News Roundup Wednesday 24th April 2019

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS

Union: HMRC singling out actors

Entertainment union Equity has suggested that HMRC is unfairly targeting actors, saying members are being singled out by the taxman. Christine Payne, Equity’s general secretary, said: “We are gravely concerned that HMRC is conducting a coordinated attack against our members.” She added: “These self-employed professionals are being pursued for national insurance contributions, including paying for employers’ secondary contributions.” This comes after actor Robert Glenister was ordered to pay a £150,000 bill for unpaid national insurance contributions stemming from a company he operated which was registered as a private services company. Such firms can enable people to be classed as “off-payroll” workers, paying fewer tax and national insurance contributions than employees. However, the Revenue is cracking down on them, saying they are examples of disguised remuneration.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 13 I, Page: 20 Daily Star, Page: 3

HMRC clamps down on US underpaid tax

HMRC is stepping up investigations into US-based firms’ tax affairs, believing they may have underpaid £4.6bn in the 2017/18 tax year. This is up from £3.4bn in 2016/17 and £1.8bn in 2013/14.

Financial Times, Page: 2

Think-tank: Look to Europe for taxation model

The Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank has suggested that Britain should move towards European levels of taxation and spending, saying such a move could see public spending increase by £2,500 per person per year.

Yorkshire Post, Page: 3

SMEs NEWS

Mid-sized firms boost jobs and growth

Analysis by BDO shows that medium-sized businesses have created more jobs in the past year than the largest or smallest. The report reveals that mid-sized firms have created 500,000 new jobs in the past 12 months, marking an 8% year-on-year increase and exceeding the 100,000 jobs created by small firms. Turnover at medium-sized firms has risen by an average of 11% in a year, compared to 9% at large firms and 7% at small ones. BDO’s Paul Eagland said that medium-sized companies “are often overshadowed by the largest companies and they fail to get the same support and attention as small start-ups, but they are leading the way for growth.”

I, Page: 40

Think tank: Small firms need more support

Writing in the Times, Nick King, head of business at the Centre for Policy Studies, says MPs should be asking what they can do to help small businesses. He says the think tank, which is researching the needs of small businesses, has found that many feel government isn’t on their side and “that, while it’s easy to start a business, it’s increasingly difficult to run one.” Considering measures which could boost smaller firms, he calls for a reduction in the amount of form-filling required by HMRC and a national insurance holiday for new hires at companies with eight employees or fewer.

The Times, Page: 22

Small firms hit out at unfair tax system

A British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) survey of 1,000 firms, many of them SMEs, has seen almost 60% say that the tax regime is unfair on businesses like their own. The poll saw 67% of respondents say the taxman does not apply rules fairly across all sizes of business, with 70% of small firms believing this is the case compared to 58% of medium and larger businesses. It was also shown that 49% of firms do not feel HMRC provides the support they need to be compliant. Suren Thiru, head of economics at the BCC, said: “When it comes to compliance there is a tendency for HMRC to see smaller businesses as low hanging fruit and as a consequence they feel under the constant threat of being called out for getting things wrong in a tax system that has grown ever more complex.”

The Times, Page: 36 The Scotsman, Page: 36 City AM, Page: 11

Small and medium companies celebrate accolades

The annual Queen’s Awards for Enterprise has seen 151 SMEs handed accolades. Business Secretary Greg Clark said he expects SMEs, “the backbone of our economy,” to grow, increase productivity and create more jobs and opportunity.

Financial Times, Page: 2

PROPERTY NEWS

Remortgaging climbs

Figures from UK Finance show that the number of borrowers remortgaging is at its highest level in more than a decade, with 220,000 homeowners doing so last year. February saw a 10% year-on-year increase while the number of borrowers taking loans to move home remained flat.

Daily Mail, Page: 29

FINANCIAL SERVICES NEWS

Data to deliver ‘fundamental’ changes to the sector

Writing in City AM, Philippa Kelly, head of financial services at ICAEW, looks at the impact the use of data is having – and will have – on the financial services sector. She says the ability to capitalise on big data will see “fundamental changes” to banking, insurance and investment management, suggesting there will be “obvious upsides”, with companies able to better manage risks and become more efficient, while also flagging risks, such as the possibility of bias in data. Ms Kelly says the use of big data and AI is likely to bring up ethical considerations and says firms need to ensure that they have the skills and resources to be accountable. She adds that there is a need for an ethical framework, noting that ICAEW has set out some principles to help financial services institutions “make the right choices about how they use data”.

City AM, Page: 21

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Trump sues over finance record subpoena

Donald Trump and his businesses have sued the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight committee in a bid to block a subpoena requesting his financial records. This comes after the congressman Elijah Cummings issued a subpoena to Mr Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, demanding several years of the president’s financial statements.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 14 The Times, Page: 26

ECONOMY NEWS

Brits take most new jobs since Brexit vote

Government figures show that British workers have filled nearly all of the new jobs created in the UK since the Brexit vote. Employment Minister Alok Sharma said the number of EU nationals joining the workforce since the 2016 referendum had fallen to fewer than 35,000, compared to the 410,000 EU citizens who joined the workforce in the two years before the vote. This means that while in the two years ahead of the referendum EU nationals accounted for over 45% of the UK’s growth in employment, since the vote the proportion has slipped to around 5%. Mr Sharma says that since the Brexit vote over 1m more people are in work in the UK, commenting: “Employers are clearly already adjusting to lower immigration from the EU.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 10

Climate change has boosted the economy

Research led by Stanford University shows the economic impact of climate change over the past 50 years, suggesting the UK’s economy is 10% larger than it would have been without man made warming. Dr Marshall Burke, author of the report, said that with data showing crops are more productive and people are healthier and more productive at work when temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold, “in cold countries, a little bit of warming can help. The opposite is true in places that are already hot.” The research shows that between 1961 and 2010 wealth per person in the world’s poorest countries was between 17% to 30% lower than would have been expected without global warming, while the economies of countries including Norway and Canada are a third larger than might have been expected. The report recognises the high levels of uncertainty in climate and economic modelling, particularly among nations in the temperate range to begi n with.

The Independent

OTHER NEWS

Fraudsters target company directors

A Telegraph investigation has found that over the past three years 9,769 complaints have been made to Companies House by people saying personal details listed on its public website have been stolen by fraudsters, with 356 saying the public listing of their information has directly led to them becoming a victim of fraud. The Telegraph notes that company directors are required by law to disclose details including a correspondence or service address, a personal address and date of birth, adding that while the person’s residential address is not listed publicly, the service address is and as some people use their home details for both, they are susceptible to fraud. Mike Haley, of fraud prevention agency Cifas, said: “There is a belief that directors are more creditworthy – that they own more assets and have well-established careers – which makes them a prime target for fraudsters.”

The Daily Telegraph

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Paul Southward