News Roundup Wednesday 29th May 2019

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS

One in ten APNs cancelled

The Telegraph’s Sam Meadows reports that some taxpayers are being forced to pay disputable tax bills up front, only to see the demands later withdrawn. Figures show that since HMRC was given powers to serve accelerated payment notices (APNs) on suspected tax avoiders five years ago, 81,000 APNs involving £8.7bn have been issued. Of these 8,600 have later been cancelled. Mr Meadows highlights examples where those handed bills have had to sell their home or take out loans to pay the taxman. Debt charity StepChange said it was concerning that people would consider taking on commercial loans to pay tax debt, while MP Ross Thomson said: “HMRC must ensure that people are given support and advice as they work through any repayment plan.” The Revenue said it has a number of ways to help those who could not afford to pay. On “follower notices”, demands made after a court decision, Keith Gordon, a barr ister at Temple Tax Chambers, said HMRC was issuing them “like confetti”. “One would think they should be using their powers carefully, but it’s very much like a conveyor belt rather than a proper, customised approach,” he added.

The Daily Telegraph, Money, Page: 1

Actors union accuses HMRC of ‘unfair’ tax scrutiny

Union Equity says creative professionals are being unfairly targeted by HMRC in a “ruthless grab for revenue”. BDO’s Dawn Register offers that there has been “a concerted campaign by HMRC.”

Financial Times, Money, Page: 3

Rudd could work with Boris

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has signalled that she could work with Boris Johnson if he becomes Prime Minister. With it suggested that she could become Mr Johnson’s chancellor, Ms Rudd said she “would like to lower taxes – we have to be the low-tax party because people have certain expectations… they need to be able to look after their own money”.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 9

PERSONAL FINANCE NEWS

Fear of Corbyn drives Isas

Moneyfacts has said that fears that tax breaks on savings could be removed by a future Labour government have led people to rush to put their money in cash Isas. The financial data firm says that the proportion of searches for cash Isas on its site rose from 17.5% up to 22.7% in March. Experts linked the trend to the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit and fears of a bonfire of tax reliefs under a Jeremy Corbyn government. Meanwhile, a survey of more than 2,000 people conducted for Hargreaves Lansdown found that 48% were concerned about tax rises; a quarter of those expected rises in 12 months and half expected rises within two years.

The Times

Warning over charges for free services

The Telegraph warns that customers are being “duped” into paying for services provided free by Government agencies, with some firms taking commissions from refunds on stamp duty. The paper highlights that SDLT Refunds, a division of tax advice firm Cornerstone, pockets 25% of successful claims. HMRC said: “It costs nothing to make a tax refund claim direct to HMRC. We do not accredit or in any way approve agents.”

The Daily Telegraph, Money, Page: 3

Money worries hit staff

A survey of 5,000 workers by Close Brothers shows that financial worries are one of the biggest causes of stress and mental health problems. The poll saw 77% of respondents say money worries affected their work, with the proportion hitting 87% among millennials. The Times’ David Byers notes that some firms have hired PwC to hold finance-related workshops for employees. Philip Smith, a PwC director specialising in financial wellbeing, says: “It’s always the little things that people miss … From making sure you’ve got the right pay TV contract and you’re not paying for channels that you don’t use, to actually using the employee benefits you are offered at work.”

The Times, Page: 63

Generation gap that managers struggle to fill

The FT looks at the wealth management industry, noting EY research showing that a third of wealth management clients have switched providers within the last three years – with this up to 43% among millennials. Elsewhere, the paper considers Brexit’s impact on the sector, noting that, with the possibility of a Labour Government, some tax experts have advised clients to change their tax residence or liquidate UK-based assets.

Financial Times, Private Client Wealth Management, Page: 10 Financial Times, Private Client Wealth Management, Page: 9

Campaigners call for unregulated Sipp ban

Nick Wood, a partner with Newport Tax Management, says hundreds of people have contacted him after losing their savings by investing their self-invested pension (Sipp) in unregulated schemes. Mr Wood, who represents 400 people seeking compensation from regulated Sipp-providers after they invested in unregulated schemes, says the people involved “believed they were making legitimate investments to fund their retirement. In fact, they were unregulated schemes that should immediately have caused red flags to be raised by their pension providers.” Campaign group Transparency Task Force has called for a ban on unregulated investments in Sipps.

The Times, Page: 60

CORPORATE NEWS

Lendy collapses

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that peer-to-peer lender Lendy has collapsed into administration, with RSM Restructuring Advisory appointed to wind up the firm on behalf of creditors. The FCA says there is an “ongoing investigation into the circumstances that have led to this action.” Lendy has been on the FCA’s watch list since the start of the year and was placed under severe trading restrictions last month, with a ban on disposing of assets and releasing any client money without the prior consent of regulators. RSM said it was “working closely with the FCA”, adding that it will outline proposals to investors and creditors “in due course”.

The Daily Telegraph Financial Times

More closures expected in Arcadia rescue

Zoe Wood in the Guardian reports that the rescue plan for Arcadia will see more than the previously thought number of stores close, with more than double the 23 closures so far set out expected. Meanwhile, Frank Field, chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, has urged Sir Philip Green to personally fund the pension scheme of Arcadia if plans to reduce its deficit prove insufficient.

The Guardian, Page: 42 The Daily Telegraph Financial Times BBC News

High street losses up 40%

In an analysis of Britain’s high streets, the Telegraph’s Anna White notes PwC research showing that 2,481 stores disappeared from the 500 biggest high streets last year, up 40% from 2017.

The Daily Telegraph, Property, Page: 1

Oliver: Costs, competition and confidence hit chain

The Times and FT both look at the issues which hurt Jamie Oliver’s restaurant business, which this week appointed KPMG to oversee its administration. Mr Oliver, notes the Times, says the business was hit by soaring costs, rising competition and fragile consumer confidence.

The Times, Page: 46 Financial Times, Page: 18

PROPERTY NEWS

Property firms most likely to be in financial distress

Research from Begbies Traynor shows that property firms, including estate and letting agents, are the most likely businesses to be in financial distress. With 16% of all UK businesses now in “significant distress”, Begbies’ executive chairman Ric Traynor commented: “Companies involved in buying, selling and letting took much of the hit with a 16% increase in significant distress to 36,018.”

Yorkshire Post, Property, Page: 12

ECONOMY NEWS

Online drives retail sales in April

The ONS has revealed that retail sales stalled in April, but warmer weather boosted sales of clothing, which offset falls in other areas of spending. In the three months to April, sales increased by 1.8%, with a record quarter for the online sector. Sales from online-only retailers rose 9.4% over the three-month period – the highest three-month-on-three-month growth rate since records began, the ONS said, boosted by promotions and sales. Department stores sales dropped by 0.5% and those in household goods stores declined by 2.9%. Compared with a year earlier, sales were up by 5.2% after a 6.7% annual rise in March. Lisa Hooker of PwC said: “Record temperatures over the Easter weekend definitely got consumers spending.” “This is reflected in our own consumer sentiment survey, which showed that confidence had an uptick this spring and has not been dented by Brexit concerns,” she added.< /span>

BBC News Financial Times The Daily Telegraph The Guardian The Scotsman, Page: 32

Business fears more uncertainty after PM’s resignation

Business leaders have warned that resignation of Theresa May risks creating further economic uncertainty despite financial markets remaining steady as news broke of her departure. Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, said Mrs May’s departure “must be the catalyst for change”, while Stephen Phipson, chief executive of the manufacturers’ trade body Make UK, called on her successor to find a solution “at speed”.

The Times

OTHER NEWS

Accountants among most pressured to drink

Doctors are the professionals most likely to drink because of pressure to do so from colleagues, while accountants make the top ten. The survey of 2,000 people saw a third say they feel they will be disadvantaged at work if they do not go out drinking with colleagues, with seven in ten saying they are made to feel awkward if they do not drink.

The Sun, Page: 30

Paul Southward [Tax Consultant]

Paul Southward