News Roundup Tuesday 24th September 2019



TPA: Tax cut would boost businesses

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has called for measures that would “back British businesses”, suggesting widespread tax and regulation cuts could drive UK firms up the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. Recommendations include cutting corporation tax to 10% and the business rates multiplier to 30%. The Alliance’s John O’Connell said UK businesses are being “burdened with excessive taxes and endless red tape”.

City AM, Page: 11

Labour: Taxes will boost welfare spend

Labour has pledged to boost spending on welfare and could double the number of people receiving state-funded support. Revealing the proposals at its party conference, the party said that it will use tax hikes to fund the spending commitments but refused to set out the details of the increases needed to cover the costs until its next manifesto is released. The conference also saw shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth announce a £745m plan to scrap the prescription charge in England, saying it would be paid for by a “fairer tax system”. Conservative chairman James Cleverly spoke out over Labour’s plans, saying: “Labour’s latest splurge would clobber hardworking people with higher taxes.”

Daily Express, Page: 1 The Guardian, Page: 8

Labour to scrap private schools’ ‘tax privileges’

Labour says it will abolish private schools, with delegates at the party conference approving a motion that said a commitment on abolishing private education should be included in its next general election manifesto. This would include withdrawal “public subsidies and tax privileges”, including business rate exemption. Backing of the motion came after education spokesman Angela Rayner said a future Labour government would scrap “tax loopholes” that benefit private schools in its first budget.

The Times, Page: 1 The Independent, Page: 6 The Guardian, Page: 8 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 6 Daily Mail, Page: 8


Bailiff figures prompt business rates call

The Chancellor is being urged to ease the burden of business rates after research by real estate adviser Altus Group has found that local councils sent bailiffs to more than 78,000 companies that have struggled to pay business rates across England in the year to the end of March. This equates to 310 incidents a day. Altus said around one in 16 of all business premises faced having goods seized by bailiffs last year, when stripping out those which receive small business rates relief. Altus calculates that business rates could increase by £536m for 2020/21 if the headline rate of inflation of 1.7% remains unchanged in September. Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus, said: “It’s not the mechanics of the rating system that is of primary concern of business but the level of the actual bills.” He noted that commercial property is “already making a significant contribution to tax revenues”, adding : “With the highest property taxes across the EU, the Chancellor should recognise this in his upcoming autumn Budget by removing the automatic inflationary increase.”

The Guardian, Page: 28 Daily Express, Page: 49 Yorkshire Post, Page: 15

Retailers hit by rate refund delays

The Times’ Ashley Armstrong says retailers face a £115m hit to their cash flows because the business rates process is delaying overdue refunds. The government introduced a system for companies to “check and challenge” their rates bill two years ago, but this has delivered a huge backlog of appeals, with statistics showing that the number of outstanding appeals has risen six-fold. Analysis by property group Colliers International shows that the valuation tribunal cleared just 13 appeals between April and June this year, with 123 claims outstanding. Experts forecast up to 40,000 appeals against the 2017 valuation. John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers, claims that the Valuation Office Agency is now focusing on values for the forthcoming 2021 revaluation, with case workers being reassigned from appeal work to deal with this.

The Times, Page: 39


Thomas Cook collapses

Last-minute talks between Thomas Cook, its banks and shareholders have failed, with the travel firm collapsing. The UK Civil Aviation Authority said the tour operator has “ceased trading with immediate effect”. The firm’s failure puts 22,000 jobs at risk, including 9,000 in the UK. It is reported that the Government’s Official Receiver will manage Thomas Cook’s insolvency alongside KPMG, with AlixPartners expected to oversee the insolvency of the group’s airlines.

BBC News The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 1 The Independent, Page: 9 Daily Express, Page: 6 Daily Mirror, Page: 10 City AM, Page: 1

No comment from Wrightbus over rescue talks

Bus maker Wrightbus has refused to deny or confirm reports that two major bidders have withdrawn from talks aimed at saving the firm, with it reported over the weekend that Chinese engineering firm Weichai and Jo Bamford, the son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, had pulled out. The firm also declined to comment on whether administration was now likely. The Guardian notes that while Deloitte is running the sales auction, it is unclear whether it is being lined up as administrator.

The Guardian, Page: 25


£22k for accounting and finance graduates

The Times offers a table breaking down the average salaries per university course, looking at the median salary of those in employment six months after graduation. The Higher Education Statistics Agency figures for people leaving higher education in 2016/17 show accounting and finance graduates in professional employment saw a salary of £22,000 while the figure for those in non-professional employment was £18,000.

The Times, Good University Guide 2020, Page: 5

Insurance sector lags on diversity

City AM looks at diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry, with a survey on the matter seeing 54% of respondents say gender equality is an issue that the industry had to focus on, with 47% mentioning mental health and 38% culture and ethnicity. Jim Bichard, head of insurance at PwC, comments: “Frankly, insurance is not where it needs to be from a diversity perspective, if you just look at gender it’s easy to see that.” Figures show that the sector had a gender pay gap of 27.7% last year compared to a national average of 17.9%.

City AM, Page: 14


Are asset managers ready to take responsibility?

The FT considers the potential impact of the senior managers and certification regime, saying it will make it easier for the Financial Conduct Authority to hold people to account for misdemeanours.

Financial Times, FT Fm, Page: 6


Manufacturing to be hit by no-deal

Analysis of the manufacturing industry by BDO and Make UK suggests that some of Britain’s worst-off regions will be hit hardest in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The report says regions heavily dependent on exporting to the European Union, such as Wales and the North East of England, will be hit in a no-deal scenario. Leaving the EU with no agreement in place would be particularly harmful to Britain’s automotive industry, the analysis shows, with delays in the supply chain expected. “The survey makes it clear that regions heavily reliant on the automotive industry will be more significantly impacted by a no-deal Brexit,” Tom Lawton, head of manufacturing at BDO, commented. The analysis looked at Office for National Statistics and HMRC data and reveals that London and the South East are set to become the country’s biggest manufacturing regions.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Times, Page: 36 The I, Page: 9 The Guardian, Page: 25 Yorkshire Post, Page: 15


Embracing automation

In a letter to City AM, Alastair Bathgate, chief executive of robotic automation firm Blue Prism, calls on people to embrace the potential for automation to “unleash human potential” and boost productivity. He cites a PwC report suggesting that artificial intelligence and robotics could contribute up to $15trn to global GDP by 2030.

City AM, Page: 22

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward