NEWS – MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020

Police smash tax refund crooks

Police have smashed a criminal gang that has been offering fraudulent tax refunds during the coronavirus pandemic. Officers raided several addresses, seizing mobile phones, SIM cards and computers linked to text message scams and emails. The criminals sent correspondence purportedly from HMRC telling recipients they were eligible for a tax rebate or “payment” designed to support those without a job or people on reduced wages, with links to fake websites designed to access the person’s bank details, passwords and card numbers. Meanwhile, HMRC has warned of text messages falsely claiming that recipients can apply for coronavirus tax rebates, saying it has detected 54 financial scams related to COVID-19 since March 23 and has asked internet service providers to remove 227 web addresses.

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 2

Property experts call for stamp duty holiday

Estate agent Knight Frank and property platform Rightmove believe a stamp duty holiday could help reignite the housing market after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, echoing sentiment from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors which earlier this month called for a brief pause of the levy as a “short term measure”. Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank, said: “Despite the fact the Government will forgo a significant amount of stamp duty revenue in 2020, it seems clear there will need to be a stamp duty holiday to actually get the market moving once the lockdown is lifted.” He added that the measure alone will not be enough, saying an extension to Help to Buy should also be considered. As well as calling for a stamp duty holiday, Rightmove has urged lenders to be lenient in regard to repossessions after missed payments which could lead to forced sales.

City AM

Letter: Environmental tax would boost green projects

Dominic Hogg, chairman of Eunomia Research & Consulting, believes the Government should implement a “radical” environmental reform of the tax system. In a letter to the Times, he proposes a system where taxes would be implemented – and subsidies removed – to generate incentives for businesses and consumers to shift to activities that are less polluting. He adds that a “comprehensive environmental tax programme” would enable the UK’s growing green finance sector to support more projects.

The Times, Page: 26

CORPORATE NEWS – MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020

£8.2bn spent on restructuring

FTSE 100 businesses spent £8.2bn on restructuring last year, according to analysis by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. The figure marks a 30% increase on the £6.3bn spent the year before. The analysis shows that 51% of FTSE 100 businesses told investors they were undertaking major restructuring programmes last year, up from 49 in 2017/18.

The I, Page: 40

Airline looks to get bailout off the ground

The Government has hired PwC to negotiate terms for a possible bailout of Loganair, with the carrier among those seeking a lifeline as the coronavirus crisis hits business.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 6

Hotel in rent rate talks

Hotel chain Travelodge has appointed Deloitte and investment bank Moelis to agree rent breaks or deferrals with its landlords amid concerns over the impact the coronavirus lockdown is having on its finances.

The Times, Page: 36 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 6 The I, Page: 40 Financial Times, Page: 11

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020

Men dominate highest paid jobs

Men are nearly five times more likely than women to earn the highest salaries in Britain, according to figures obtained from HMRC under the Freedom of Information Act. The figures show that men are 4.6 times more likely to earn more than £150,000 a year, with the figure rising above 8 times for those earning £1m or more. Economists said that the dominance of women in lower paid sectors, such as hospitality and retail, was preventing them from earning the highest salaries. However, the HMRC figures also show that women are catching up. The number of women earning more than £150,000 has risen faster than it has for men over the past five years, while the number of women earning over £50,000 has grown more than twice as fast.

The Times

Furlough and unemployment may see 11m not working

The Resolution Foundation think-tank has warned that more than 11m people in Britain could be out of work by summer as the furlough scheme expands far beyond official estimates. It says that as many as 8.3m employees could be furloughed under the Job Retention Scheme, far exceeding the 3m figure in the Treasury’s initial assumptions. With its analysis suggesting that 3.4m people could also be unemployed, the think-tank says 11.7m people may not be working in the second quarter of 2020. Daniel Tomlinson, an economist at the Resolution Foundation, says the Government’s job retention scheme “shows the scale of the economic shock” with 8m people not working, but adds: “It does mean they will not be unemployed, which would be much worse”.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2

Nerves on edge as job retention scheme launches

With the Government’s job retention scheme going live today, HMRC boss Jim Harra has expressed concern over some elements of the initiative, saying: “Time really has been the enemy of perfection.”

Financial Times, Page: 2

Those with no degree face biggest hit

Research by the consultancy firm McKinsey warns that staff without a university degree will be hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, with analysis showing that 80% of workers facing job insecurity do not have a university degree. The report says that low-risk occupations include roles where staff do not work in close proximity to others, including accountants.

The Guardian, Page: 31

SMEs NEWS – MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020

Exporters locked out of loans

Industry leaders are demanding clarity over the Government’s emergency support package for businesses, with a number of small firms dependent on overseas sales saying banks have rejected exporters’ requests for state-backed coronavirus loans. Banks, they say, have cited official guidance which states that a company must be “UK-based in its business activity” to qualify for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. Officials at the Department for International Trade have reportedly raised the issue with counterparts at the Treasury. The Federation of Small Businesses has said exporters “urgently need our help”.

The Times, Page: 34

FINANCIAL SERVICES NEWS – MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020

EU regulators ramp up scrutiny of investment fund liquidity

The FT looks at how European regulators looking to avoid a liquidity crunch are scrutinising asset managers. KPMG’s Julie Patterson offers insight into the operational burden of running an investment fund.

Financial Times, FT Fm, Page: 1

PROPERTY NEWS – MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020

Prices slip during lockdown

Figures from Rightmove show that the average price of a property coming to market declined by 0.2% during the coronavirus lockdown. This compares with a 2.1% increase recorded in April 2019. The property portal said, however, that the statistics were not “meaningful” as there is not currently a “functioning market”, with new sales “almost impossible”. The Rightmove data shows that total available stock for sale is down 2.6% since the lockdown was enforced on March 23.

City AM

ECONOMY NEWS – MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020

OECD boss hopeful of recovery by 2021 or 2022

Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the OECD, has said that while an economic downturn driven by the coronavirus outbreak will be “very bad”, the impending global economic crash will not last for four years like the Great Depression did. He told the BBC that 2020 “is going to be a year in which there is going to be negative growth throughout, and there are going to be a lot of wounds.” However, he added that hopefully these wounds will be “scars by 2021 and 2022.”

City AM

OTHER NEWS – MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2020

Pandemic puts mental health on everyone’s agenda

The FT considers the mental health issues around the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown, with Anna Purchas, head of people at KPMG, highlighting issues around increased instances of domestic violence.

Financial Times, Page: 17

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward's News Roundup