NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

Luxury brands in tax-free shopping warning

Bosses of nearly a dozen luxury fashion firms including Gucci and Hugo Boss have written to Rishi Sunak warning that plans to abolish the VAT rebate for tourists risks their future investment in Britain. “As global brands operating in the UK, we greatly value Britain’s status as a world-leading shopping and tourism destination, attracting visitors from around the world, and have invested in the UK accordingly,” the letter said. “But the Treasury’s plan would give the UK the least competitive [tax-free shopping] regime in Europe and put this status at risk.”

The Times, Page: 39 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 Daily Mail, Page: 8

REGULATION NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

Government set to tighten takeover rules

A national security and investment bill due to be published today will give ministers new sweeping powers to block takeovers by Chinese and other foreign companies on national security grounds. The legislation would also allow ministers to retrospectively halt acquisitions any time in the five years after the deal was sealed. Alok Sharma, the business secretary, said that while ministers were keen to attract inward investment, “hostile actors should be in no doubt – there is no back door to the UK”.

The Guardian, Page: 31

SMEs NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

EU hits Amazon with antitrust charges

The European Commission has charged Amazon with abusing its dominant position in online retail to gain an unfair advantage over competitors. The case revolves around the firm’s dual role as a marketplace for third-party vendors, and also as a competitor which sells its own goods, which has created concerns that it may be abusing its role by using the data it gathers on merchants to compete against them. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “The use of these data allows Amazon to focus on the sale of the bestselling products and it marginalises third-party sellers and caps their ability to grow.” Amazon said: “No firm cares more for small businesses or has done more to support them over the past two decades than us.” The company faces a potential fine as high as 10% of its global turnover – about £15bn – if it is found guilty of breaching competition law.

Financial Times, Page: 1 The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 53 The I, Page: 33 Daily Mirror, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 31 The Sun, Page: 45 Daily Mail, Page: 85

Cherry’s lockdown guide to staying afloat

Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry gives his advice on how small businesses can adapt to the pandemic in the Mail. He urges owners to network, plan ahead, consider options for finance, ensure access to legal support and to be adaptable. Mr Cherry reminds small business owners to look after themselves too: “Be mindful of your physical and mental health, and that of any employees you may have.”

Daily Mail, Page: 53

Thousands of UK companies apply for ‘top-ups’ to bounce back loans

Lenders in the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) reported that thousands of small businesses had applied for loan top-ups after the scheme opened yesterday. Two high street banks said that there had been about 2,000 applications for extra money in the first few hours of the scheme going live.

Financial Times, Page: 3 The Times, Page: 42

PENSIONS NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

Gender pension savings gap narrows

Research by Scottish Widows shows the pensions saving gap between men and women is the narrowest on record. A record 59% of women are saving adequately for their retirement, compared with 60% of men. However, the study also found that because of lower wages and past under-saving, women would still need to work beyond the age of 100 to amass a pension pot equal with men, in theory.

The Times

BREXIT NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

Firms ‘unprepared for Brexit’ – MHA MacIntyre Hudson partner

Alison Horner, indirect tax partner at MHA MacIntyre Hudson, is interviewed in City AM on trading with Europe after Brexit and how it will affect firms more than many are expecting. She remarks: “Due to COVID-19 the majority of British companies involved in exporting to Europe have not been able to give Brexit the attention they should and unfortunately some are in denial about the scale of the challenge.” She continued: “It is crucial to realise that although a deal will bring great relief to businesses and their bottom line by removing the cost of duty tariffs, the legal and regulatory as well as administrative costs will remain.”

City AM

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

Surge in redundancies pushes UK unemployment to 4.8%

Redundancies rose to a record high of 314,000 in the three months to September driving up unemployment from 4.5% to 4.8%, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The number of people out of work rose by 243,000 in the three-month period, the largest increase since May 2009. The redundancy figure was higher because it included people who may have lost their jobs and then retired or decided to stop looking for work. Young people and men fared the worst and there was also a dramatic drop in the foreign-born workforce. Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said the changes in unemployment and employment were “worrying but not catastrophic”, although the continued lack of hiring was troubling.

Financial Times, Page: 3 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Independent, Page: 50 The Guardian

ECONOMY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

Investors shrug off UK jobs gloom

The FTSE 100 index of major companies climbed another 1.8% to 6296.85 yesterday – a level not seen since June – as investors brushed off figures showing a record 314,000 workers were made redundant over the summer. The stock market rose for a second day as analysts said a vaccine could help the economy bounce back to pre-pandemic levels next year.

Daily Mail, Page: 82

REPORTING NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

FRC: Auditors should challenge management view of firm implications of climate change

The Financial Reporting Council has said that auditors should test and challenge board and management’s assessment of the implications of climate change outlined in financial statements. Following a major review of how companies and auditors report on the impact of climate change, the FRC determined that boards and companies, auditors, professional associations, regulators and standard-setters need to do more. The review considered how the quality of information provided to investors could be improved to help them make informed decisions. The FRC said UK professional bodies and audit regulators are responding to climate change, but approaches differ in terms of substance and granularity regarding references to climate-related reporting and the impacts of climate change. Following the review, the FRC has encouraged companies to voluntarily report on climate-related disclosures. The regulator encouraged companies to report against the Task Force o n Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD) 11 recommended disclosures using the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) metrics. The FRC will consider how best to help companies to achieve reporting under TCFD and SASB that meets the needs of investors.

Financial Reporting Council Financial Reporting Council Financial News Professional Pensions Private Equity News City AM

OTHER NEWS – WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2020

Accountant stole £200,000 to fund ‘City boy’ lifestyle

David Gowans, the chief accountant at property and asset management company Alpha Browett Taylor, has been jailed for four years after being found guilty of steeling nearly £200,000 from the company. Gerard Renouf, the prosecutor, said Mr Gowans changed the bank account details of the property and asset management company’s contractors to his own account and made out fake invoices. Mr Renouf said Gowans “wanted to maintain a ‘City boy’ lifestyle and wine and dine his partner.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 13

Contact Paul Southward