News Roundup Thursday 18th April 2019



Yellow vests scorn cathedral pledges as Macron prepares tax cuts

Wealthy donors to the restoration of Notre-Dame are facing a backlash over tax breaks on their gifts. Pledges approached €1bn yesterday, with donations from the owners of Chanel and Dior, as well as Disney and Apple. Representatives of the “yellow vest” protesters noted that the tycoons stood to receive major tax breaks linked to donations in support of restoring national treasures. French president Emmanuel Macron was about to broadcast a speech just as the cathedral caught fire. In it he announced the closure of France’s elite school for future leaders – the Ecole Nationale d’Administration – and vowed to lower taxes on the middle classes – a measure he says he will pay for by cracking down on tax evasion. A leaked text of the speech also shows Macron was to promise a review in 2020 of his deeply unpopular decision to reduce a wealth tax.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 7 Daily Express, Page: 10 The Times, Page: 31 The Times, Page: 30 The Guardian, Page: 29


London and South East drag on national house prices

London endured a 3.8% decline in property prices for the year to February, according to the latest data from HM Land Registry and the Office for National Statistics, the largest drop for almost a decade. Prices fell by 1.8% in the South East, offsetting stronger growth in other parts of the UK – prices in the North West and the West Midlands rose by 4% and 2.9% respectively – meaning that house prices rose by just 0.6% in the year to February nationally, to an average price of £226,000. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY Item Club, said buyers remained cautious amid heightened Brexit and economic uncertainties, adding: “We suspect house prices will rise only 1% over the year and would not be at all surprised if they stagnate.”

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 4 The Guardian, Page: 35


Nurseries should be exempt from business rates, FSB says

The Government is coming under pressure to offer childcare providers in England 100% relief on business rates, following the example of Wales and Scotland. A report from the Federation of Small Businesses says nurseries are struggling to survive in the face of rising staff wages, rents and business rates. As a result, fees are going up and this is putting pressure on household finances.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 8

UK law must back freelance rights to be paid on time

The FT backs small businesses suffering from late payment. It says local government bodies should be onside, free legal help should be made available, and financial penalties imposed on offenders.

Financial Times, Page: 10


FCA to overhaul industry register

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has vowed to overhaul its industry directory, following reported failings with the current register. While critics complain that the watchdog has created a black hole for fraud, as the existing register will not be updated after December, the regulator itself says: “This improved transparency will enable consumers to verify the identity of those selling or providing advice on financial products, will help firms to cross-check references, and support the FCA, law enforcement, professional bodies and other regulators in monitoring the market.”

The Daily Telegraph


Inflation holding steady

The UK’s headline annual inflation rate held steady at 1.9% in March, according to monthly figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with real wages increasing above price rises. The inflation rate including housing costs and council tax held at 1.8%, with wages rising at 3.4%. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, commented: “Any help to consumer purchasing power is particularly welcome as the economy is likely to be hampered by prolonged Brexit uncertainties following the flexible extension of the UK’s exit from the EU to October 31.”

City AM Financial Times, Page: 3 Daily Express, Page: 8 The Sun, Page: 51 The Independent, Page: 59
Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward