Category Archives: News Roundup

NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020


NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Burden of crisis must not fall only on working people

Writing in the Express, Gary Stevenson, an “inequality economist” and former trader, talks about a report from Tax Justice UK based on the responses of ordinary people across the UK when asked about tax. He says Brits are increasingly irked by loopholes allowing the wealthy to skirt tax laws and many feel inequality is only growing. With huge rises in government debt as a result of rescuing the economy from the coronavirus crisis, Stevenson says the weight of this burden must not fall just on hard-working people but on the millionaires and billionaires too.

Daily Express, Page: 12

SMEs NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Scots workplaces must be “allowed to open quickly”

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has warned that businesses will struggle to survive a return to stricter coronavirus measures after Nicola Sturgeon halted any return to offices for at least another three weeks. Its CEO, Dr Liz Cameron, said: “We need to move forward to ensure our economy can recover and stem the loss of jobs where possible. That’s why we need our offices to be allowed to open quickly, particularly those where businesses have worked closely with employees and invested heavily in safety procedures.” Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland’s policy chair, added that the decision will have “consequences for firms reliant on workers’ footfall in our town and city centres.” He went on to suggest that “innovative new help might be required for those firms currently facing a footfall.”

The Scotsman, Page: 1

NatWest tops support lending league

Bank of England data show NatWest has been the biggest user of the Term Funding Scheme for smaller firms so far, which has extended £14.3bn to lenders. NatWest tapped the central bank fund for £5bn while Nationwide drew down £3.2bn, followed by Santander UK at £2.5bn.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 7

INVESTMENT NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Comment: How to rebound from COVID without imposing tax rises

In an opinion piece for the Telegraph, John Mills argues that to recharge the economy coming out of the coronavirus crisis, the government should avoid introducing tax rises and spending cuts, and instead look to increase investment in categories with the highest total returns to the economy, which cluster around mechanisation, technology and power; and that to make these industries competitive, the pound should be brought down to a point where it is more profitable to invest in new production facilities in the UK rather than in China or Germany.

The Daily Telegraph

PROPERTY NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Reprieve for tenants facing eviction

A “truce” on enforcement action for tenants facing eviction in England and Wales this Christmas has been announced. The Government also said that evictions will not be enforced in areas subject to local lockdowns as the pandemic continues. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick added that it has increased notice periods to six months in an “unprecedented measure”.

BBC News

SPORT NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Failure to return spectators to stadiums will cost clubs £150m a month

The Premier League and English Football League estimate more than £150m could be lost every month across football clubs if Boris Johnson delays the Oct 1 return of crowds. Two of the 12 remaining trial games have now been scrapped after organisers confirmed they were no longer safe to continue. Meanwhile, restricting capacity to 1,000 fans means is not deemed financially viable. Half of financial directors working in the English professional game have concerns over the health of their clubs, according to a survey by BDO. Around 45% of those surveyed said their club’s finances were “in need of attention”, compared to 21% in 2019.

The Daily Telegraph, Sport, Page: 1-3

CORPORATE NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Saga CEO critical of former PE owners

Euan Sutherland, CEO of Saga, has criticised the over-50’s group’s former private equity owners for being “too focused on the short-term” and dramatically increasing its debts. Mr Sutherland said that the insurance and travel specialist had a “relentless focus” in its first 55 years that was then followed by 15 years of poor decisions.

The Daily Telegraph Financial Times, Page: 10 The Times, Page: 36

PERSONAL FINANCE NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Warning on using life expectancy data for planning

Joseph Lu, director of longevity science at Legal & General Retail Retirement Income, has warned that national life expectancy data is not a suitable tool for retirement planning. He said: “National life expectancy data is not suitable for planning as it implies there is a one in two chance of outliving the figure. It doesn’t account for health, wealth and other important factors. If we would like a 90% chance of achieving life-long financial security, for age 65, plan for living to 100. This means planning for 35 years.”

FT Adviser

ECONOMY NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

MPs urge Sunak to consider furlough extension for viable firms

MPs on the Treasury Committee are urging the Chancellor to consider a targeted extension of the furlough scheme so businesses with a chance of surviving the pandemic have an opportunity to do so. In a wide-ranging report on the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the MPs said Rishi Sunak should consider extending the more generous terms for universal credit and have a plan for helping debt-troubled SMEs, or risk a longer recession. The report added that tax rises were likely to stifle economic recovery, but indicated that the Committee would support the Chancellor if he scrapped the Conservative party’s manifesto pledge to maintain the pensions triple lock.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 19 Financial Times, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 31

OTHER NEWS – FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Opinion: Corruption is the basis of UK’s wealth

The Guardian’s George Monbiot writes on corruption in the UK describing how research has revealed that three offshore centres are responsible for $1.1trn of illegal money flows annually. Monbiot rails against the City’s secrecy (it is exempt from FoI laws) and the freedom to hide ownership details when creating a company. He goes on to say the involvement of Britain’s bankers in global money laundering is a “perpetuation of colonial looting” and claims that processing “everyone else’s corruption is the basis of much of the wealth of this country.” Monbiot adds: “When you start to understand this, the contention by the author of Gomorrah, Roberto Saviano, that the UK is the most corrupt nation on Earth begins to make sense.”

The Guardian, Journal, Page: 1, 2

Contact Paul Southward


NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020


NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020

A deterrent to corona-fraud would improve public finances

The Times’ Patrick Hosking says public tolerance of furlough fraud is likely to be zero and there will no doubt be plenty of whistleblowers willing to spill the beans on employers in the coming months. Mr Hosking talks to Sarah Wallace, a partner at Constantine Law, who believes this has the makings of a real headache for some companies if HMRC decides to get heavy. The successful prosecution of a high-profile employer would be the best way for HMRC to maximise revenues from companies that have wrongly claimed money, Hosking suggests.

The Times, Page: 39

Majority favour tax hikes for the wealthy

A report compiled by Tax Justice UK found that 74% of Brits want to see wealth taxed more with supporters of the move including 64% of Tory voters and 88% of Labour. Robert Palmer, executive director of Tax Justice UK, said: “Brits want fair tax rises to support better public services, tackle inequality and deal with the climate emergency.”

Daily Mirror, Page: 13

CORPORATE NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020

New Look faces administration risk if restructuring blocked

New Look warns it will have to consider “less favourable alternatives” if unsecured creditors do not support its latest restructuring plan, potentially putting around 11,000 jobs at risk. Last month, the group launched a second major restructuring of its store estate in three years, asking landlords to agree new turnover-based leases at 402 stores to help it through the COVID crisis. A recapitalisation that would reduce senior debt from about £550m to £100m can only be delivered if the firm secures the support of its landlords for a CVA at a vote on September 15th. New Look has been criticised by the British Property Federation (BPF) over alleged inaccuracies in how it has presented the restructuring plan. “New Look and Deloitte have launched this CVA with reference in their communications that the BPF’s views are reflected in the proposal – this is not true,” chief executive Melanie Leech said.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 The Times, Page: 42 City AM

CRIME NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Bank branch staff stopped £19m of fraud in first half of 2020

The Banking Protocol that enables bank branch staff to alert their local police force when they suspect a customer is being scammed has prevented victims from losing £116m from fraud and led to 744 arrests since it was introduced three years ago. Just in the first six months of 2020, £19.3m of fraud was prevented and more than 100 arrests were made through the scheme, according to figures from UK Finance. A range of scams that trick elderly and vulnerable customers into withdrawing cash from their branch were prevented, including courier scams, romance fraud and rogue traders. Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “It is sickening that criminals are preying on elderly and vulnerable victims during this difficult time. Bank branch staff on the frontline are doing a heroic job in stopping these cruel scams and helping bring those responsible to justice.

BBC News Your Money

SMEs NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Businesses forced to close to be eligible for grants

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay has announced a new scheme to help businesses survive closures due to coronavirus lockdowns. Large businesses in England which are forced to close as a result of a local lockdown will now be able to claim a £1,500 grant per property for every three weeks they are not able to open their doors. Smaller businesses will receive £1,000. The British Chambers of Commerce welcomed the payments but warned they would not be enough for many firms. Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, described the intervention as “a much needed additional financial lifeline” while Annie Gascoyne, of the Confederation of British Industry, warned that more targeted support would be needed in the autumn.

Financial Times, Page: 2 The Times, Page: 4 Daily Mail The Guardian, Page: 6

State loans should be repaid only when businesses return to profit

A study by the centre-right think tank Onward has found that around 20% of British businesses are only making enough profit to cover their debt interest payments. High levels of corporate debt built up by companies during the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed 4.3% of firms into technical insolvency, the report estimates. Angus Groom, Onward fellow and report author, said: “The Government’s loans schemes have been highly effective at helping firms through the worst of the crisis, but they represent a double-edged sword in that they have weighed down firms with debt just as we need them to invest.” About £53bn has been loaned to SMEs and The City UK has estimated that £35bn may not be repaid. Researchers at Onward are calling on the Government to convert the debt into “income-contingent loans” that do not need to be repaid until companies become profitable.

The Times, Page: 40 The I, Page: 9

WEALTH MANAGEMENT NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020

St James’s Place reopens frozen UK property funds

St James’s Place has become the first investment manager to reopen its £3.2bn property fund range, saying that its portfolio manager was confident the products were liquid enough to allow investors to trade in and out.

Financial Times

PENSIONS NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020

£2tn ‘at risk from pension tricksters’

More than £2tn of pension cash is at risk of scams, according to a report from The Police Foundation think-tank, which calls for urgent action to better protect investors.

Financial Times

ECONOMY NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Forecasters say no-deal Brexit now more likely

City analysts have said the probability of a no-deal Brexit has increased following the publication of the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill. Fitch now expects the UK and the EU to trade on WTO terms from January 1st and has taken 2% of forecast for next year. Mujtaba Rahman of the Eurasia Group consultancy now puts the likelihood of no-deal at 60%, up from his previous 40% prediction while Kallum Pickering, senior economist at Berenberg, commented: “It suggests the UK is trying to increase the pressure to get a deal more to its liking rather than going for a hard exit. Either way, the strategy does not raise the chance of a good outcome.”

The Daily Telegraph

OTHER NEWS – THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Government sets out plans for new approach to subsidy control

UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma yesterday confirmed that the UK would follow World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on subsidies and other international commitments after the end of the transition period. In a press release, the BEIS said: “The WTO rules are an internationally recognised common standard covering financial assistance granted by governments and public authorities to companies. Unlike EU member states, most advanced economies do not have substantive rules regulating subsidies beyond those set by the WTO.” In a statement to MPs, Mr Sharma insisted the change would not mean a return to the 1970’s policy of picking winners or bailing out losers. Rather the UK needed “a modern system for supporting businesses to grow” and to “maintain the flexibility to support the UK’s strategic interests”. Sharma added that a detailed plan for a post-Brexit state aid regime would not be published until next year, prompting anger in Brussels.

GOV The Times Financial Times, Page: 3 The I, Page: 6

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward


NEWS – WEDNESDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2020


NEWS – WEDNESDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – WEDNESDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Private equity says tax rise would drive industry out of UK

The British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association is lobbying the Government not to increase taxes on carried interest – whereby a private equity executive’s share of profits is a carried interest in their fund rather than performance-related pay. This typically enables them to pay capital gains tax at up to 28% rather than income tax at up to 45%. Arun Advani, an academic at the University of Warwick, said: “Private equity is the only part of the UK’s financial industry that gets access to these lower tax rates for individuals. So, it would make sense for a government committed to supporting everyone in the financial sector to tax it at the same rate as income.” The Telegraph notes that Nat Rothschild tweeted that it was “indefensible” that carried interest is taxed at a lower rate than traditional stock option awards given to executives at UK companies. “It is another reason why the pool of listed companies is shrinking” he added.

Financial Times, Page: 12 The Times, Page: 38 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

Tens of thousands of potential fraud cases relating to furlough scheme

Some 27,000 potential cases of fraud connected to the Government’s furlough scheme are to be investigated by HMRC, Downing Street has said. The news follows the disclosure on Monday by the head of HMRC, Jim Harra, that the department predicts a loss of £3.5bn resulting from people fraudulently claiming payments under the initiative. A Government spokesman said: “Where genuine mistakes have happened, HMRC will work with employers to correct claims, but if any claim is suspected of fraud or is based on dishonest and inaccurate information payments may be withheld or need to be repaid. HMRC won’t hesitate to take criminal action in the most serious cases.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 6 City AM The Times, Page: 12 Daily Express, Page: 4

Amazon paid less than £300m in UK tax last year

Amazon’s British subsidiaries paid £293m of direct tax in 2019 on revenues of almost £14bn. This is a 33% increase from the £220m paid in 2018 when revenues were 26% lower. Amazon does not reveal profits or corporation tax payments for its entire UK operation. Paul Monaghan, head of the Fair Tax Mark campaign, said: “Amazon is growing its market domination across the globe on the back of income that is largely untaxed – allowing it to unfairly undercut local businesses that take a more responsible approach. Contrived financial arrangements lie at the heart of Amazon’s success.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 14 Daily Mirror, Page: 18 Daily Mail, Page: 19 The I, Page: 21

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – WEDNESDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Haldane warns against furlough scheme extension

Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist has warned the Government against extending the furlough scheme, arguing that it would interrupt the “necessary process of adjustment” that was already underway. Rejecting concerns about a spike in redundancies, Mr Haldane said it was the central bank and Government’s job to support the transition to new ways of working. In a City AM podcast, he said the pandemic has caused “lasting structural damage” to the economy and that “regrettably, some business will not make it through”. His comments come as figures from the Insolvency Service show that employers filed plans in June and July to make more than 300,000 job cuts. This would be in addition to the 730,000 employees already made redundant during the pandemic and the 300,000 self-employed people unable to find work.

The Guardian, Page: 33 City AM Daily Mail Daily Mirror, Page: 5

CORPORATE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Emergency insolvency rules must be extended

The Institute of Directors has called for emergency insolvency rules designed to give breathing space to struggling company directors to be extended or risk “company collapses and job losses”. Directors’ liability for “wrongful trading” was relaxed in response to the pandemic but is due to come back into force next month. Roger Barker, director of policy and corporate governance at the Institute, said: “Directors must be in a position to see their organisations through the crisis. They shouldn’t be penalised for acting responsibly amid unprecedented circumstances.”

The Times, Page: 38 Daily Mail, Page: 67

BM Advisory appointed as Joint Supervisors of Select CVA

BM Advisory ’s Michael Solomons and Andrew Pear have been appointed as Joint Supervisors of Select Fashion’s Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). Michael Solomons comments: “The retail sector across the UK has reported significant operating losses as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, with a high number of store closures and a significant loss of jobs. Select Fashion, too, has been heavily impacted by the pandemic, making the previous lease arrangements unattainable if the business was to continue.”

Press Release

SMEs NEWS – WEDNESDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Lloyds forced Bounce Back Loan users to open business accounts

The Competition and Markets Authority has criticised Lloyds Bank for forcing 30,000 small company owners to open fee-paying business accounts to get Bounce Back Loans from the Government’s support scheme. The customers were mostly sole traders running their businesses from their current account. Lloyds said it had no processes in place to lend to businesses through personal accounts and so asked them to open a business account. The bank alerted the CMA and has now agreed to a series of remedies to ensure that customers are not impacted.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 65 The Times, Page: 36

British Business Bank seeks funding boost to drive UK recovery

Keith Morgan, the outgoing CEO of the British Business Bank, has said the bank should play an “essential role” in supporting small business growth as the country rebuilds after the coronavirus crisis.

Financial Times, Page: 2

ECONOMY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Jobs recovery evident but pay continues to fall

The latest Report on Jobs survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG shows hiring increased last month for the first time since March. However, pay continues to fall as rising unemployment shifts the balance in the labour market from workers to business. Job placings for temporary workers grew at the quickest rate in 20 months while permanent placings rose only “marginally”. The loss of 750,000 jobs between March and July combined with the jobs lost among the self-employed was behind a continued fall in starting salaries in August, the report found.

The Times, Page: 38

Government to fund projects across home nations

The Telegraph details how the Internal Market Bill will enable the UK Government to fund projects UK-wide and support businesses or local authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since devolution, ministers in London have not been allowed to spend public money in certain policy areas. Alun Cairns, a former Conservative Wales secretary, said: “Although the primary role of this Bill is to protect the UK Market, it’s also the start of the Union fight back.”

The Daily Telegraph

OTHER NEWS – WEDNESDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Improved air quality would give economy a £1.6bn boost

The UK could see a £1.6bn boost a year to the economy if air pollution was reduced to meet World Health Organisation guidelines, according to research by CBI Economics. The benefits would come from reductions in early deaths, sickness absence and improved productivity. Rain Newton-Smith, of the CBI, said: “Not only is there a clear moral responsibility to address air pollution and the impact it has on human health and the environment, there’s also a striking economic rationale.”

Yorkshire Post, Page: 2

Cost of coronavirus response over £200bn for first six months

The National Audit Office (NAO) says Government spending on over 190 measures in response to the coronavirus crisis has cost the Treasury £210bn so far. The NAO said £70bn of the promised funds had been spent, and there were a number of measures still to be fully implemented. The Treasury’s furlough scheme, with a price tag of £47bn, was the single most expensive intervention and £35.4bn of this has been spent so far.

The Guardian, Page: 8 The Times, Page: 12

Contact Paul Southward


NEWS – TUESDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 2020


NEWS – TUESDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – TUESDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Higginson tells Chancellor to hit avoiders with windfall tax

Companies that shift profits offshore to minimise their corporation tax bills should be hit with a windfall tax to help pay for the COVID-19 crisis, Andrew Higginson, the chairman of Morrisons has said. Instead of raising taxes for workers and companies that pay their taxes, multinationals using complex structures to funnel profits overseas should be targeted instead, Mr Higginson wrote in a note for clients of the stockbroker Shore Capital, where he acts as a senior adviser. “The easy cry is to raise taxes on those that already pay. The better choice is to target those who don’t. Windfall taxes should be the Government’s weapon of choice,” Mr Higginson added.

The Times, Page: 36

CGT rise could stifle investment

Treasury proposals to increase the rate of capital gains tax “could stifle entrepreneurialism and slow down investment simply to generate short-term tax revenues,” Richard Churchill, a partner at Blick Rothenberg, has claimed. Mr Churchill said: “Serial entrepreneurs may well conclude the incentives are no longer sufficient to warrant risking their own funds and simply sit on their hands during the next few years which would be a further blow to the economy during a period which will undoubtedly be difficult for UK plc.”

The I, Page: 43

EFL clubs told to settle tax debts

The Mail reports that English Football League clubs are facing a funding crisis as HMRC demands taxes due after their four-month COVID-9 payment holiday are paid in one lump sum. The clubs lost a combined £50m through missing gate receipts after lockdown and a further loss of £200m is expected if significant crowds are kept away this season.

Daily Mail, Page: 75

PENSIONS NEWS – TUESDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Employers urged to assist savers looking to transfer out of DB schemes

A report from Royal London and Lane Clark & Peacock is calling for employers to provide greater assistance to those workers who want to transfer their defined benefit pension plan into a scheme that they can manage themselves. The report warns that unless such advice is made available, there is a danger that savers could end up dealing with rogue advisers who go on to strip them of their pension. The report found only 29 out of 750 IFAs surveyed (4%) have been appointed by a scheme. LCP partner Steve Webb comments: “Pension schemes have an important role to play in ensuring that members are fully informed about their options and can access high quality advice.” Research by Royal London and LCP also reveals nearly half of advisers are unsure whether they will still be giving defined benefit transfer advice in a year’s time. New rules including a ban on most contingent charging will come into force from the start of next month.

FT Adviser Money Marketing International Adviser Financial Planning Today IPE Corporate Adviser

Providers should have power to stop risky transfers

A study of 13 pension providers by the People’s Pension and policing think tank the Police Foundation shows over 900 people with combined savings of £54m were potentially targeted by fraudsters in 2019. Phil Brown, director of policy at the People’s Pension, said: “Currently, pension providers can flag a potential scam to a customer, but we can only stand by and watch if the individual chooses to proceed with a risky transfer that could result in them losing all their savings. We’re calling on the Government to provide pension providers and regulators with the powers to stop risky transfers; and ensure victims of fraud aren’t hit with having to pay tax penalties on their lost savings.”

Daily Express, Page: 23 Daily Mirror, Page: 21 Yorkshire Post, Page: 9

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – TUESDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 2020

HMRC boss says £3.5bn of furlough cash could be suspect

Jim Harra, the top civil servant at HMRC, told MPs yesterday that its working assumption is that between 5% and 10% of furlough claims may have been paid out in error or because of fraud. The Government has so far paid out £35.4bn in furlough cash, meaning somewhere between £1.75bn and £3.5bn could have been wrongly paid out. Mr Harra said HMRC would not be seeking to root out employers who have made legitimate mistakes, but will instead be focusing on tackling abuse and fraud. HMRC expects businesses to check their claims and repay any excess amount, Mr Harra added.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 1, 2 The Times, Page: 36 The I, Page: 11 The Guardian, Page: 29 The Sun, Page: 13 The Scotsman, Page: 10

CORPORATE NEWS – TUESDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Business will struggle to repay Covid debt, BCC warns

A survey of service sector and manufacturing businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce and TSB has found that more than one in four companies may need to scale down their operations to repay debt accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses will need to be given flexible repayment options if an “unsustainable debt crisis” is to be avoided, the BCC said. A quarter said they would have to change their investment plans because of their debts and more than one in ten feared that they may be forced out of business. The groups’ director general Adam Marshall commented: “If not addressed, large debt burdens could stifle the recovery, threatening jobs and constraining business activity and investment.”

The Times, Page: 38

PROPERTY NEWS – TUESDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Halifax figures show record UK house prices

Halifax has reported that pent-up demand and the stamp duty holiday have seen UK house prices reach a record high in August, with managing director Russell Galley stating: “A surge in market activity has driven up house prices through the post-lockdown summer period.” The price of the average UK house now stands at £245,747, with Andrew Burrell of Capital Economics noting: “Pent-up demand will soon be expended. A weak economy, cautious lenders and the end of the stamp duty cut will weigh on prices.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Guardian City AM

ECONOMY NEWS – TUESDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 2020

UK consumer spending exceeds last year’s level for first time since lockdown

Data from Barclaycard indicates that consumer spending grew 0.2% in August, compared with the same month last year, up from a 2.6% contraction in July and the first expansion since February. Separately, the British Retail Consortium and KPMG retail sales monitor reported retail sales rising at an annual rate of 3.9% in August. Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “We continue to experience mixed fortunes and not all retailers are where they should be at this point in the year. Fashion sales did start to rebound somewhat although this was mainly driven by children’s back-to-school purchases. Likewise, the focus on home-related products, including furniture and computing equipment, continued – no doubt aided by many consumers remaining mostly at home.”

Financial Times, Page: 3 The Times, Page: 38 The I, Page: 43 Yorkshire Post, Page: 1

Sterling drops as Brexit tensions escalate

Sterling dropped about 0.5% against the USD in early European trading yesterday ahead of another round of Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU. The prospects for a deal were dealt another blow overnight after news that the UK Government is preparing to override previous agreements with the EU.

CNBC

OTHER NEWS – TUESDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Forget philanthropy and tax, tax, tax

Paul Vallely explains at length in a piece for the Guardian why philanthropy does little to resolve wealth inequality. Rather, it serves elite causes, enables billionaires to dictate policy and instead of making the world a better place, undermines democracy. Vallely goes on to point out that tax relief adds the money of ordinary citizens to the causes chosen by rich individuals, but attempts to reform the tax relief continue to hit brick walls. Vallely cites Rutger Bregman, who, when asked at Davos in 2019 how the world could prevent a social backlash rising from the growth of inequality, replied: “The answer is very simple. Just stop talking about philanthropy. And start talking about taxes – Taxes, taxes, taxes. All the rest is bullshit, in my opinion.”

The Guardian, Journal, Page: 5-7

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward


NEWS – MONDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 2020


NEWS – MONDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – MONDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Study reveals towns with highest rate of tax avoidance

A new study by UHY Hacker Young shows high net-worth individuals are increasingly likely to admit tax avoidance to escape harsh penalties, with research showing towns in the stockbroker belt of the home counties have the biggest concentration of people admitting tax avoidance. Windsor tops the list, with 23 disclosures to HMRC of unpaid tax per 100,000 population last year, compared to the UK average of seven. St Albans followed, with 20 disclosures per 100,000 population with Guildford and Tunbridge Wells coming next. Sean Glancy, of UHY Hacker Young, said: “The stockbroker belt is littered with tax avoidance hotspots. The home counties are home to many high net-worth individuals and well-paid city commuters. These are the groups most likely to have the highest income tax bills – leading to greater incentives to find ways to reduce payments.”

The Guardian, Page: 19 Daily Express, Page: 45 Daily Mirror, Page: 26 The Times, Page: 6 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 12 Daily Star, Page: 24

Bootle: Hiking taxes would prove deeply damaging

Roger Bootle issues a warning against tax rises in the Telegraph, stating that higher taxes would “blunt incentives” and damage economic performance. He says foreign aid is one area of spending that deserves to be trimmed. This should be done in combination with confidence-bolstering measures for the post-Brexit economy. Higher personal and corporate taxes would work against this and “risk an exodus of both talented people and successful businesses.” As for government debt, fears over a rise in interest rates could be ameliorated by the use of perpetual bonds – putting off refinancing state debt for decades or more. Elsewhere, the Mirror cites Doug McWilliams, of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, who agrees with Bootle’s position on debt, saying that running it down over 50 years “seems sensible.”

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

Tory MPs revolt over tax hike plans

Conservative MP David Davis is leading a charge against a rise in taxes, arguing that Treasury plans for increases to be spread over the next four years “won’t work and it is not Conservative.” Davis told the Daily Express: “We are already at the highest tax burden for 30 years. High taxes suppress economic activity, investment and employment. The smarter approach is to borrow cheaply as we look to spread the cost of the crisis, as in wartime, over 50 years or thereabouts and grow the economy as quickly as possible.”

Daily Express, Page: 4

Comment: Divide over taxes marks beginning of longer economic war

Writing in the Times, Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, talks about the new divide emerging in how the dire state of public finances is to be tackled, with Treasury hawks advocating tax rises while the doves support spending for growth. Littlewood gives several reasons why the doves may be right, but adds that, before too long they “will need also to become spending hawks.”

The Times, Page: 35

SMEs NEWS – MONDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Give small businesses vouchers to ease EU transition, FSB says

The Federation of Small Businesses is calling on the government to provide “transition vouchers” to help to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period. National chairman Mike Cherry said: “The transition period will soon be at an end, but the small firms that make up 99% of our business community still have no clear sense of what they’ll be transitioning to.” He continued: “Transition vouchers mark a sensible way forward: set sums that can be spent on expertise, tech and training that will ease the small business community’s move to a new relationship with the EU. If the government wants firms to take preparatory action over the next few months, it needs to help them to do so.”

The Times, Page: 34 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 6 The I, Page: 7 The Scotsman, Page: 13

Nearly a fifth of small businesses would not survive second lockdown

A survey by insurance group Simply Business reveals that 17% of small businesses believe they would not survive a new lockdown while a total of 62% said they were less confident about their firm’s long-term outlook. Only 5% of respondents think they would cope better. Elsewhere, the Times reports that Alok Sharma, the business secretary, is considering the introduction of cash grants for businesses hit by local lockdowns.

Daily Mail, Page: 74 Daily Express, Page: 45 The Times, Page: 10

CORPORATE NEWS – MONDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 2020

James Moore: When will firms get serious about climate change?

The Independent’s James Moore is sceptical about whether UK companies are serious about tackling climate change, citing a report from KPMG which found although 82% of business leaders said it was a “top priority”, only 8% reported having a fully-fledged plan for how to tackle the risks in place. Some 89% claimed they were “in early stage discussions” and 3% said they had developed no plans at all. Moore does give some credit to institutional investors, whose efforts he says have meant corporates are at least talking about the issue. The Press and Journal also picks up on the survey and cites KPMG UK’s head of ESG, Sue Bonney, who said: “Talk now on any post-pandemic recovery almost always includes climate change at its heart. But our survey suggests that, while many businesses are taking ESG seriously, there is a long way to go before we can truly say that everyone is placing it at the centre of their future strategic growth plans.”

The Independent, Page: 40 The Press and Journal, Page: 28

PENSIONS NEWS – MONDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 2020

UK universities and staff face huge jump in pension contributions

Proposals from the Universities Superannuation Scheme to plug an estimated £18bn deficit could see a massive increase in contributions paid by university employers and around 200,000 scheme members.

Financial Times

ECONOMY NEWS – MONDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Chancellor must act to avoid permanent loss of skills

Almost two thirds of manufacturers told industry group MakeUK that the job retention scheme (JRS) should be extended for key sectors to protect vital parts of the economy. “The protection of key skills should be a strategic national priority as this will be the first building block in getting the economy up and running,” said Stephen Phipson, MakeUK’s chief executive. “The starting point for this should be an extension of the JRS to those sectors which are not just our most important but who have been hit hardest. Failure to do so will leave us out of step with our major competitors and risk a loss of key skills when we can least afford to do so.” Meanwhile, a survey from BDO published today shows 60% of mid-sized businesses do not plan to bring back all of their staff when the Treasury stops supporting the wages of those still off work, raising the prospect of a full-blown unemployment crisis in the autumn.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Guardian, Page: 27 Daily Express, Page: 6 The I, Page: 6 Yorkshire Post, Page: 11

Johnson given a week to save aviation

The bosses of the UK’s 20 biggest airports have warned Boris Johnson that he risks “irreparable damage” to the economy unless he moves to replace quarantine with COVID-19 testing in the next week. In a letter to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, the signatories give Mr Johnson seven days to make the change as part of a series of measures to prevent the loss of up to 110,000 aviation and allied industry jobs. Separately, at least 24 Conservatives are pressuring Rishi Sunak to suspend air passenger duty until the end of summer next year.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1, 2 Daily Mail, Page: 11

Contact Paul Southward


NEWS – FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2020


NEWS – FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Redwood: Tax cuts, not increases the answer

With ongoing speculation that the Chancellor will look to increases taxes in a bid to cover the hit to public finances brought about by the coronavirus crisis, Sir John Redwood, chairman of the 1922 Committee’s Treasury group, has suggested that “tax cuts, not increases” are the answer. Writing in the Telegraph, Sir John points to the way the housing market has bounced back with support from a temporary cut to stamp duty, saying: “The Government has just shown how a tax cut can provide a good boost to activity, jobs and incomes.” He added that the Inland Revenue “will probably be a winner too”, with it taxing extra activity among estate agents, conveyancers, mortgage businesses, removal firms and tradespeople. He adds that HMRC will also see a “stamp duty boost from more transactions as an offset to the lower rates.” Sir John adds that the Chancellor should look to “tax reductions and assistance”, saying the economy needs “tax cuts that reinforce recovery and speed the opening up of every type of work.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4 The Daily Telegraph

Raising the wrong taxes can hinder growth – Brady

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee representing Conservative MPs, has urged caution over increasing taxes. Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Graham was asked if tax increases were needed to balance the books in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. He replied: “Well, I think the necessity is to make sure that we don’t make this crisis any worse than it has to be, and fundamental to that is making sure that the country gets back to work so people resume as far as possible normal life.” Asked what role taxation would have, he offered: “I think we have to be aware that raising taxes, and raising the wrong types of taxes especially, can be a way in which you stifle economic growth and prospects, rather than guaranteeing them.”

The Daily Telegraph Evening Standard

Backbenchers concerned over tax plan

The Telegraph reports that Conservative backbench MPs could vote against parts of this autumn’s Budget if Rishi Sunak rolls out tax rises. This comes after the Chancellor told a meeting on Wednesday that tax rises were on the cards, stressing the importance of being honest with the public about how the cost of the coronavirus response will be covered. The paper cites a former minister who says they won’t be voting for the Budget, adding that MPs are “going absolutely insane in the backbench WhatsApp group.” Another MP tells the Telegraph that they have heard talk of backbenchers protesting against the Budget but suggested this could be avoided if Mr Sunak took their concerns on board.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4

Firms passing tech tax onto customers

Hannah Boland and Michael Cogley in the Telegraph reflect on news that Google, Amazon and Apple are set to pass the cost of the digital services tax onto consumers and advertisers, saying that while the levy was designed to pull in more revenue from global tech firms, “it appears the burden will fall elsewhere”. They note that the Treasury will collect as much as £500m a year from the tax which applies to social media firms, search engines and online marketplaces, but instead of large tech companies paying up, it will be small businesses who sell via Amazon’s marketplace, advertisers who pay to have their ads appear on Google, and app developers who use Apple’s App Store. Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK says the levy is “essentially a sales tax levied on top of VAT”, adding that such taxes are “passed straight on to the consumer”. Chris Sanger at EY likens the digital servi ces tax to air passenger duty, saying it “will be included as an extra cost for the buyer or seller”. Writing in the same paper, Barney Durrant of marketing consultancy Bluebell Digital voices concern that the financial hit of the tech tax is being passed on to customers.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 8

Tax and the cost of COVID-19

Ian Martin looks at the likelihood of taxes rising to cover the cost of the COVID-19 outbreak, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak reportedly mulling increases. He argues that senior Treasury officials, “veterans of the 2008 financial crisis”, know it would be “madness” to introduce large tax rises soon as this “would squash the recovery”. He adds that once a recovery is established, spending should be controlled and some taxes could rise to top up the public coffers. Elsewhere, the FT’s Chris Giles argues that economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic would be hampered by the tax increases being considered by Mr Sunak. Meanwhile, Ben Chu in the Independent highlights that income tax, national insurance, or VAT are not among the levies reports suggest could increase, despite these accounting for close to 60% of the exchequer’s tax take, with the Conservatives having pledged not to increase these taxes in the run up to the last election.

The Times, Page: 25 Financial Times, Page: 23 The Independent, Page: 11

CORPORATE NEWS – FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2020

UK businesses slash investment as coronavirus crisis bites

A Bank of England survey of CFOs shows that average investment by UK firms will be down 32% in Q3 compared to if there had been no coronavirus pandemic.

Financial Times

Pharmacy funding fears

A report from EY shows that community pharmacies are underfunded by £497m a year, with analysis suggesting that 72% of the family businesses will be losing money within four years unless there is increased funding from NHS England.

Daily Mirror, Page: 1 Daily Express, Page: 6

British Gas acquires Robin Hood

British Gas has acquired council-owned supplier Robin Hood Energy. The firm, launched by Nottingham City Council in 2015, fell into financial difficulty last year and hired Deloitte to oversee the sale of its book.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1

PENSIONS NEWS – FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Pension freedoms age rising

The Government has confirmed that the pension freedoms age is set to rise from 55 to 57, with the increase in the age that people can access personal pensions coming into effect in 2028. The change to defined contribution pensions was confirmed in a written ministerial statement by economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen. Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said that the Government indicated that the shift was on the cards in 2014, but didn’t include provisions in legislation, leading to uncertainty over whether the change was actually occurring. Pointing to “government communication gaps” which meant many women found out too late that their state pension age was increasing from 60 to 65, he said it is “imperative” that ministers and the industry make sure the change in pension freedoms age is clear to all those saving in pensions.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 12 Daily Mail, Page: 2 Daily Express

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Home-working steadily decreasing

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the proportion of people working exclusively from home is declining, reaching 20% last week compared with a high of 38% recorded in the middle of June. The ONS report said the rate has seen a “steadily decreasing trend” over the last two months. It added that over the most recent week, the proportion of working adults who travelled to work reached 57% – the largest slice of the workforce since the coronavirus lockdown began.

Daily Mail

Kickstart Scheme Launched

The government has launched an innovative new scheme to help young people into work and spur Britain’s economic revival.

Businesses are now able to sign up to be part of the landmark £2 billion Kickstart scheme, giving unemployed young people a future of opportunity and hope by creating high-quality, government-subsidised jobs across the UK.

Under the scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of his Plan for Jobs, employers can offer youngsters aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit a six-month work placement.

The government will fully fund each “Kickstart” job – paying 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

Employers will be able to top up this wage, while the government will also pay employers £1,500 to set up support and training for people on a Kickstart placement, as well as helping pay for uniforms and other set up costs. The jobs will give young people – who are more likely to have been furloughed, with many working in sectors disproportionately hit by the pandemic – the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace and to gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.  Find out more: Here

PROPERTY NEWS – FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2020

First home price rises outpace wider average

Analysis by Halifax shows that the price of the average first home has increased by more than two-thirds in the last decade, jumping 69% from £142,473 in 2010 to £241,025 today. In the same period, the average house price has only risen 33%. The report also shows that the number of first-time buyers has fallen by 29% this year, with 116,843 first-time buyers in the first six months of 2020 compared to 164,800 in the same period in 2019.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 5

INTERNATIONAL NEWS – FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2020

A tale of two Hong Kongs: Beijing cracks down while the financial hub thrives

KPMG analysis suggests that while Hong Kong placed third for equity funds raised in H1, Ant Group’s IPO could push it close to the top slot it secured in 2019.

Financial Times, Page: 21

ECONOMY NEWS – FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2020

Business activity spikes

The IHS Markit/CIPS Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a monthly gauge of activity in the services and manufacturing sector, points to rapid growth in August, with the index hitting a six-year high of 59.1 from 57.0 in July. The survey’s index of employment revealed the first decline in three months, with concerns that further job losses are on the horizon as the Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end on October 31. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said companies’ ability to cope with the withdrawal of economic support measures is the “burning question”, adding: “Policymakers face a huge challenge in sustaining this recovery and avoiding a ‘bounce and fade’ scenario.” The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Services PMI Business Activity Index registered 58.8 in August, up from 56.5 in July. This marks an ongoing increase, with readings of 47.1 in June, 29.0 in May and a record low of just 13.4 in April. August’s figure signalled the fastest pace of output growth since April 2015. Howard Archer, chief economist at the EY Item Club, said the improvement in services activity “was linked to the re-opening of companies’ own sites and their client sites.”

The I, Page: 50 Daily Mail The Sun, Page: 50 City AM

Retail sales climb in August

Retail sales climbed in August, hitting the highest level since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In-store like-for-like sales were down 28.1% year-on-year in August, marking the best result since February, while non-store sales jumped 72% from a base of 18.6% as the shift toward online shopping driven by the pandemic continued. Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, commented: “As we enter the largest recession on record, the outlook remains unsettled with constrained family finances and job market uncertainty continuing to impact negatively on discretionary spend.”

City AM

Contact Paul Southward


NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020


NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

Sunak: No ‘horror show’ tax rise

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has insisted that a “horror show of tax rises” are not on the horizon, with this coming on the back of recent reports that the Treasury is considering a number of tax increases to cover the cost of the coronavirus crisis – including changes to corporation tax and capital gains tax. In a statement given to a meeting of recently-elected Conservative MPs, Mr Sunak said that while the Government “will need to do some difficult things” in an effort to “overcome short-term challenges”, this did not mean “a horror show of tax rises with no end in sight.” Mr Sunak also said that ministers will need to be honest with the public about the challenges ahead and show them how the Government plans to “correct our public finances and give our country the dynamic, low-tax economy we all want to see.” Considering the tax increases that the Chancellor had reportedly be en mulling, a Times editorial says increasing CGT and corporation tax and “tinkering with” tax relief on pension contributions would be counterproductive in the short term.

The Daily Telegraph Financial Times, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 6 The Times, Page: 31 The Guardian, Page: 1 The Independent, Page: 13 The I, Page: 4 Daily Mirror, Page: 9 Daily Mail Daily Express, Page: 6 Daily Star, Page: 2 BBC News

Minister calls for tax cuts…

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has suggested that taxes should be cut in the Budget, telling Times Radio: “I will point out to you that in the past when we’ve actually cut tax rates, we’ve actually seen taxes increase.” Describing tax rates as a “very dynamic situation”, she added: “Some people might assume the only way to get tax up is to increase tax rates but we have shown in our economic history the opposite.” Meanwhile, former Cabinet minister Sir John Redwood also urged Mr Sunak to resist short-term tax rises, saying “blundering in” with tax increases may produce less revenue and further lift the deficit.

Daily Mail, Page: 15 The Guardian

… while Clarke urges increases

Former Chancellor Ken Clarke has warned Rishi Sunak that he must raise taxes in order to avoid financial disaster in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Mr Clarke said the current Chancellor must “raise some taxation to show common sense.” He suggested that by letting debt pile up “you are waiting for inflation to come back” but warned: “When it does come back a financial crisis will hit you and a disaster will occur.”

Daily Express

INDUSTRY NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

Audit fee increases hit contractors

The Times reports that firms with government contracts are bearing the brunt of accounting failures surrounding the collapse of Carillion, with the construction and outsourcing sector facing “spiralling” audit fees. Analysis shows that fees paid by Capita to KPMG have risen from £3.4m a year to £5.9m in three years, while Serco’s audit fee last year, also paid to KPMG, was up 58% to £1.9m. The figures, which are quoted on a like-for-like basis for the statutory audit, show that other companies in the sector have seen audit fee increases of between 10% and 20%. The Times says the fallout from Carillion failing – including criticism from the Cabinet Office – has “effectively … put up a red flag over the audits of government contractors”, with KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and EY understood to have been increasing resources in audits in the sector to produce higher-quality checking of supposedly higher-risk clients.

The Times, Page: 45

WIRECARD NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

Analysing the collapse of Wirecard

Risk Channel , sister publication to The Morning Account, has been following developments at failed German payments firm Wirecard and has now created an interactive Media Insight Guide examining the media events shaping public opinion in the aftermath of the company’s collapse. The Munich-based group was forced to file for insolvency in late June after admitting that €1.9bn of its cash probably did “not exist.” It later emerged that auditor EY had failed to check some of the company’s bank balances for more than three years. The report analyses coverage from mainstream and social media channels from 95 countries. You can read it here .

Deutsche unit drops EY over Wirecard

KPMG will carry out the audit of DWS’ 2020 financial statements, with Deutsche Bank’s asset management arm opting against using EY due to the accounting scandal at payments firm Wirecard.

Financial Times, Page: 10

Head of German financial watchdog resists calls to resign over Wirecard

Felix Hufeld, head of German financial regulator BaFin, has rejected calls to resign over the Wirecard accounting scandal, with pressure growing over failure to investigate irregularities more thoroughly.

Financial Times, Page: 6

CORPORATE NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

Apple app developers to shoulder cost of tech tax

Apple has said app developers will bear most of the cost of the 2% digital services tax, with the levy set to be charged on apps in the coming days. Developers on Apple’s App Store take at least 70% of an app’s sales after taxes, meaning the cost of the new tax will hit the companies that design and engineer the apps. Adding the 2% levy to existing VAT charges will reduce the amount that both developers and Apple itself receive from app sales.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

Questor sweet on Honeycomb

The Telegraph’s Questor weighs the merits of Honeycomb, giving the trust a ‘buy’ rating. It notes that the trust is audited by PwC and that Jim Coyle, chairman of the audit and risk committee, is an independent non-executive member of the UK oversight board of Deloitte.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 6

PROPERTY NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

House prices hit all-time high

Figures from Nationwide show that house prices have hit an all-time high, with the average home now worth £224,123. Prices rose by an average of 2% in August, the biggest month-on-month increase since February 2004 as values saw a post-lockdown surge. Year-on-year, prices have risen 3.7% compared to August 2019. The analysis also reveals that demand is 34% up on August last year. With property prices reversing losses recorded in May and June, Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said: “The bounce-back in prices reflects the unexpectedly rapid recovery in housing market activity since the easing of lockdown restrictions.” Separate data from Zoopla show that housing market activity is running at its strongest pace in over half a decade, with agreed sales in August up 76% against the five year average.

The Independent, Page: 42 Daily Mail BBC News

SMEs NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

Small firms voice concern over jobs scheme

Small firms have voiced concern that they may struggle to access Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s £2bn flagship jobs scheme. Smaller businesses say they are disadvantaged as the Kickstart initiative bars firms taking on fewer than 30 new young workers from applying directly for funds. The scheme offers six-month paid placements for young people on universal credit, with the Government paying 100% of the national minimum wage for up to 25 hours a week. Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Small firms, who are the largest employers across the business landscape, have long expressed interest in this scheme and will be disappointed to find it harder than expected to take part.” He added: “To put it bluntly, this scheme has not been designed with small businesses front of mind.” Joe Fitzsimons, of the Institute of Directors, said the 30 placement requirement “could give cause for concern”, adding: “With so much on their plate, many small firms will be put off by any unnecessary hurdles.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 Financial Times, Page: 2 The Independent, Page: 44 The Sun, Page: 2

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

PM rules out furlough extension

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ruled out extending the furlough scheme, saying it is not in workers’ interests to keep them in “suspended animation” with “indefinite furlough”. Labour’s Kate Osborne asked the PM if the Government would follow other countries in extending the initiative, to which Mr Johnson replied: “I don’t think that’s the right thing. I think the best way forward for our country is to get people as far as we possibly can back into work”.

Daily Mail, Page: 14

INTERNATIONAL NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

Italy lures super-rich with tax break

Figures show that wealthy Brits are taking advantage of tax breaks designed to lure the super-rich to Italy, with a €100,000-a-year flat tax, payable on money earned abroad by anyone who transfers their tax residence to Italy, seeing 78 high-worth Britons relocating since 2017. In total, 784 wealthy individuals have made the switch, with Britain accounting for the biggest proportion, followed by France (58), the US (20) and Russia (19).

The Times, Page: 17

ECONOMY NEWS – THURSDAY 3RD SEPTEMBER 2020

BoE: Economic outlook remains uncertain

Bank of England (BoE) governor Andrew Bailey has warned of uncertainty around the economy and its recovery from the coronavirus crisis. He told the Treasury Select Committee that latest forecasts from the BoE were highly uncertain, pointing to a lack of clarity on whether “natural caution” would prevent people from “reengaging” with the economy. Mr Bailey also said that the BoE no longer expects inflation to turn negative, suggesting there is evidence that companies have pocketed the Government’s VAT cut, with people perhaps “absorbing increased costs by not passing it on” as much as had been anticipated. Despite higher than expected short-term inflation, Mr Bailey said he is confident that “inflation expectations are pretty stable”. He added that household spending is “close to its pre-pandemic levels, but it is a pretty uneven picture”, with a “rapid recovery” in the housing market while social spending “still has not recovered strongly.” Meanwhile, Sir Dave Ramsden, the Bank’s deputy governor for markets, said policymakers have capacity for more quantitative easing if the economy does not recover as fast as expected, adding that the BoE has “the operational capabilities to do it fast if market dysfunction required that.”

The Daily Telegraph The Times The I, Page: 44 City AM

Contact Paul Southward

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NEWS – WEDNESDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2020


NEWS – WEDNESDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2020

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TAX NEWS – WEDNESDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2020

IFS director: Tax increases may be required

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has said Chancellor Rishi Sunak faces having to raise billions of pounds through tax increases if spending is not reduced in the autumn Budget. Mr Johnson told the House of Commons’ Treasury Select Committee that if Mr Sunak opts to increase taxes, it is likely to be “a fairly substantial increase – that might be 2% of national income, for example”. He added that if increases are on the cards, policymakers “would have to look at the substantial taxes”, noting that close to two thirds of tax revenues come from NI, income tax and VAT and saying he would expect increases in those taxes “in the medium run”. He also suggested there are “some arguments” for removing tax advantages for higher earners saving for their pensions. Philip Booth of the Institute for Economic Affairs said Mr Sunak could increase taxation while limiting the hit to economic growth by levying VAT on more goods and services. Mike Brewer, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation, does not expect tax increases in the next 12 months but told the committee that “wealth taxes on immovable sources of wealth” would be sustainable for decades.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 6 The Times, Page: 2 Financial Times, Page: 3

Crunching the corporation tax numbers

The Telegraph’s Tim Wallace looks at corporation tax, saying that while the UK’s 19% headline rate is the joint-fourth lowest of any OECD economy, accounting for reliefs and allowances, the effective rate falls to 13.6%. If other nations’ reliefs and allowances are also factored in, Britain places 25th in the table. Mr Wallace says that in regard to funds raised by corporation taxes, Britain pulls in the equivalent of 2.8% of GDP, just shy of the OECD average of 3%. Elsewhere, David Smith in the Times looks at the potential impact of cutting corporation tax. He cites Mark Gregory, EY‘s chief economist, who says that for foreign investors, “their ability to move tax liabilities [between different jurisdictions] means low corporation tax is of limited benefit. ”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4 The Times, Page: 37

Chancellor weighing Budget options

With Rishi Sunak said to be considering options to boost public finances in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Larry Elliott in the Guardian says the Chancellor has four options for his autumn Budget: Cut taxes and raise spending; leave things as they are; take steps to cut the deficit immediately; and pre-announce future measures to raise taxes or cut spending. Mr Elliott adds that another option would see a combination of these, such as providing short-term stimulus but outlining a future shift in taxation.

The Guardian, Page: 13

Could Treasury plans hit tax-take?

Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph considers proposals reportedly being considered by the Treasury, including decreasing pensions tax relief, aligning capital gains and income tax rates, and raising the rate of corporation tax. He says policymakers must weigh up whether the plans would actually result in the additional £30bn a year suggested and questions if the overall tax-take would be damaged by consequent poorer rates of economic growth .

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2

WORKING FROM HOME NEWS – WEDNESDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2020

City expects most workers to stay at home

Large City companies say they are not expecting a rush to the Square Mile despite ministers urging people to get back to their desks. Financial institutions say they expect their London skyscrapers to stay largely empty this month as they go “slow and steady” on getting people back in. PwC is aiming to be operating at 50% of its pre-pandemic capacity by the end of September, while KPMG, which currently has capacity for 30% of its workforce to return to its London base, hopes to have 60% back by the end of October.

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 7

CORPORATE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2020

Google to pass digital services tax onto advertisers

Google is passing on the costs of a new digital services tax to British advertisers by charging an additional 2% in fees from November 1. The digital services charge, a 2% levy on revenues generated in the UK from search engines, social media websites and online sales by internet companies, is expected to make the UK £400m by 2021, and ultimately raise £500m per year. Google said it will also charge advertisers in Austria an additional 5% to cover the costs of its digital services tax.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 Financial Times, Page: 7 The Times, Page: 2

Ann Summers moots CVA

Lingerie chain Ann Summers is considering a CVA, with a spokesman saying the retailer has had constructive conversations with many of its landlords to ensure rental costs “are appropriate for the new market conditions”. However, they added that this “has not been the case with all landlords”, prompting the firm to consider a CVA which would only affect stores where new terms have not been agreed. Chief executive Jacqueline Gold told Retail Week: “We want to work in partnership with our landlords and our interests should be aligned. That’s why we, like many retailers, think turnover-based rents are the way forward.”

The Times, Page: 41 Daily Mail, Page: 67 Evening Standard

Debenhams sets bidding deadline for potential buyers

A deadline for potential buyers for Debenhams to make offers has passed. With administrator FRP Advisory reported to be aiming for a sale of the business by the end of the month, advisers at Lazard, the investment bank who are running the sale process, informed interested suitors that they needed to submit bids by 5pm yesterday. The Times reports that if no buyer is found by the end of this month, the company will start exploring other options that could put 14,000 jobs in jeopardy, although it is understood that liquidation remains a last resort.

The Times, Page: 34 The Sun, Page: 43 City AM

Law firms launch new round of cost cuts as pandemic bites

With law firms cutting costs in the wave of COVID-19, Giles Murphy at Smith & Williamson says activity levels are likely to fall and expensive staff “may be at risk”.

Financial Times, Page: 10

PROPERTY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2020

Mortgage approvals jump

Mortgage approvals have reached levels nearly equal to those seen before coronavirus, with 66,300 in July, up from 39,900 a month earlier. July’s total is the highest since February, where 73,700 were recorded, and close to July 2018’s total. In terms of value, mortgage approvals hit a record high of £16.7bn in July, a 64% month-on-month increase and 7.3% up on July 2019. Hugh Wade-Jones, the managing director of Enness Global Mortgages, said a surge in buyer demand seen once the market reopened following the coronavirus lockdown “has been seriously turbo-charged” by the stamp duty holiday announced by the Chancellor at the start of last month.

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 36 Financial Times Daily Express

CGT plans could deliver £27k hit for BTL landlords

Research by estate agent Hamptons International suggests that proposed changes to capital gains tax could cost buy-to-let landlords up to £27,000 more for each property sold. With the Chancellor reportedly considering increasing the CGT rate from 28% to 40% for a higher-rate taxpayer and from 18% to 20% for a basic rate taxpayer, analysis suggests that lower-rate taxpayers will be worse off by an average £1,130 when selling up, while higher-rate payers will pay on average £6,800 more. Meanwhile, John Cronin, a banks analyst at Goodbody, said the mooted reform of CGT could shake up the housing industry by putting off part-time landlords and creating a gap that professional landlords could fill.

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

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – WEDNESDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2020

Firms and staff divided over office returns

A survey of 100 businesses by Blick Rothenberg shows that while 60% of employers believe staff should return to offices by the end of this year, almost the same percentage of employees either feel they would return in 2021 or remained undecided. On a move toward increased remote working, 60% of employers and 58% of employees believe staff will spend only two or three days in the office when they do return. The poll also saw 51% of businesses say they are considering a reduction in office space while 46% have already attempted to renegotiate rental terms with landlords.

The I, Page: 8

Pandemic prompts women to set up businesses

A new study has found that one in four women are setting up their own business as a result of the coronavirus crisis, with the Making It Work survey from AllBright showing that 74% of members of the women-only members club feel inspired to start a business after the pandemic. It was found that 25% have already started a new business while 61% are planning to change career as a result of the pandemic. The report also reveals that 65% of those polled plan to invest in upskilling as a result of the crisis, while 50% believe the pandemic will provide new job opportunities.

The Daily Telegraph

ECONOMY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2020

BoE data fuels hope of V-shape recovery

Bank of England (BoE) figures for July have raised hopes that the economy may be heading toward a V-shaped recovery, with borrowing on the up. July saw households borrow an extra £1.2bn in personal loans and credit card debt – more than the average £1.1bn seen in the 18 months to February. Credit card borrowing hit £622m during July, the highest rise in a single month since June 2018, while mortgage approvals rose 26,000 over the month to 66,300, with £2.7bn in new mortgage borrowing. The BoE report shows that lenders have put up the cost of consumer loans amid economic uncertainty driven by the coronavirus crisis, with the cost of new loans up by 0.22 percentage points to 4.64% in July and overdraft charges rising by 1.6 percentage points to 14.84%. The figures reveal that households saved an extra £7bn in July, an increase on the £5bn average seen pre-pandemic but down on the £19.1bn recorded at the peak of the crisis. Companies saved an extra £11.8bn during July as overall deposits rose by £26.3bn. Howard Archer, senior economic adviser at the EY Item Club, warned of “challenging fundamentals for consumers”, saying people have already lost jobs, despite Government support, while others will be concerned they may lose their job once the furlough scheme ends. He added that incomes have been hit and consumer confidence remains low “compared to long-term norms”.

The Daily Telegraph

Manufacturing expands

Output from Britain’s manufacturing sector expanded at the fastest rate for more than six years last month, with the IHS Markit/Cips manufacturing purchasing managers’ index registering a score of 55.2 in August. This is up from 53.3 in July on an index where a reading above 50 denotes expansion. Simon Jonsson, head of industrial products at KPMG, said: “The index reading for August gives hope for recovery in UK manufacturing, but it’s still very early days and the next few months will be crucial for the confidence of manufacturing businesses.”

The Scotsman, Page: 43

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NEWS – TUESDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2020


NEWS – TUESDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – TUESDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2020

Sunak urged to ‘go for growth’

With Chancellor Rishi Sunak reportedly considering tax increases in an effort to cover the cost of COVID-19 pandemic, the Confederation of British Industry has urged ministers to “go for growth”. In what the Telegraph’s Russell Lynch describes as “a veiled message to the Chancellor over tax”, CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie said: “However the Government decides to handle debt, one thing is certain – a growing economy backed by investment will make it easier.” “With so much uncertainty ahead with the pandemic and Brexit, now is the time to go for growth,” he added. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Business, also voiced concern over possible increases in corporation and capital gains taxes, saying: “It’s an approach that would send completely the wrong message to those who are out of work and thinking about starting up their own venture.” Meanwhile, Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has said that the Chancellor will have to introduce some “pretty hefty” tax rises “at some point” but told Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we should be looking probably initially at a couple of years where the Government is supporting the economy and only really when the recovery is fairly clearly underway and the economy is getting back closer to normal will we be looking at tax rises.” Elsewhere, Gerard Lyons, chief economic strategist at Netwealth, suggests that increasing taxes is not needed to bring the deficit down, calling instead for measures to drive growth. Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph argues that while “there is never a good time to tax wealth creation … this is an especially bad moment.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 8 The Times, Page: 37 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2

Tax rises could deter investors

Business leaders have warned that investors could look outside Britain for opportunities if the Chancellor opts to increase corporation tax and capital gains tax, with Rishi Sunak said to be considering reforms to the levies ahead of the next Budget. Sir Martin Sorrell, the founder and former chief executive of WPP, said such moves would “disincentive and push away external investment”, suggesting that business needs “further stimulus not a further depressant or downer”. Richard Tice, Brexit Party chairman and chief executive of property investor Quidnet Capital, has called for pro-growth tax reform that would support UK firms and “provide some incentive for international investors to come to the country”. Julian Jessop, an independent economist, said of the potential tax rethink: “It would backfire partly because it would drive companies overseas and but also because taxes aren’t paid by companies, the y are paid by people – it is not pain free.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 5

Lamont: Now is not the time for tax hikes

Former Chancellor Norman Lamont believes Rishi Sunak should “put the emphasis on expenditure cuts rather than tax rises” as he looks to balance the books in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, arguing that increased taxes “diminish incentives for enterprise.” Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Lamont, who warns that economic recovery is not assured, argues that it is not necessary – or desirable – to introduce a drastic rethink on taxes at this point, saying it would risk “choking off” the recovery and hurting businesses at a time when they need support, given the “fragility” of the economy. Mr Lamont quotes Winston Churchill, who once suggested: “For a nation to try and tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handles.”

Daily Mail

Whistleblower numbers climb

Analysis by UHY Hacker Young shows that there has been a 10% increase in the number of whistleblowing reports about potential tax evasion, with HMRC receiving 73,000 tip offs in the year to March 31 compared to 66,000 in the previous year. Tighter rules ensuring accountants and other advisers report all possible cases are believed to have contributed to the increase. Sean Glancy of UHY Hacker Young said: “It appears that more people than ever are choosing to report a neighbour, employer or business partner for tax evasion.”

The I, Page: 45 Daily Mail, Page: 67

Tax may be a licence fee alternative

The Guardian reports that the BBC has looked into whether the licence fee could be replaced with a special income tax. The shift would be based on a Swedish model of funding public service broadcasting, with Sweden having replaced its TV licence fee with a special tax, with the ring-fenced levy set at about half the cost of the previous licence.

The Guardian, Page: 17

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – TUESDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2020

Worker demand points to ‘asymmetric recovery’

Analysis of positions being taken up suggests that the labour market is undergoing an “asymmetric recovery”, with data from LinkedIn showing that demand for office workers is lagging behind other types of roles. Following the jobs market all but coming to a halt during the coronavirus lockdown, the proportion of workers taking up white-collar roles has fallen behind those joining other sectors despite the gradual return to workplaces. The new job rate for workers in transport and logistics has risen by 18% year-on-year, with new jobs in healthcare up 12% while those in construction are up by 9%. In contrast, new jobs in media are down 17%, with a 9% year-on-year dip in software and IT roles and a decline of almost 10% in the finance and legal jobs rate. The analysis shows that leisure industries have been the hardest hit, with a 31% dip in the rate of new jobs for recreation and travel workers. LinkedIn economist Mariano Mamertino says there is “an asymmetric recovery across industries”, with sectors that offer largely white-collar roles “facing stronger headwinds”.

The Guardian

CORPORATE NEWS – TUESDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2020

Energy company moves to offload customers

Robin Hood Energy, a council-owned supplier launched by Nottingham City Council in 2015, is in talks to sell customer accounts after falling into debt and has hired Deloitte to oversee the sale of its book to an unnamed buyer.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1

SMEs NEWS – TUESDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2020

FSB calls for Eat Out to Help Out extension

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have called on ministers to extend the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, with the scheme offering diners a discount on meals in a bid to encourage people to eat out coming to an end yesterday. FSB chairman Mike Cherry believes the initiative should be extended “to continue the critical support that it is providing for small firms as we enter a period of economic make or break.” He added: “As we enter September with schools reopening and more people going back to their places of work, there are still strong merits to continuing this for one more month.” The FSB has also suggested that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme should be “reactivated” in areas that have gone through local lockdowns.

The Independent The Sun

ECONOMY NEWS – TUESDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2020

KPMG in growth warning

KPMG has predicted a 10.3% decline in growth for the UK this year, with a potential decline of 12.6% if a second coronavirus lockdown occurs. The 10.3% estimate compares to a decline of 7.2% it forecast in June. KPMG expects an 8.4% recovery in growth during 2021 if a Brexit deal is struck with the EU by the end of 2020 and a coronavirus vaccine is approved early next year. KPMG’s chief economist Yael Selfin expects the end of the furlough scheme to send unemployment above 9% in the final quarter of 2020, up from the current level of 3.9%. The forecast exceeds the 7.5% predicted by the Bank of England.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 67 The Scotsman, Page: 42 The Press and Journal, Page: 31

School return set to boost economy

With schools reopening this week, analysts have said the economy could be set for a £70bn boost, with children returning to the classroom full-time enabling more parents to return to the office. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said that with as many as 5% more employees set to return to their workplaces, GDP could climb by more than 3%, with productivity boosted and the hospitality sector given a lift by workers returning to cafes, sandwich bars, pubs and restaurants. The CEBR says that measured GDP could be 3.3% higher, which equates to roughly £70bn a year.

Daily Express

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NEWS – MONDAY 31ST AUGUST 2020


NEWS – MONDAY 31ST AUGUST 2020

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TAX NEWS – MONDAY 31ST AUGUST 2020

Business groups question tax increase plan

Following reports that the Chancellor could be looking to raise taxes to help cover the cost of the coronavirus crisis, Stephen Barclay, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has refused to rule out tax increases, saying such issues were a matter for the Budget. His comments came after the Sunday Telegraph reported that the Treasury is considering a £20bn tax increase and a Sunday Times article said capital gains tax and corporation tax may be increased in the autumn, with the latter possibly jumping from 19% to 24%. The FT cites Treasury officials who describe the reports as “nonsense speculation”, but also notes that a Government insider admitted “difficult options” are being considered to boost public finances. Meanwhile, business groups have spoken out over the possible tax increases, with Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, saying: “Raising the tax burden on business and entrepreneurs before they have a chance to recover could create serious issues for the trajectory of the UK’ s overall recovery.” He added that while the business sector understands the need to repair the economy, doing so too early risks “choking off growth at the crucial moment.” Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Given we’re in a recession the last thing policymakers should be doing is hiking taxes on those we need to invest, create jobs and generate growth over the crucial months ahead.” Matthew Lesh, head of research at Adam Smith Institute, urged the Government to “get its own house in order” by cutting spending before increasing taxes, while Institute for Fiscal Studies economist Stuart Adam believes that “in the short run the Government should probably be looking to cut taxes and increase spending.” EY’s Chris Sanger notes that the UK has “prided itself on having the lowest corporate tax rate of any G20 country”, with any increase set to be seen as a sea change in tax policy.”

The Daily Telegraph The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 4 Financial Times, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 6 Daily Mirror, Page: 6 The Guardian, Page 2 The Independent, Page: 25 The I, Page: 6 The Sun, Page: 4 Daily Star, Page: 8 Daily Express, Page: 12 The Scotsman, Page: 7

Tax pledge to spare Treasury’s big earners from increases?

The Telegraph’s Russell Lynch considers the Chancellor’s options for balancing the books in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying a manifesto commitment not to raise the rate of income tax, national insurance and VAT is “problematic” as they are the Treasury’s biggest earners, accounting for £460bn of £735bn in revenue pulled in during the 2018/19 tax year. With it suggested corporation tax, which bought in £56bn in 2018/19, could be targeted, Chris Sanger of EY comments: “If you’re looking to make sizable increases in taxation, it is not obvious that corporate taxes would be your tax of choice. We get two-thirds of our total taxes from national insurance, VAT and income tax.” “By the time you add in duties that rises to about three-quarters, so anything other than those is only going to be providing a little bit of additional revenue,” he adds .

The Daily Telegraph

Labour urges Chancellor to push ahead with tech tax

Labour has told Chancellor Rishi Sunak to push ahead with a levy on technology giants, with shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds voicing concern over reports that the digital services tax may be axed because it could jeopardise a post-Brexit trade deal with the US. Ms Dodds said: “This government promised to make tech giants pay a fair share of tax to support our public services. Scrapping the digital services tax will do the opposite, costing millions in revenue that could pay for thousands of nurses, teachers or police officers.”

The Guardian, Page: 27

Tax rethink Q&A

The Telegraph offers a Q&A with queries related to possible tax changes designed to boost the nation’s coffers in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. On inheritance tax, Nimesh Shah of Blick Rothenberg suggests a seven-year rule under which gifts are IHT-free if the person survives for that period could be scrapped, saying one solution would be to make the gift now so it takes place under current rules.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – MONDAY 31ST AUGUST 2020

Four-day working week could create 500k new jobs

Research by think-tank Autonomy suggests a move to a four-day week in the public sector would create up to half a million new jobs and help limit an expected increase in unemployment as the Government’s furlough scheme is wound down. The report says it would be possible for public sector workers to go on to a 32-hour week with no loss of pay, calculating that such a move would cost between £5.4bn and £9bn a year. Will Stronge, Autonomy’s research director, said: “To help tackle the unemployment crisis we are facing this winter, a four-day week is the best option for sharing work more equally across the economy and creating much needed new jobs.” He added that the move would “boost productivity, create new jobs and make us all much happier and healthier.” Bank of England forecasts suggest that the jobless rate will rise from just under 4% to 7.5% by the end of the year.

The Guardian

Office attendance on the up

Daily Mail analysis of 30 FTSE 100 and leading firms suggests that many have seen an uptick in employees returning to offices, with PwC saying around a third of its 24,700 office workers were now spending at least some time at their desks and that this was increasing. Alistair Cox, head of recruitment firm Hays, has told the Mail that full-time remote working was unlikely to become “a permanent thing” but predicted offices will be closed as companies assess whether to switch permanently to a hybrid model, where remote and office-based working are balanced..

Daily Mail, Page: 2

Transport data shows slow office return

A poll by the AA shows that 40% of people who normally drive to work are working from home all or part of the time, with the rate jumping to 54% among senior or middle managers and professionals. In regard to public transport, official figures show that trains carried only 28% of their normal passenger loads last Monday, while buses saw 45% of typical passenger numbers. The figures suggest people are opting to work from home, despite a government push to get people back into the office.

The Times, Page: 1

Big firms cut 255k jobs

Figures analysed by the Daily Mail show that more than a quarter of a million workers at stalwart British firms have been laid off since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with Gatwick Airport, Pret a Manger and BMW Mini among the latest big firms to announce job losses. Of the 255,000 roles that have been lost since March – or are set to be cut – more than 153,000 are in the UK, with overseas workers laid off by British firms accounting for the rest. Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, has urged ministers to “boost the wider jobs market by reducing the burden of employment taxes, helping businesses to retain and hire staff.”

Daily Mail, Page: 62

CORPORATE NEWS – MONDAY 31ST AUGUST 2020

BrightHouse accused of sidestepping FCA guidance

Collapsed rent-to-own firm BrightHouse has been accused of sidestepping Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidelines by offering struggling customers payment holidays of just 28 days during the coronavirus crisis, rather than the suggested three months. Campaigners have also voiced concern that administrators at Grant Thornton have been focused on “maximising the value of the loan book collections”, with Mick McAteer, co-founder of the Financial Inclusion Centre think-tank, saying: “There is a potential conflict between the interests of the administrator – and those they represent – and the vulnerable customers who owe money to BrightHouse.”

The Guardian, Page: 28

Independent shops boosted by dip in commuting

Analysis suggests that independent shops in towns and suburban areas have seen positive sales throughout the lockdown period, with such businesses benefitting from a decline in commuting. Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA), said members are unlikely to join calls for workers to return to city centre offices, saying: “I think at the moment if you are situated in a suburb or small town, or a more local high street, then you are doing better than those in the city centre.” The Guardian notes that Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, has warned that city centres could become “ghost towns” if the Prime Minister does not do more to encourage workers back to the office.

The Guardian

Early advice can save a firm

Richard Bathgate, a restructuring partner at Johnston Carmichael, says that while speaking to an insolvency practitioner about restructuring a business may be “right up there with a trip to the dentist” when it comes to things people want to put off, seeking early professional advice to assess the options available “could be the difference between life and death for a business”.

The Scotsman, Page: 41

Kooth to float

Online counselling service Kooth is to be floated on the stock market, selling £26m of shares at a valuation of £66m. It will use the proceeds of the float to treat more young people, to expand the service to include older people through the NHS and to launch in the US. It also wants to sign up more private companies. CEO Tim Barker notes Deloitte research showing that businesses saw a £45bn hit due to lost productivity owing to mental health problems.

The Times, Page: 35

Spotify making noise in the podcast world

Spotify is making a play for the wider audio market by strengthening its position in the world of podcasts. A report from Deloitte in December suggested that the podcast industry is set to increase by 30% to $1.1bn this year.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 5

PROPERTY NEWS – MONDAY 31ST AUGUST 2020

Landlords hit out at CVA abuse

Landlords have accused retailers of “weaponising” CVAs as part of a bid to cut costs, with the British Property Federation (BPF) saying that the restructuring method is being abused. BPF CEO Melanie Leech said of CVAs: “Rather than as part of a sustainable rescue plan for those in genuine distress, they’re becoming a boardroom negotiating tactic for solvent businesses to rip up leases freely agreed with property owners.” She added: “The process is discriminating against property owners, allowing non-affected creditors to vote on a CVA, yet forcing property owners to absorb the lion’s share of the burden.” Meanwhile, Vivienne King, CEO of retail property association Revo, has called for reforms, arguing that landlords are being hit by mistakes made by companies’ management.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

ECONOMY NEWS – MONDAY 31ST AUGUST 2020

Economist in debt warning

Philip Booth of the Institute of Economic Affairs says Britain’s pubic debt poses as serious a long-term threat to prosperity as climate change. Mr Booth, who will tomorrow appear before the Treasury Select Committee to discuss tax after coronavirus, says the country’s borrowing levels could overtake Japan, currently the most heavily indebted of the G7 advanced nations. With national debt passing 100% of GDP in July, he added that Britain should be more anxious over its debt-to-GDP ratio rising than Japan, where debt is largely financed by domestic savers and thus less reliant on international interest rates and foreign investors’ confidence. Institute for Fiscal Studies director Paul Johnson has warned that Britain may struggle for finance as it competes with other nations looking to increase deficits post-coronavirus, saying: “There’s a risk the UK becomes rather unattractive given the risks we face around our less than fully competent government, Brexit and possible Scottish independence.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1

OTHER NEWS – MONDAY 31ST AUGUST 2020

Prince Harry may qualify for tax loophole

Canadian tax adviser David Lesperance says Prince Harry will likely get a special type of visa so as to avoid becoming what is known as a ‘US person for tax purposes’. This visa is called the O non-immigrant visa and is given to individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in their field, with Mr Lesperance saying the most noteworthy achievement Harry could point to is founding the Invictus Games.

Daily Express

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