News Roundup 1st June 2018

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS

New watchdog plans to expose tax avoiders

A former Conservative party donor is to fund a new independent tax watchdog that aims to expose tax avoidance by multinational companies and individuals. Julian Richer, who founded the hi-fi and TV specialist Richer Sounds, is bankrolling the non-profit venture Taxwatch in response to the UK’s increasingly “broken” tax system. “I’m outraged by the status quo,” said Mr Richer. “You can’t move these days for stories about people and companies trying to find ever more ingenious ways to avoid paying their tax bill, whether it’s tech giants, celebrities or major landowners.” Taxwatch will involve journalists and tax professionals working together to expose abuses of the tax system in a bid to galvanise public opinion. Its advisers include Richard Brooks, author of The Great Tax Robbery. “It is early days,” said Mr Brooks. “The idea is to keep the spotlight on largescale tax abuse, particularly in relation to big business and the wealthy.&rdquo ;

The Observer, Page: 25

Tax evasion cases increase

The number of cases being handled by HMRC’s evasion team rose by 18% during the past financial year, as officials targeted UK taxpayers with offshore accounts. The Revenue identified 3,809 cases of serious tax evasion in the year to April, up from 3,216.

The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 2

Tax breaks to speed up investment in broadband

The Sunday Times reports that tax breaks are being considered by ministers to help spur investment in broadband connections.

The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 3

INDUSTRY NEWS

Carillion scandal can’t be ignored

The Sunday Telegraph’s Liam Halligan argues that the demise of Carillion has been “woefully under-reported.” He says many questions remain unanswered about the outsourcer’s collapse, including why its auditors continued to sign off its accounts. Elsewhere, the Sunday Times publishes a letter from a ‘former big four auditor’ that suggests the conduct of leading audit firms has risked “irreversible reputational damage to the profession.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Business and Money, Page: 2 The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 10

Accountants under scrutiny

The Mail on Sunday’s Ruth Sunderland previews Bean Counters by Richard Brooks. The book, to be published next month, details “how Britain’s largest audit firms have consistently turned a blind eye to scandals and wrongdoing, and not only got away with it, but also charged enormous fees.”

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 54-55

SMEs NEWS

Invest in unicorns

Leading small business figures will this week say that the government should simplify the tax system, let local authority pension funds invest in growing companies and make it easier for small investors to bankroll Britain’s future tech unicorns. Stephen Welton, the boss of the Business Growth Fund, suggested that council pension funds should be “consolidated into one mega-fund” with a remit to back British businesses.

The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 2

NatWest aims for easier invoicing

NatWest is seeking SMEs to join a pilot of its new digital invoicing and payments system, which it says can halve processing times and cut costs and manual errors. The bank’s APtimise system trial will be open to all small firms for six months, whether they are NatWest or Royal Bank of Scotland customers or not.

Sunday Express, Page: 61

PENSIONS NEWS

Sipp providers told to shape up

MPs are calling on providers of self-invested personal pensions (Sipps) to take more responsibility, amid a surge in people using them to invest in high-risk products. A record 92,000 savers last year moved their pension pots out of defined benefit schemes into Sipps, up from 61,000 in 2016, according to the Financial Conduct Authority. In a letter to the FCA, Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee, called for more clarity on the responsibilities of those that offer Sipps.

The Sunday Times, Business and Money, Page: 13

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Tax evasion rife in Africa too

The Observer’s Philip Inman argues that tax evasion is not an issue that is confined to Europe and America, noting that it is also a “colossal problem” in Africa. The OECD has said the extent of tax evasion in the region is dramatic, with more than $50bn per year funnelled out through illicit flows.

The Observer, Page: 62

ECONOMY NEWS

UK economy bouncing back

Analysts at Goldman Sachs say Britain’s economy is rebounding rapidly from a slow start to the year. The investment bank believes GDP growth could hit 0.5% in the second quarter, shrugging off a 0.1% slump in the first quarter. However, manufacturing growth is set to fall to an 18-month low, amid weakening demand from Europe and concerns about global trade wars. Economists expect the IHS Markit/CIPS PMI manufacturing index score for May will come in at 53.6, down slightly from 53.9 in April.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business and Money, Page: 3 The Sunday Times Sunday Express, Page: 62

OTHER NEWS

Higher taxes not the only NHS solution

The Sunday Times’ leader argues that higher taxes are not the only way to ease pressure on the NHS, with productivity growth also capable of generating significant extra resources. Elsewhere, the Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley suggests the introduction of a hypothecated tax to fund the NHS looks increasingly unlikely.

The Sunday Times, Page: 18 The Observer, Page: 47

Contact Paul Southward if you have any queries.

Paul Southward