Sunak to reveal package for self-employed workers

The chancellor Rishi Sunak will today announce a scheme to compensate over 2m self-employed workers whose income has been decimated by the coronavirus outbreak. The prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday pledged to give the self-employed “parity of support” with those who are employed, although a spokesman later clarified that this does not mean they would get the same deal. The Telegraph suggests fraud checks could be conducted by HMRC due to the “complex” nature of different types of self-employment which could leave the scheme open to abuse. Meanwhile, nearly half a million people have registered universal credit claims in the last nine days after losing their jobs or seeing a drop in wages due to the coronavirus crisis.  Keep checking our Recent News page for full updates – Keens Shay Keens Ltd

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Living wage increase should be delayed, thinktank says

The planned increase in the national living wage should be delayed to prevent embattled businesses from laying off workers during the coronavirus crisis, according to a thinktank. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the proposed above-inflation increase threatened jobs and the rate might even need to be cut during the emergency. IFS researcher Tom Waters suggested that the government might ask the Low Pay Commission for advice on whether there could even be a case for a temporary cut in minimum wages – mirroring the temporary increase in wages in policies announced last week by Rishi Sunak to keep people in work.

The Times, Page: 36 The Guardian

Unemployment rate to hit 6% but 900,000 jobs will be saved

Capital Economics predicts that 700,000 jobs could be lost should the UK economy shrink by 15% in the three months to June due to the coronavirus crisis. However, the measures taken by the government will have saved 900,000 jobs.

The Times


Banks told to do more to help struggling companies

The Chancellor, the governor of the Bank of England and the CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority have written to banks in the UK urging them to do more to save struggling businesses from collapse. Rishi Sunak, Andrew Bailey and Chris Woolard also told lenders not to damage customers’ credit ratings if they exceeded overdraft limits or missed loan repayments. The letter was an intervention welcomed by Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Business, who said businesses had been telling the FSB that banks had not been as cooperative as they should be. Banks are also under pressure to revisit the terms of emergency coronavirus loans after lenders including Barclays and HSBC were reportedly asking some directors to sign personal guarantees, as well as to pledge business assets as security. Royal Bank of Scotland has pledged to not ask for personal guarantees to secure the loans.

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Blackstone’s refusal to waive rents comes under fire

Blackstone is refusing to waive rents for tenants forced to shut owing to the coronavirus lockdown, leading to accusations that the private equity giant is putting thousands of small businesses in the UK at risk.

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UK eyes insolvency law reforms

The BEIS is looking to rapidly reform insolvency rules so businesses unable to meet debts due to the impact of coronavirus are not automatically forced to file for bankruptcy. The Institute of Directors has called for a moratorium on the offence of wrongful trading and a temporary suspension of the ability of creditors to present winding-up petitions. Jonathan Geldart, its director-general, said: “Directors are facing unprecedented challenges and need to see urgent temporary measures to avert entirely preventable corporate collapses. We’re calling on government to prioritise jobs and business survival by relaxing existing insolvency obligations put on directors. We should not allow a single viable business to go to the wall.”

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Accountancy firms plead for rules respite because of coronavirus

Unprecedented challenges thrown up by the coronavirus outbreak have spurred accountancy firms to ask the Financial Reporting Council for the temporary revision of a range of rules, particularly stock checks and accounts filing deadlines.

Financial Times, Page: 12


Coronavirus set to halt rise in house prices

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, has warned that the coronavirus outbreak will bring UK house prices to a “juddering halt” in the coming months. He was speaking after data from the ONS showed that UK house prices fell by 1.1% between December and January, although they were up 1.3% on the previous year. Meanwhile, demand from UK property buyers dropped by two-fifths last week, according to property website Zoopla, which predicts a decline of 60% in the number of sales over the next three months.

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Chancellor agrees extension of rates holiday to more businesses

Rishi Sunak announced that bingo halls will not pay any business rates for a year after the Bingo Association warned that the future of Britain’s 343 halls was under threat following the shutdown. Estate agents and letting agents have also been exempt.

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Hundreds of thousands of retail jobs under threat

The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) predicts that 20,620 shops will close permanently this year, with the loss of 235,714 jobs, as the coronavirus breaks the backs of already struggling retailers. Restructuring experts expect many big names to leave thousands of stores closed even after the COVID-19 disaster passes.

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Falling petrol prices push inflation down

The collapse in global oil prices, resulting in steep falls in the price of petrol and diesel at the pumps, combined with a 0.5% fall in costs for manufacturers, has seen inflation in the UK fall from 1.8% in January to 1.7% last month. Samuel Tombs, of Pantheon Macroeconomics, predicts a drop to well below 1% over the summer. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY Item Club, added: “The recent plunge in oil prices to a 16-year low will bring inflation down, along with sharply weakened economic activity in the near term at least.”

The Daily Telegraph The Scotsman, Page: 35


Marketing bosses jailed for £5m fraud

Gareth Donald Onions and David Ronald Webb, the bosses of a Midland marketing company, have been jailed after cheating HMRC out of £2.6m and £1.6m respectively by repeatedly closing their operating company before purchasing the assets again.

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Contact Paul Southward.