Supermarket boss: Overhaul rates and tax online sales

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, has called for an online sales tax and a rethink of business rates, describing the tax as “outdated and Victorian”. Mr Walker, who urged policymakers to “completely change business rates as they are”, said there must also be “some form of rebalancing with online because otherwise we will be killing off the high street as it is.” With bricks and mortar stores paying far more in business rates than online-only rivals, a number of high street retailers have urged the Chancellor to rework the tax system to put digital retailers such as Amazon on a “level playing field”, with Tesco recently calling for a 1% online sales tax. The Chancellor rolled out relief on business rates amid the pandemic. This has been extended until the end of June and businesses will then be given a two-thirds reduction on rates until March 2022.

The Times, Page: 37 The Independent, Page: 48 Daily Mirror, Page: 8

Yellen calls for minimum global corporate tax

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged other countries to agree a global minimum tax for companies, saying this could “make sure the global economy thrives based on a more level playing field in the taxation of multinational corporations”. In a virtual speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Ms Yellen said there had been a “30-year race to the bottom” in which countries have slashed corporate tax rates in an effort to attract multinational businesses.” She added that it is “important to work with other countries to end the pressures of tax competition and corporate tax base erosion”.

The I, Page: 2 Daily Mail Financial Times

HMRC tackles football’s tax loophole

HMRC is clamping down on a tax loophole which enables footballers and agents working for both a player and a club during transfer or contract negotiations to save on tax. In cases where there is “dual representation”, the agent must pay income tax and national insurance on the fees they receive from the player but when representing a club, the club is charged VAT which it can reclaim as a tax-deductible expense. HMRC believes agents do far more work for players than clubs, despite it often claimed the split is even. Pete Hackleton at Saffery Champness said the previous rule had been “agreed historically” with HMRC as industry best-practice, while Nimesh Shah of Blick Rothenberg said the change in guidance would mean most players pay more.

The Times, Page: 23

Tax incentive set to drive investment

A poll from industry lobby group Make UK shows that the “super deduction” tax incentive announced in March’s Budget is set to boost investment for manufacturers this year. The survey saw 22.6% of businesses say they plan to increase investment as a direct response to the tax, with 28.1% bringing forward investment plans. Super deduction allows firms to deduct 130% of the value of plant and machinery from profits.

The Times, Page: 41 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 Daily Express, Page: 46 Daily Mail

Tax break for veterans’ employers

As of today, companies that employ Armed Forces veterans will be exempt from paying national insurance on the first 12 months of their employment.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 10


Slow progress on boosting female CEO numbers

Analysis shows that leading UK firms ha ve made little progress in increasing the number of female CEOs, with just 6.3% of firms run by female chief executives. This marks only a slight increase on the 6% recorded in 2019 and 6.2% seen in 2020. Despite the number of female leaders improving only marginally, the report from S&P Capital IQ shows that the UK ranks fifth among G20 nations when it comes to the proportion of large companies being led by women. Globally, the US leads the way with the highest proportion of female CEOs, at 8.4%. South Africa is next with 7.3%, followed by China’s 5.4%. Japan and Saudi Arabia have the lowest proportion of companies led by women, at 1.3%.

The Daily Telegraph

Redundancies for over-50s jump

Redundancies among the over-50s have almost tripled in the past year, with 107,000 made redundant between last November and January 2021. The report from Rest Less says the redundancy rate for those who are over 50 is now higher than all other age groups at 12.8 per 1,000 employees. As of the end of February, over-50s made up 28% of the total furloughed workforce. Rest Less founder Stuart Lewis voiced concern over the findings, noting research showing that unemployed workers over the age of 50 are two-and-a-half times more likely to drift into long-term unemployment than younger people, pointing to age discrimination in the recruitment process and a lack of tailored retraining programmes.

The Independent The I Daily Express

Aviva: WFH may hit women’s opportunities

Insurer Aviva has warned that the shift towards flexible working could harm women’s careers, saying female staff may feel more pressure than men to work from home due to family responsibilities and so miss out on promotion opportunities. It warned of a risk that managers could promote workers they see in person, rather than making judgements based on the quality of work. Gwen Rhys, chief executive of networking group Women in the City, said: “It’s likely to be women who take the work-from-home option more than men … I think men will go back to the office before women and it will be they who get noticed, get networking and get the opportunities.”

Daily Mail, Page: 67

Jump in remote working job ads

The proportion of UK jobs advertised as “remote working” roles has surged in the past year, with coronavirus restrictions seeing more firms embrace home-based working models. As of February, 3.6% of roles were advertised as being remote, up from 0.8% a year earlier. The report from New Street Consulting Group shows that the number of remote working roles advertised more than trebled to 78,000, with it noted that many of these involved permanent remote working rather than temporary arrangements linked to coronavirus rules and social distancing guidance.

The Times, Page: 36


Peacocks administrator finalises rescue deal

Up to 200 Peacocks stores and 2,000 jobs are set to be saved by an investment consortium which has agreed to back Steve Simpson, the chief operating officer of Peacocks’ sister company Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM). The transaction has been orchestrated by administrator FRP Advisory, which has also been in talks with Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley. Other parts of retail tycoon Philip Day’s empire, including EWM and Bonmarche, have already been sold to a vehicle controlled by Mr Simpson.

Sky News


Study reveals Help to Buy hotspots

Bristol has been identified as the most popular location for homebuyers taking advantage of the Help to Buy initiative, with analysis of data by property agent Benham and Reeves showing the city has seen the biggest uptake of buyers utilising the discount scheme. The study gathered stats from Zoopla and gave a percentage based on how many eligible properties in the city had been taken up by buyers. Bristol came out on top with 60%, followed by Portsmouth and Swansea, which both saw 50% demand. Benham and Reeves director of Marc von Grundherr said that while the stamp duty holiday has been “a great way of boosting market health during a very tough period”, increased demand has pushed house prices “further out of reach for many first-time buyers”. “It’s clear that many are reliant on a leg up via the Help to Buy scheme as a result”, he added.

Daily Express


Labour supply issues to hit growth

Analysts from Pantheon Macroeconomics have warned that economic growth could stall in the 2020s due to Britain’s ageing population and lower rates of immigration. The forecast suggests that the growth rate in the UK’s workforce will halve as an immigration clampdown sees fewer overseas workers, with labour supply also facing a hit as the Boomer generation enter retirement. The report predicts that workforce growth will fall to an average annual rate of 0.3% over the next five years, down from 0.8% in the second half of the 2010s. Pantheon economist Samuel Tombs said: “The days of strong workforce growth are long gone,” adding that expansion in the 2010’s had masked underlying weaknesses in the economy, such as “deficient business investment and sluggish growth in productivity”. HSBC economist James Pomeroy believes the working age population is set to shrink in the 2030s and may fall by the end of the 2020s, warning that this is “a massive fiscal problem when you’re taking on a lot of debt”.

The Daily Telegraph


Consultants see demand drop despite Covid contracts

Consultants saw a decline in demand for their services last year, despite the Government awarding a range of large contracts to firms advising on its response to the coronavirus crisis. Analysis by Source Global Research shows that the sector contracted by more than a tenth in 2020, with the size of the industry down by 12% to £10.65bn. The steepest drop came in the “change and people strategy” sector, with revenues falling 27% as firms tightened budgets and cut activities deemed unessential, such as leadership development courses and diversity and inclusion training. While the overall consultancy sector saw demand slip in 2020, Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC secured hundreds of millions of pounds worth of Government contracts linked to the pandemic, with ministers bringing in consultants to work on projects such as the test and trace system and the rollout of emergency business loan schemes.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

Why ranking workers by performance backfires

Sarah O’Connor looks at criticism of the forced distribution method for assessing staff performance, noting that KPMG plans to “move away” from the system to “allow much greater flexibility”.

Financial Times, Page: 23

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Paul Southward