues on large technology firms, saying that while there is “justifiable concern that these corporate behemoths pay too little tax”, targeting them is “sure to fail” and raises the question of why they would operate in Britain in such conditions – a point also raised by a Mail editorial. On the possible tax on tech firms, the Guardian says Labour’s plans are “light on detail.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Labour’s plan a “crackpot scheme that would involve many, many tens of billions of taxpayers’ money nationalising a British business.”

The Times, Page: 10 The Times, Page: 33 Daily Express, Page: 6 The Guardian, Page: 1, 6 Financial Times, Page: 2 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4 Daily Mail, Page: 10, 20 The Independent, Page: 6 Daily Express, Page: 14

HMRC refutes Rangers tax error story

HMRC says it did not make mistakes in regard to the tax bill handed to football club Rangers, despite reports claiming the club’s former operating company had been billed for £50m more than they should have. HMRC tweeted in response to the claim, insisting that they “did not miscalculate anything”. In a letter to the Times, which carried the initial claims, HMRC CEO and first permanent secretary Jim Harra said: “HMRC did not make any mistakes that led to the club’s insolvency.” He added that HMRC is “committed to getting tax right, for everyone,” adding: “Inaccurate and partial reporting only serves to undermine public trust in the tax system.”

The Scotsman, Page: 10

Tax rules hit contractor market

Harry Brennan in the Telegraph says tax rules under the IR35 regime have left the contractor market “in disarray”. He suggests that with employers to be responsible for assessing the tax status of their contractors as of April, a number of self-employed people are closing down businesses and returning to full-time employment. This comes, he adds, as a number of firms have said they will no longer employ contractors so as to avoid legal disputes with the taxman.

The Daily Telegraph, Money, Page: 2


PM: Tax cuts can boost economy

Boris Johnson has told the Sunday Telegraph that he is postponing a plan to increase the threshold at which people start to pay the 40p tax rate, but says the move remains an “ambition” if he wins a Commons majority. The Prime Minister tells the paper: “We do want to reduce the burden of taxation,” adding: “That’s very much our ambition, but we won’t do that until we have done more to lift the burden particularly on people on low incomes.” Mr Johnson says his party’s “instincts are to try to cut tax where we can, but only because we think that there are some taxes that you could obviously cut and see an increase in yields.” While he suggests the Treasury “will sometimes contest this assertion,” he insists it is a “very good point”. Citing fourteenth century sage Ibn Khaldun, Mr Johnson notes: “He observed that if you cut taxes on the olive harvest … that actually people grew more olives, and tax yields went up. It doesn’t apply in every case but he is making a valid point.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 7

IFS says spending pledges will need tax rises

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that tax increases will be required to meet Conservative spending pledges. With the IFS saying Chancellor Sajid Javid only has enough spare cash to finance £13.8bn of spending in 2020/21 and money previously pledged to schools and hospitals, IFS research economist Isabel Stockton warns: “If they are planning further increases in day-to-day spending, that would not be possible without tax increases or other cuts in spending.” The IFS has also questioned Labour’s plans to boost spending with money funded purely from tax hikes on high earners and big companies, with Ms Stockton offering: “It’s difficult to raise enough money for substantial increases in spending solely from high-earners – you need to look to a broad-based tax.”

The Independent, Page: 3

Letter: Tax simplification a ‘daunting challenge’

In a letter to the Sunday Times, BDO’s Paul Falvey calls for policymakers to be bolder on tax reform. He says the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has a “daunting challenge” in reworking a tax system which “lacks coherence.” He says the system has “grown by adding taxes, reliefs and complex rules to a system with its roots in the 19th century,” asking whether the OTS should “reform the more obviously dysfunctional aspects – or throw the whole mess out and start again.” He suggests national insurance and income tax should be aligned to create one simple payroll tax and proposes a moratorium on fundamental corporate tax changes until the Brexit transition period is over to give businesses certainty.

The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 10

Voters lured by tax pledges

A Savanta ComRes poll for the Sunday Telegraph shows that 35% of voters would be more likely to back a party that would cut inheritance tax, while cutting taxes was the second most likely policy to attract voters – although it was cited by 23% fewer respondents that the 66% who said they were more likely to vote for a party that promised to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers.

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 11

US and UK see wealth attacked

Hamish McRae compares the political climates in the UK and US, pointing to a similarity centred on an “attack on wealth from the political Left.” He says in the US there is “a wave of support not only for higher income tax rates, but for something that the UK has not contemplated: a wealth tax.”

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 98

INDUSTRY – Weekend News 18 November 2019


HMRC staff vent fury at top management

Responding to a blog post in which HMRC CEO Jim Harra vowed to address concerns over pay and workplace culture, tax office staff have spoken out over “demotivated, overworked and underpaid” workers.

Financial Times, Page: 4

WEALTH MANAGEMENT – Weekend News 18 November 2019


Report reveals wealth manager costs

Analysis by Grant Thornton shows that Investec is the UK’s most expensive wealth manager. The report, which looks at the cost of investing £100,000 with 20 of Britain’s largest financial advice firms and the impact of charges over 10 years, found that Investec charges customers more than double the rate of the cheapest firm. Investec’s reduction in yield stands at 3.8%, while Rathbones’ is 3.4%. Barclays Wealth, 1825 – the advice arm of Standard Life – and Smith & Williamson are joint third, with a rate of 3.2%. The cheapest overall is HSBC at 1.7%, followed by Nationwide at 2%. The Sunday Times notes that comparing the impact of charges across different wealth management firms is “notoriously difficult” as each firm will levy different fees.

The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 11

CORPORATE – Weekend News 18 November 2019


Tech Nation in tax row

Publically-funded technology lobby group Tech Nation is embroiled in a long-running row with HMRC over its taxes, with the taxman addressing historic claims dating back to 2014. Tech Nation said it expects the dispute to be resolved by the end of 2020 and that it has been advised it may not have to pay any money out, saying: “Professional advice received does not indicate that a payment is probable.” A spokesman said: “It’s a technical matter involving interpretations of Tech Nation’s status by HMRC dating back to 2014. We are working through appropriate procedures with HMRC to resolve.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 31

Chilango auditor declines to sign off accounts after bond raising

Grant Thornton is “not willing” to sign off the accounts of Chilango because of a “risk related to going concern”. The food chain has hired RSM to review its options.

Financial Times, Page: 20

Loan keeps Stobart on the road

Trucking firm Eddie Stobart Logistics has accepted a £55m emergency high-interest loan from investment firm DBay Advisors to avoid collapse. Logistics company Wincanton is preparing an offer for the business but is waiting for PwC’s approval before finalising an approach, with the auditor yet to sign off Eddie Stobart’s half-year figures.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 33

Buyers eye farm

Liquidators MHA Henderson Loggie say ten different parties have shown interest in taking over Edinburgh’s Gorgie City Farm.

The Scotsman, Page: 15


Tax boost for F1 teams

Data from HMRC shows that UK-based Formula 1 teams received more money from the taxman than they paid last year, receiving a net sum of £13.6m. This takes the total over the last ten years to £120m. This comes as tax bills were offset by losses, with firms seeing a total net loss of £60m last year. Losses can be carried over to future years to reduce future tax bills. Firms are also eligible for refunds of up to 12% of their research spending.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 101

Ceviche saved

Seafood chain Ceviche has been sold after a pre-pack administration, with Alex and Saiphin Moore, founders of the Rosa’s Thai Cafe chain, saving the business. Martin Morales, Ceviche’s founder, will become a “brand ambassador”, but have no day-to-day involvement in the running of the chain.

The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 3

SMEs Weekend – News 18 November 2019


FSB warns over wage pledge

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that a pledge to raise the minimum wage to £10.50 made by the Prime Minister could put a number of small firms at risk, as would the rise from £8.21 an hour for over-25s. The body has also called for a minimum £1,000 increase in the Employment Allowance, saying it would help with the cost of employing people and offset the increased wages companies will have to pay. The FSB’s Back to Business manifesto also urges the next Government to extend maternity and paternity pay to self-employed workers who choose to adopt. FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “We are urging all candidates standing at this election to listen to, and make every effort to understand, the challenges faced by small firms in the communities they hope to represent.”

The Sun, Page: 11

EMPLOYMENT – Weekend News 18 November 2019


Workers get flexible

The Telegraph’s Lucy Deyner looks at a shift toward flexible, part-time work, highlighting PwC’s Flexible Talent Network which allows people to choose different working patterns. It saw more than 2,000 people register within two weeks of launching last year.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 20

PENSIONS – Weekend News 18 November 2019


Reflecting on ring-fencing

Ian Cowie in the Sunday Times says ring-fencing of pensions “can prove surprisingly porous in an insolvency,” highlighting details of PwC’s winding up of failed broker Beaufort Securities and charges to clients.

The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 13

ECONOMY – Weekend News 18 November 2019


Expert: Pound could be among strongest currencies

Richard Buxton, head of UK equities at Merian Global Investors, has suggested that a Brexit deal could put the pound among the world’s strongest currencies, given the right circumstances. Mr Buxton believes the Bank of England may have to “gently nudge” interest rates up by the second half of 2020, saying: “I think it will just be symptomatic of the fact that the UK, relatively to other parts of Europe, will be growing really quite nicely.” This comes as 0.3% expansion reported this week means Britain has had 13 quarters of economic growth since 2016’s Brexit referendum.

Daily Express


Voters open to economic reform

A YouGov poll commissioned by the IPPR think-tank suggests that voters are increasingly open to a radical change in the way the economy is organised. A survey of more than 1,600 people saw 60% in favour of the next government making “moderate” or “radical” changes to the way the British economy is run, while only 2% said the government should leave the economy as it was. Of those open to change, 29% backed moderate policies and 31% supported more radical reform. Looking at respondents’ political allegiance shows that 59% of Labour voters back radical change compared to 9% of Conservative supporters, with 35% of Tory voters calling for “moderate” changes.

The Observer, Page: 56

OTHER – Weekend News 18 November 2019


Retailers look to counter slowdown

The Mail looks at the climate for retailers and notes that the appeal of Black Friday has dipped in recent years as people question whether price cuts are genuine. Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, said companies have tried to counter the slowdown with heavy discounting in October and by introducing Christmas product lines early. He said: “Falling consumer confidence in the third quarter, amidst ongoing Brexit uncertainty, is still impacting major purchases.”

Daily Mail, Page: 9

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward's News Roundup

News Roundup Wednesday 13th November 2019

News Roundup Wednesday 13th November 2019


Here is the News Roundup Wednesday 13th November 2019, giving you a summary of the tax, business and finance news stories from this week.


The midweek tax news roundup in the week to Wednesday 13th November.


Johnson announcement a boost for veterans

Included in the announcement that Northern Ireland veterans are to be given new legal protection to prevent them being prosecuted over killings during The Troubles, Boris Johnson has also revealed plans for guaranteed job interviews for veterans applying for public sector work and a tax cut for businesses employing former soldiers.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1, 2 The Times, Page: 6 The Sun, Page: 2 The Independent, Page: 7 Daily Mail, Page: 1, 2 The I, Page: 5

IFS says local tax could fill social care funding gap

A new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests councils should be allowed to raise additional funding through a local income tax of 1p on the £1, in addition to national income tax. The move would plug a funding gap for social care which is only set to grow, the think tank said.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 2


What the Labour Party’s tax policy plan means for you

The Telegraph’s Harry Brennan analyses what Labour’s tax policies, put forward over the past two years, will mean for readers. The party’s proposals would force higher earners to pay effective income tax rates of more than 67%, landlords would be forced to pay their tenants’ council tax bills, and families would lose out on up to £875,000 in inheritance tax breaks, says Brennan, while 80,000 non-doms would lose their beneficial tax status. Labour has also pledged to raise capital gains tax and scrap IHT replacing it with a “lifetime gifts tax”. The “family home allowance” would also be scrapped costing married couples tax breaks worth £875,000.

The Daily Telegraph

Tories claim Labour’s plans would land taxpayers with an extra £2,400 bill

The Conservatives claim Labour’s socialist agenda would cost taxpayers an extra £200 a month as the party would need to plug a £374bn funding “black hole.” Chancellor Sajid Javid said: “In order to pay for his policies, [Jeremy Corbyn] will not only have to massively increase borrowing and debt, he will also need to hike up taxes by £2,400 per person – this is equivalent to an entire month’s pay for the average earner. We simply cannot afford the cost of Corbyn.” However, the claims were dismissed as a “work of fiction” by Labour, which said it would produce a fully costed manifesto next week.

Daily Mail, Page: 2 Daily Express, Page: 4 The Times, Page: 14 The Sun, Page: 6 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 5

IPPR says free care should be paid for by tax

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has called for a comprehensive care service for elderly people across England who need long-term support, funded by £10bn a year from taxation.

Daily Express, Page: 5


Sorrell calls for regulation-light, tax-light UK economy

Sir Martin Sorrell has urged the government to pursue a “Singapore on steroids” strategy for the UK economy after Brexit arguing for a “regulation-light, tax-light economy open for business in a way we haven’t seen before”. The CEO of digital ad firm S4 Capital, who was a vocal supporter of the Remain campaign, said that such an approach would make the UK “much more attractive” investment destination in the long term. “It has to be the home of Google, Amazon and Facebook, not the regulatory nightmare,” he said.

City AM, Page: 1 The Independent, Page: 53

Higher taxes to fund Labour’s education and healthcare pledges

Labour has pledged to scrap university tuition fees, renewing an £11bn-a-year promise from its 2017 manifesto. The party would also provide a £3bn-a-year “cradle-to-grave” National Education Service. Labour also vowed to spend £26bn on an NHS rescue plan paid for by higher taxes on companies and the wealthiest in society. Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge would be £6bn more than the Conservatives promised last year.

Financial Times, Page: 3 The Times, Page: 14 Daily Mirror, Page: 4 Daily Star, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 1, 7 Daily Mail, Page: 11


The midweek SMEs news roundup in the week to Wednesday 13th November.


FSB calls for halt to IR35 changes

The Federation of Small Businesses has called on politicians to put the self-employed “front and centre when drawing-up business policies for their election manifestos” warning that confidence among sole traders is in negative territory for a fifth consecutive quarter. The federation said that the self-employed were finding it particularly hard to raise finance and called for a delay to the expansion of IR35 rules into the private sector until confidence has improved. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said: “Against such an uncertain backdrop, the self-employed certainly don’t need an IR35 rule change that makes hiring contractors less attractive. We’ve already heard noises from big corporates to indicate that, if this change does take effect in April as planned, they’ll pull the plug on sole traders. Common sense dictates that a delay to the April roll-out of these rules is now needed.”

The Times, Page: 47 Yorkshire Post, Page: 15

We need to create our own tech-funding ecosystem

Alastair Kilgour, CIO at Parkwalk Advisors, says the UK needs to develop an investment system with different funds for different levels of risk to make it easier to scale businesses.

Financial Times, Page: 22


Marketinvoice rebrands to reflect greater product range

Marketinvoice has rebranded to Marketfinance after the fintech business lender expanded the range of products it offers. Marketfinance said it is “evolving based on the needs of its customers and now servicing larger businesses with both invoice finance and loans”. The company said all businesses can get up to £1m invoice financing, access up to £250,000 in business loans – rising to £500,000 in the coming months – and larger businesses can access up to £5m in structured facilities combining invoice financing and a loan.

City AM, Page: 19


BCC test: If it adds costs to business, throw it out

Writing in the Telegraph, Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, lays out a simple manifesto pointer for the political parties ahead of the general election. He says “they should subject all their pledges to a simple SME test. Anything that adds to the cost burden at this incredibly sensitive moment for the country and the economy should be chucked out. Otherwise, all the warm words in the world about supporting British business won’t be worth the paper they are written on.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2


The midweek corporate news roundup in the week to Wednesday 13th November.


More pubs and bars closing

Rising costs, changing drinking habits and a weak pound have led to a 13% rise in insolvencies of pubs and bars in the year to the end of September, according to UHY Hacker Young. Partner Peter Kubik said a crucial problem for smaller bars and pubs is lack of access to the capital needed to adapt. “Hopefully, once the Brexit question is cleared up, high street lenders will be less nervous about lending to smaller pub companies,” he said.

The I, Page: 41 City AM, Page: 4

Jingye poised to buy British Steel for £70m

Chinese industrial giant Jingye Group could be announced as the buyer of British Steel within days. An email to staff from Sam Woodward, a special manager from EY who is assisting the Official Receiver, said talks were progressing well.

The Guardian, Page: 37 The I, Page: 41

Accounts overdue at Clintons

The annual accounts of Clintons have been delayed as the greetings card chain seeks approval from landlords for a restructuring and closure of stores. KPMG is supporting the company through the CVA process

The Times, Page: 42 Daily Mail, Page: 29

Golden Tours put up for sale

Philanthropist Nick Palan has put his London sightseeing business Golden Tours on the market, appointing KPMG to run the £100m sale.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 City AM, Page: 4


Chinese firm rescues British Steel

Chinese industrial conglomerate Jingye has bought British Steel in a deal that will save up to 4,000 jobs and see £1.2bn of new investment in the company. The Official Receiver has been running British Steel since May when it fell into liquidation. The Chinese firm emerged as a buyer of the business after talks with Turkish group Ataer collapsed. Jingye is expected to pay about £50m for British Steel and will also be able to tap into a £300m taxpayer-funded package of loans and other support. However, while trade unions and locals MPs supported the deal, industry insiders privately are questioning the wisdom of selling a strategic national industrial asset to a Chinese company.

Financial Times, Page: 1 BBC News The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 37 The Guardian, Page: 12 Daily Express, Page: 2 Daily Mail, Page: 24

Clintons closures could hit retail landlords

Heavyweight retail landlords could be hit hard if greeting cards retailer Clintons secures rent reductions and even closes shops. Property companies that stand to be affected include Intu and British Land, which respectively let 16 and 15 shops to Clintons, though others include NewRiver, Hammerson and Landsec, which have seven, six and five Clintons stores. As part of CVA restructuring, Clintons, which is owned by US retail investors the Weiss family, wants to secure rent cuts and shut 66 of its 332 sites.

Evening Standard

Perriss to leave Rightmove

Rightmove finance director Robyn Perriss is to step down after 12 years with the online property portal. Ms Perriss is expected to leave during the second quarter next year.

The Times, Page: 46


The midweek tax news roundup in the week to Wednesday 13th November.


Paying a real living wage is “a matter of decency”

The Living Wage Foundation said yesterday that its hourly rate would rise to £9.30 in most of the UK and by 20p to £10.75 in London. More than 200,000 workers in the 6,000 businesses that have signed up to the voluntary scheme will benefit from the change. Aviva, Ikea, KPMG and Nationwide are among those companies paying what the foundation calls a “real” living wage, which is higher than the government-set national living wage. Writing in the Guardian, John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, cites recent research by KPMG which found there are 5m jobs that pay less than the genuine living wage. He says people “would need a distorted notion of morality to disagree with [the living wage movement] .. It’s simply a matter of decency: a decent day’s wage for a decent day’s work.”

The Times, Page: 44 The Guardian, Page: 4


Employment falls as pay growth slows

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday showed that employment had fallen by 58,000 during the third quarter of 2019 – the biggest fall since May 2015. Britons also faced slowing pay growth in the third quarter, the ONS said. Average weekly earnings grew by 3.6% in the third quarter, down from 3.8% in the three months to August. “The latest data are somewhat mixed,” said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at the EY Item Club. “Overall they fuel the view that the hitherto resilient UK labour market is now buckling in the face of a struggling UK economy and heightened Brexit and domestic political uncertainties.”

City AM, Page: 2 Financial Times, Page: 2 The Independent, Page: 50 The Guardian

Shadow chancellor claims McDonald’s is mistreating its workers

The shadow chancellor has told McDonald’s to pay more tax and raise its employees’ pay to £15 per hour. Speaking at a protest arranged by striking McDonald’s workers in Downing Street, John McDonnell also demanded union recognition at McDonald’s restaurants. A spokesperson for McDonald’s said it complied with UK tax rules and is committed to investing in its workforce.

The Guardian, Page: 41


The midweek tax news roundup in the week to Wednesday 13th November.


Business rates reform must be top priority

The retailers’ trade association has warned that reform of the business rates system must be at the top of a new government’s list of priorities if the UK’s high streets are to be saved. The “unfair” tax means shops pay a quarter of all business rates, even though they make up just 5% of the economy, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said. The annual £7bn bill has risen ahead of the rate of inflation since the tax was introduced 30 years ago. It is one of the highest property taxes in the developed world. “As political parties draw up their manifestos in the coming weeks, they should spare a thought for their local retailers, the three million voters they employ, and the billions in tax they contribute,” commented a BRC spokesperson. Research by PwC and the Local Data Company found as many as 16 shops per day closed in the first half of this year.

Daily Mail, Page: 68 The Times, Page: 38


The midweek tax news roundup in the week to Wednesday 13th November.


Confidence declines to a seven-year low

An optimism index by BDO fell by 0.67 points last month to 95.59, its weakest since March 2012 and close to the 95 level that signals zero growth. The report, compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said the decline was because of a drop in manufacturing optimism, which fell by 3.38 points in October, and to a lesser degree by the key services sector, which fell by 0.34 points. Peter Hemington, a partner at BDO, said that the last time business confidence was so low “was when the country was staggering out of the doldrums caused by the global financial crisis … With an unpredictable general election looming, continued political volatility in the UK remains a key driver of falling optimism.”

The Times, Page: 44 City AM, Page: 2

GDP jump brings pre-election boost for Johnson

Figures out today are expected to show 0.4% growth in GDP in the UK between July and September following a 0.2% slump in the previous quarter. The services sector is set to be the main driver of growth but experts predict a slowdown in the final quarter of the year to 0.2% growth – meaning 1.3% for the year overall – the weakest since 2009.

Daily Express, Page: 1. 6-7 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1


UK growth slows to decade-low

Annual UK economic growth slowed to its lowest growth rate in nine years in the third quarter of the year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Though the economy avoided falling into recession, UK GDP grew by just 0.3% between July and September, compared to the previous quarter, and just 1% year on year – its slowest rate since 2010. Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said: “This is a pretty respectable performance given the headwinds from the global slowdown, protectionism and Brexit uncertainties. But with businesses focused on cutting costs, wages and jobs are likely to come under pressure. The outlook for 2020 is for more sub-par growth.”

Financial Times, Page: 2 The Times, Page: 38 The Times The Guardian, Page: 33 City AM, Page: 3


The midweek other news roundup in the week to Wednesday 13th November.


UK CEOs have a duty to speak out about Corbyn

The Mail’s Ruth Sunderland claims businesses are staying quiet over their fears of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government because they are afraid of a backlash from consumers. But Ms Sunderland says it is counterproductive if companies do not speak out: “chief executives cannot pretend they are politically neutral or above the fray. They are responsible for the livelihoods of millions of people in the wealth-creating private sector of the economy. This is not good enough when the entire foundation of our prosperity is under attack. Failing to speak out, choosing not to defend their employees and customers, looks a lot like dereliction of duty.”

Daily Mail, Page: 65


Bradford named most improved city

Bradford has been named the UK’s most improved city to live and work in according to an index compiled by PwC and the think tank Demos. The index ranks urban areas with populations of more than 250,000 on ten measures including high-quality jobs, distribution of income, affordable housing, transport networks and the local environment. The highest ranked big city this year was Leeds, which came in at No 11. London was 16th, Manchester 21st and Birmingham 25th. Inverness and Aberdeen are ranked top in Scotland and are in the top ten UK-wide. John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, said: “Our long-term analysis shows that good growth improvements across the UK since 2005 have been largely driven by skills and new business creation […] there are also less positive long-term trends, particularly relating to deteriorating housing affordability and ever longer commuting times.”

The Times, Page: 3 Daily Mail, Page: 16 The Sun, Page: 45 City AM, Page: 5 The Press and Journal, Page: 29 The Scotsman, Page: 4

HMRC bills UK Athletics £500,000 over Nike kit

UK Athletics has been left with a £500,000 VAT bill after failing to pay tax on the value in kind on the kit it receives as part of its sponsorship arrangement with Nike.

The Times, Page: 68

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Paul Southward's News Roundup

News Roundup Monday 11th November 2019

News Roundup Monday 11th November 2019




OECD proposes global minimum corporate tax rate

New proposals from the OECD would see large multinationals pay a global minimum level of corporate taxation, even if other countries have offered them extremely low tax rates. The move forms the second part of a review of global tax policy by the Paris-based organisation – the OECD last month proposed a system whereby countries could tax operations in their jurisdiction even if companies have no physical presence there. The two proposals aim to eliminate base erosion and profit shifting and the incentive for countries to offer low tax rates. The Times’s Simon Duke says a levelling of the playing field would bring gains for us all: “The importance of upholding the integrity of the tax system cannot be overstated. If the likes of Amazon and Uber can enjoy the fruits of publicly funded infrastructure, such as roads, schools and hospitals, while paying minimal taxes, why should the rest of us pay our fair share?”

Financial Times, Page: 6 The Irish Times The Times, Page: 51 The Times, Page: 49

Wealthy set up safe haven accounts ahead of General Election

The Telegraph’s Harry Brennan says wealth advisers have been dealing with an uptick of inquiries into offshore money transfers ahead of the General Election, with savers fearing a Corbyn-led Labour government would introduce exchange controls following a dramatic fall in the pound should they win. Mr Brennan adds that the exodus of cash would come on top of the loss of billions of pounds in tax revenues from wealthy “non ? doms” and the massive drain on the nation’s finances caused by Labour’s spending policies. The FT runs a similar piece: wealth managers report a shift from equities to cash; clients are bringing forward dividends, bonuses and capital gains and plans to gift cash to children.

The Daily Telegraph, Money, Page: 1, 3 Financial Times, Money, Page: 10

Tory tax cut hopes run up against party budget rules

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said there would be barely any surplus in the current budget, after already-pledged spending increases are accounted for, to enable Boris Johnson to offer tax cuts in the Conservative manifesto. The Times reports that the Tories are poised to abandon proposals to increase the threshold at which people start to pay the 40p income tax rate from £50,000 to £80,000 with the PM instead expected to focus on lifting the threshold at which people start paying national insurance, which is currently £8,632, possibly increasing it to £12,500.

Financial Times, Page: 2 The Times, Page: 7


Sajid Javid unveils the “true cost of Corbyn”

The Conservatives claim Labour’s spending pledges will cost £1.2trn over a five-year parliament with the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, describing the calculations as the “true cost of Corbyn”. Taxes, he said, would be set at the “highest level we’ve ever seen in peacetime” while Labour’s “truly frightening” plans would “plunge us back into an economic crisis”. The Tories claim Labour would increase government spending by 30% overall. David Smith suggests in the Sunday Times that the effort the Tories have put into the costings shows a nervousness about how its own spending plans will go down with voters.

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 1, 5 The Mail on Sunday, Page: 1, 25 The Sunday Times, Page: 11 The Sunday Times, Page: 1, 2 The Sun, Page: 14 Sunday Express, Page: 6

Luke Johnson: The UK’s onerous tax code must be simplified

Writing in the Sunday Times, Luke Johnson says amidst claims the EU is to blame for burdensome regulations it is the UK’s own fault that it has a tax code 22,000 pages long. The chairman of Risk Capital Partners who backed Leave in the 2016 referendum points to Hong Kong which has a tax code of just 350 pages, lower taxes and higher GDP per capita. “British politicians and civil servants have added layer upon layer to our tax system to extract more money from citizens through more complex devices. There are too many allowances and reliefs, and areas such as VAT, capital gains tax, national insurance, inheritance tax and the taxation of pensions are fiendishly convoluted.” The Office of Tax Simplification has obviously failed, he adds.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 11

Corbyn’s City raid mastermind a fan of tax havens

Jeremy Corbyn’s financial services policy guru, Professor Avinash Persaud, is revealed by the Sunday Telegraph to be an advocate of tax havens. The shadow chancellor last month indicated that work on a financial transaction tax by Prof Persaud’s consultancy, Intelligence Capital, would act as a blueprint under a Corbyn government. But Prof Persaud has also called attacks on offshore havens “illegitimate” and accused the EU of “gross discriminatory bullying” after it blacklisted countries over tax transparency. He is also a director at Elara Capital, an investment bank that has most of its funds based in Mauritius and Bermuda. The Telegraph suggests Elara’s structures “appear counter to Labour doctrine under Mr Corbyn.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 1



Budget airlines buy Thomas Cook slots

Easyjet and have bought prime take-off and landing slots at London Gatwick and Manchester airports from Thomas Cook, which was placed into liquidation at the end of September after failing to secure a £1.1bn rescue deal with lenders and shareholders. The Government’s official receiver is running the insolvency with AlixPartners and KPMG assisting.

The Times, Page: 52 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 37

Mamas & Papas bought back in pre-pack deal

Bluegem Capital has bought back the assets of Mamas & Papas through a pre-pack administration deal after the maternity chain failed. Six unprofitable stores will be closed affecting 73 staff while operations at its Huddersfield head office are set to be reviewed. Its remaining 21 stores will continue to trade as normal. The administration is being conducted by Deloitte.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 37 The Sun, Page: 48 The Guardian, Page: 44 The Scotsman, Page: 9


Clintons to close one in five stores

Greetings card chain Clintons has told landlords that 66 out of 332 sites have been earmarked for closure, while it will attempt to negotiate cheaper rent on more than 200 of the remainder. Clintons also hopes to ­renegotiate key supplier contracts and creditors, including suppliers, are expected to vote on the proposals early next month. Restructuring documents seen by the Sunday Telegraph said: “Approximately 90 of the company’s stores are currently loss-making with the business forecasting that sales will ­continue to decline.” A Clintons spokesman said: “Discussions are continuing with our landlords but no decisions have been made.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1

Harland and Wolff saved

InfraStrata, an AIM-listed company that has agreed to buy the historic shipyard Harland and Wolff, will tap investors for the money on Monday via a share placing. It is understood to have signed a conditional contract to buy Harland and Wolff from administrator BDO in a £6m deal.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1



Bank switching incentives rejected

The Treasury could intervene in the process to shift small businesses away from Royal Bank of Scotland after the scheme saw a slump in interest from small business customers to switch to rival lenders. RBS was ordered to transfer 120,000 small business customers by the European Commission after receiving a £46bn taxpayer funded bailout in 2008 and 2009. Small banks including Metro, Starling, Santander, Co-operative and TSB, have signed up to the switching scheme but many say their efforts have been met with apathy, owing to the bureaucracy involved in changing bank and the incentives not being strong enough.

The Times, Page: 47


Corporates persuaded to work with SMEs to improve Britain’s productivity

A project run by government-funded productivity programme Be the Business hopes to sign up 100 large corporates to a scheme designed to boost the output of Britain’s workforce. Large companies including Amazon, Google, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce will promise to boost the UK’s productivity by encouraging greater adoption of tech skills among their suppliers and offering mentoring programmes for managers. Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the retailer John Lewis and Be the Business, said: “Years of political uncertainty cannot be allowed to stall the economic growth we’re seeing across the country. While the government has an important role to play in improving productivity, it can’t be done by government for business. We can’t outsource it. Businesses really need to step up.”

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 2

Funding Circle diverting borrowers to rivals

Funding Circle is referring borrowers seeking £500,000 or more to rivals such as Iwoca and MarketInvoice as well as traditional banks including BNP Paribas. A source close to the peer-to-peer lender said the decision was made as a way to help those borrowers instead of turning them away.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1



Common sense victory over the taxman

A seller who took HMRC to court after being hit with a £60,000 CGT bill covering a period before the property was built has won his case. Desmond Higgins bought the two-bedroom flat in 2004, moved in when it was completed in 2010, and sold it in 2012. HMRC said that Higgins had not been eligible for private residence tax relief because he did not live there from 2004 to 2010 but Higgins argued that he could not have lived there before 2010 because it did not exist. In the Court of Appeal verdict Lord Justice Newey upheld Higgins’s appeal and ruled that the taxman should only be allowed to register a “gain” from the time a new-build sale was completed. Tim Stovold of Moore Kingston Smith, said: “This ruling restores common sense to this aspect of the tax system.”

The Times, Page: 59


Landlords could get tax breaks to sell to tenants

The Conservatives are considering exempting landlords from capital gains tax if they sell homes to existing tenants, the Telegraph reports. Boris Johnson’s team have been weighing the possible manifesto pledge designed to help private renters onto the property ladder.

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 4



Emergency tax reclaimed hits record high

The amount of “emergency tax” reclaimed by savers withdrawing money from their pensions totalled £54m in the three months to September 30, the highest quarterly figure since pension freedoms were introduced in 2015. Royal London director of policy Steve Webb said HMRC has snubbed calls for an overhaul from the Office of Tax Simplification: “It cannot be right that tens of thousands of people each year have too much tax taken out of their pension and then have the hassle of filling in a form to get back money that is rightfully theirs.”

Sunday Express, Page: 46

Doctors dismiss pensions sticking plaster

A plan to offer NHS doctors flexible pension contributions has been poorly received with only 13% of members of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association saying they would take advantage of the scheme. Claudia Paoloni, HCSA’s president, said that without more radical pension reform “these well-meaning proposals are set to fail”. Elsewhere, the Association of Specialist Medical Accountants recently told ministers that flexibilities amounted to “uninformed tinkering”.

The Observer, Page: 32



Top 100 Financial Advisers

Quilter made it to the top spot of FT‘s Top 100 Financial Advisers list for 2019, jumping five places since last year. The other firms to make the top 10 were Close Brothers Asset Management, Grant Thornton, Wilfred T Fry, Mazars Financial Planning, Charles Stanley, Progeny Wealth, St James’s Place Wealth Management, Tenet and LEBC Group. The FT carries pieces on finding financial advisers you can trust; how to get the most out of them and the pros and cons of using financial advice services which rely on artificial intelligence.

Financial Times, Money, Page: 14 Financial Times, Money, Page: 12 Financial Times, Money, Page: 7 Financial Times, Money, Page: 8-9



Moody’s lowers UK credit outlook to negative on Brexit ‘paralysis’

Moody’s has lowered the UK’s credit outlook to negative, arguing that the gridlock over Brexit had diminished the UK’s institutional framework. “It would be optimistic to assume that the previously cohesive, predictable approach to legislation and policymaking in the UK will return once Brexit is no longer a contentious issue, however that is achieved,” the ratings agency said.

Financial Times Reuters Yahoo! News


July rescues UK from recession

The Office for National Statistics is expected to say on Monday that third quarter GDP grew by 0.4% dispelling fears Britain was about to sink into recession for the first time since 2008. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, said: “The UK economy likely returned to clear growth in the third quarter […] However this will overstate the underlying strength of the economy and was highly dependent on a spike in activity in July. Activity eased back in August and the economy seemed to have a difficult September, thereby carrying little momentum into the fourth quarter.” On Tuesday, the ONS is expected to say the jobs market is slowing, with the number in work falling by 90,000 over the three months to the end of September; but the unemployment rate is expected to stay at 3.9%.

Sunday Express, Page: 43



Britain’s billionaires take £16bn hit

A report from UBS and PwC reveals Britain’s 54 billionaires have seen more than £16bn wiped off their fortune, after a strong dollar and volatile stock markets caused the wealth of the world’s richest people to shrink for the first time in five years. The report shows the fortunes of the world’s richest 2,101 people dropped by more than £300bn, or 4%, to £6.6trn in 2018 as the number of billionaires fell by 57. Josef Stadler, head of the ultra-high net worth unit at UBS, defended billionaires, saying they outperform other corporate leaders and that the media is bias against them.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 37 Financial Times, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 15 Daily Mail, Page: 105 The Sun, Page: 48

Labour’s socialism would take Britain back to 1970s

The Express talks to Duncan Simpson of the TaxPayers’ Alliance again, who this time warns of a return to the suffering of the 1970s if a Corbyn-led Labour government came to power. Mr Simpson warned that Labour’s plans to enlarge the state and beef up the unions would lead to rubbish piling up and the country held to ransom. Mr Simpson talks about the group’s Stand Against Socialism campaign which seeks to make the case that it’s generally up to individuals and not the state to make decisions.

Daily Express


Corbyn will trigger wealth exodus

Nigel Green, chief executive of the deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations, has said that a Jeremy Corbyn government would lead to an “exodus of the country’s most successful and wealthiest individuals”. He adds: “Soaking the rich doesn’t work because these people, typically, have the resources to move to lower tax jurisdictions if the tax burden in the UK becomes too great. They are internationally mobile.” Mr Green said Labour should instead incentivise top achievers who prop up the economy. “However, I suspect that implementing this economically-sound philosophy would be political suicide for Jeremy Corbyn,” Mr Green concluded.

Sunday Express

Dodd never liked paying taxes

An extract from Louis Barfe’s biography of comedian Ken Dodd recounts his encounters with accountants and the taxman. Dodd was accused in the 80s of being a common-law cheat and of false accounting with his defence arguing that Grant Thornton, which had carried out an audit of his finances, had failed to warn Dodd about the danger of a criminal prosecution if he failed to declare all his assets. Dodd was eventually cleared. Barfe notes that Dodd beat his old foe again on his deathbed by marrying Anne Jones, meaning not one penny of his vast fortune, revealed in February this year to be £27.7m, would go to the taxman.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 32-34

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward's News Roundup