Marriage tax perk should be increased ten-fold, thinktank says

Rishi Sunak has been urged to replace the marriage tax allowance with a new family tax allowance. MPs have backed the proposal from the Onward thinktank, which would allow people who have to quit or reduce work, to look after children or sick relatives, to switch their entire £12,500 personal allowance to give a spouse £25,000 of tax-free income, saving them up to £2,500. Current rules permit a married person who earns less than the £12,500 income tax threshold to transfer £1,250 of their personal allowance to their spouse, reducing their tax bill by up to £250 a year. The report from Onward also suggests giving workers the ability to draw down a year of their pension early to take a ‘civic sabbatical’ to volunteer in the community.

The Sun, Page: 2 Daily Mail, Page: 14


Day agrees deal to save Edinburgh Woollen Mill empire

Philip Day has reportedly agreed a deal with Middle Eastern investors to save Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Ponden Home and Bonmarché brands from collapse, which could save up to 2,500 jobs and 300 stores. Although details of the rescue were still being finalised, the Telegraph reports that Mr Day will use his position as a secured creditor to acquire the assets of the brands to sell them on to the new owners in a “complex” transaction. Administrators at FRP Advisory have been seeking buyers for the majority of the brands, while insolvency experts at RSM were appointed to work on Bonmarché. Marks & Spencer is taking over Mr Day’s fashion brand Jaeger in a separate agreement. Jaeger had 244 staff and some 63 stores and concessions. In addition, 13 stores closed after administrators were appointed, with the loss of more than 120 posts across stores, head office and distribution. It is unclear if any jobs will be saved.

BBC News Financial Times The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Guardian

PwC partner takes over at JLL

JLL, one of the country’s leading surveying firms, said yesterday that it had hired Stephanie Hyde, a partner at PwC, as its UK chief executive. Ms Hyde will succeed Chris Ireland, who has led JLL since 2016 and will become chairman.

The Times, Page: 38


Scottish SMEs least confident in the UK

The Federation of Small Businesses’ UK-wide small business confidence index fell to -49.3 points at the end of 2020, the second lowest ever recorded by the research series. But Scottish business confidence is the lowest in the country, with the equivalent Scottish figure plunging to -69 points, from -26.3 points in the autumn. Andrew McRae, FSB Scotland policy chair, said: “The average Scottish business owner has grave fears about the future. These worries are founded upon firms facing weeks or months of restrictions after likely draining their cash reserves and taking on significant debt. That’s why governments in Edinburgh and London need to back our small businesses and those that work for themselves.”

The Scotsman


How landlords can save money on their properties

Chris Etherington of RSM helps Telegraph readers understand the most tax-efficient ways of owning a rental property. Etherington points out that if it makes sense for married couples or civil partners to gift the property to the other if there are tax advantages in the form of rental profits or mortgage tax relief. As gifting a property to a spouse if it still has a mortgage attached incurs stamp duty, so the current tax holiday offers a valuable opportunity to do so while paying less to HMRC, Etherington adds. Another option for property investors would be to make use of the stamp duty holiday to move their property, or properties, into a company structure.

The Daily Telegraph


Pandemic boosts business case for investing in staff

The FT reports on the pressure on finance chiefs to prioritise talent retention by way of investment in continuing education, training, workforce development and diversity as the economy starts to rebound.

Financial Times


Chancellor warns UK economy will get worse before it gets better

Rishi Sunak has warned that while the vaccine provides hope the UK economy will “get worse before it gets better” telling MPs on Tuesday that “the road ahead will be tough”. The Chancellor said that fiscal stimulus provided so far amounted to more than £280bn, while 1.2m employers had furloughed almost 10m employees. The new national restrictions were necessary to control the spread of coronavirus, he continued, but they would have a further significant economic impact. Mr Sunak’s update was criticised by Anneliese Dodds, who accused the Chancellor of being “out of ideas”. The shadow chancellor added: “The purpose of an update is to provide us with new information, not to repeat what we already know.”

BBC News The Daily Telegraph The Guardian

Moody’s warns of credit risks in southern eurozone states

Italy and Spain are highly vulnerable to another shock to investor confidence, Moody’s has warned, with the credit ratings agency issuing a negative outlook for the eurozone’s sovereign debt in 2021. “Credit risks are highest in Italy, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal given their high economic exposure to the crisis, together with their more limited fiscal space,” its analysts said.

The Daily Telegraph

UK retailers see little respite from Covid gloom over festive period

Figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG show retail sales for the year as a whole were 0.3% below 2019 levels – the worst performance in the 25 years. While food sales growth rose 5.4% on 2019, non-food fell about 5%.

Financial Times, Page: 3 BBC News The Times, Page: 38 Daily Mail, Page: 3 The I, Page: 43

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward