News Roundup Thursday 5th September 2019

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS

Labour challenges Chancellor to rule out tax cuts for finance sector

Labour has urged Chancellor Sajid Javid to rule out tax cuts and deregulation for the finance sector in his first spending review. With Mr Javid today expected to signal an end to the era of austerity in his statement to the Commons, shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said he should take the opportunity to tell bankers that any loosening of purse-strings did not mean they could “get their noses in the trough”. He said: “I am staggered that the bankers are lobbying Javid for tax cuts and deregulation.”

The Independent, Page: 9

Savers urged to check tax

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group has urged savers to check the amount of tax they are paying, saying it has received reports of inaccurate income figures, suggesting savers could be paying too much or too little tax. Senior technical manager Kelly Sizer says: “HMRC receives information from banks after the end of the tax year, but this may not always be entirely accurate. It is the taxpayer’s responsibility to advise HMRC of accurate figures.”

Daily Mail, Page: 46

Judge accuses HMRC of making up figures to terrorise people

A judge has suggested figures in a tax bill were “plucked from the air” to frighten a taxpayer. Mark Taylor of Buzzacott believes such cases are too frequent to be deemed isolated.

Financial Times, Page: 1

SMEs NEWS

FSB warns of ‘business crime crisis’

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged the Government to boost police funding, saying more officers are needed to combat a “business crime crisis”. This comes after a poll of members found that half have been victims of crime in the past two years. The survey revealed that traditional crimes – which exclude more modern threats such as cyber-attacks – had cost small businesses an average of £14,000 over two years. FSB chairman Mike Cherry commented: “Over the next five years, we want to see progress towards around an additional 85,600 police officers hired, which can be used to tackle some of the criminal acts that are costing businesses billions every year.” Mr Cherry said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to increase the total of officers by 20,000 over three years at a cost of £1.1bn is “a step in the right direction”.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4

CORPORATE NEWS

Amazon delivers £220m tax on £11bn earnings

Analysis shows that Amazon paid just £220m in tax in Britain last year, despite revenues of £10.8bn. An internal audit of its ten UK-based subsidiaries showed Amazon paid £14m in corporation tax for its main warehousing division, with pre-tax profits of £75.4m and a turnover of £2.3bn. Amazon does not reveal profits or corporation tax payments for its entire UK operation. Responding to the figures, John O’Connell, boss of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Amazon can afford armies of accountants and lawyers to find loopholes so it pays a minimal amount of tax.” He added a call for a simpler system “that encourages growth, investment and innovation.” Paul Monaghan, chief executive of the Fair Tax Mark, said Amazon’s tax numbers “sound like pennies down the back of the couch”.

The Guardian, Page: 33 The Times, Page: 2 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Sun, Page: 19 Daily Mail, Page: 21 Daily Mirror, Page: 11 Daily Star, Page: 4

£16m boost for training customs experts

The Government has announced £16m of new funding that will enable thousands of customs experts to be trained, helping businesses equip staff with the skills needed for making customs declarations. It will also go toward supporting firms by funding IT improvement for small and medium sized employers which are involved in trade as an intermediary. Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, commented: “Brexit takes place on 31 October and we urge all businesses to make the necessary preparations to be fully ready. The Government has doubled the support available, so that thousands more customs experts are on hand to help businesses on and after Brexit day.”

Press Release

AIM market matures

Analysis by BDO shows that Yorkshire-based businesses listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) have boosted job numbers by 111% over the last five years. BDO partner Mark Langford said: “Despite unusual economic conditions, well-run companies are succeeding on AIM,” adding: “The AIM market has grown and matured.”

Yorkshire Post, Page: 16

PROPERTY NEWS

CBI director in business rate reform call

Beckie Hart, regional director Yorkshire & the Humber at the Confederation of British Industry, says the business rates system is “entrenching regional inequalities”. Writing in the Yorkshire Post, she says uncertainty around when the next rates revaluations occur is causing uncertainty, saying that while we expect revaluations every three years, “any longer than one year means business rates lag far behind economic cycles.” Pointing to suggestions that a rethink on the levy is needed, she says the call for reform “will only get louder now as businesses are set to see their costs soar by £660m as business rates increase with inflation.” She urges the Government to consider a “comprehensive, independent review” that would determine how to deliver a fair and sustainable system.

Yorkshire Post, Page: 13

LEGAL NEWS

Money laundering crackdown sees record fine

HMRC has announced a record fine against a business which breached strict regulations on money laundering. Money transmitter Touma Foreign Exchange received a £7.8m penalty for a range of failures under the Money Laundering Regulations, breaching rules on risk assessments and associated record-keeping; policies, controls and procedures; customer due diligence measures; and staff training. The fine was announced following a month-long HMRC, Metropolitan Police and Financial Conduct Authority crackdown on money service businesses at risk of being used for money laundering to fund organised crime.

Press Release

ECONOMY NEWS

Construction industry output drops to a decade low

Britain’s construction industry suffered its sharpest decline in new work in more than a decade last month, with clients delaying projects as they await clarity over Brexit. The IHS Markit/CIPS UK construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 45, from 45.3 in July, below forecasts for 45.9, and below the 50-mark separating expansion from contraction. The measure of new orders declined from 44.6 to 40, the lowest since March 2009. The decline on the construction index follows what the Times describes as “equally dismal figures” for manufacturing released earlier in the week. If the services sector follows the trend, GDP would be set to see a second consecutive quarterly decline, officially putting the UK into recession. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said that the poor PMIs fuel “concern that the UK economy is headed for another poor GDP out-turn in the third quarter”.

The Times, Page: 38 The Independent, Page: 55 The Guardian, Page: 33 The I, Page: 38 City AM

OTHER NEWS

Record spend for top five football leagues

Analysis by Deloitte shows Europe’s five biggest football leagues spent a combined £5bn on players during the summer transfer window, a record total. The firm’s Sports Business Group found that Spanish clubs spent £1.24bn, breaking the €1bn mark for the first time, with record outlay also seen in Italy (£1.06bn), Germany (£670m) and France (£605m). Premier League clubs led the way with a total spend of £1.41bn – with the net spend of £575m the lowest since 2015.

The Daily Telegraph, Sport, Page: 13 Daily Mail BBC News

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward