News Roundup Tuesday 21st May 2019

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS

Timpson: Online sales tax should be considered

Sir John Timpson believes Tesco boss Dave Lewis’ suggestion that there should be a 2% online sales tax should be considered. Sir John, owner of key cutting and shoe repair chain Timpson, has also backed calls for an overhaul of business rates to boost the high street.

Daily Mail, Page: 24

MPs: Checkout our tax plan

The parliamentary panel on social integration has suggested a 1p transaction charge for shoppers who use self-checkout machines. Tom Ironside of the British Retail Consortium dismissed the proposal, saying “A new tax, particularly one that penalises modern shopping behaviour, will harm both consumers and retailers”.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business and Money, Page: 10

EMPLOYMENT NEWS

Managers and professionals drive employment surge

A surge in employment is being driven by well-paid managers and professionals, according to the Office for National Statistics, while growth in lower-skilled trades has been far slower. Higher-paid roles make up more than three quarters of the rise in employment, helping drive pay growth to more than 3% in the past year. Alok Sharma, the employment minister, commented: “From electricians to architects, scientists to business managers, over 2.6m more people since 2010 have not just entered a job, but a career. With the UK economy being the second biggest employer in Europe, these skilled workers are driving our economic growth.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

Flexibility for younger fathers hard to achieve

A survey of 2,000 working fathers aged between 24 and 40 by social media network Daddilife and Deloitte found 45% said they had experienced tension from their employer over their wish to balance work and family commitments. Just over half (56%) of those who sought to adjust their hours were given approval to do so but only 19% who wanted to work from home were allowed to. Han-Son Lee, founder of Daddilife, said: “Fathers are more involved in parenting than ever yet many employers cling on to old fashioned views.”

The Times, Page: 18

SMEs NEWS

Scottish innovators must do more to find funding

Entrepreneurs in Scotland continue to struggle to secure the funds they need to grow their business while three large banks control an estimated 90% of the market for loans to small firms. The Press and Journal considers the range of funding sources available to them, including peer-to-peer lending, equity funding and invoice finance. Adrian Innes, head of origination at Edinburgh-based LendingCrowd, comments: “Scotland has a long and proud history in financial services, but we are sadly lacking in financial education and awareness. Entrepreneurs have access to a wide range of funding sources, but they need to do their homework and make sure they choose the right option for their business.”

The Press and Journal, The Business, Page: 19

Small business owners lack basic digital skills

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has teamed up with Facebook to help address the digital skills deficit in the UK’s small businesses. According to research by the FSB, 26% of small business owners lack confidence in basic digital skills. FSB policy and advocacy chairman Martin McTague said: “Digital innovation provides enormous potential both for individual businesses and for improving UK productivity. But these benefits can only be realised if small business owners are able and confident to take advantage.”

The Press and Journal, Page: 29

PROPERTY NEWS

City enjoys construction boom

Construction of new offices in London has hit its highest level since the EU referendum, according to Deloitte’s biannual crane survey. The firm found the amount of space under construction was up 12%, with 37 new schemes breaking ground in the past six months. Mike Cracknell, a director at Deloitte, said the financial services sector has pre-let 50% more space than six months ago, suggesting it is committed to remaining in London after Brexit. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “This is a far cry from the doom and gloom predicted when the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016 and reinforces the City’s global pre-eminence as an investment destination.”

The Times, Page: 38 Financial Times, Page: 13 Daily Mail, Page: 62

EU rules limit help for high street

EU state aid rules have meant thousands of high street stores have been unable to benefit from Philip Hammond’s £900m tax cut for struggling stores. The Chancellor’s Budget promised those with a rateable value below £51,000 would see business rates cut by a third but because EU rules limit state aid to £175,000 per business over a three-year period, Boots, for example, said just 22 of its 2,400 stores have benefited from the policy.

The Sun, Page: 9

CORPORATE NEWS

Sports Direct seeking support for legal challenge to Debenhams’ rescue

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct group is considering launching a legal challenge against Debenhams over its restructuring plan that was given the green light this month. Creditors have until 6 June to challenge two company voluntary arrangement (CVA) deals under which Debenhams plans to shut 22 stores and slash its rent bill in a last-ditch bid to stay afloat. The Daily Telegraph reports that Mike Ashley, who is understood to have voted against the plans at the time, is now talking to a number of third parties – including landlords – with a view to making a joint challenge to the CVA.

The Guardian The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 36

Thomas Cook seeks to allay concerns over bookings

Thomas Cook is seeking to calm nerves over its future after it announced a £1bn writedown and auditors EY said material uncertainty hung over the sale of the airline.

Financial Times, Page: 10

INDUSTRY NEWS

FCA investigations into City directors rise sharply

The number of financial services bosses investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority has more than doubled in two years, with nearly half of those being scrutinised for failings in culture and governance.

Financial Times, Page: 13

ECONOMY NEWS

Young consumers more confident

The latest consumer confidence survey by PwC shows improved sentiment this year compared with last. But despite young people being more positive than they have ever been, under-45s were scaling back their spending and big-ticket purchases due to Brexit uncertainty, the survey found. Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, added that sustainability was moving up the agenda. “Consumers may be emphasising buying fewer, higher priced, better quality goods, just less often.”

The Times, Page: 38 The Daily Telegraph

The huge cost of Labour’s energy renationalisation

The Telegraph talks to experts who say Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to renationalise Britain’s utilities would hit problems from day one with companies using international treaties to ensure they’re paid full market value. Dan Neidle, a partner at Clifford Chance, adds that it would be politically impossible to pay international investors in full while paying a British pension fund 60p in the pound. Legal challenges over what market value is would also come while large-scale nationalisation would require “a very detailed Act of Parliament” which would bring years of wrangling and amount to “hanging a ‘closed’ sign above the UK”, according to Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief policy director.

The Daily Telegraph

OTHER NEWS

Whistleblowers allege pay violation at care provider

Nationwide Care Services, which has eight branches across the Midlands supplying hundreds of home carers, has been accused by whistleblowers of failing to pay staff for travel time between appointments, meaning they earn less than the minimum wage. HMRC is understood to be investigating the company over pay.

The Guardian, Page: 16

Cashless kids can’t work out change

A study by University College London found the prevalence of card payments has left physical money no more than an alien concept to children today. Researchers observing lessons in primary and secondary schools said they were “shocked” by children’s lack of numeracy and financial literacy when handling money.

Daily Mail, Page: 15
Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward