News Roundup Friday 4th May 2018

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS

UK opposed to temporary tech tax

France is battling to save plans for an EU-wide tax on tech giants, after proposals from the European Commission for a temporary tech tax were criticised by some European governments, including the UK. Philip Hammond called for a global approach to digital taxation through further dialogue at the OECD, rather than pursuing a temporary solution in the EU. “You have to understand that the Trump administration will regard the turnover tax as a hostile act,” Mr Hammond is also reported to have said.

Politico Financial Times

Campaigners call for end to tax haven secrecy

The Guardian publishes a letter from tax campaigners urging the government to pass a law requiring Britain’s overseas territories to publish public registers of company ownership by the end of 2020.

The Guardian, Journal, Page: 6

SMEs NEWS

RBS invites small firms to leave

Royal Bank of Scotland has begun writing to its small business customers, inviting them to switch to another bank. As part of RBS’s £45bn taxpayer-funded bailout, it is being forced to provide £350m for rivals to offer incentives to customers to switch (the subject of the letters), as well as £425m for a “capability and innovation fund” to help other banks and finance firms to expand their services for small companies. It is hoped that the move will boost competition and give customers more power and choice. Anne Boden, who runs the online-only banking start-up Starling Bank, says that the so-called “alternative remedies package’ “could create far more new competitors in the market than any other previous idea.” “This has the potential to add three or four new players with sizeable market share,” she says. However, with the biggest tranche of the innovation fund, worth £280m, expected to go to only three banks, there are also doubts over the extent of the change that will be delivered. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, believes that “there’s a fine balance to be struck when allocating this fund. Some large grants need to be given to those with the existing scale to challenge the biggest players. But meaningful sums should also be awarded to smaller, genuinely challenger banks who are prepared to bring real innovation to the market.”

The Times, Page: 45

Help for Scots firms on GDPR

The Federation of Small Businesses has announced a series of events to help Scottish firms prepare for looming changes to data protection law. It comes after FSB research found 68% of small businesses had either not started or were only in the early stages of preparation for the new General Data Protection Regulations.

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Page: 39

INDUSTRY NEWS

Advisers await fees bonanza from supermarket merger

The Times reports that lawyers, professional services firms and investment banks could share more than £100m in fees from the proposed merger of Sainsbury’s and Asda. The two grocery chains are likely to face more than a year of complex negotiations to seal their deal.

The Times, Page: 39

PROPERTY NEWS

Land value tax ‘would price people out of homes’

The Conservatives have warned that replacing IHT, CGT, stamp duty and council tax with a land value tax would “price people out of their own homes.” A document prepared by the Labour Land Campaign (LCC) has suggested several different methods by which a land value tax could be calculated, but housing secretary Sajid Javid said it would result in “huge tax hikes” for people living in London and the South East.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4-5

ECONOMY NEWS

Deal expectations hit 18-year high

Research by EY shows the number of UK businesses looking to pursue mergers or purchases of other companies is at the highest level in 18 years. The finding comes after it was announced M&A deals surged to an 11-year high at the start of 2018, totalling $120bn (£87bn) in the first quarter in the UK. Business leaders also reported bullish attitudes towards global growth, with 86% of those questioned saying they expect the economic outlook to improve. However, feelings about the domestic economy are less positive, with only 68% of UK executives expecting improved growth in the UK.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 City AM, Page: 8 The Scotsman, Page: 34

Consumer confidence boosted

Data to be published today will show consumer confidence reached its highest since January 2017 in April. The headline confidence index from YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) increased by 2.2 points to hit 109.8, above the 100 mark which indicates overall positive sentiment. The improvement was driven by a broad rise across perceptions of the health of household finances, job security and broader business activity.

City AM, Page: 2

OTHER NEWS

Chancellor’s tax bolt from the blue

The Times publishes an extract from Sport Inc: Why money is the winner in the business of sport, by Ed Warner. The former chairman of UK Athletics hails the tax exemptions introduced by George Osborne for the London Anniversary Games in 2013, 2015 and 2016, which he says were essential in signing Usain Bolt to compete at the events.

The Times, Page: 42-43

Proportion of high-earning women stalls

A study by law firm Clyde & Co has shown the proportion of women in high-earning jobs has remained static since 2011. It found women account for a quarter of higher rate taxpayers in each of the last seven financial years.

Daily Express, Page: 44 Daily Mirror, Page: 4 Yorkshire Post, Page: 4

Contact Paul Southward for all your news roundup.

Paul Southward