News Roundup Friday 1st November 2019

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS ROUNDUP

MONDAY

Finance and tech firms targeted to net £9.8bn in unpaid tax

HMRC collected £9.8bn in extra revenue through tax probes into the UK’s largest businesses last year, up 12% from £8.7bn from the previous period. Analysis published by Pinsent Masons showed that the largest proportion of this was £6bn from tax investigations into VAT and £2.6bn in underpaid corporation tax. Major tech and finance businesses were the chief target of HMRC. Stuart Walsh of Pinsents, said: “Bigger UK and foreign businesses are going to find themselves under continued scrutiny from HMRC over the next year. The new government’s spending pledges mean HMRC and the treasury will be under pressure to raise more money.”

Daily Express, Page: 47 The Sun, Page: 12 City AM, Page: 7 Daily Mirror, Page: 21 The I, Page: 37

TUESDAY

Cairn faces more delay in resolving Indian tax dispute

Edinburgh-headquartered oil explorer and producer Cairn Energy has said that a decision over its long-running £1bn-plus tax claim against the Indian government is unlikely to be made until next summer. The firm commenced proceedings against India in 2015 following retrospective taxation actions undertaken by the Indian income tax department a year earlier. The dispute centres on restructuring undertaken by Cairn Energy ahead of the flotation of its Indian unit in 2007. Cairn had initially hoped that an arbitration panel handling its claim against India under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty would make a decision by the end of 2019.

The Scotsman, Page: 37 The Press and Journal, Page: 30

WEDNESDAY

Former presenter loses appeal against BBC tax bill

Former BBC Look North presenter Christa Ackroyd has lost her appeal against a tax tribunal ruling which last year landed her with a bill for around £200,000. Ms Ackroyd was one of several on-screen personalities hired by the corporation through personal service companies. The tribunal ruled that she had been an employee of the corporation, not a freelance contractor, and was therefore liable for income tax and national insurance contributions. Dave Chaplin, founder of Contractor Calculator, a website for freelancers and contractors, said Ms Ackroyd had “a right to feel aggrieved”, having been poached by the BBC from ITV’s Calendar. “The only option she was given was to work via a limited company, which the BBC reassured her in 2012 was OK,” Mr Chaplin said.

Yorkshire Post, Page:2

MTD brings productivity gains

A study by Intuit QuickBooks shows that since HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) came into force six months ago it could have helped small businesses realise over £815m in productivity gains. The study found 29% of small businesses adopted one or more new digital services or products since becoming MTD compliant. Chris Evans at Intuit QuickBooks said: “Adopting digital tools is essential for any business looking to grow and succeed in the modern world. Today’s findings are encouraging and show that the transition to digital has already led to tangible benefits for some businesses, such as streamlined operations, simplified tax and enhanced cash flow management.” Sentiment towards MTD has also improved with a majority of respondents advocated a roll out to other forms of tax believing it would save them time and increase productivity.

Accounting WEB

Canaccord Genuity enters film scheme tax avoidance row

Canaccord Genuity Financial Planning has been pulled into the long-running row over a tax avoidance scheme. A £10m lawsuit claims the firm wrongly encouraged clients, including high profile celebrities, to invest in film investment programmes such as those run by Ingenious Media – which were used to avoid tax. Several heavyweight law firms, including Stewarts and Mishcon de Reya, are taking claims against Ingenious and other parties to try and recover money which investors have been forced to repay HMRC.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 8

Corbyn prospect grim, says McKinstry

Leo McKinstry says in the Mail that Jeremy Corbyn and his “quasi-Marxist cabal” would turn the UK into Venezuela: “With reckless spending plans and socialist dogma, Mr Corbyn could drag the country to the brink of bankruptcy. Taxes would soar, businesses could be crippled, bureaucracy would inevitably balloon, and with the engine of capitalism hampered, poverty would most likely spread.”

Daily Mail, Page: 11

THURSDAY

British tourists could be owed money after Australian ‘backpacker tax’ ruled illegal

British and other holiday makers who have worked in Australia since the beginning of 2017 could be due hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds after a controversial backpacker tax was struck down in court. The measure, passed at the end of 2016, hit working holidaymakers with a 15% levy on all their earnings, erasing a tax-free threshold of A$18,200 (£9,700) which previously applied. However, a court has now found that the law breaches a double taxation agreement between the UK and Australia and constitutes “a disguised form of discrimination based on nationality”.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 15 The Independent Daily Express

Business urges delay to tax changes affecting temporary workers

The Government is being urged to delay forthcoming IR35 rules requiring large and medium-sized UK companies to be responsible for assessing the contractors they use as many business leaders still feel unprepared.

Financial Times, Page: 2

Claim your marriage allowance rebate before it’s too late

The Telegraph urges married couples who are eligible for the marriage allowance but who have not claimed so far to submit a claim for a rebate. Couples can get a rebate going back to 2015. However, after April 2020, any previously unclaimed allowance outside of the five-year window will be lost forever.

The Daily Telegraph

FRIDAY

Pensioners see record £55m tax refunds

Pensioners have reclaimed more than half a billion pounds in tax that they should not have paid when drawing from their retirement pots, with HMRC repaying a record £55m in the three months to the end of September alone. Since 2015, pension freedoms have allowed retirees to draw up to 25% immediately in a tax-free lump sum, with anything above this subject to income tax at the standard rates. However, a quirk in the system assumes one-off lump sums are intended as regular withdrawals of the same amount and are taxed accordingly. HMRC has returned £535m to savers because of this quirk over the past four years. Pensioners have withdrawn more than £30bn from their pots via pension freedoms since they came into force.

The Daily Telegraph Daily Express

Parties to offer tax pledges?

Ahead of December’s election, the Mirror looks at Labour’s policy plans, noting that the party will seek to tackle tax dodgers, highlighting figures showing that HMRC lost £1.8bn through tax avoidance in 2017/18. Elsewhere, the Times’ Steven Swinford looks at what to expect in the Conservative manifesto, noting that the Prime Minister has previously pledged to raise the threshold for the 40p rate of income tax from £50,000 to £80,000. In the same paper, Mr Swinford and Henry Zeffman look at Labour’s plans and consider whether the party is right in saying the Tories have slashed taxes for the richest, saying analysis suggests “the picture is more nuanced.”

Daily Mirror, Page: 9 The Times, Page: 12 The Times, Page: 10

Taxing time for agents

The number of football agents being investigated by HMRC over tax issues has nearly doubled in the last six months, with 62 currently subject to inquiries compared to 38 in March. The number of players under investigation has risen by 50 and the number of clubs being probed is up by 9. HMRC investigations into tax affairs including image rights, transfers and agents’ fees have brought in £371m in four years.

Daily Mail, Page: 89

SMEs NEWS ROUNDUP

MONDAY

IT failings left customers “cashless and cutoff”

MPs on the Treasury select committee have called for levies on big banks to pay for better regulation of their IT systems. Steve Baker, who led the Treasury committee inquiry, said: “The number of IT failures that have occurred in the financial services sector, including TSB, Visa and Barclays, and the harm caused to consumers is unacceptable. For too long, financial institutions issue hollow words after their systems have failed, which is of no help to customers left cashless and cutoff.” Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, called the report a “wake-up call for the banks to get their house in order. Any outages have a profound negative impact on small business customers, directly preventing them from trading.”

The Times, Page: 42 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 12 Daily Express, Page: 24 The I, Page: 4 The Guardian, Page: 36 City AM, Page: 7

FCA chief wants scrutiny of small business lending

There is a strong case for small business lending to be made a regulated activity, Andrew Bailey has said. The government has rejected calls from MPs and business owners to change the law after the GRG and other lending scandals, but he CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority said there needed to be a “serious assessment of the pros and cons” of bringing lending to smaller companies under the remit of the City regulator. Mr Bailey is interviewed in the Times.

The Times, Page: 39 The Times, Page: 39

Aim way ahead of rivals despite tough year

Almost £4bn of capital was raised on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) in company floats and secondary fundraisings compared to just £1.9bn raised on the next four biggest growth markets in Europe, according to UHY Hacker Young. The £3.9bn figure comes despite Aim being on track for the lowest number of IPOs in its history this year.

City AM, Page: 6 The Times, Page: 42

WEDNESDAY

UK businesses facing a new credit squeeze

Businesses taking out new loans are being hit with an average interest rate of 3.05% – up from 2.56% at the end of August – the highest in a decade. The hike in the cost of credit is said to be a result of banks becoming more wary ahead of Brexit. Businesses have increasingly been turning to the financial markets rather than banks to raise cash, with £6.5bn raised from issuing bonds last month, the most since October last year. Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We’ve seen a noticeable spike in borrowing rates. It adds insult to injury that rates for consumer mortgages remain at record lows while viable small firms – engines of job creation and economic growth – struggle to secure a reasonable rate.”

Daily Mail, Page: 70

THURSDAY

FSB to party leaders: look beyond Brexit

Craig Beaumont, external affairs director at the Federation of Small Businesses, told the BBC it was important for candidates in their election campaigns to talk about things beyond Brexit. “Small business owners are doing a great job in very uncertain circumstances. This the start for every party and every candidate to start thinking about the small businesses in their community”. Small business owners, he said, are “highly motivated voters” and said members would make their own political choices. What they would want to know, though, is how polices are going to be paid for. As there is not going to be a budget, businesses will still want answers on tax, employment costs and self-employment issues.

BBC News

CORPORATE NEWS ROUNDUP

MONDAY

CVAs: the go-to remedy for struggling retailers

Alan Meek, head of corporate insolvency and restructuring at law firm Morton Fraser, discusses in the Scotsman the pros and cons for retailers carrying out company voluntary arrangements (CVAs). He says the attraction of CVAs to retailers is that it allows all landlords to be dealt with at the same time and avoids the potential risk of only partial “buy-in”. He also notes that landlords have become more amenable to accepting the principle of CVAs but have simultaneously become more nuanced about their responses to CVAs. He explains that landlords are far more likely to engage with the proposing management and seek to have the proposals amended to more closely meet the requirements and (hopefully) realistic objections of landlords. Where agreement cannot be reached, Meek notes, landlords are now clearly prepared to challenge CVAs in court.

The Scotsman, Page: 34

Metro Bank loses £2m on Orla Kiely failure

Administrators for the fashion brand Orla Kiely have said secured creditors are unlikely to be paid in full. Quantuma said Metro Bank, HMRC as well as unpaid staff, are owed £5m and will be left empty-handed. Metro Bank will lose £2m from the collapse.

The Daily Telegraph

TUESDAY

Shop Direct needs to find £150m

Shop Direct could collapse unless it finds £150m to cover the costs of PPI compensation, Deloitte has warned. The UK retail group, which is owned by the Barclay brothers and whose business model centres on selling clothes, electrical goods and homeware to customers on credit, said last week it faced an unexpectedly high bill of £169m for PPI compensation.

Financial Times, Page: 22 City AM, Page: 6 The Times, Page: 33 Daily Mail, Page: 20 The Guardian, Page: 35

Ferrexpo chief steps away to deal with Ukraine probe

Ferrexpo boss Kostyantin Zhevago has temporarily stepped down while he deals with allegations of embezzlement in Ukraine. Prosecutors in the country have said that they want to question the 45-year-old over suspected embezzlement from Bank Finance & Credit, a Ukrainian lender that he used to control. The Times notes that Deloitte resigned as Ferrexpo’s auditor in April, accusing the company of delaying an inquiry into Mr Zhevago’s links to a charitable foundation called Blooming Land.

The Times, Page: 33 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 7 City AM, Page: 17

Finance chief behind Spotify direct listing to step down

Barry McCarthy is to step down as Spotify’s CFO informing the FT that he felt “his work was done” after guiding Spotify through its first year and a half as a public company.

Financial Times, Page: 20

WEDNESDAY

African bank pulls IPO

The African Export-Import Bank has cancelled its London stock market float, citing “unfavourable market conditions”. With Dealogic data revealing a 58% fall in the number of UK listings in 2019 compared with last year, Afreximbank’s decision follows that of Kaspi.kz, which was due to go public with a market value of $5bn (£4bn) but cancelled its plans earlier this month. Figures from EY show there were only 24 flotations in Britain during the first nine months of the year, raising £4.8bn. That compares with 52 a year earlier that netted £5.2bn.

The Daily Telegraph Financial Times The Times, Page: 47 Daily Express, Page: 50

Ashley savages Goals Soccer Centres SFO move

Sports Direct retailer Mike Ashley has criticised a move by Goals Soccer Centres to work with the Serious Fraud Office on an accounting investigation. “Far too little, far too late and is a deliberate case of closing the stable door well after the horse has bolted,” Ashley said. Sports Direct had been considering a takeover of the firm before accusing the board last week of not engaging with an offer process.

Evening Standard

Minibond investors face new payout delay

Manchester-based minibond company Blackmore Bond has told investors that interest payments will be delayed for a second consecutive quarter due to a slowing property market. Blackmore has twice delayed filing its 2018 financial accounts after Grant Thornton resigned in the spring.

The Times, Page: 43

Shop Direct funding delayed

Deloitte said there was “material uncertainty” as to whether Shop Direct can continue operating after a cash injection to plug a gap caused by a £175m PPI bill was delayed.

Daily Mail, Page: 70 Financial Times, Page: 18

FRP winds Simons down

Lincoln-based construction firm Simons Group has fallen into administration, citing a “period of challenging trading and contract delays”. FRP Advisory is handling the administration and will wind down the business.

The Times, Page: 52

FRIDAY

Soccerworld scores Goals deal

Goals Soccer Centres has been acquired by rival Soccerworld and private equity firm Inflexion in a deal understood to be worth around £27m. The acquisition comes via a pre-pack administration managed by Deloitte. Goals has been caught up in an accounting scandal after BDO discovered it had mis-declared VAT in its first audit of the company after the board decided to replace KPMG. Goals engaged RSM and an independent tax expert to review four years of the firm’s books after BDO reported its concerns. Goals believes it could owe HMRC “significantly more” than the £13.2m plus interest and penalties uncovered during the review, saying its historic profit figures may have been overstated by up to £40m.

The Guardian, Page: 35 The Times, Page: 41 Financial Times Daily Express, Page: 50 The Sun, Page: 55 City AM, Page: 5 The Scotsman, Page: 36 The Press and Journal, Page: 31 Yorkshire Post, Page: 18

Johnson eyes Bread Holdings sale

Mark Kleinman in City AM looks at news that Luke Johnson is preparing to put Bread Holdings, the owner of Gail’s, on the market, noting that when Mr Johnson last explored a sale of Gail’s, he turned to KPMG to handle the process but the auditor now has a self-imposed ban on conducting all-but essential consulting work for audit clients. Mr Kleinman suggests issues which arose at Patisserie Holdings may mean KPMG feels “a sense of relief about having to relinquish the sale mandate”.

City AM, Page: 9

Fosun envisages online revival at Thomas Cook

Chinese conglomerate Fosun is close to acquiring Thomas Cook’s brand and intellectual property assets. KPMG is overseeing the sale of the firm’s airport take-off slots.

Financial Times, Page: 18

EMPLOYMENT NEWS ROUNDUP

MONDAY

Apprenticeship levy hampering SME training schemes

The Learning and Work Institute has warned that the Government’s apprenticeship levy could actually be contributing to 75,000 fewer training schemes being provided by SMEs. The employment and skills charity found that three-quarters of apprenticeship providers which worked with small businesses reported that there was insufficient funding to meet demand, “with many being forced to reduce or cease recruitment as a result”. The shortfall is due to large employers using more of their levy funds than expected, leaving only half as much money as was thought to help smaller companies to train workers.

The Times, Page: 45

Immigration restrictions a pressing concern for financial firms

Almost two thirds of financial services firms are reviewing the travel and working arrangements of staff between Britain and the EU, according to EY. Fears over immigration rules continue to weigh on companies and EY suggests firms finalise immigration plans for all scenarios this week. John Liver, financial services partner at EY, said that firms still needed to prepare for a no-deal Brexit “while it remains the default position”.

The Times, Page: 40

WEDNESDAY

Low-paid jobs hit record low

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released yesterday show the share of workers in low-paid jobs – defined as no more than two-thirds of the UK median hourly rate of £13.27 – had fallen to 16.2% – the lowest proportion since records began in 1997. The Telegraph suggests the statistics will be a boost to Boris Johnson as they as they are better figures than anything achieved under Labour. Average weekly pay climbed 2.9% to £585 in the year to April, or 0.9% adjusted for inflation. The figures also showed the lowest-paid 30% of the workforce getting average pay rises of more than 4% during the period, more than twice the 1.8% increase seen for the top 5% of earners. The gender pay gap for those aged under 40 is now “close to zero” for staff in full-time jobs, the ONS said, while the overall pay gap is virtually unchanged at 8.9% for all full-timers.

The Daily Telegraph

PROPERTY NEWS

THURSDAY

MPs demand business rates reform

The Government has been called upon to reform business rates urgently with MPs on the Treasury select committee arguing that the tax placed an unfair burden on struggling high street retailers. MPs suggested ministers consider alternatives including a land value tax, an online sales levy or a profits tax. Alison McGovern, the Treasury committee’s lead member, said: “The tax represents an increasing burden on businesses, particularly those with a physical high street presence struggling to remain competitive.” Trade bodies welcomed the findings. Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The business rates system is broken, causing businesses and investment to flatline. It is critical that politicians get a grip of this unfair tax that seemingly can’t be challenged.”

Financial Times, Page: 2 The Times, Page: 43 City AM, Page: 2 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 2 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 Daily Mail, Page: 23, 74 Daily Express, Page: 53 The Guardian, Page: 41

PENSIONS NEWS ROUNDUP

MONDAY

Some pension firms take months to release savings

Analysis by PensionBee of more than 50,000 pension transfers processed since 2016 shows some firms are doing transfers in just 12 days while others can take two months or more. The average time across the 24 firms tracked was 20 days. The Telegraph points out that regulations require providers to complete transfers within six months.

The Daily Telegraph

UK regulator under fire over £12bn annuity deal

The Prudential Regulation Authority has been criticised for approving the transfer of annuities from long-established insurers to newer specialist rivals after the High Court in August blocked a £12bn transfer from Prudential to Rothesay Life.

Financial Times

TUESDAY

Women’s pensions should be topped up, says think tank

Research by the Pensions Policy Institute finds that by their 60s, women are more than £100,000 worse-off than men of the same age. Now the Social Market Foundation (SMF) says the Government should pay public money into the personal pensions of women who take time out of work to care for children or elderly relatives. The SMF said: “Taking time out of the labour market to raise children or care for relatives is one of the key causes of the pension gap. Addressing the lack of pension accumulation during this period is essential if we are to close – or even narrow – the gap in pension savings between men and women.”

Daily Express

Top surgeons cut hours due to tax trap

Seven out of 10 surgeons have cut their hours as a result of hefty bills on their pensions, according to a survey by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS). The findings raise fears waiting lists will grow even more than usual over winter as a result. Under the existing system anyone earning more than £110,000 a year faces punitive tax bills if they put more than £10,000 into their pension pot annually. Previously, they could pay up to £40,000 into their pension tax-free each year. Stella Vig, of the RCS council, said: “The pensions scheme has created a tax trap, where accepting an extra shift can lead to a large tax bill.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 12 Daily Mail, Page: 21 Daily Express, Page: 9 The Times, Page: 14 Yorkshire Post, Page: 2

ECONOMY NEWS ROUNDUP

MONDAY

Consumer confidence hits six-year low

A poll by YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has revealed that consumer confidence has reached its lowest level in six years. The survey found that confidence has fallen from 103.8 to 102.8 in October, the third consecutive month of decline and close to the 100 barrier that separates positive and negative sentiment. Oliver Rower, a research director at YouGov, said: “This is the third month in a row that consumer confidence has fallen and the score is now getting dangerously close to negative territory. With the Christmas shopping season already under way for many households, retailers and consumer manufacturers will be desperately hoping sentiment gets a bounce next month, possibly driven by parliament passing a workable Brexit deal.”

The Times, Page: 40

Figures show decline in exports to Europe

Exports to Europe from Britain have fallen for the first time since 2015 this year, suggesting that Brexit has already caused “notable disruption”, according to a new study from BDO. The UK’s exports fell by 3.3% between Q1 and Q2 and BDO believes a marked recovery by the end of 2019 is unlikely. Germany experienced an even more significant contraction of exports. BDO’s Peter Hemington commented: “European export growth is on the brink of contraction, having experienced another challenging quarter, and worse is still to come as car sales stall and industrial production levels limp across Europe.”

The I, Page: 38 Yorkshire Post, Page: 4

TUESDAY

Business groups warn against fresh Brexit delays

Business leaders have welcomed the fact that a no-deal Brexit at the end of the month has been averted but warned that the extension “also prolongs the agony and uncertainty.” Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said: “Uncertainty remains high. It is vital — this time — the extra time leads to a deal.” Meanwhile, global FDI contracted sharply in the first half of this year, according to the OECD as trade tensions between the US, Europe and China weighed on the world economy. Although the UK is still a leading destination in Europe for overseas investors, new investment fell from $44bn to $19bn between the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019.

Financial Times, Page: 3 Financial Times, Page: 10 The Times, Page: 33

Government urged to shake-up fiscal regulation

The Resolution Foundation has called for a revision of the UK’s fiscal rules so that instead of focussing on public debt and deficits the Government directs its energies to ensuring its investments are productive and growing in value. It suggested a new objective to improve public sector net worth as a share of GDP over a five-year term. Richard Hughes, research associate at the think tank, said: “The UK’s new fiscal rules should reflect current economic realities such as record low interest rates, and the broad political consensus around the need to invest in improving productivity, tackling climate change, and renewing our public service infrastructure.”

The Times, Page: 32 The Guardian, Page: 33 City AM, Page: 10

WEDNESDAY

Employers’ confidence dips

Data from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) show employers’ confidence in the UK economy dropped to -31 in October (0 is a neutral reading) – its lowest level since mid-2016 – as firms scale back hiring plans because of Brexit. Neil Carberry of the REC said: “These figures show the damage that political indecision is causing.” A separate survey by BDO found business leaders in the UK were the least confident of any major European country, with two-thirds of respondents saying they believe the economic climate will deteriorate over the next six months and only 10% believing it will improve.

The I, Page: 40 City AM, Page: 8

Nervous shoppers dent consumer credit growth

Consumer credit growth slowed to its weakest pace for five years in September, according to Bank of England data, as nervous shoppers sat tight. Growth in consumer credit slipped to 6% year-on-year last month, while total borrowing by individuals fell to £4.6bn and credit card lending growth hit a five-year low of 4.4%.

The Daily Telegraph

FSB to party leaders: look beyond Brexit

Craig Beaumont, external affairs director at the Federation of Small Businesses, told the BBC it was important for candidates in their election campaigns to talk about things beyond Brexit. “Small business owners are doing a great job in very uncertain circumstances. This the start for every party and every candidate to start thinking about the small businesses in their community”. Small business owners, he said, are “highly motivated voters” and said members would make their own political choices. What they would want to know, though, is how polices are going to be paid for. As there is not going to be a budget, businesses will still want answers on tax, employment costs and self-employment issues.

BBC News

THURSDAY

Political turmoil and personal finances damaging consumer confidence

The GFK consumer confidence index fell from -12 to -14 in October as shoppers’ uncertainty continued to be knocked by Brexit and the state of their personal finances. Optimism about personal finances fell from 4 to 1 and is now close to negative territory, while pessimism about the general economic outlook fell from -35 in September to -37. Consumers cut back on big-ticket purchases, with the “major purchase index” falling from 3 to 1 in October. Joe Staton, client strategy director at GFK, said: “This deterioration in sentiment regarding our personal financial affairs is worrying, as strong consumer spending has been the main driver of economic growth since the referendum in 2016 against a backdrop of low inflation, low interest rates, low wage growth and high employment.”

The Times, Page: 46 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

FRIDAY

UK trade deficit hits widest in eight years

The UK trade deficit hit £37.7bn in 2018, its highest level in eight years. The figure represents 1.8% of GDP and is up from £25bn, or 1.2%, the previous year.

Financial Times

Eurozone reports steady GDP growth

Eurostat data shows GDP in the EU’s 19 member states grew 0.2% in Q3 when compared to Q2, exceeding economist expectations of 0.1% growth between July and September. Separate Eurostat data shows that eurozone inflation fell to 0.7% in October, down from 0.8% in September.

City AM

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

FRIDAY

France leads EU on tax burden

Figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, show that France has the highest tax burden of any country in the EU. Its tax-to-GDP ratio, calculated on the sum of taxes and net social contributions, was 48.4% in 2018, putting it ahead of Belgium on 47.2% and Denmark on 45.9%. Ireland had the lowest ratio, at 23%. Across the bloc, the average was 40.3% last year.

Daily Express

OTHER NEWS ROUNDUP

MONDAY

GRG chief in court over small business seizures

Derek Sach, the former boss of restructuring for Royal Bank of Scotland, is to appear in court today to answer claims that the Government pressured the bank’s Global Restructuring Group to seize small businesses which had taken loans from the bank so it could sell their assets to boost profits. The case is brought by property developer Oliver Morley who claims senior staff at the bank’s GRG unit were awarded bonuses based on targets set by an arm of the Treasury.

Daily Mail, Page: 78

TUESDAY

Cash strapped NHS board pays expert £2,000 a day

A management consultant is being paid almost £2,000 a day to find ways to cut costs at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in north Wales in a deal that allows him to work one day a week from his home in Spain. The NHS health board is struggling under a deficit of £41.3m. Philip Burns, like four other management consultants working for the board, is being paid through a limited company.

The Times

WEDNESDAY

Libra threat has central banks eyeing faster payments

Claire Jones explains in the FT how the threat of Facebook’s Libra digital currency taking hold has spurred central bankers to improve cross border payment systems.

Financial Times

FSB to party leaders: look beyond Brexit

Craig Beaumont, external affairs director at the Federation of Small Businesses, told the BBC it was important for candidates in their election campaigns to talk about things beyond Brexit. “Small business owners are doing a great job in very uncertain circumstances. This the start for every party and every candidate to start thinking about the small businesses in their community”. Small business owners, he said, are “highly motivated voters” and said members would make their own political choices. What they would want to know, though, is how polices are going to be paid for. As there is not going to be a budget, businesses will still want answers on tax, employment costs and self-employment issues.

BBC News

THURSDAY

Releasing workers from the chains of taxation would improve productivity

In a piece for City AM, Ben Ramanauskas, a research economist at Oxford University, draws a parallel between the 16th century economic shift driven by the Reformation and how the modern day sentiment that people ultimately work for the taxman results in people engaging in unproductive activity. If taxes were cut and people were allowed to keep more of their own money and spend it on what they value the productivity puzzle would be partly solved, asserts Ramanauskas.

City AM, Page: 18

FRIDAY

Scottish golfer number swings down

KPMG ‘s Golf Participation Report for Europe 2019 shows a loss of 7,521 registered golfers in Scotland, a 4% dip.

The Scotsman, Page 54

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