NEWS – THURSDAY 7TH JANUARY 2021

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – THURSDAY 7TH JANUARY 2021

Struggling freelancers face overpaying tax

HMRC’s automated system could mean nearly a million freelancers face overpaying tax this year by not taking advantage of the Covid reprieve. HMRC’s “payment on account” system calculates advanced tax payments based on tax bills from the previous year and does not take earnings lost during the pandemic into account. The first of these advanced payments is due on January 31. The tax authority will allow self-assessment taxpayers to reduce their payment on account bills if their earnings have dropped but more than a third of freelancers are unaware this facility exists, according to accountants TaxScouts. Andrew Chamberlain of the freelancer trade body IPSE commented: “Right now, because of the pandemic and the gaps in support, the freelance sector is under more financial strain than at any time in recent history. The last thing it needs is mistaken tax bills adding to that.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 7

CORPORATE NEWS – THURSDAY 7TH JANUARY 2021

Lookers hires fourth CFO in 18 months

Lookers has appointed Anna Bielby as interim chief financial officer. She is the fourth Lookers finance director in 18 months and takes over from Jim Perrie, who left after helping the company to finally publish its delayed 2019 full-year accounts in November. Lookers’ shares remain suspended pending the publication of the motor retailer’s 2020 first-half results, which has been slowed by the replacement of Deloitte with BDO as auditor. Ms Bielby trained as a chartered accountant with PwC, where she worked for 14 years specialising in retail, and was an audit director.

The Times, Page: 41 Insider Media

IPOs set to take off this year

London’s initial public offering market has been tipped to heat up again in 2021, with Scott McCubbin, UK & Ireland IPO leader at EY, saying: “We can expect 2021 to be a very strong year for the UK IPO market. Confidence continues to build, with the Brexit deal now giving clarity around the future relationship with Europe and the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations.”

The Times, Page: 43

PENSIONS NEWS – THURSDAY 7TH JANUARY 2021

FCA says lack of funds is hurting scams work

The Financial Conduct Authority says it needs more funds in order to run wide-reaching campaigns to raise awareness about pension fraud. Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, told a Work and Pensions committee hearing on pension scams yesterday that scam campaigns had been a success so far but a lack of resources and funds was stopping them from going even further. Mr Steward added that criminals can “very easily” create online adverts for fake investments, negating the need to produce glossy brochures or set up fake offices. Also during the session, Nicola Parish from The Pensions Regulator revealed that at least £54m of lost pension savings was under investigation, involving more than 18,000 savers.

The Daily Telegraph FT Adviser Evening Standard

ECONOMY NEWS – THURSDAY 7TH JANUARY 2021

New figures show pre-lockdown economic distress

IHS Markit’s purchasing managers index (PMI) survey for services reveals that the economy was flatlining in December even before new lockdown restrictions came into force. The index registered 49.4 for the month, a rise from 47.6 in November. Tim Moore at IHS Markit commented: “With a third national lockdown underway, service providers will be braced for a sustained period of subdued UK economic conditions and deferred client spending in the first quarter of this year. However, business optimism on a 12-month horizon was relatively upbeat in December and reached its highest level for almost six years, underpinned by hopes that a successful vaccine roll-out will help to deliver a strong economic rebound in the second half of 2021.”

The Daily Telegraph The Times City AM

SMEs NEWS – THURSDAY 7TH JANUARY 2021

Vodafone offers small businesses free broadband

Small businesses in the UK are being offered free broadband by Vodafone for 2021. The network operator said all firms with between one and 50 employees would be able to apply for the new scheme.

Metro

OTHER NEWS – THURSDAY 7TH JANUARY 2021

Pandemic could drive UK birth rate to a record low

The UK could see the annual birth rate dipping to its lowest level since records began, according to a report from PwC. Ongoing uncertainty surrounding the job market is expected to translate into fewer births in 2021. Hannah Audino, an economist at PwC, said: “A structural decline to the birth rate will depend on the level of scarring in the labour market and the pace of recovery. A longer recovery will reduce people’s expectations of their lifetime income, which could result in people deciding to have fewer children.” She continued: “The effects of lower births won’t be felt for decades, but if the pandemic causes a permanent decline in births, the long-term challenges associated with the UK’s ageing population, such as greater pressure on public services and lower economic growth, could be brought forward.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Independent The Sun, Page: 2

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward