News Roundup Wednesday 5th June 2019
News Roundup Wednesday 5th June 2019
Labour plans tax raid on middle class homes and gardens
A report commissioned by Labour recommends scrapping council tax and replacing it with a “progressive property tax” which would see higher value properties taxed more. The tax would be payable by property owners, rather than tenants, and would be based on “regularly updated” property values. The report, called Land for the Many, also recommends the use of “compulsory sale orders” by authorities to seize land that has been left vacant or derelict, for “democratic participation in planning” and the introduction of the Scottish principle of a “Right to Roam”. Discounts for single people such as widows could be removed to end “overconsumption of housing” and firms based abroad who own land in the UK would face a new offshore company property tax. James Brokenshire, the Housing Secretary, said: “These proposals are extraordinary and deeply damaging in equal measure. This tax bombshell for families would mean family homes with gardens paying far more and higher taxes on pensioners by abolishing the single person discount.”
Digitisation creates opportunity for fraudsters
Experts have said the “digitisation” of Britain’s tax regime has opened the doors for fraudsters as the number of phone scams reported to HMRC rockets to 100,000. Dawn Register of BDO, said: “In recent years HMRC has begun using multiple means of communication including text, email and social media as well as phone, which provides fraudsters with further opportunities to dupe unsuspecting taxpayers. It is critical that HMRC does everything it can to prevent this fraudulent activity. It causes huge distress to taxpayers who are trying to be fully compliant.” HMRC this week announced that it had introduced new controls that should stop scammers being able to replicate its official phone numbers, but they will still be able to use different “less credible” phone numbers.
Boris pledges tax cuts and no deal Brexit as campaign starts
Boris Johnson formally launched his leadership campaign yesterday with a pledge to win back Conservative voters who backed Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the European elections. The former foreign secretary used a campaign video to pledge to leave the EU with or without a deal on 31 October and promised to both cut taxes and increase spending on schools and the police and boost the use of stop and search powers in England. Following the release of the video Johnson’s team revealed endorsements from 12 more Tory MPs, bringing his total number of public supporters to 35, nine ahead of Michael Gove, who has 26.
Bosses in financial sector most trusted
A report by the Institute of Leadership and Management has found that bosses in the financial services sector are the most trusted despite overall confidence in CEOs falling by 8% since 2011. The financial services sector came out on top in 2018 with an index score of 62%, while chief executives in local and national government and the public sector were the least trusted by their workforce. The report also found that female leaders across all industries were more trusted than their male counterparts.
City AM The Times
BFI backs £20m fund for UK film producers
The British Film Institute, Calculus Capital, and Stargrove Pictures have launched a new £20m fund targeting independent UK film producers. The BFI’s outgoing CEO Amanda Nevill said that a lack of access to finance is holding back producers from scaling up and profiting from the growth in the UK’s growing content sector. The partners are looking to raise the cash under the reworked EIS mechanism which requires investment to be in growth companies rather that individual projects as was previously the case.
Variety The I, Page: 42
P2P investors explore legal action over Lendy collapse
Investors have launched the Lendy Action Group in the hope of recovering cash from the failed peer-to-peer platform. Lendy collapsed into administration at the end of May, leaving 20,000 investors potentially out of pocket. The group will explore the possibility of legal action against Lendy and its former directors and will also examine the role of the FCA in the company’s collapse.
The SEIS has raised more £800m for start-up companies
The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) has raised more than £799m and helped 8,840 companies since April 2012, according to the latest data from HMRC, which supervises the scheme. SEIS was created after the global financial crisis to help small business considered high risk who could not source funding from banks.
Santander and eBay to launch loans app in UK
Santander’s fintech app Asto will start offering loans to the more than 200,000 SMEs that sell products through eBay in the UK later this year.
Scotland offers the quickest return on buy-to-let investment
Scotland offers the quickest return on buy-to-let investment, London estate and letting agent, Benham and Reeves has found. The annual rent returns the original asking price in 17.7 years in Scotland, 18.9 years in Northern Ireland followed by England (25 years) and finally Wales at 26.4 years. Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, commented: “What this research demonstrates is that while buy-to-let remains a lucrative business despite the government’s attempts, it should be viewed as a long-term one and not a method for making a quick buck.”
NHS pension overhaul aims to stem loss of UK doctors
The British Medical Association has welcomed the government’s decision to review pension changes which have seen NHS doctors cutting their working hours and retiring early to avoid high tax bill.
Retail sales suffer their worst month in 24 years
UK shoppers shunned the high street last month leading to sales plunging in May faster than at any time in the past 24 years, new data shows. Sales dropped 2.7% in the four weeks to May 25 compared with a month earlier, according to the British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, making it the biggest fall since records began in January 1995. Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive said: “With the biggest decline in retail sales on record, the risk of further job losses and store closures will only increase. We have a broken tax system, which sees retailers paying vast sums of money regardless of whether they make a penny at the till, and yet the government is failing to act.”
The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Guardian, Page: 2 The I, Page: 40 Yorkshire Post, Page: 1 Daily Star, Page: 22
UKs still top for investors
Britain remained Europe’s top destination for foreign investment last year, according to a report from EY. Britain beat Germany and France, with 1,054 projects – the third highest in 20 years. But the number was down 13% on 2017. Steve Varley, EY’s UK chairman, said: “Britain has retained its crown. But concerns over Brexit appear to be reducing its appeal.”
Daily Mirror, Page: 44
KPMG and CBI turn spotlight on Scotland’s productivity
CBI Scotland and KPMG have joined forces to launch a productivity index that aims to measure and benchmark business performance north of the border. The new index will be compiled annually, with the first findings due to be published in early September.
The Scotsman, Page: 36
Frank Timis paid just £35.20 in tax in 2017
A BBC investigation has discovered that businessman Frank Timis paid just £35.20 in tax in 2017 after claiming that he had hardly any income from his worldwide business empire. According to documents leaked to the BBC, Mr Timis received payments totalling £670,000 from his offshore trust. These were mainly payments called distributions, which should have been taxable. But shortly before he submitted his tax return, Mr Timis allegedly asked the trust to turn the distributions into untaxable loans. A backdated loan agreement was created making the loans look legitimate. John Christiansen, from the Tax Justice Network, said: “It all points to this being a manoeuvre to cheat the tax man.”
BBC News Daily Mail, Page: 35
Gift Aid fraudster spent more than £76k cruising the world
A charity treasurer who tried to steal more than £330,000 in a Gift Aid repayment fraud has been jailed for three years. Dale Hicks of Stoke-on-Trent abused his position at a Staffordshire based ex-offenders charity by lodging a string of false claims, an HMRC investigation found. Hicks spent at least £76k of the cash on cruises and other holidays.
Contact Paul Southward.