NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
TAX NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
Working from home and claiming tax relief
The Mail examines what expenses workers may be able to claim if they are asked to work from home. Caroline Miskin, technical manager at the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales (ICAEW), points out that people can claim tax relief if required to work from home on a regular basis, but not if they have chosen to do so. You can claim for additional household expenses such as work telephone calls or the extra cost of gas and electricity up to £6 a week, without needing to provide receipts. Ms Miskin says you cannot claim for things you use for work as well as privately, such as rent or broadband. If a worker does not already file a self-assessment tax return, then a P87 form will need to be filled out at the end of the tax year. Daily Mail, Page: 51
See our guide to expenses and benefits for employees working from home: –
EMPLOYMENT NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
Bailey: Furlough scheme will need a rethink
Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, told a British Chambers of Commerce webinar on Tuesday that the Government’s furlough scheme will need a rethink before it ends at the end of October. He said Chancellor Rishi Sunak faces a difficult decision over the scheme and hinted that it may need to become sector-specific. He went on to say that the resurging pandemic is “extremely difficult” news for the nation and warned that the “hard yards are ahead of us”. But he cooled expectations that the Bank of England will deploy negative interest rates in the immediate future. Elsewhere, Martin Beck, of Oxford Economics, predicts the furlough scheme will be kept in place beyond the current October end-date, at least for affected sectors. “Boosting the generosity of existing compensation schemes for firms affected by local lockdowns would be another option,” he adds. Finally, data from payrolls firm XpertHR show the highest n umber of pay freezes across companies since the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009.
Wellbeing concerns follow shift back to working from home
Commenting on Boris Johnson’s call for office staff to work from home where possible to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, says: “With home working likely to be the default for another six months, employers must recognise that isolation and anxiety could become an issue for some workers. To counter this, they should ensure managers are regularly checking in with their teams and are asking about their wellbeing.” The Times notes that KPMG expects a large number of employees to continue working from home but will keep its offices open for staff who had “a business-critical or wellbeing need to come in”.
PENSIONS NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
Women are still second-class citizens in pension system
Baroness Altmann writes in the Daily Mail that the Court of Appeal judgment last week is a blow to the many women who believe the sharp increase in their state pension age from 2010 discriminated against them. She says that she supports the concept of state pension age equality, and it is difficult to defend women being able to start their state pension five years before men, while also having longer life expectancy. However, she adds that women have always been – and still are – second-class citizens in the UK pension system. Altmann contends that women often lose out because of their societal role. “More women work in lower-paid sectors and are often those caring for family, so they earn less than men of their age, work part ? time and have shorter working lives and lower lifetime earnings than men,” she writes.
Government launches small pension pots taskforce
The Pensions Minister Guy Opperman has reported that a cross-sector working group has been established to address the problems caused by the volume of small pension pots being created under auto-enrolment. The DWP said the working group will involve experts from within the pensions industry, fintech, and those representing member interests and employers.
CORPORATE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
UK firms benefit from over £100bn in support amid pandemic
Over £100bn in support from banks and the Government has been received by UK firms through coronavirus stimulus initiatives, with lenders distributing more than £58bn and companies claiming £39.3bn under the furlough scheme. Stephen Pegge, head of commercial finance at banking body UK Finance, noted that “the banking and finance industry has a clear plan” to help firms negotiate “these tough times,” cautioning that “it is important to remember that any lending provided under government-backed schemes is a debt not a grant. Firms should carefully consider their ability to repay before completing an application.”
City AM Financial Times, Page: 3 Daily Mail, Page: 78 The Sun, Page: 43
Wahaca lenders take £25m haircut
Mexican-themed restaurant chain Wahaca is set to close about 10 of its 30 outlets as part of a financial restructuring overseen by PwC. Shareholders and lenders including NatWest will also write off about £25m under a proposed company voluntary arrangement.
The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 7
ECONOMY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
CBI: New measures a blow to business
The Prime Minister said yesterday that tighter rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 could last six months and the advice was that by next spring “things will be vastly, vastly improved.” But the director-general of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, said the six-month timetable “will come as a shock” to business, adding reversing plans to bring more employees back to offices was a “crushing blow for thousands of firms”. Elsewhere, UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls described the fresh restrictions as “another crushing blow” for many businesses while lobby group London First said advising people to work from home risked “derailing an already fragile recovery”. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, added that it was now vital that the Government “steps forward with an ambitious second round of support measures to help firms survive.”
Recovery threatened by new restrictions
Economists warn that the imposition of further Covid restrictions could mean growth flatlines over the last few months of the year. Paul Dales at Capital Economics says that the 10pm curfew on restaurants and bars and another homeworking push could mean GDP does not rise at all in October, November or December. Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macro adds that if the Government ordered pubs, restaurants and other consumer businesses to close again then GDP would fall to 15% below pre-Covid levels as long as the restrictions lasted, compared to a 5% shortfall without them. The Telegraph’s Tom Rees proposes that if businesses fear ongoing stop-start restrictions they could be persuaded to hold back investment, pushing other businesses over the edge.
The Daily Telegraph The Guardian, Page: 29
Sales rise at charity shops
Charity retailers reported improved performance in August, according to BDO‘s latest monthly Charity Retail Sales Tracker. Like-for-like sales were down 28.6% in August, an improvement on the 44.7% decrease in July.
The I, Page: 44
PROPERTY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
Stamp duty holiday spurs rise in house sales
August saw house sales rise by 15.6% across the UK after the Government introduced a temporary stamp duty holiday. Sales rose by 15.6% in the month after climbing by 14.5% in July, figures from HMRC reveal. The tax break, which will last until March 31 2021, saw an estimated 81,280 sales take place in August and also helped to protect nearly 750,000 jobs in the housing sector and wider supply chain. However, transactions were still down by 16.3% compared with the same month in 2019, figures show. Joshua Elash, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “The significant rise in house sales in August compared with the previous month reflects a positive response to the Chancellor’s stamp duty initiative in the short term but sadly, it is not sustainable.”
The Times, Page: 40 Daily Mail Yorkshire Post, Page: 2
SMEs NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
Yell sued over hard-sell tactics
Small businesses are threatening Yell, the company behind the Yellow Pages, with legal action claiming the firm sold them services using “false claims and high-pressure sales techniques.” Some 650 business owners are backing a claim proposed by the Yell Action Group, whose chairman Danny Richman said: “Thousands of Yell.com customers were lied to by Yell and mis-sold advertising products on the basis of false claims and high-pressure sales techniques. We are a group of volunteers who have seen small businesses suffer as result of Yell’s practices and now we want justice.”
Daily Mail, Page: 81
OTHER NEWS – WEDNESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
Brexit and the City: Brussels’ new battle to rival London in finance
The FT reports on recent comments from Brussels which suggest the UK’s decision to breach international law with the Internal Market Bill has further eroded the EU’s willingness to offer financial market access.
Ex-BT boss stripped of OBE
Hanif Lalani, a former finance director at BT, has been stripped of his OBE after being implicated in an insider trading scandal.
The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4
Contact Paul Southward