NEWS – TUESDAY 28TH JULY 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – TUESDAY 28TH JULY 2020

Van benefit charge to be amended

HMRC have published details of a proposed change that will reduce the van benefit tax charge for zero emissions vans to zero from 6 April 2021

Further information, including links to the draft legislation and explanatory notes, can be found at: income-tax-changes-to-the-van-benefit-charge-from-6-april-2021.

Sunak warned against taxing online sales

The British Retail Consortium has warned Rishi Sunak against plans to impose a 2% tax on online sales claiming the move would lead to higher prices for consumer. According to a report in the Times, the Chancellor is considering two types of online retail tax: a levy of about 2% on all goods bought online, which could raise £2bn a year; and a tax on consumer deliveries, which would also help to curb traffic and pollution. Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the BRC, said: “Taxing the sale or delivery of online goods would simply be another burden on an already overtaxed industry, one that would ultimately hit consumer spending through higher prices. Throughout the pandemic, many of us have been relying on retailers to ramp up their online services to ensure we can all get the goods we need. The government should not harm these efforts by further taxing the businesses providing these services, and the people they serve.” In a letter to the Times, George Bull, senior tax partner at RSM, says an online sales tax would take too long to come into force. He suggests a voucher scheme to get people buying from high street shops instead.

The Guardian, Page: 29 Daily Mirror, Page: 2 The Times, Page: 26 Daily Express, Page: 2 The Sun, Page: 2 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2

SMEs NEWS – TUESDAY 28TH JULY 2020

Small firms need workers back in the office

MPs and small business groups have called for ministers to toughen up the Government’s “get back to work” message after an audit by the Mail revealed big businesses were not planning to bring staff back to offices until at least towards the end of the year. Mike Cherry, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “A big chunk of the small business and self-employed community relies on commuter footfall and staff being in offices for work. All over the country, cafes, restaurants, dry cleaners, stationers and convenience stores – plus IT, maintenance and cleaning contractors – are all suffering, especially those based in the middle of cities.” The Mail notes that most of KPMG’s 16,000 office-based workforce were unlikely to return until next year. Only 50% of PwC’s 22,000 office workers will have returned by the end of September while EY said its offices would reopen from September 7, but on a “reduced capacity basis.” The firm has about 11,200 office staff.

Daily Mail, Page: 6-7

Funding Circle’s chance to prove market sceptics wrong

The Times’ James Hurley speaks with Funding Circle founder and CEO Samir Desai about the company’s progress and the dim view the market has taken recently of online lenders. Mr Desai says the coronavirus pandemic presents an opportunity to prove Funding Circle can be counter-cyclical and that he wants investors to understand the company is heading in the right direction even if that is not yet reflected in the share price. “The business is nearly twice as big as it was when we floated, we’ve done twice as much lending. We’re helping a lot more small businesses, we’re delivering a lot,” Mr Desai says. UK managing director Lisa Jacobs adds that the business model was almost built for remote working and that Funding Circle maintained 100% productivity when everyone started working from home.

The Times, Page: 40

Letter: Innovative ideas will keep small enterprises running

TheCityUK’s Adrian Montague says the group’s plan to recapitalise SME’s state-backed loans post-COVID-19 “is not a call for taxpayer handouts,” but a means to “convert, restructure and repay” unsustainable debt.

Financial Times, Page: 20

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – TUESDAY 28TH JULY 2020

Progress on diversity in top roles stalls

Research carried out by Green Park, an executive search and diversity consultancy, reveals that less than 5% of the most senior jobs in the UK are held by people from ethnic minorities. The top roles in 39 areas including central and local government, public bodies, the private sector, universities, sporting organisations and charities were examined and fifteen were found to have no ethnic minority representation at the top at all, while five had seen a decrease since 2017 and in more than half there had been no change. Green Park says the figures have barely changed in the three years since its last survey, despite pledges from government, the public sector and business to make corporate leadership more diverse.

The Times Financial Times, Page: 2 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 10

CORPORATE NEWS – TUESDAY 28TH JULY 2020

Duff & Phelps appointed administrator to fruit firm

Essex-based fruit distributor Winfresh has entered administration, with Michael Lennon, Sarah Bell and Philip Dakin of Duff & Phelps working with customers and suppliers as the short-term future of the business is considered. Mr Lennon remarked: “In recent years the UK banana market has become highly competitive and that has impacted the company in terms of volume and pricing. As a result, the financial position of the company has become untenable and mounting cash flow pressures has resulted in the appointment of the joint administrators.”

Insider Media

PROPERTY NEWS – TUESDAY 28TH JULY 2020

Land Registry to accept electronic signatures

HM Land Registry will start accepting electronic signatures from next week, it has confirmed, paving the way for the entire conveyancing process to be conducted electronically. HMLR will accept witnessed electronic signatures for transfers of property ownership, leases, mortgages and other property-related dealings. The “mercury approach” for signatures – which allows for a signature page to be signed in pen in the physical presence of a witness – will remain.

The Law Society Gazette

Stamp duty cut only benefitting London

Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty cut has so far benefited London’s property market but had little impact elsewhere so far, according to Zoopla. In a reflection of the disproportionate benefit for wealthier buyers, the property website said agreed home sales in the capital rose by 27% in the first two weeks of the stamp duty holiday.

The Guardian, Page: 29

ECONOMY NEWS – TUESDAY 28TH JULY 2020

Business confidence returns but hiring remains postponed

Business confidence rose by eight percentage points to -22% in July, the highest since the lockdown was imposed in March, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Business Barometer. However, fears about a second spike in infections are weighing on consumer confidence while higher unemployment is expected to further weigh on demand. Lloyds found 16% of companies plan to bring back all their furloughed employees. A further 24% expect to retain more than 90%. Just 17% of businesses expect to increase employment over the next 12 months, up one point from June, while 40% expect to cut staffing levels.

The Times, Page: 36 Yorkshire Post, Business, Page: 1 The Scotsman, Page: 36

OTHER NEWS – TUESDAY 28TH JULY 2020

Downing Street drafts plans for integrated social care

The NHS in England could assume control of social care, under plans being examined by ministers. The move would see responsibility removed from local councils, along with the £22.5bn in annual funding, swelling the NHS budget to £150bn. Downing Street has drafted in David Cameron’s former policy chief Camilla Cavendish to help finalise proposals for a fully integrated health care system. The news comes after reports that ministers were considering a new tax on the over-40s to pay for social care.

The Guardian, Page: 1 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 16 The Independent, Page: 22 Daily Mirror, Page: 8

Gold surges to an all-time high

Mounting tensions between the United States and China and worrying rises in coronavirus infection rates have sent the price of gold to an all-time high of $1,943.93 per ounce. Silver is also at its highest level since September 2013, jumping more than 6% yesterday to $24.36 an ounce.

The Times

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward