News Roundup Wednesday 28th August 2019



Britons who left US as children risk having UK bank accounts frozen

Thousands of so-called accidental Americans, who were born in the US but left when only a few months or years old, are being chased by UK banks for an American tax identification number that they never had, the Guardian reports. The 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca) requires foreign financial firms with US operations – including UK banks – to report information about US taxpayers to the Internal Revenue Service via HMRC. Britons born in the US face having their accounts frozen by British banks fearful of large fines if they fail to hand over details to US tax authorities.

The Guardian, Page: 29

HMRC targets GSK contractors in UK tax crackdown

GlaxoSmithKline is at the centre of a crackdown on IR35 rules after HMRC accused nearly 1,500 of its self-employed contractors of being “disguised employees”.

Financial Times, Page: 11


Hundreds of companies consider move to Netherlands

As many as 325 British-based companies are in talks with the Dutch government over relocating to the country after Brexit, according to the Times. Growing anxiety over a no-deal Brexit is leading a string of firms to consider moving their European bases to the Netherlands, with Dutch officials suggesting their government offers tax breaks to help sway businesses. The paper goes on to cite EY, which says 41% of Britain’s financial services companies are considering or finalising plans to move to another EU city.

The Times, Page: 33


Emerson to chair new challenger bank

The Telegraph talks to banking veteran Ron Emerson who is lined up to chair a new small business lender. B-North, which will be called Bank-North when it has its licence, is backed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and is set for launch late next year with a series of “lending pods” across the UK. Emerson, who is the founding chairman of the British Business Bank, says B-North will be highly flexible and able to take advantage if big banks shrink back further from SME lending.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 33

Rapid online lending boost demand for Esme

Esme Loans says that it will have lent £100m to small businesses before Christmas. The lender, which is a division of NatWest, says that its loan book has grown by 40% over the past four months as NatWest’s owner, Royal Bank of Scotland, indicated that it was making progress in responding to online competition from non-bank rivals. Veronika Lovett, Esme’s chief marketing officer, has said the service aims to lend £1bn a year to small companies within a few years. Richard Kerton, chief executive of Esme Loans, said that the service’s “digital process and fast approval times” were resulting in increased demand.

The Times, Page: 38

The loss of key employees can close a business

The Times’ James Hurley looks at the problems faced by small businesses when partners suffer serious illness or die. A survey by Legal & General found 70% of companies had not considered the possibility of insuring against this risk despite over one in four small businesses in the UK believing that they would have to close immediately if a key person died or became critically ill.

The Times, Page: 38


Trump and Johnson hope to remove obstacles to trade

Boris Johnson met with Donald Trump yesterday for their first face-to-face talks since the PM entered Downing Street. Mr Trump said Mr Johnson would need no advice, that he would make a great Prime Minister and was the “right man” to deliver Brexit. Both men talked about how they hoped to thrash out a comprehensive trade deal. Mr Johnson said Mr Trump was hoping to complete a deal within a year. The US president added that progress on talks over a post-Brexit deal had been “stymied” under Theresa May and the EU membership had been an “anchor” around the ankles of Britain. A British government official said the President acknowledged in the meeting with Mr Johnson that the NHS would not form part of an agreement.

The Daily Telegraph Financial Times The Times Daily Express


New CBI head wants migrant salary threshold dropped

The incoming boss of the CBI is calling on Boris Johnson’s government to drop Theresa May’s proposed £30,000 minimum salary threshold for skilled European migrants. Lord Bilimoria, president-designate of the business lobby, said the requirement was “impractical” and would hit the construction and leisure sectors hardest, as well as the NHS. “An open economy like Britain has had access to the best talent from around the world – including the European Union,” Bilimoria said. “The public sector wouldn’t survive without them,” he added.

The Times


Shell in tax spat with Australia

Royal Dutch Shell is in talks with the Australian government after being hit with a £415m tax bill by the Australian Taxation Office, which claims the Anglo-Dutch oil major avoided paying tax on its 27% stake in the £16.5bn Browse gas project in seas off the coast of Western Australia.

Daily Mail, Page: 64


Sajid Javid free to loosen the purse strings

Roger Bootle, the chairman of Capital Economics, says the Chancellor is in a position where he can turn on the spending taps to help revive the British economy, with borrowing numbers reasonably low and the markets making it cheap to borrow more. “Nevertheless, there are still limits. To be a great Chancellor [Sajid Javid] must spend wisely,” concludes Bootle.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 30

Ailing high streets to get £1bn boost to revitalise town centres

The Prime Minister has unveiled an expansion of the Future High Streets Fund, an initiative designed to boost town centres and level up regional economies.

Financial Times, Page: 2


European Commission plans to simplify eurozone budget rules

Officials in Brussels are considering ways to rewrite the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, including a rethink of debt targets to allow for “reasonable and sustainable debt reduction for the most vulnerable economies”.

Financial Times

Contact Paul Southward.

Paul Southward