NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

Chancellor urged to extend property tax break

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing calls to extend the stamp duty holiday, with experts warning that a backlog in transactions means that half of people working toward completing a property purchase could miss out on the tax break. The Daily Express’ Harvey Jones says that hopes of an extension to the stamp duty holiday, which is currently set to end in March 2021, have been boosted following the Government’s decision to extend other forms of support as England goes into a second nationwide lockdown.

Daily Express, Page: 30

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

Gender pay gap at 15.5%

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the gender pay gap among all UK employees has fallen to 15.5% in 2020, down from 17.4% in 2019. Among full-time employees the gap was 7.4% in April 2020, down from 9.0% in April 2019. The ONS says that the reduced pay gap can be attributed to the fact that more men than women have been placed on furlough during the coronavirus pandemic, with 12.5% of men furloughed with reduced pay in April 2020 compared to 10% of women. Commenting on the report, Sam Smethers, CEO of gender equality campaign group the Fawcett Society, said that while a narrowing of the pay gap is positive, “we only have a partial picture because the impact of coronavirus means a quarter of employers are missing from the data set.” The ONS figures also show that more than 2m people earned less than the statutory minimum wage in April, with the lowest paid the most likely part of the workforce to be furloughed.

The Daily Telegraph Financial Times, Page: 2

SMEs NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

LSE report: SMEs vital for recovery

The London Stock Exchange Group’s 1,000 companies to Inspire Britain report says SMEs will be crucial in rebuilding the economy, post-coronavirus. The annual report, which examines the economic environment facing smaller businesses, shows that between them the 1,000 firms listed recorded an annual average revenue growth rate of 41.2%. The report also notes that the firms generated more than 42,000 jobs in the two years to December 2019. London Stock Exchange Group CEO David Schwimmer says the report “highlights the vital role of SMEs in driving economic growth, leading innovation and providing jobs across the UK.” Dr Adam Marshall, director general at the British Chambers of Commerce, says that while the pandemic will make pressure for SMEs “acute”, the crisis presents the UK “a historic opportunity to recast the UK business environment”. “Disruption for some will mean opportunity for others,” he adds.

Evening Standard

BUSINESS RATES NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

Supermarkets face calls to repay rates

Callum Jones in the Times says supermarkets are under mounting pressure to pay back £3bn in business rates, with retail entrepreneur Julian Richer questioning why grocers have seen their bills waived as part of coronavirus crisis support measures despite strong demand from consumers and surging sales during the pandemic. Mr Richer praised the 100% discount on business rates for this financial year for stores forced to close due to lockdown restrictions but says it makes little sense for supermarkets that have “got customers queuing around the block”. The Confederation of British Industry has urged companies that had received taxpayer cash they did not need to “come together” and repay it. Deputy director-general Josh Hardie said: “It’s very difficult to make these decisions. It’s up to individual firms. I wouldn’t try and put any blanket rule on it,” but added that perhaps f irms who didn’t need or didn’t use the money should consider giving it back to the state.

The Times, Page: 37

FINANCE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

VC investment value up in Q3

A study from KPMG shows that the value of venture capital investment in Scottish scale-ups increased in Q3. While the number of deals fell to 17 from 22 in Q2, total value rose to £71.6m from £62m. In Q3 2019, there were 13 deals valued at more than £32m.

The Press and Journal, Page: 31

PROPERTY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

Country house prices hit four-year high

Analysis from estate agent Knight Frank shows that demand for country houses in the UK has driven prices to a four-year high, with average asking prices up 2% in Q3 compared to the previous three months. Compared with the third quarter of last year, prices rose by 2.3%, the highest annual growth rate since March 2016. The figures show that prices for country homes valued at less than £1m rose by 1.8% quarter-on-quarter, while those valued at more than £1m saw growth of 2.3%. Houses valued between £3m and £4m saw values climb 2.9%.

The Guardian

CORPORATE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

Independents’ days of survival on the British high street

With Local Data Company analysis suggesting independent businesses are weathering the pandemic better than many large chains, PwC’s Lisa Hooker notes smaller firms’ agility and understanding of their local market.

Financial Times, Page: 2

INTERNATIONAL NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

Regulators criticised over Wirecard scandal

The European Securities and Markets Authority says Germany’s financial regulator BaFin and accounting watchdog FREP missed the warning signs of the Wirecard accounting scandal, with “deficiencies” in supervision and enforcement.

The Times, Page: 44 Financial Times, Page: 1

ECONOMY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER 2020

Labour calls for six-month economic plan

Labour has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide a six-month plan designed to help Britain navigate the economic challenges brought about by the coronavirus crisis. With Mr Sunak, who has vowed to “do whatever it takes” to protect jobs and businesses during the pandemic, having confirmed an extension of the furlough scheme as England nears its second national lockdown, shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds accused him of “very panicked, last-minute decision-making.” Ms Dodds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that businesses need certainty so as to avoid a jobs crisis, “not endless chopping and changing by a Chancellor who is always playing catch-up.” She also accused Mr Sunak of a “stubborn refusal to address problems of his own making until the last possible minute”.

BBC News

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward