News for the week to Thursday 21st November 2019

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019

MONDAY

PM pledges £1bn tax cuts

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

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

Taxman vows fines over suppliers

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

The Times, Page: 45

Doubts cast on Johnson’s tax ambitions

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

Financial Times, Page: 2

Video games score tax relief

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

The Times, Page: 49

Pubs would drink to tax cuts

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

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

TUESDAY

PM postpones corporation tax cut

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

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

Doctors offered tax bill deal

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

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

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

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

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

Opinion: Tax reforms would boost economy

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

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2

WEDNESDAY

IFS in Labour tax plan warning

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

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

Hospitality sector urges rates reform

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

Daily Mail, Page: 71

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

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

Financial Times, Page: 4

Opinion: Tories top for tax

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

The Times, Page: 43

THURSDAY

PM plans to cut NI

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

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

Lib Dems to tax high flyers

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

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

Farage: Tax breaks on private ops would help the NHS

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

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 5

HMRC in scam warning

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

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

Banker: Wealth tax would hit risk appetite

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

City AM, Page: 2

INDUSTRY NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019

MONDAY

FRC could claw back bonuses

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

City AM, Page: 11

LEGAL – week to Thursday 21st November 2019

TUESDAY

Investors in High Court tax win

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

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

FINANCE NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019

MONDAY

Family firms do not favour external finance

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

The Times, Page: 51

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

THURSDAYS

Late payments rise £10bn

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

Daily Mail, Page: 83

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

MONDAY

Insolvency figures at five-year high

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

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

Restaurants serve up a loss

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

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

Staff question payout delays

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

The Times, Page: 49

Former boss planning Eddie Stobart rescue package

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

The Times, Page: 45 Financial Times City AM

TUESDAY

Corbyn: Anti-business claim ‘nonsense’

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

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 43 City AM

Oliver launches new chain

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

The Daily Telegraph The Guardian, Page: 35

WEDNESDAY

Firms consider links with Duke

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

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

Moss Bros looks to Ted Baker for new finance chief

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

City AM

THURSDAY

Digital publishing revenue dips

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

City AM, Page: 15

Zest Food reveals restructuring plan

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

City AM, Page: 4

Arcadia set to name chair

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

The Times, Page: 45

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

MONDAY

Capital construction dips

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

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

Javid backs landowner tax

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

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1

TUESDAY

Office space insight

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

The Scotsman, Page: 36

WEDNESDAY

First-timer mortgages rise in September

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

Daily Mail

THURSDAY

House prices will trail inflation for years

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

City AM

BTL repossessions jump 40%

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

Daily Mail

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019

MONDAY

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

Financial Times, Page: 20

TUESDAY

Matrix of measures will deliver diversity

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

Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Vision, Page: 18

THURSDAY

Hiring firms hit by skills shortage

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

The Scotsman, Page: 39

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

TUESDAY

FedEx questions tax claims

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

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

THURSDAY

Think-tank backs minimum global tax rate

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

City AM

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

TUESDAY

Brits are top Xmas spenders

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

Daily Mail, Page: 77

WEDNESDAY

Factory orders up but still low

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

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

OTHER NEWS – week to Thursday 21st November 2019

MONDAY

Former footballer branches out

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

The Times

TUESDAY

UK leads on decarbonisation

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

City AM, Page: 11

Economy set for tech boost

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

City AM, Page: 3

WEDNESDAY

Child poverty undermining London’s success, Grant Thornton warns

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

Evening Standard

Taxman sent actor to the jungle

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

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

THURSDAY

Duke steps back

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

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

Contact Paul Southward.