News Roundup 5th June 2018

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS

Labour condemns ‘disastrous’ HMRC cuts

Labour has raised concerns over a “disastrous and misguided programme of cuts” at HMRC, after it emerged that 4m calls to the Revenue’s helpline went unanswered in the last year. The shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Peter Dowd, said “chronic under-staffing and under-resourcing” of HMRC under the Conservatives was having real consequences on the effectiveness of the tax system. Elsewhere, Phil Hall of the AAT writes to the Telegraph to comment that many AAT-licensed accountants would like to see an increase in the skills, training and number of tax inspectors and call centre staff.

The Independent The Daily Telegraph, Page: 17 Daily Express, Page: 48

Tax systems likely to diverge further

Scotland’s finance secretary has said tax levels between Scotland and the rest of the UK will “inevitably” diverge further because of differences in the political priorities. It comes after a recent overhaul of the tax system resulted in high earners paying more in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK, while those on lower salaries pay less. The SNP’s Derek Mackay said this gap is likely to widen in the years ahead as “we want to use our tax system in a more progressive fashion and, clearly, the UK government does not.”

The Scotsman, Page: 5

INDUSTRY NEWS

Auditor quality is the remit of the customer

In a letter to the FT, professor Jeffrey Ridley argues that it is the customer company who should judge the quality of the auditing it receives, not the market place.

Financial Times, Page: 10

SMEs NEWS

More SMEs turning to alternative finance

Analysis by Wesleyan has found that rather than rely on overdrafts, savings and credit cards to facilitate growth, 59% of SMEs had used external funding – including crowdfunding and invoice funding – on at least one occasion to drive growth. The figure is up from 30% in the same survey in 2016. Some of 27% SMEs said they now “regularly” turn to external finance, up from 20% three years ago. The report also reveals that 54% of SMEs are feeling “more confident” about their firm’s prospects compared to last year and just 11% are “concerned” about the potential impact of Brexit.

P2P Finance News London Loves Business Real Business

SMEs upbeat

The Telegraph’s latest Business Tracker shows positivity among Britain’s small business community over the last month. The tracker analysed 36,000 tweets sent over the period, discovering 19% contained optimistic sentiment, while 9% were negative.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 8

CORPORATE NEWS

MPs question Carillion risk monitoring

The joint inquiry into Carillion’s insolvency has called for the government to investigate the way it carried out risk assessments before handing contracts to the former outsourcing giant. The chairs of the pensions and business select committees have written to Cabinet Office minister David Lidington to question why some assessments used out-of-date figures, excluded some public sector contracts and paid little attention to other external contracts.

Financial Times The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 38-39

RBS finance head quits

Royal Bank of Scotland’s CFO Ewen Stevenson has resigned after four years in the job – with a search for his successor beginning immediately. RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said: “For the past four years Ewen has worked tirelessly with me and my executive team to make RBS a much simpler, safer and more customer focussed business and to resolve a number of major legacy challenges.”

Financial Times, Page 13 The Times, Page: 38 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Sun, Page: 47

PENSIONS NEWS

‘Couples pension fund’ idea dismissed

The government has dismissed a suggestion that couples should be allowed to contribute to a “joint pension fund”. In a question to parliament, Baroness Burt asked whether the government was considering allowing working partners to contribute to a non-working pension fund, or contribute to a joint fund. Lord Bates responded that a joint pension would go against the current system which has been in place since 1990 and ensures that individuals are taxed on: “their personal income, their own tax-free personal allowance, and their own set of tax thresholds.”

City AM

Pensions dashboard faces delay

Government plans to create an online “pensions dashboard” displaying each person’s retirement savings have fallen behind, as new figures show that seven million people have lost track of at least one pension pot. Research from the insurer Aegon found that 22% of savers were unable to trace one or more pensions, up from 21% last year. A feasibility study into the dashboard plans was due to be released by the DWP in March but has not yet appeared.

The Times

PROPERTY NEWS

Estate agent to rich Russians rues London’s hostile climate

Estate agent Gary Hersham of Beauchamp Estates says super-wealthy clients are moving their money out of London amid signs the capital is becoming less hospitable to oligarchs.

Financial Times

ECONOMY NEWS

Jobs boom reaching new households

The number of households with no member in work fell by nearly 100,000 over the past year, indicating the UK’s jobs boom is reaching households who might normally struggle to find jobs. Overall, nearly 60% of households had all members aged over 16 in employment, a rise of 315,000 compared to 2017. Economists welcomed the news, but warned that there may not be much room for further improvement on the figures.

The Daily Telegraph

OECD upgrades UK growth outlook

The OECD has upgraded its forecast for UK economic growth – expanding by 1.4% this year before slowing slightly to 1.3% in 2019. “The authorities should stand ready to further increase productivity- enhancing measures on investment if growth weakens significantly ahead of Brexit,” the OECD noted.

The Times, Page: 2 City AM, Page: 5 Evening Standard

OTHER NEWS

Philanthropist owed £7m in tax

A retired American financier who gave more than £1m to charity owed HMRC more than £7m, a High Court judge was told. Alan Hoffman thought that he did not have to pay tax in Britain as well as in the US on money sent to the UK. The tax bill emerged when Mr Hoffman’s wife filed for divorce after a 21-year marriage.

The Times, Page: 16

Accountancy exam hit for six

Cricketer Keaton Jennings has been forced to postpone an exam for his ongoing accountancy degree after being called up to open the batting for England in tomorrow’s test.

The Times The Sun, Page: 52

Contact Paul Southward if you have any queries.