News Roundup Monday 18th March 2019

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS

MTD plans for small businesses will go ahead

The Government has said plans for small businesses with a turnover above the £85,000 VAT threshold to be required to submit quarterly returns online will go ahead from April 1st. The Chancellor reaffirmed the plans for Making Tax Digital (MTD) during his Spring Statement but promised firms they would not face fines if they do their best to adapt. However, similar reporting standards for income tax, expected to be introduced in April 2020, have been pushed back by at least a year.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 Daily Mail, Page: 85

HMRC worker claims six suicides are linked to UK tax charge

HMRC is aware of six individuals believed to have committed suicide due to the so-called loan charge, an employee at the Revenue has revealed to MPs probing the crackdown on “disguised remuneration” schemes.

Financial Times

CORPORATE NEWS

Stephanie Bruce joins SLA as FD

Standard Life Aberdeen have said that finance director Bill Rattray will step down at the end of May after almost three decades and will be replaced by Stephanie Bruce of PwC. The move comes as SLA announced Keith Skeoch will become the sole chief executive, leaving Aberdeen’s Martin Gilbert as vice-chairman.

Financial Times The Times The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 9 Daily Mail, Page: 87

SMEs NEWS

Hammond cracks down on late payment

Philip Hammond is to force big companies to reveal how long they take to pay small suppliers as part of a crackdown on late payments. The Chancellor said audit committees will be required to review payment practices and report on them in their annual accounts, with a non-executive director given responsibility for reporting on how quickly suppliers were being paid. The Financial Reporting Council has been asked to look at whether it can change existing rules or if the Government needs to pass legislation. Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, welcomed the move, saying: “The end of late payments could be in sight. It can’t come soon enough, to bolster small businesses at a time when they are in great need of support and a lift in confidence.”

Daily Mail, Page: 85 Financial Times, Page: 4 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 5

PROBATE NEWS

ONS to define probate fee as tax, but only for accounting purposes

The Chancellor’s Spring Statement yesterday revealed that the rise in probate charges will now be classed as a tax, but the Ministry of Justice said this would only be for accounting purposes. The Government has faced criticism for trying to avoid Parliamentary debate on the issue by classifying the price rises as a fee. Bereaved relatives currently pay a flat £215 fee for probate but the cost increases coming in next month will see families hit with bills of up to £6,000 and hand the Ministry of Justice an extra £155m each year. Emily Deane, of the inheritance professionals trade body Step, said: “This is a tax on bereaved families rather than a payment for a service, and its introduction should be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny, not brought in through the back door.”

Daily Mail, Page: 8

REPORTING NEWS

Accounting rules can’t be blamed for volatility

Peter Malmqvist disputes a claim in the FT that increased volatility in company accounts can be blamed on accounting rules.

Financial Times, Page: 14

ECONOMY NEWS

Hammond pledges smooth Brexit spending boon

The Chancellor has pledged to spend a £26.6bn Brexit war chest to boost the economy, if MPs vote to leave the EU with a deal. Philip Hammond said his “deal dividend” would be dependent on a smooth Brexit and warned that a disorderly exit would deal a “significant” blow to economic activity in the short term. Mr Hammond used his Spring Statement to make the pledge as the latest figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast growth of 1.2% for 2019, down from the 1.6% predicted last October. The OBR left the forecast for GDP growth in 2020 at 1.4% and now expects the UK economy to expand by 1.6% a year in the following three years. Mr Hammond said the economy had “defied expectations” as wages were expected to keep growing at rates of above 3% over the next five years. The OBR also revealed that debt as a percentage of GDP is set to decline to 73% by 2023/24.

BBC News The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Sun, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 34 Daily Express, Page: 6 Daily Mail, Page: 8

OTHER NEWS

Hammond faces £12bn student loan black hole

A change in the way student loans are accounted for will hurt the Chancellor’s financial war chest to the tune of £11.6bn. The Office for Budget Responsibility has decided that assuming student loans will eventually be repaid in full is flawed and that the Government will have to accept liability for unpaid loans.

Daily Mail, Page: 83

Contact Paul Southward if you have any queries.

Paul Southward