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NEWS – WEDNESDAY 28TH APRIL 2021

NEWS – WEDNESDAY 28TH APRIL 2021

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – WEDNESDAY 28TH APRIL 2021

Family businesses lobby group calls for £150bn of tax cuts

The International Business Network has called for the abolition of corporation tax and cuts to income tax and VAT to drive a post-pandemic recovery. The group, which represents family businesses, urges the Government to make £150bn of tax cuts, £70bn of which should be permanent while quantitative easing should be abandoned and perpetual “Covid recovery bonds” issued in its place to finance the recovery. “The UK is at an economic crossroads between prosperity and long-term relative decline. It is vital it chooses the right path,” John Longworth, chairman of the network, said. “This package sets out a clear agenda to allow family owned and run businesses . . . the cover they need to drive us out of this economic Armageddon.”

The Times, Page: 35

Republicans call Biden’s tax plans “economic sabotage”

The US president is expected to use his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday to outline his proposals for increases in capital gains tax, corporation tax and income tax. The tax raid on America’s wealthy is supposed to fund multi-trillion dollar spending programmes, but Republicans have called the plans “economic sabotage” while business figures said it threatened to “kill the golden goose that is America.” Chris Christie, the former Republican presidential candidate, said it showed Mr Biden was a “far-left president”. He said: “It is nothing more than income redistribution. It’s socialism.” Those earning more than $1m will see CGT rates almost double and when local and state capital tax rates are combined with the new federal level investors will pay up to 58% in some localities, such as New York City. Meanwhile, Mr Biden also plans to give the IRS an extra $80bn to crack down on wealthy individuals and powerful corporations who try to evade his proposed new tax hikes. UK analysts are watching the Chancellor closely to detect signs that he may follow suit with his own CGT rate increase later this year.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 13 Daily Mail Daily Express The Guardian, Page: 27

PAC issues stinging report on tax and UK’s net-zero vision

A report from the Public Accounts Committee has said that the Treasury and HMRC have no “clear vision” of how taxes could help the UK meet its legal target of net-zero emissions by 2050. Committee chair Meg Hillier said the Government needed to release a clearer plan ahead of Cop26: “The economic revolution required to abandon fossil fuels and reach net zero must be the greatest coordinated ask of governments around the globe in history,” she said. “But the UK Government has been blithely issuing ever more ambitious climate targets for years now, with no sign of a roadmap to reach any of them. The departments in charge seem stuck in a bygone era, with little sign of the innovative thinking needed to achieve all this.”

The Independent Daily Express, Page: 4

French and German finance ministers back US global tax plan

France and Germany have backed the US Government’s idea of a global minimum corporate tax rate of 21% to be negotiated at the OECD. Germany’s finance minister Olaf Scholz said that personally, he had nothing against the US proposal. France’s Bruno Le Maire said: “If that is the result of negotiations, we would also be agreed.” Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said the U.S. proposal was constructive. “This tax fairness must also apply above all between digital and analogue business models,” he said.

Financial Times, Page: 6 The I, Page: 25 Daily Mail

Danish tax authority loses High Court ‘cum-ex’ case

A judge has ruled that the Danish state could not enforce its own tax laws in an English court, collapsing an attempt to pursue more than 100 financial institutions for £1.5bn in tax payments.

Financial Times, Page: 11

FINANCE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 28TH APRIL 2021

Investment in UK tech set for record year

Venture capital investment into technology start-ups in the UK and Ireland is on track to set a record in 2021, according to data business PitchBook. Technology companies in the UK and Ireland raised £5.3bn in the first quarter of 2021, placing the sector on track to surpass last year’s funding record of £13.4bn. “In this post-Brexit era, UK-based companies have generally been able to attract capital and conduct business as usual,” PitchBook wrote in its new European Venture Report. “In the long run, prominent UK-based start-ups could play a key role in retaining talent and attracting new overseas investment,” the report added.

The Daily Telegraph

SMEs NEWS – WEDNESDAY 28TH APRIL 2021

KPMG Venture Pulse survey released

The latest KPMG Venture Pulse survey reveals that venture capital investment in Scottish businesses cooled in the opening months of the year, with the combined value of deals falling to £64.3m, from £97.6m previously. Amy Burnett, senior manager with KPMG private enterprise in Scotland, commented: “The figures for Q1 are relatively subdued and disappointing, but it’s clear investors still have an appetite for Scottish scale-ups. To some extent, we bucked the global trend towards the end of 2020, with significant deal volume and value, and we’re now seeing that steady off and balance itself out.” Bina Mehta, chair of KPMG UK and head of the firm’s ‘emerging giants’ practice, added: “The fact that the amount of VC investment coming into the UK from overseas increased in this post-Brexit environment is encouraging, as was the continued strength of corporate VC investment”;

The Scotsman BBC News

BBRS has cost £23m so far with no cases addressed

The Business Banking Resolution Service finally went live in February after a series of delays, the Times reports, but since its inception in 2019 the body has cost more than £23m without having compensated a single business. The BBRS was set up to give small and mid-sized businesses an independent view on banking disputes. Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Small businesses seeking redress will be looking at these big sums and expecting big results.”

The Times, Page: 35

CORPORATE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 28TH APRIL 2021

PKF supports Bloom & Wild’s first acquisition

Bloom & Wild has acquired Netherlands-based competitor Bloomon for an undisclosed sum – its first acquisition which quadruples the size of the online flower and gifting platform’s European footprint. PKF advised Bloom & Wild on the deal. Sophia Meadows, finance director at Bloom & Wild, said: “PKF were an invaluable support throughout the entire process. They were flexible with ever moving timelines, totally understood our business and what mattered to us and we relied on their technical expertise heavily to guide us through the process.”

Insider Media

PERSONAL FINANCE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 28TH APRIL 2021

Muted interest in advice during pandemic

Research from Netwealth suggests the pandemic has made people more engaged with their personal finances, although just one in seven Britons have increased their reliance on financial advice. A February survey of 2,000 adults aged 35-plus found two in five (41%) said they were more engaged with their personal finances throughout the pandemic than in previous years. But the research also found only 15% said they relied more on a financial adviser or wealth manager during the pandemic compared with previous years.

FT Adviser

ECONOMY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 28TH APRIL 2021

New Investment Council will advise on post-Brexit reform

The Department of International Trade has announced the creation of a new Investment Council to help advise ministers on how to make the most of Britain’s post-Brexit freedoms. The body, which is made up of private sector businesspeople, will meet at least twice a year to provide strategic advice on how to make regulatory changes to improve the attractiveness of the UK for foreign investors. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “Alongside the Office for Investment, this Investment Council led by Minister Grimstone is a major leap towards ensuring foreign investors are heard and fostering a business environment that is fair and drives innovation and economic growth across the UK.”

Daily Express

UK manufacturers’ profitability drops to decade low

Figure from the ONS show UK manufacturers’ profitability fell sharply for a second consecutive year in 2020, dropping to 8.8%, the lowest since 2010.

Financial Times

REPORTING NEWS – WEDNESDAY 28TH APRIL 2021

Opinion: Investors should consider doing a little goodwill hunting

The Telegraph’s Ben Wright considers the treatment of goodwill and warns that a high proportion of listed companies entered the pandemic with the value of the goodwill on their balance sheet exceeding their retained earnings. “The worry is that the pandemic will have profoundly altered some of the assumptions about the future upon which companies were valuing their goodwill.” Adam Leaver, a professor of accounting and society at the University of Sheffield, says: “The big question is how difficult it’s going to be for some companies to sustain the cash flow expectations that underpin the assumptions on which that goodwill is valued in this new world.” He adds: “For acquisitive companies with levered balance sheets, [it] could get very messy if all of a sudden, observers begin to question the cash flow expectations that underlie their goodwill valuations.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward

NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

NEWS ROUNDUP

OTHER NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SUNDAY

Time for citizens to take back control, scientists say

In an open letter published today, leading scientists say ministers and Government advisers are exaggerating the threat from COVID-19 and that all restrictions must be lifted on June 21 – the final date in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown. They argue that with data showing vaccines reduce the risk of death by 98% and hospitalisations by more than 80%, COVID-19 is being turned into a mild disease in Britain. The letter’s 22 signatories include Professors Carl Heneghan and Sunetra Gupta from Oxford University, Emeritus Professor Hugh Pennington from the University of Aberdeen and Professor Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University. “We are being told, simultaneously, that we have successful vaccines and that major restrictions on everyday life must continue indefinitely. Both propositions cannot be true,” the scientists write. They add: “Mandatory face coverings, physical distancing and mass community testing should cease no later than 21 June along with other controls and impositions. All consideration of immunity documentation should cease.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 1 Sunday Express, Page: 1 The Mail on Sunday

“It is time to free up businesses and people to start really building back our economy and the nations health.”

TAX NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Investors in uproar over Biden’s proposed capital gains tax rise

Investors have lashed out at Joe Biden’s plans to double capital gains tax with Scott Minerd at Guggenheim Partners declaring the plans “insanity” while Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital, believes the proposals would “have deleterious effects on job creation and wage growth for middle-class workers.” Stocks fell following the announcement and cryptos such as Bitcoin and Ether fell sharply. Although the plans will face stiff opposition in Congress, fund managers warn that investors could dump “momentum” stocks as they seek to crystallise gains ahead of a tax hike. Alasdair McKinnon, manager of the Scottish Investment Trust, said the impact of Biden’s proposals would be felt across America’s stock market. “New capital gains taxes are unhelpful to all asset prices,” he said.

Financial Times, Page: 8 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 39 The Times, Page: 51 Daily Mail The Independent The Guardian, Page: 44

EU plans creeping tax harmonisation

The Express reports on plans touted by the European Commission to harmonise tax rates across the bloc for tobacco products. Pieter Cleppe, a research fellow with the Brussels-based Property Rights Alliance, said in a paper that the Commission is exploring ways to do this without EU Treaty change, “using health concerns as a pretext to obtain more power.”

Daily Express

HMRC deadline extension creates state pension headache

HMRC has warned that small business owners and those with ‘side hustles’ could miss out on state pension benefits if they filed their tax return after January this year.

Financial Times, Page: 2

SUNDAY

Conservatives should fight an international tax stitch-up

Hamish McRae asserts in the Mail on Sunday that if Joe Biden gets his tax hikes though Congress other countries would have cover for introducing similar measures too. The new administration wants to tax capital gains as income, raise corporation tax and introduce a global minimum tax rate. McRae says following the extreme pandemic spending by governments, raising taxes on the wealthy is logical and fair and hard to argue against. The Observer’s business leader lauds Biden’s move believing the tax hikes and trillions in stimulus are intended to tackle “deep-rooted inequalities” and that the UK Government should use Washington’s move to inspire its own plans to build back better. But Daniel Hannon contends in the Sunday Telegraph that plans for international tax harmonisation, with legal threats against those who resist, “would mark the birth of a high-tax cartel, and the rate would surely rise”. Socialists have long resented the fact that exorbitant taxes redistribute people rather than wealth, but without international competition this inconvenience would end, he says, as would the right of poor nation states to try and improve their lot through tax cuts. Ultimately, Hannan adds, low taxes improve revenue, employment and economic activity – all things needed to repair shattered post-pandemic public finances, but this seems to have been forgotten by Conservatives in the UK.

The Observer, Page: 56 The Mail on Sunday, Page: 122 The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 20

HMRC sends 18,500 fines to wrong address

HMRC has sent 18,500 fines to the wrong address with a software error said to be to blame for the fiasco, the Sunday Times reports. Accountants have reported finding demands for multiple taxpayers when opening envelops addressed to another taxpayer, with private codes and other reference numbers included in the correspondence. “This is an absolutely astonishing blunder,” said George Bull from RSM. “HMRC makes much of relying on self-employed workers getting their tax bills right, but appears incapable of managing its own data.” In a letter to the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT), HMRC said: “We sincerely apologise and recognise that this is not in line with our Charter standards. We take all aspects of protecting data very seriously so there has been a lot of activity to understand this incident and mitigate future risks.” HMRC said it had taken urgent action to ensure the data breach did not happen again: “If any agents receive any correspondence for incorrect clients, we would ask that they return them to HMRC.”

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 12

CORPORATE NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SUNDAY

Stanlow refinery reaches with HMRC

Essar Oil, which controls the Stanlow oil refinery in north west England, has struck a deal with HMRC on its tax liability. The refinery produces a sixth of the country’s petrol and diesel and has now been thrown a £400m lifeline by the taxman amid fears it could collapse. Industry sources confirmed the “time to pay” deal reached with HMRC has removed the risk of insolvency. International travel restrictions have reduced demand while poor margins for refining alongside market volatility caused operating losses for the company.

The Sunday Telegraph

Charities ration services as pandemic bites

Fundraising experts warn that charities will inevitably have to ration their services after the pandemic left them struggling for cash. Some small operations are suspending services leaving others to pick up the slack. The Sunday Telegraph notes that between April 2020 and February, the Charity Commission saw a 25% increase in concerns being raised by auditors over reports and accounts. The main issue reported was insolvency or financial difficulties.

The Sunday Telegraph

Tate & Lyle auctions off primary products division

Tate & Lyle has been working with Deloitte for some time to figure out the best way to spin off its primary products division, with Apollo Global Management and Cerberus among the interested parties. City sources say a £1.2bn auction for the division is now underway.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 1

SMEs NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SUNDAY

Small firms suffer cashflow woes just as support is withdrawn

The Sunday Times talks to small business owners who, after being devastated by the pandemic, face paying back Covid loans before their cashflow has been repaired. One businessman said: “The speed at which the Government thinks you’re able to start hurling money back at them is crazy.” Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses said the issue was common, adding: “The Government should be throwing everything it’s got at getting businesses across this ‘unlock’ phase and into the recovery, to avoid businesses falling at the final hurdle because of lack of cashflow.” But Steve Russell, head of restructuring services at PwC, says VAT deferrals, the furlough scheme and emergency loans are “not gifts. They are support schemes that need to be unwound.”

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 3

PERSONAL FINANCE NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SUNDAY

Families increasingly using deed of variation

Irwin Mitchell solicitor Sarah Paton says there has been an uplift of families changing the wills of elderly parents after they pass to help younger generations hit hard by the pandemic. “A deed of variation can be used to give a fixed sum or a proportion of the estate directly to the grandchildren of the deceased instead of the children,” she explains. Mike Hodges, partner at Saffery Champness, points out that families often decide it is better to wait until after the death to work together to rejig the will, to save the loved one distress. Using a deed of variation can also reduce inheritance tax liabilities by shifting assets directly to a younger person’s estate.

The Mail on Sunday

PENSIONS NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Drop in pension income more startling than expected

With the closure of final salary pension schemes looming, Lane, Clark & Peacock believes the drop in pension income is going to be more startling than first thought. Its research suggests that the average man retiring this year will have an annual income of £14,634 and a woman £10,042, including state pensions. But by 2045, a man retiring would have an income of £12,460, and a woman £10,797, in today’s money. Female income improves because more are expected to be able to claim full state pensions. Public sector workers will suffer less because many will still have defined benefit pensions. Steve Webb, a former pensions minister and partner at LCP, commented: “For years, salary-related pensions from private sector jobs have supported the incomes of the newly retired, and men in particular. But these pensions are disappearing much more rapidly than we thought. And new-style workplace pensions are not being built up quickly enough to take up the slack.”

The Times

SUNDAY

PENSIONS

More action needed to close pensions gap

The Sunday Times warns that more needs to be done to close the pensions gender gap and promote equal pay in retirement. The paper reports that research from the Prospect union has found that the gap for pensions stands at 40.3%, more than double the gender salary gap of 15.5% reported by the ONS. The SNP MP Patricia Gibson said it was unacceptable that all types of pension inherently discriminate against women. It is noted that last week, Guy Opperman, the Pensions Minister, said there was a “clear passion” for making women better off in older age.

The Sunday Times

PROPERTY NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SUNDAY

Tax deadline leads to frenzied market

House prices have rocketed over the course of the stamp duty holiday and there is a buying frenzy as the deadline looms, reports the Sunday Times. Figures from HMRC show almost 191,000 homes were sold in March – the highest number in a single month since July 2004. But the savings from the Chancellor’s tax cut have long since been cancelled out by property price rises, the paper’s Carol Lewis claims.

The Sunday Times, Page: 6

LEGAL NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Former subpostmasters cleared over accounting scandal

Almost 40 former subpostmasters who were convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting because of the Post Office’s defective Horizon accounting system have finally had their names cleared by the Court of Appeal. The Horizon system, developed by Fujitsu, was first rolled out in 1999 but from an early stage it appeared to have significant bugs that could cause the system to misreport. Horizon-based evidence was used by the Post Office to successfully prosecute 736 people. Lord Justice Holroyde said the Post Office “knew there were serious issues about the reliability of Horizon” and had a “clear duty to investigate” the system’s defects. But the Post Office “consistently asserted that Horizon was robust and reliable”, and “effectively steamrolled over any subpostmaster who sought to challenge its accuracy”, the judge added. In all, 39 of the 42 appeals were allowed on the grounds that the prosecutions were “an affront to the public conscience.” Lawyers for the group said they would be seeking compensation and an urgent criminal investigation into the actions of those at the Post Office.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 11 BBC News The Times Daily Mail Evening Standard Daily Express, Page: 6

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Talent hunt kicks off as London firms launch hiring sprees

Financial services, legal, PR and construction companies across London are ramping up hiring with recruiters reporting a 349% jump in banking jobs advertised. But tech is driving job creation with KPMG’s quarterly tech monitor revealing that in the three months to March, UK tech sector firms hired staff at the fastest pace seen since the second quarter of 2019. Robert Walters’ UK managing director, Chris Poole, said: “March was incredibly busy for us. It almost felt like a line in the sand – it was incredibly busy across all sectors. Technology has been busy all the way through, but there has been a lot of pent-up demand within legal, within accountancy, within financial services. Even manufacturing, procurement, supply chain – it has been across the board.”

Evening Standard

FINANCIAL SERVICES NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Equivalence or no equivalence, London will stay financial services leader

KPMG ’s head of Financial Services Karim Haji has said if the UK and the EU fail to agree a deal on equivalence it won’t be the end of the world. Although it would “make life easier”, it was not mandatory for a successful financial services sector. “If you take a step back, the UK has been one of the leaders in financial services regulation and infrastructure, it’s one of the key innovators in the space as well, and one of the leaders in the world, and that’s why the UK has been successful in exporting financial services – that isn’t changing as a result of Brexit,” he continued. Mr Haji’s comments come after EU commissioner Mairead McGuinness said there was no pressure to reach agreement with the UK on financial services.

City AM Daily Express

ECONOMY NEWS – WEEKEND TO 25TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

UK economy rebounds with demand surging

Private sector activity grew at the fastest rate since November 2013 in April, hitting a reading of 60, according to IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI). This is up from 56.4 in the previous month and above the 58.2 forecast by economists. Service sector business activity rose from 56.3 to 60.1, while manufacturing output was up from 56.6 to 59.1. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said: “Companies are reporting a surge in demand for both goods and services as the economy opens up from lockdowns and the encouraging vaccine rollout adds to a brighter outlook.” Looking forward, Williamson added: “Business activity should continue to grow strongly in May and June as virus restrictions are eased further, setting the scene for a bumper second quarter for the economy.”

Financial Times The Daily Telegraph The Times The Guardian

UK retail sales jump

Data from the ONS show retail sales in Great Britain rose 5.4% in March compared with the previous month – a much stronger reading than the 1.5% forecast by economists. Sales of clothes was particularly strong rising by more than 17% while the easing of travel restrictions towards the end of the month led to an 11% increase in fuel sales. Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said: “It does appear that many people were intent on having an enjoyable Easter break and this likely lifted retail sales later in the month.” Also commenting, Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “Much though these figures will give cheer to the whole sector, retailers will be hoping that these positive signs translate into a sustained return to the physical stores as they reopen across the UK over the course of April. The real test of whether pent-up demand can be turned into actual sales w ill come with next month’s figures.”

Financial Times BBC News The Daily Telegraph The Guardian Daily Mail

Covid response pushes UK borrowing to highest since second world war

Figures from the ONS show UK government borrowing hit £303.1bn in the year ending in March, a jump of £246.1bn on the previous year when the figure was only £57.1bn. The coronavirus pandemic has driven the UK’s total accumulated public debt to £2.14trn, or 97.7% of GDP, the highest level since the early 1960s. As a percentage of national output, borrowing in the year between April 2020 and March 2021 stood at 14.5% – the highest since the financial year ending in March 1946. KPMG senior economist Michal Stelmach said rising debt was a consequence of shielding the economy from COVID-19.

Financial Times, Page: 2 The Daily Telegraph The Times The Times City AM The Guardian Daily Mail Daily Express, Page: 5

SUNDAY

Broadbent forecasts speedy recovery

The deputy governor of the Bank of England predicts “very rapid growth at least over the next couple of quarters” as Britons spend cash accumulated during the pandemic and save less of their forthcoming income. Ben Broadbent is more bullish than most of his Monetary Policy Committee colleagues on whether people will spend their savings but he warns that the year ahead is likely to be bumpy regarding inflation with multiple shifts in demand and supply.

The Sunday Telegraph

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward

NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

US tax plans could prove costly for British businesses

Although UK officials have welcomed moves by the Biden administration to force multinationals to pay more tax, the Treasury is urgently reviewing how the plans might affect UK businesses. The Telegraph reports that there is concern in Whitehall that British companies could end up paying more elsewhere in the world as a result of the proposals, potentially reducing revenues for the Exchequer. Washington’s plans would see a global minimum corporation tax and levies for companies based on the location of their sales. While tax campaigners and the Labour party urge the Chancellor to publicly back the plan – Tax Justice UK estimates the blueprint would bring in an extra £13.5bn a year for the public purse – Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said while a co-ordinated international approach to addressing tax avoidance is preferable to a disjointed nation by nation approach, “significant questions remain on how it would work in practice.” In the FT, DeAnne Julius says Biden’s plans are brave and bold and could save companies a lot of time in tax planning.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 35 Financial Times, Page: 11 The Guardian, Page: 42 The Times, Page: 53

One in ten cheques from HMRC not cashed

HMRC has said that nearly 3.8m cheques sent to taxpayers between 2015 and 2020 have not been deposited in accounts, amounting to a tenth of all tax rebates sent by post over the period. Less than 2% of tax refunds are made by cheque, according to HMRC, which said it pays money into people’s bank accounts directly where possible.

The Times, Page: 57

SUNDAY

Could global tax reform at last be within reach?

Several sources cover news of the Biden administration’s corporation tax proposals with the FT reporting that the political battle lines in the US are being formed with many Republicans on Capitol Hill warning that the changes could harm US multinationals while two of the most influential Democratic lawmakers on tax policy have backed the plans. Elsewhere, the Observer’s business leader argues that the move from Washington has raised hopes of a breakthrough for a global agreement on tax and describes the proposals as a change that could make the world a fairer place and “kill tax havens dead”.

Financial Times The Observer, Page: 56

No IHT for Philip’s bequests, unless you’re a minor royal

The Sunday Times reports that due to a deal struck with former PM John Major bequests from Prince Philip to the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge will be tax-free. However, anything from the Duke of Edinburgh’s estate which is passed to his other children or grandchildren, including his second son, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Sussex, would be taxed at the standard 40%, above the £325,000 threshold. The “sovereign to sovereign” rule was negotiated with the Conservative government in 1993 when the Queen and the Prince of Wales first agreed to pay income tax.

The Sunday Times, Page: 4

CORPORATE NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Suspect Sanjeev Gupta invoices used in Greensill loans raise fraud concerns

Several European metals companies have denied doing business with Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty Commodities, raising questions over invoices purporting sales to the businesses which formed the basis of funding from Greensill Capital. Separately, the collapse of Greensill has led to 440 staff losing their jobs, administrators have revealed. Grant Thornton said 305 redundancies would be made at the firm’s head office in Warrington, with the rest in London.

Financial Times, Page: 1 BBC News

John Lewis chief says no more store closures expected

Pippa Wicks, John Lewis’s chief executive, has insisted there will be no further shop closures, as she defended the partnership’s revival strategy two weeks after shutting eight outlets. The Times cites analysis by PwC which shows nearly 99m sq ft of retail space has closed in the past year while 5,500 out of 30,000 non-essential retail stores remained closed between the three lockdowns and may never reopen.

The Times, Page: 49 The Daily Telegraph

Frasers Group to take £200m Covid hit

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is anticipating a £200m hit due to coronavirus, warning that further restrictions on retail are “almost certain”. Chris Wootton, chief financial officer, said the additional writedown had not been the result of pressure from RSM, its new auditor, and that the decision had not been reviewed by RSM although the group had informed the firm before telling investors.

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 50 City AM The Guardian

Brooks Brothers UK enters administration

The British division of US clothing retailer Brooks Brothers has entered administration, after suffering from a lack of demand for its products as people worked from home. Begbies Traynor has been appointed as the company’s administrators.

City AM

SUNDAY

Italian consortium to bid for National Lottery

The Sunday Telegraph reports that investment firm CVC Capital Partners is backing a bid to run the National Lottery led by portfolio company Sisal, the operator of Italy’s most popular lottery. The bid will be made in conjunction with children’s charity Barnardo’s, which will provide expertise on raising money for good causes in the UK. The Sisal-led consortium is attempting to displace incumbent operator Camelot, which has run the National Lottery since its launch more than a quarter of a century ago. The auction is being run by Rothschild, EY and Hogan Lovells on behalf of the Gambling Commission and is scheduled to culminate this autumn.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 4

Day accused of manipulating Peacocks rescue

The Sunday Times reports on claims that Philip Day engineered the administration of his Peacocks business so it ended up being bought by Steve Simpson, his closest lieutenant. The paper’s Sam Chambers says the deal has ensured the key components of Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group have ended up being controlled by Simpson and that other suiters had no chance, leaving questions for advisers from FRP Advisory and RSM.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 5

SMEs NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

SUNDAY

Scotland’s entrepreneurs need vision and investment

Gillian Bowditch says in the Sunday Times that Scotland’s small businesses need investment from the Scottish government and leadership from Scottish Enterprise – an organisation she says, “has proved to be a bloated and inefficient body that ought to be disbanded.” SMEs are the key to economic growth and instead of dreaming about unicorns, Nicola Sturgeon’s government should recognise that uncertainty over independence makes business leaders nervous and red tape ties up entrepreneurs: what’s needed is “vision, courage and calculated risk” or there is little hope for economic growth.

The Sunday Times

Optimism returns for small businesses

A report from Hitachi Capital shows confidence among small businesses has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with 36% of business owners predicting they will grow during the second quarter, up from just 14% a year ago. The percentage fearing collapse has also fallen from 29% over the past year to 7%.

Sunday Express, Page: 59

FINANCE NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

SUNDAY

Banks prepare to claw back billions in Covid loans

HSBC, NatWest, Barclays and Lloyds have begun writing to businesses warning them that repayments on emergency support loans will soon be expected. Banks have handed out more than £75bn to 1.6m firms under a number of schemes set up by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, and are expected to spend millions on recovery. One senior banker warned that lenders could go in hard to recover debts after a recent court case found banks do not have a duty of care to borrowers who fail to repay.

Daily Mail

PENSIONS NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Pension schemes take legal action over reformulation of inflation measure

Trustees of the Ford, BT and Marks and Spencer pension schemes are seeking a judicial review of the decision to change the calculation of inflation, which they say will leave millions of retirees with lower annual payouts. The Government’s recent decision to align the Retail Prices Index (RPI) with the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) will have “far-reaching implications” which have not been “fully considered” by officials, the trustees argue. The reform is also seen as likely to lead to an increase in scheme funding shortfalls because it reduces the value of RPI-linked assets. This in turn would add pressure on sponsoring employers, the trustees pointed out.

Financial Times Pensions Age Investment & Pensions Europe

SUNDAY

How to get your own £7,000 state pension bonanza

The Telegraph reveals how pensioners were able to recoup thousands of pounds of pension underpayment after reaching out to Sir Steve Webb, the former Pensions Minister. Figures released last week by the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed the average arrears payment for the first time. More than 74,000 married women are to receive up to an average of £23,000 over the next five years, while widowed retirees are owed an average £17,000. Sir Steve, who has led the campaign resulting in thousands of women applying for back payments, said: “While it is good news that some married women will now be contacted and awarded an increased pension as part of the DWP’s exercise, even this group may have to wait up to five years to be put on the right rate.”

The Daily Telegraph

Britons may have to work an extra four years before retirement

Experts have suggested a recent study concluding that the average retirement age has risen from 64 to 66 may be off the mark by four years or more. Neil Moles, CEO of financial advice firm Progeny, says his research indicates “people are expecting to work for up to two years more, however, we could be looking at three, four or more years longer than this for many people.” Moles suggests this is a result of fears over high levels of government debt and future tax hikes, as well as concerns over looking after other family members after they retire.

Sunday Express

PROPERTY NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

House prices expected to continue rising

Figures from Halifax on Friday show house prices rose 1.1% during March, the biggest increase in six months. In annual terms, prices rose 6.5%, the strongest reading in four months and taking the average house price to a record high £254,606, Halifax said. The lender added that it expected the upturn to persist in the next few months as consumer confidence grows on the back of Britain’s swift COVID-19 vaccine rollout. “However, with the economy yet to feel the full effect of its biggest recession in more than 300 years, we remain cautious about the longer-term outlook,” Halifax added.

Daily Mail

Property developer boss says workers must return to the office

Land Securities CEO Mark Allan is urging the Government to change its guidance that states people should continue work from home if they can until June at the earliest. A safe return to the office should be accelerated if we are to see economic activity in Britain’s cities revived, Allan said. His comments come as employers including HSBC, Lloyds, Grant Thornton and PwC have said they will slash office space after the pandemic recedes.

Daily Mail, Page: 91

SUNDAY

NCP’s landlords gear up for battle over restructuring plans

Landlords are fighting back against demands from Japanese-owned car park operator NCP that substantial rent arrears are written off. Sky News reports that a group of landlords is said to be lining up AlixPartners and Hogan Lovells to advise them in a bid to overturn NCP’s proposals. Melanie Leech, the chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “This Restructuring Plan, if approved, will signal to businesses that they can use this new business rescue procedure to simply walk away from debt owed to property-owners […] who represent local authorities and millions of pensioners and savers invested in commercial property, to a business’ shareholders.” NCP, which is being advised by Deloitte, has warned that it is likely to collapse unless the restructuring is implemented.

Sky News

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Furlough fraud cases rocket

The Express reflects on the creation of a taskforce to claw back cash lost to furlough fraud during the pandemic. Official figures from HMRC show reports of furlough themed fraudulent activity have risen to just over 26,000; at the time of the Budget HMRC had 10,000 live inquiries. Iskander Fernandez, Head of White Collar Crime and Investigations at BLM, said of the Chancellor’s £100m funding for the taskforce that it may be considered “a conservative sum given the potential scale of fraud.”

Daily Express

SUNDAY

MPs call for fairness as IR35 changes rolled out

The All Party Parliamentary Loan Charge Group has called for off-payroll reforms currently being rolled out to be re-examined during the passage of the Finance Bill this year. A report from the group stated that: “All ‘inside IR35’ workers should get full rights under all legislation dealing with agency workers, with a clear and transparent right to holiday and sick pay.” The APPG recommended an alignment of tax and employment law to ensure fairness, declaring: “We call on the Government to accept it is unfair for workers who are taxed as employees to be denied the rights and benefits of an employee or recognition in employment law. Anyone who is taxed as an employee should also receive the corresponding benefits; thus, by aligning tax and employment law, certainty for both contractors and hirers will ensue.”

Sunday Express

ECONOMY NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Consumers chomping at the bit

Experts are predicting a spending spree next week as shops reopen on what is being dubbed as “Bounceback Monday”. Analysts predict £4.5bn could be spent in the first seven days of post-lockdown shopping with Lisa Hooker, head of consumer markets at PwC, saying: “You will see a big bang, particularly if the weather is good. There is enormous pent-up demand. Retailers were quite cautious when we came out of lockdown last year but this time there is far more excitement.”

Daily Mail, Page: 43

Trade with France returns to pre-Brexit levels

March saw trade between the UK and France return to pre-Brexit levels raising hopes of a swift recovery as businesses get to grips with customs arrangements. Analysis by French customs officials shows imports from Britain climbed to 107% of typical levels after taking Covid effects into account, the research found – with exports back at 96%.German figures for February also showed improvement with the sharp slump witnessed in January shrinking markedly. However, trade experts said Anglo-German trade is still struggling badly with exporters hit particularly hard.

The Daily Telegraph

SUNDAY

Take care of emerging markets, your future depends on it

The International Monetary Fund warned last week that the multi-speed recovery from the pandemic was leaving developing nations behind. The worst-hit countries will be emerging Asian economies which could suffer a near-8% loss in GDP by 2024 compared to pre-Covid projections. The US, by comparison, will be larger by 2024 than it would have been if Covid had never hit. “Last year, everyone spent like crazy, it was a big widening of fiscal deficits everywhere in advanced economies and in emerging markets,” explains Marcelo Carvalho, head of global emerging markets research at BNP Paribas. “The difference is the room for manoeuvre; the fiscal space is more limited for emerging markets. In advanced economies, you can print your own hard currency, it’s not the case for emerging markets.” The Telegraph’s Tom Rees concludes: “Advanced economies could soon put Covid in the rear-view mirror but for many poorer countries a longer, rougher road to recovery lies ahead.”

The Sunday Telegraph

INTERNATIONAL NEWS – WEEKEND TO 11TH APRIL 2021

SATURDAY

Wall Street investors look warily at gathering tax ‘storm’

While many laud President Joe Biden’s corporation tax plans, analysts are warning they pose a serious risk to profit margins for US companies and could derail hiring plans. As if to illustrate the point, the Times reports on an exodus of millionaires from New York to Florida and Texas as tax rises threaten a drastic reduction in the city’s tax receipts.

Financial Times, Page: 17 The Times, Page: 44

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward

NEWS – TUESDAY 30TH MARCH 2021

NEWS – TUESDAY 30TH MARCH 2021

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – TUESDAY 30TH MARCH 2021

US threatens tariffs on UK goods over digital services tax

The United States has threatened the UK with tariffs of up to 25% on a slew of goods in retaliation for the digital services tax. Brought in last April it levies at 2% the revenues of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. Ceramics, make-up, overcoats, games consoles and furniture could all be hit, according to a list published by the Biden administration. A UK Government spokesperson said: “Like many countries around the world, we want to make sure tech firms pay their fair share of tax. Our digital services tax is reasonable, proportionate and non-discriminatory. It’s also temporary.” The FT reports that the UK international trade secretary, Liz Truss, has told the Biden administration to “desist” from its threat and instead engage in international efforts to agree a “fair” way to tax multinational tech companies.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2 Financial Times The Guardian Daily Mail The Times, Page: 34 The I, Page: 4

Further tax changes expected

Industry experts speculate on the possible tax changes that Chancellor Rishi Sunak could announce in the Autumn Budget. Eddie Grant, a Director at St. James’s Place, comments: “The Government has over the year commissioned a series of consultations so there was an expectation they would be the focus of the Tax Day announcements, in particular Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax, but there was only minor changes. There were no announcements about pension tax relief despite it being widely speculated and no changes to Capital Gains Tax. Could these be planned for the Autumn Budget when we get the detail?”

Daily Express

Isle of Man offers tax cuts to lure new residents

New residents are being encouraged to move to the Isle of Man and buy property amid a skills shortage in the economy. The island’s campaign is highlighting no inheritance tax, no stamp duty, no masks and no social distancing as some of the perks to entice prospective residents.

The Daily Telegraph

FINANCE NEWS – TUESDAY 30TH MARCH 2021

UK bank lending leapt by £29.3bn since March

A new study by UHY Hacker Young shows UK banks have lent around £29.3bn more to businesses over the past year – a rise of 8% since the start of the pandemic. This compares with a 5.3% jump in lending in the EU on average. UK bank lending also surpassed Germany (7%) and Spain (3%). “We may have underperformed in some areas in our response to Covid but in terms of getting finance to businesses, this is an area where the UK has been a leader,” managing director of UHY Hacker Young Corporate Finance, Robert Kidson, said. “The economic impact of the pandemic and the disruption to businesses cash flows has lasted longer than anyone expected…there is little certainty on when businesses can return to ‘normal’ operating levels, the UK needs to provide as much support as possible to ensure businesses stay afloat until then.”

City AM

SMEs NEWS – TUESDAY 30TH MARCH 2021

SMEs plan to increase investment in the year ahead

A report from Virgin Money reveals the annual growth rate in the number of registered companies in the UK surged to a record 8.3% in Q4 2020. More than a quarter of SMEs plan to invest more in their businesses in the year ahead than during a typical pre-pandemic year – with 35% intending to invest £10,000 to £10m this year, a rise on 32% from 2020. However, only one in five SMEs expect to be able to keep all furloughed employees after the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with over 50% of small firms currently employing staff on furlough. Group business director at Virgin Money, Gavin Opperman, commented: “While there are undoubtedly significant challenges ahead, many businesses remain optimistic and intend to invest for the future as the economy recovers.”

The Scotsman City AM

SMEs need help to drive productivity up

Researchers at NatWest have determined that boosting productivity among SMEs could add £140bn to the economy by 2030 – the equivalent of an extra 3.2m jobs. Figures show SME productivity in Britain lags the US by 17% and Germany by 12%. Andrew Harrison, NatWest head of business banking, said: “Support needs to be more closely tailored to their specific needs.”

The Times, Page: 40

PROPERTY NEWS – TUESDAY 30TH MARCH 2021

Stamp duty holiday drives mortgage lending to five-year high

New Bank of England data show that the stamp duty holiday extension spurred home buyers to borrow £6.2bn last month – a five-year high for mortgage lending. Some 87,700 mortgages were approved in February, down from more than 100,000 in November and December, but still one of the highest numbers since 2007. “We suspect that mortgage lending will remain high this year given the extension to the stamp duty holiday and the strength of the survey data,” said Andrew Wishart at Capital Economics. “As a result, mortgage approvals for house purchase are likely to reach their highest level since 2007 this year.”

The Daily Telegraph City AM

PENSIONS NEWS – TUESDAY 30TH MARCH 2021

Defined contributions increase in Q4 2020

New ONS data reveals defined contribution (DC) pension contributions have returned to pre-COVID levels, with employee contributions up 12% in the three months to September 2020 to £1.8bn. Employer contributions to DC schemes jumped 7% to £4bn in the third quarter of 2020, up from £3.7bn in the previous quarter. AJ Bell’s Tom Selby said: “It is hugely encouraging that, after a dip in both employee and employer pension contributions at the start of the pandemic, the amount savers are saving for retirement has quickly bounced back.”

Corporate Adviser Pensions Age European Pensions Money Age

CORPORATE NEWS – TUESDAY 30TH MARCH 2021

Shell director’s pay could be linked to climate action

Shell has suggested that its director’s pay could be linked to the group’s climate performance, following a similar announcement from BP last week when its shareholders were told to vote against a climate resolution that would demand the firm’s decarbonisation plans are aligned more closely with the 2015 Paris agreement. This comes ahead of a Shell shareholder vote on the issue in May.

City AM

ECONOMY NEWS – TUESDAY 30TH MARCH 2021

Optimism about household finances rises

The Scottish Widows Household Finance Index rose from 41.1 to 42 in the first three months of the year, encouraged by the success of the vaccination programme and the “road map” out of lockdown. The survey, conducted with IHS Markit, found people are feeling the most secure in their jobs since the start of the pandemic and have paid off debts at the fastest rate in more than a decade.

The Times

OTHER

Council work defended by auditor

Grant Thornton ’s audit work on Liverpool Council has been defended by the firm. After Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Makinson said last week: “The taxpayers of Liverpool have been paying £191,000 to Grant Thornton to provide assurances that the city’s accounts are in order. While you’ve not been able to fully certify them… you have repeatedly provided value for money assurances and various concerns raised by opposition councillors have been rather dismissed by yourselves.” The company’s director Andrew Smith responded: “We are confident in the work we’ve done in those areas… There are very serious best value issues in there but there is a limit to what we can do around that in terms of the requirements of the value for money work.”

City AM

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward

NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

Billionaires aren’t just rich people, they’re policy failures

The Guardian’s Arwa Mahdawi discusses a report from Oxfam which reveals the combined wealth of the world’s 10 richest men has increased by $540bn since the start of the pandemic. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos saw his wealth increase by $13bn in one day last July – a record for the largest single-day increase in individual wealth ever recorded. The report on inequality comes as a growing number of countries discus wealth taxes as their assets drain away on funding pandemic rescue plans. Oxfam’s report will be harder to ignore this year, writes Mahdawi, who goes on to say that millionaires should be asked to pay their fair share via a more progressive tax system while billionaires shouldn’t exist at all: “Billionaires aren’t just super-rich people, they’re policy failures. A system in which 10 men can see their collective wealth increase by half a trillion during a global crisis can’t be fixed with a one-off wealth tax – we need greed taxes that prevent people amassing that much in the first place.”

The Guardian, Page: 3

UK government plans post-Brexit reform of investment industry

Tax reforms and innovative fund structures could be used to strengthen the competitiveness of the UK’s £9.9tn asset management industry, according to a consultation document published by the Treasury.

Financial Times

SMEs NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

Small firms struggling with Brexit VAT rules

The Federation of Small Businesses has said that its members are facing “significant issues” as a result of leaving the EU VAT area, with one tax advisory firm noting that it was receiving up to 200 calls a week from worried companies. Selwyn Stein, managing director of VAT IT, a firm that helps reclaim the sales tax, comments: “They are calling us in a panic because their goods have been stopped and they don’t know what to do. They have become fearful about trading so are stopping shipments until they have a resolution.” A Cabinet Office spokesperson said help was available via a dedicated HMRC phone line and online. “Now the UK has left the EU customs union and single market, there are new rules and processes businesses will need to follow,” they said.

The Guardian

Lockdowns threaten a cascade of collapses

Begbies Traynor ‘s Real Business Rescue reports a near 80,000 rise in firms in distress in the fourth quarter of 2020, a 15% jump and a large share of the total 118,000 increase since the pandemic struck. Now almost 600,000 small businesses are on the brink as industry leaders call on the Chancellor to take action at the Budget. Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “More than two thirds of small firms are now carrying some form of debt, with 40% of these saying the debt is now unmanageable.” Nikola Dacic, economist at Goldman Sachs, warned that “recent data shows emerging signs of tighter credit for SMEs and rising insolvency risks”.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4 The Guardian, Page: 31

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

Unemployment rate hits five-year high

The UK unemployment rate rose to 5.0% of the economically active population in the last quarter, spurred on by a record rise in redundancies. The new figures from the Office of National Statistics for the three months to the end of November showed an extra 202,000 unemployed, taking the jobless total to 1.72m, taking the unemployment rate to 5% for the first time since 2016. Redundancies rose 168,000 to a record high of 395,000. The hospitality industry was worst hit by the rise in joblessness, followed by manufacturing. In both sectors, the number of people unemployed was up by more than 50,000 on the previous year. Across all age groups, redundancies rose to a record high of 14.2 per 1,000 people. ONS deputy chief executive Sam Beckett told the BBC that the UK had not seen such rises in unemployment since the global financial crisis. Employment was still at “relatively high levels” compared with other countries, Ms Beckett said, but workers aged 16 to 24 were suffering some of the biggest falls in employment. However, she added: “We’ve currently got over 4.5m people on the furlough scheme, so that does complicate the picture when you’re trying to interpret what’s going on in the labour market”.

BBC News The Daily Telegraph City AM

CORPORATE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

Arcadia collapsed with £750m debt

Filings by Arcadia’s administrator Deloitte reveal that Sir Philip Green’s retail empire fell into administration owing its creditors £750m. According to analysis sent to creditors and seen by The Telegraph, Topshop and Topman had gross liabilities of more than £550m, while discount brand Outfit owed £80m. Creditors to Topshop and Topman are currently owed £82.2m, with overseas suppliers and property owners hit the hardest. At least 22 firms are owed between £1m to £3m each, including Savills and the owner of Westfield White City, the shopping centre. However, the listing “does not capture” unsecured amounts owed to the Arcadia retirement fund and unpaid VAT due to HM Revenue and Customs.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 The Sun, Page: 43 The Times, Page: 34

Paperchase sold in pre-pack rescue deal

Stationary chain Paperchase is to be sold in a pre-pack rescue deal to a lender connected with Permira, saving about 1,000 jobs. PwC is understood to be acting as administrator-in-waiting to the chain.

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 35

FINANCE NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

Angel CoFund announces rebrand, launches new £30m fund

Angel CoFund has rebranded as ACF Investors, making the announcement alongside the launch of a new £30m fund for early-stage UK businesses. The “fast-track” Delta Fund will see ACF Investors invest alongside at least three angel investors who are new to the business, including at least one lead angel with “demonstrable sector expertise” who has committed more than £70,000 to the round. Managing partner Tim Mills said the fund had been driven primarily by the reduced supply of capital at the earlier stages. “There’s more capital than perhaps there has ever been, but most of that’s weighted to the later stages…we’ve seen a big drop off in angel activity”, he explained, adding that with the size of funding rounds reaching record levels, there is a “greater inclination to pile into companies that are already well funded”.

City AM

REGULATION NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

UK to start talks with Switzerland on financial services deal

Rishi Sunak will today start formal talks with his Swiss counterpart in an attempt to broker a new post-Brexit financial services agreement for the UK. The Treasury said the talks would see the two sides try to deliver “a comprehensive mutual recognition agreement that would reduce costs and barriers for UK firms accessing the Swiss market” and vice versa. The talks are expected to cover a wide range of areas, including banking, insurance, asset management and capital markets. Mr Sunak said: “Our ambition is to deliver one of the most comprehensive agreements of its kind in financial services as part of our plan to seize new opportunities in the global economy now we have left the EU.”

City AM

PROPERTY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

Sellers deterred by end of stamp duty holiday

The supply of homes for sale has dropped sharply, according to property website Zoopla, driven by the ongoing lockdown and the looming end to the stamp duty holiday. The overall volume of homes for sale on Jan 17 was 6.4% lower than the same day in 2020. Meanwhile, Parliament has announced that a stamp duty extension would be debated by MPs on Feb 1st, after more than 100,000 people signed an online petition.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

PENSIONS NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

Annuity rates fall to new low

Annuity rates hit record lows in 2020 continuing a trend of deterioration that has seen the guaranteed source of income lose value in five out of the past six years. Rates fell 6.4% in the 12 months since January 2020, according to Moneyfacts. This meant the average basic “single-life” annuity for someone aged 65 now only pays £4,590 a year from a £100,000 pot. Nathan Long of Hargreaves Lansdown said: “With rates remaining so low, it requires quite a lot of courage to buy an annuity using your entire pension.”

The Daily Telegraph

UK business rescues threatened by fears over pension regulator’s new powers

Uncertainty among professional advisers over how the Pensions Regulator will exercise new powers to punish individuals who damage company pension schemes could scupper business rescue deals, experts have warned.

Financial Times

ECONOMY NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

IMF downgrades UK growth forecast for 2021

The IMF has downgraded its forecast for UK growth to 4.5% this year, compared to the 5.9% it anticipated in October. The IMF predicts improved growth of 5% for 2022. Eurozone countries have also been downgraded and will collectively register 4.2% growth this year, after a 7.2% fall. Globally, output shrank 3.5% in 2020, the worst year since World War II, but the IMF suggested it will expand 5.5% this year – more than the 5.2% previously pencilled in.

Daily Mail

OTHER NEWS – WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2021

Accountant stole £100,00 for kitchen and bitcoin

Accountant Jane Myhill is facing jail after stealing £100,000 from a nursery and spending it on a new kitchen and bitcoin. Myhill siphoned the funds from two top-rated daycare nurseries while her employer, Alice Bennett, was being treated for breast cancer.

The Times, Page: 13

Contact Paul Southward, [Tax Consultant]

Paul Southward

NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Lords criticise ‘flawed’ plan to give HMRC extra tax powers

The Lords Economics Affairs Committee says proposed powers allowing HMRC to force financial institutions to divulge information about people’s assets without court approval are “flawed”, voicing concern over the removal of taxpayer safeguards. The measures, to be included in the 2021 Finance Bill, are “poorly targeted, disproportionate and lacking necessary safeguards”, the committee said. Meanwhile, the committee welcomed plans to give HMRC tougher powers to go after promoters of tax avoidance schemes.

The Times, Page: 10 Financial Times

HMRC urged to delay self- assessment deadline

Industry groups including ICAEW have urged HMRC to push back the self-assessment tax return deadline, saying people may require more time to file their accounts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Financial Times, Money, Page: 3

Advisers suggest sacrifice salary for tax break on broadband

A government advisory group has suggested that employees should be offered a salary sacrifice scheme that lets them buy ultra-fast broadband in exchange for tax breaks. An interim report from the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group says voucher schemes or salary sacrifice schemes would boost the uptake of faster broadband.

The Daily Telegraph

SUNDAY

Opinion: Tax higher earners more as cuts do not trickle down

The Observer’s Business leader column says pressure is building on the Chancellor to tax City financiers and business owners, saying studies suggest nations that follow a tax-cutting agenda “do nothing for the underlying strength of their economies”. It cites London School of Economics analysis of fiscal policies in 18 countries over 50 years which concludes that tax cuts for the rich “have never trickled down” and tend only to benefit those who are directly affected, boosting the finances of higher earners, increasing inequality and doing little to stimulate investment. The piece says higher taxes will help address concern over executive pay, arguing that increases cause no harm, “except to the bank balances of those they target.”

The Observer, Page: 68

MONDAY

Permanent stamp duty cut could deliver £139m tax boost

Research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) suggests a permanent increase in the stamp duty threshold to £500,000 could reap £139m of extra tax receipts a year. The study, for lender Kensington Mortgages, says such a move would stimulate more transactions and increase house prices. The Chancellor earlier this year announced a stamp duty holiday on house purchases of up to £500,000 until the end of March next year in a bid to boost the sector amid the coronavirus outbreak. Property consultancy Savills estimates that the move resulted in £550m of lost receipts to the Treasury in the quarter to the end of September.

The Times, Page: 38

Wealth levy goes against principle of fair tax

The Mail’s Ruth Sutherland questions calls for targeting wealth with taxation as a means to rebalancing the nation’s finances after the economic hit of the coronavirus crisis. She says the suggestion that the rich can foot the bill is a “superficially attractive but dangerous idea.” She argues that hiking capital gains tax rates would deter entrepreneurs and investors, while tax benefits on retirement pots “have already been whittled away”. Ms Sutherland says a one-off wealth tax of 5% on net assets above £500,000 is “by far the worst proposal.” A wealth tax, she says, would be retrospective, “which goes against a basic principle of a fair tax regime”.

Daily Mail, Page: 66

UK firms face £34bn VAT bill after Brexit

British companies will face a £34bn tax bill for transporting goods around Europe after the Brexit transition period ends, tax firm VAT IT has said. It warns that thousands of UK businesses are “unprepared” for VAT laws in European countries once the country leaves the EU next month, noting that rates range from 20% to 27%. Selwyn Stein, managing director of the firm, said it is “clear this is something a lot of business just aren’t prepared for”.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 30 Daily Express, Page: 43 The I

CORPORATE NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Next in line for Arcadia

Retailer Next is in talks with asset management firm Davidson Kempner Capital Management about joining forces and financing a bid for Arcadia, the collapsed retail group which includes Topshop, Topman, Burton and Miss Selfridge. With Deloitte, which is running the sales process, setting Monday as the deadline for first round bids for Arcadia, Next has just two days to agree the tie-up. CEO Lord Wolfson is also reportedly holding talks with rival financial backers including Carlyle and Alteri. Other potential bidders include Boohoo, Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, Barney’s owner Authentic Brands and Shein, a Chinese fast-fashion firm. Documents circulated to potential bidders by Deloitte show that Arcadia’s revenues came in at £829m for the year to September 2019, compared with £846m the year before.

The Times, Page: 51 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 33 Financial Times, Page: 13 Daily Mail, Page: 90

Administrators warn of ‘vexatious’ LCF claims

Smith & Williamson administrators trying to recover money invested into collapsed mini-bond firm London Capital & Finance (LCF) say they have been dealing “with over a dozen spurious, we would say vexatious, legal challenges” involving parties linked to LCF and London Oil & Gas, a closely tied company that is also in administration. The administrators, who last year warned investors that they had identified “a number of highly suspicious transactions” involving their money, are also suing 13 people and two companies linked to LCF in an attempt to recover £178m.

The Times, Page: 52

Mayday in focus

The Mail’s Neil Tweedie looks at Mayday Rescue, a project which trained and equipped civilian rescue teams in Syria’s civil war. He details allegations over financial issues that have been suggested drove founder James Le Mesurier to suicide, noting that a forensic audit by Grant Thornton was commissioned following his death. An anonymous official who has seen the report says it shows claims made by CIO Johan Eleveld are unsubstantiated.

Daily Mail, Page: 52

SUNDAY

MPs tell HMRC to name companies using furlough scheme

Ministers have been told to reveal the names of companies that took furlough money, with the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) saying HMRC should publish a list of all businesses that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Ministers have also been urged to outline plans to recover furlough funds from companies that have performed well despite the pandemic. PAC chairwoman Meg Hillier said: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant – if a company has got nothing to hide, it should not be worried about its name being made public”, adding: “Profiteering from the taxpayer is not acceptable.” The Sunday Times notes that BDO U-turned on a decision to keep the £4.1m it had received under the furlough scheme, with this coming on the back of criticism of £500,000-per-partner payments.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1

EOT appeal rises on CGT speculation

A Freedom of Information request by Price Bailey shows that record numbers of employees are being handed ownership of the businesses they work for as owners seek ways to mitigate tax liabilities, with HMRC seeing a five-fold increase in employee ownership trusts ( EOT) it approved in the last three years. Under EOTs, employees pay nothing to own the business, with owners paid from existing assets and future profits of the company, via the trust, with no capital gains tax to pay on the sale. With speculation that CG T could be increased to help foot the Treasury’s coronavirus bill, Price Bailey says E OTs have become more attractive for business owners planning their succession.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 12

Ashley eyes empty Debenhams stores

The Mail on Sunday says Frasers Group owner Mike Ashley is considering moving his brands into empty Debenhams stores as part of a deal to acquire the company, prompting concern that a full rescue of Debenhams is becoming increasingly unlikely. Debenhams, which is being run by administrators at FRP, is running a sale to clear stock as it prepares to close stores if a deal is not struck.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 123

Critical RICS report not shared

The Sunday Times gives details of a 2018 report by BDO which criticised management of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), with the analysis making headlines last week after it was reported that four non-executive directors had been dismissed for trying to raise the alarm over its findings. The BDO report, which went to four people including then finance director Andrew McManus, gave the lowest possible “no assurance” rating for the effectiveness of the RICS’s controls. Of the six areas it assessed, it flagged four as “high priority”.

The Sunday Times, Page: 10

Struggling restaurant chains on the menu for investors

Sabah Meddings in the Sunday Times says Boparan Restaurant Group’s £6m purchase of Gourmet Burger Kitchen – which was worth £120m in 2016 – is one of several cut-price deals struck recently by opportunistic investors looking for bargains amid a crisis for casual dining chains. Ms Meddings says there is concern in some quarters that allowing weak brands to “limp on” under new owners could ultimately harm the high street. Will Wright of KPMG comments: “There are great opportunities out there, and plenty of buyers for good businesses. The challenge is sorting the wheat from the chaff.”

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 2

Issa brothers target Nero

EG Group, led by Mohsin and Zuber Issa, has offered to fund a legal challenge for landlords against Caffè Nero, with the brothers looking to derail the coffee chain’s CVA and take control of the firm. As part of the CVA, which is being run by KPMG, landlords face losing most of their outstanding rent and EG is promising to pay them in full.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1

Sir Stelios set to ground easyJet plans?

A look ahead to easyJet’s AGM points to speculation that the airline may have to go to shareholders to raise more capital, a move the Mail on Sunday’s Alex Lawson says could stoke the ire of founder and biggest investor Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Sources tell Mr Lawson that Sir Stelios is set to vote against a string of proposals including reappointing its directors and its auditors PwC.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 124

MONDAY

Business confidence climbs

UK business confidence has risen by the biggest month-on-month total in more than four years, climbing 17 percentage points to -4% in December, according to the Lloyds Bank Business Barometer. The reading is the highest since March, when the economy had yet to see the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Corporate optimism increased, driven by a more upbeat outlook for the wider economy, confidence in which rose 23 points to -5%. Confidence in trading prospects climbed 11 points to -3%. The Lloyds report also shows that 32% of the 1,200 firms surveyed expect to cut staff next year, while 22% plan to increase numbers. Lloyds economist Hann-Ju Ho said: “The news of the vaccine progress has bolstered this month’s confidence figures, more than offsetting uncertainties around the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU.”

The Times Reuters

Bidders show interest in Arcadia

Administrators at Deloitte are believed to have received around 30 expressions of interest ahead of today’s deadline for bids for collapsed retail group Arcadia. Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group and fashion chains Next and Boohoo are said to be among potential bidders for Sir Philip Green’s retail empire, which owns brands including Topshop, Burton and Miss Selfridge.

Daily Mail, Page: 66

BUSINESS RATES NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

MONDAY

Retailers call for more rates relief

Retail bosses have urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the business rates holiday, warning that the latest round of coronavirus restrictions which have forced the closure of non-essential retailers in London, the South East and the east of England could hit the sector and put jobs at risk. A holiday on business rates was announced earlier in the year, with the measure designed to support firms hit by the coronavirus crisis set to come to an end in April. Property adviser Altus Group estimates that ending the business rates holiday will cost companies £12.8bn next year. Calling for fresh support, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The Government needs to be a little bit more sophisticated in how business rates relief is targeted going forward to those that have been impacted the most.”

The Daily Telegraph

INDUSTRY NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Concern over CCP links

The Telegraph considers reports revealing that many Western firms are employing hundreds of members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with the paper suggesting KPMG, PwC, EY and Deloitte are “jam-packed with CCP members”. The piece suggests there may be concerns over the firms, which are leading suppliers to the UK Government, having ties with the CCP, an organisation it says holds “a monopoly on power, information and wealth.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 21

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Location hits hiring, say SME leaders

Research from freelance service provider AnyTask suggests that businesses are having to employ workers who are unsuitable for roles simply due to their location. A poll of 500 SME leaders saw 84% say they have given someone a job despite them not being the ideal candidate, with 58% saying their location had restricted the applicants available. The SME leaders said hiring the right staff was their biggest challenge, followed by keeping up with changing rules and regulations. A fifth said they struggled to find time to deal with HR issues, while the same proportion have had issues with inconsistent quality of work from staff. Just under 70% said an inconsistent order book means permanent, full-time staff sometimes don’t have much work to do, with 57% saying outsourcing work to freelancers makes financial sense. Cash flow was a concern when hiring staff for 64% of bosses.

Daily Mirror

SUNDAY

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

SUNDAY

Employers back ethnicity pay gap disclosure rule

A leaked report seen by BBC News shows that three quarters of employers believe large firms should be forced to release data on the pay gap between staff of different ethnicities. The findings stem from a consultation exercise on ethnicity pay gap reporting launched in 2018. Of the 321 responses to the consultation, 73% supported compulsory ethnicity pay gap reporting for organisations with more than 250 staff – an obligation similar to one already in place which covers gender pay gaps. BBC News notes that a group of 30 business leaders wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in October, calling for the mandatory duty to be introduced. CBI president Lord Karan Bilimoria told BBC News that members want to disclose their ethnicity pay gap “because they know this is such an important issue” “If they address this issue, they will have companies that are more diverse, more inclusive, more profitable, more innovative,” he added.

BBC News

FINANCIAL SERVICES NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

SUNDAY

Understanding equivalence

The Sunday Times’ Jill Treanor offers a bluffer’s guide to equivalence, saying that it has become the City’s new buzzword having become a sticking point in trade talks. Peter Bevan of law firm Linklaters says equivalence is “mitigating the effect of hard Brexit on the ability of firms to access the EU single market”, with Ms Treanor offering that this makes it a “way of smoothing financial firms’ trading with the bloc” post-Brexit. She says financiers have been exploring ways to maintain access to the EU, including relocating, with EY analysis suggesting 7,500 UK staff have been switched to EU offices. Andrew Gray of PwC says the longer a lack of engagement on equivalence continues, “the more firms will adjust – and the less valuable it will be.”

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 5

PROPERTY NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

SUNDAY

Average house price climbs £13k in 2021

Analysis from Halifax shows that the average UK house price climbed by £13,316 in 2020. The report shows that the average UK home was valued at £239,927 at the start of 2020, fell towards £237,00 after the first national lockdown and then jumped to £253,243 by the end of last month, with the stamp duty holiday driving activity. The increase in prices record between the end of June and the end of November marks the fastest five-month jump since 2004.

The Observer

Third of buyers would pull out if they missed stamp duty deadline

A survey has revealed that 31% of home buyers would abandon their purchase if they missed the March 31 deadline for taking advantage of the Government’s stamp duty holiday. The survey, from the Guild of Property Professionals, asked 1,000 people who were currently in the process of buying a home whether they would continue with their purchase if the sale did not complete before the deadline.

The Mail on Sunday

MONDAY

Extra £62bn of housing sales agreed this year

A post-lockdown surge in activity has contributed to an increase in property sales in 2020, with analysis from Zoopla showing an extra £62bn has been spent on homes this year. The property platform estimates that overall sales have increased from about £238bn in value in 2019 to £300bn this year, with increased demand driven by the stamp duty holiday for homes under £500,000.

Daily Mail

ECONOMY NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Retail sales down in November

Retail sales fell in November, with the first decline in six months coming on the back of the closure of non-essential shops amid England’s second national lockdown. Office for National Statistics (ONS) data show that sales were down 3.8% last month when compared to October. Food and household goods were the only sectors that saw sales growth in November, with respective increases of 3.1% and 1.6%, while clothing sales were hit hardest, falling 19%. Despite the month-on-month decline, sales were up 2.4% on November 2019. Year-on-year, online sales were up 74.6% on November 2019, while sales made online accounted for 31.4% of retail sales last month – up from a 28.6% market share in October. Silvia Rindone of EY says the impact of the November lockdown is clear, with consumers continuing to shop more online. “Physical shops are hoping to catch up on trading in the remaining festive period&rd quo;, she adds. She suggests that with many retailers “under acute pressure”, they need to evolve to meet “seemingly permanent changes in consumer habits.”

Daily Mail The Guardian The Independent City AM BBC News

SUNDAY

Former LSE chief in debt warning

Xavier Rolet, former boss of the London Stock Exchange, has warned that companies are now “so awash with debt that central banks simply can’t control it”, saying that this poses a major risk to the long-term economic recovery. He believes the issue could see ministers come under pressure to consider debt cancellation programmes. Arguing that governments would have to cancel their own debts and that of individuals before turning attention to company loans, Mr Rolet said: “It’s going to be very difficult for any government to tell their taxpayers they should essentially support the cancellation of debt of companies that have borrowed in order to increase their profits”. TheCityUK estimates the total amount of unsustainable debt taken on by British businesses at around £70bn. Richard Peberdy of KPMG said the level of unsustainable debt is a “massive issue for the economy”, adding: “This is not the sort of base that we hoped to spring into post-Brexit”.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 121

Inflation expectations

Philip Inman in the Observer looks at what path inflation may take in 2021, noting that it has fallen toward zero as 2020 nears its end, hitting 0.3% in November. He says some commentators have warned that prices may jump as the economy “overheats” post-pandemic and post-Brexit. He questions the concern, noting that the economy is set to be around 10% smaller at the end of the year than it was at the beginning, with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) not expecting it to recover its previous peak until the end of 2022. The OB R foresees economic growth of 5.5% in 2021 and 6.6% in 2022. This, Mr Inman, argues, seems “electrifying” compared with the annual expansion of 1% to 2% seen over the past 10 years, but it is “playing catch-up and no more”. He also says that without wage increases “there can be no boom”, at least not a sustainable one.

The Observer

MONDAY

Analysts expect November borrowing to hit £31bn

With the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week set to disclose the scale of Government borrowing in November, economists expect economic support rolled out to deal with tightened coronavirus restrictions will have driven up borrowing. Analysts at Investec forecast that public sector net borrowing will hit £31.4bn for November, about £26bn higher than the same month last year and up on October’s £22.3bn. In the current financial year, borrowing has increased by an average of £24.2bn compared with the corresponding month in the previous year. If this pace continues, the UK’s deficit would reach £346bn over 2020/21. Investec analysts expect Chancellor Rishi Sunak to address concerns over fiscal sustainability with “a selected rise in taxes at some stage”.

The I, Page: 46

Report warns of economic hit from Brexit

Analysis suggests that no part of the UK economy will be immune from a financial hit from the UK’s exit from the EU, with a sector-by-sector analysis of the impact of Brexit from Blick Rothenberg revealing significant problems for many sectors, with or without a trade deal. The analysis suggests the automotive, construction, food and drink and hospitality industries will be hardest hit, with products, raw materials and skilled workers in short supply in early 2021 at least, with higher costs likely to be passed on to consumers. The financial services industry will lose some access to EU markets for certain products, the report warns. Alex Altmann, head of Blick Rothenberg’s Brexit advisory group, says that while many industries face an “extremely difficult” time in 2021 as they recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, “Brexit will compound the problems for many sectors”.

The I

OTHER NEWS – 3 DAYS TO MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

How can I get money back from a friend facing bankruptcy?

BDO ’s Jon Claypole offers advice to an FT reader concerned about losing money owed to them by someone who may be declared bankrupt in a tax dispute.

Financial Times, Money, Page: 10

SUNDAY

Gamblers turn to black market sites

Analysis by PwC shows that 200,000 Britons have tried black market online gambling, staking a combined £1.4bn on unregulated sites in the last 12 months. The report shows that nearly one in ten gambling search results were for black market sites.

The Sun

Mum’s game to boost well-being

With a report suggesting that video games can improve well-being, the Sunday Telegraph’s Anna Maxted reflects on efforts to play computer games with her sons. She notes PwC research showing that, bar a few exceptions, children’s most wanted gifts this Christmas are technology-based, with games consoles, phones or tablets among the most-desired items.

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 19

MONDAY

Teaching learns to attract talent

The Independent profiles Brett Wigdortz, founder of Teach First, who details how he used the same principles businesses use to attract and retain talent to attract talented graduates to teaching. Describing it as the “war for talent”, he muses: “Deloitte does it, Microsoft does it, why not teaching?”

The Independent, Page: 44

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward

NEWS – FRIDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2020

NEWS – FRIDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

COVID-19 SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS

CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME EXTENDED TO END OF APRIL 2021

CJRS-extension.pdf

TAX NEWS – FRIDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2020

HMRC defends tax debt enforcement

Mary Aiston, HMRC’s director of counter-avoidance, has defended enforcement tactics utilised by the Revenue, telling a House of Lords committee that it has acted “in the most sensitive way” when handling tax debts. This came after a Times investigation uncovered examples of aggressive tactics, with people struggling due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic threatened with repossessions and accused of “deliberately” choosing not to repay tax debts. Viscount Chandos, a member of the House of Lords economic affairs finance bill sub-committee and chairman of the credit services association, asked Ms Aiston about the reports. She said early in the pandemic the Revenue had “pulled back from a huge amount of our debt collection” before restarting it “in as sensitive and data-led way as we can”. She added that the fact a “very, very high percentage quid pro quo; of payment terms reached with people are successful shows HMRC does “take a lot of care to reflect people’s personal circumstances and the sensitivity of being in tax debt”.

The Times, Page: 24

Hard to sell an online retail tax?

The Telegraph’s Ryan Bourne considers the implications of an online sales tax, with a poll showing that 56% of people believe web retailers should be taxed more to help drive down national debt. He suggests that the public will be less keen on an online sales tax once they are aware it will mean prices rise. He also argues that while some within government have suggested such a levy is needed, to “use taxes to try to prevent new business forms acquiring market share is especially damaging when consumers’ preferences are shifting sharply towards them.” Mr Bourne notes that proponents of an online sales tax say it will level the playing field between online and physical retailers, with the latter burdened more heavily by business rates. However, he argues that business practices designed to avoid the high fixed costs associated with inner-city rents and rates are “afforded to all retailer s”.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2

Windfall tax could balance the books

Leo McKinstry in the Express says that large tech firms which have seen a “dramatic surge” in revenues during the coronavirus crisis should be the target of a windfall tax. He argues that such a move would boost public finances which “have been battered by the pandemic”, noting that national debt now exceeds £2trn while annual borrowing could reach £400bn this year. Mr McKinstry notes that some experts say a wealth tax on assets over £500,000 or a rise in corporation tax could help balance the books but warns that such levies could prove counter-productive by undermining enterprise. They are, he says, blunt instruments, whereas a windfall tax is a “precision weapon”.

Daily Express

The pandemic is an opportunity to simplify UK tax rules

BDO ’s Paul Falvey believes the coronavirus pandemic presents HMRC the opportunity to simplify the tax system, warning that it is a “confused and confusing web of rules” which “lacks coherence”.

Financial Times, Page: 2

CORPORATE NEWS – FRIDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2020

Businesses more concerned over COVID restrictions than Brexit

A new survey of more than 600 mid-market businesses by Grant Thornton has found the majority remain positive ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU. Only a fifth believe that Brexit will negatively impact on their business in the next six months, while 31% think it will not have any impact. Business leaders are more concerned about the negative impact of continued coronavirus-related restrictions. The poll saw 41% say further lockdown restrictions would be bad for their business, while 22% think Brexit would have a negative impact.

City AM

Facebook tax bill ‘beggars belief’

Facebook has been told to “pay its fair share” after its accounts revealed a slight increase in its tax bill despite profits surging. While operating profits climbed to £122m in 2019 from £97m the year before and recognised revenue climbed from £797m to £1.07bn, its total income tax outlay was £28.6m compared to £28.5m a year earlier. Margaret Hodge, former chair of the Public Accounts Committee and current chair of a parliamentary group on responsible taxation, said the tax figure “beggars belief”. “Facebook and the rest of the tech giants must do their moral duty and pay their fair share,” she added.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 5 The I, Page: 12 The Sun, Page: 8

Spotify pays less than £1m in UK tax

Despite global revenues of £6bn last year, Spotify UK paid £994,152 in tax to the Treasury. The firm had turnover of £90.3m in the UK with a pre-tax profit of £6.3m, with this far below the £434m in revenue reported by its parent company. A second Spotify UK business which earns money from intercompany commission fees generated £19.3m in turnover in 2019 and paid no corporation tax.

Daily Mirror, Page: 17 Daily Express, Page: 15

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – FRIDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2020

Chancellor extends furlough scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme for a month, with the job retention scheme to run until the end of April 2021. Confirming that the Government will continue to pay up to 80% of the wages of workers who have been furloughed, Mr Sunak said the move would provide “certainty for millions of jobs and businesses”.

The Daily Telegraph The Times BBC News

FINANCE NEWS – FRIDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2020

Loan schemes extended

The Treasury has announced extensions of its business loan guarantee schemes until the end of March. The new round of funding from the Treasury covers the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce-Back Loans Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said that “with cashflow difficulties still at the forefront of the minds of many business owners, continued access to Government-backed loans through to Spring will bring great comfort.”

The Times Financial Times The Daily Telegraph City AM

ECONOMY NEWS – FRIDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2020

BoE holds interest rates at 0.1%

The Bank of England (BoE) has kept interest rates at the lowest levels on record, with its monetary policy committee voting unanimously to keep the official interest rate at 0.1%. The committee also opted to keep the Bank’s quantitative easing bond-buying programme unchanged at £895bn, having pumped an additional £150bn into the economy last month. The BoE says it expects GDP to be down by 11% over 2020, with pandemic-driven lockdowns and restrictions delivering a decline in Q4, although a projected increase of 2.1% in Q1 2021 is set to avert a double-dip recession. The committee said the development of coronavirus vaccines was “likely to reduce the downside risks to the economic outlook” but warned that if no post-Brexit trade deal is agreed with the EU, “inflation would be likely to be higher and GDP growth weaker” than projections made in November. Meanwhile, economic output grew by 0.4% in October, the Bank revealed, but it still remained around 8% lower than at the end of 2019.

The Times The Guardian Daily Mail Sky News

Inflation expectations on the up

A YouGov poll for Citi shows that people expect average inflation in the UK over the next 12 months to hit 3.8%. The figure, which is up from 3.3% in November, is the highest since 2011. The poll of 2,020 people shows that expectations for inflation over a five- to 10-year period held steady at 3.4%. Citi economists said: “Despite recent moderation, inflation expectations remain relatively high.”

Reuters

OTHER NEWS – FRIDAY 18TH DECEMBER 2020

UK leads the world on cutting emissions

Analysis by PwC shows that the UK has cut its carbon emissions more than any other country this century, with carbon emissions down by 3.7% every year as it expanded the use of renewable energy while using less coal, natural gas and oil. The firm says countries need to cut CO2 production by 11.7% a year to meet targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

Daily Mail, Page: 15

Jet boost for economy

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet will generate economic benefits of more than £40bn by 2038, mostly through its supply chain, according to a report from KPMG which also notes that the programme will support 20,000 British jobs a year.

The Sun, Page: 54

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward

NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

COVID-19 SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS

SELF EMPLOYED INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME (SEISS) GRANTS

Full details of the third SEISS grant to support self-employed people affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) have been published on GOV.UK.

The rules for eligibility have changed but taxpayers will still need to have submitted a Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year ended 5 April 2019, showing self-employment income in order to claim.  (Exceptions may apply).

The third grant, which offers 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single taxable instalment capped at £7,500, will be available covering the period from 1 November 2020 to 29 January 2021. Self-employed people who are eligible and in need of support will be able to claim the third grant at any time from 30 November 2020 to 29 January 2021.

Here is what you need to do: –

Check your eligibility to claim: –

SEISS

We can check for you, but you must make the claim yourself.  Claiming should be simple and only takes a few minutes.

For the third SEISS grant you must:

  • either be currently trading but are impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand, or have been previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus
  • declare that you intend to continue to trade, and that they reasonably believe that the impact on their business will cause a significant reduction in their trading profits
  • only claim if the reduction in profits is caused by reduced business activity, capacity or demand, or inability to trade due to coronavirus – reduction in profits due to increased costs (such as having to buy masks) does not count for this purpose.

We can assist you with the process

The business must have been impacted on or after 1 November 2020. You must keep evidence to show the impact and reduction in their business activity across the qualifying period.

Get in touch with your usual KSK contact for further information.

TAX NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

Despite warnings over tariffs, France demands digital tax payments

The French finance ministry has begun demanding digital tax payments on the 2020 earnings of technology giants, including the US firms Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. The move comes despite threats from Washington that tariffs could be imposed on French imports in retaliation. The 3% tax will apply to digital companies that have global revenues of over €750m (£669m), and French revenues over €25m. About 30 companies, mostly based from the US, but also from China and Europe, will be affected. The UK is due to begin collecting its own 2% digital tax in April. The EU, meanwhile, has threatened to go it alone with a technology tax if the OECD does not act.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 7 Financial Times, Page: 6

Home working costs Treasury £9bn in tax receipts

Tax revenue has slumped as millions of workers undertake their duties from home, reducing spending on commuting and business trips, leading to losses on fuel duty and air passenger duty. Car fuel duty income is set to plummet by £5.7bn this year, while ministers expect £3.6bn less from air passenger duty. Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said: “Having the vast majority of the country working at home for much of the year has played havoc with the Treasury’s tax receipts.” Meanwhile, home workers are costing an extra £25m in tax relief.

Daily Mail, Page: 82

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

OBR: Unemployment to hit nearly 3m by spring

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned that 2.6m Britons will be jobless by the second quarter of 2021 when the Chancellor’s support for millions of workers is withdrawn. Unemployment will reach a peak of 7.5%, well above the current level of 4.8%, but lower that the 12% predicted by the OBR in the summer. The jobless rate is forecast to return to 4.5% by 2024. In yesterday’s Spending Review, Rishi Sunak confirmed a “targeted” public sector pay freeze but said the Government will still provide an increase in wages for NHS workers. In addition, the 2.1m public sector workers that earn less than the median wage of £24,000 will be guaranteed a pay rise of at least £250. The national living wage will still increase by 2.2% to £8.91 next year, which combined with an increase in the minimum wage will benefit around 2m Britons. The Chancellor also announced a three-year £2.9bn Restart scheme to provide the long-term unemployed with tailored and intensive jobs support. Some £1.4bn will be provided to increase Job Centre Plus capacity.

The Daily Telegraph The Daily Telegraph BBC News The I, Page: 8 Daily Mail, Page: 6

FINANCE NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

Taxpayer faces £40bn bill for emergency loans

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned that between £30bn and £40bn will be lost to soured coronavirus loans, an increase on earlier predictions. The figures come as banking industry chiefs warn that billions of pounds of Government money is being lost to fraudsters. Virgin Money chief executive David Duffy said yesterday that his bank had decided to only hand out Bounce Back loans to existing customers in order to reduce fraud. Meanwhile, the Government-backed British Business Bank (BBB) estimates that 5% to 20%of the large businesses who have borrowed under CLBILS could default on their debt. The BBB also expects 10% to 25% of smaller CBILS borrowers and 35% to 60% of Bounce Back borrowers will become unable to pay back their debt.

Daily Mail, Page: 81

SMEs NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

Mixed response to Spending Review

Business groups have given a lukewarm response to the Chancellor’s Spending Review, describing it as “sobering” and requiring bold decisions on the ground to deliver the sort of impetus the economy needs. The infrastructure bank plans were lauded by the British Chambers of Commerce as an important step in overcoming the nation’s “longstanding infrastructure deficit”, but the Federation of Small Businesses said the review was a “missed opportunity” to help smaller employers aid an economic recovery. Mike Cherry, national chairman, said: “A government which claims to be pro-enterprise had very little to say today about the importance of business and private sector job creation.” Darren Jones, chairman of the BEIS committee also said an opportunity was missed to “spell out more targeted support for sectors such as hospitality who continue to bear a terrible strain”.

The Times, Page: 42

HMRC data on Eat Out to Help Out scheme released

HMRC figures reveal that a total of almost £850m was claimed under the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out initiative, with some 93% of claims made by small businesses with only one outlet, while a total of 172 large businesses including the likes of McDonald’s and Pizza Express represented 18,134 outlets which had claimed during the scheme.

Evening Standard

CORPORATE NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

Fraud investigation hits Lookers results

An investigation by Grant Thornton into car dealership Lookers which uncovered cash expenses fraud has led to a £25.5m hit to the chain. Lookers reported a £45.5m pre-tax loss in 2019, compared to a £41.9m profit in the year earlier period. Executive chairman Phil White remarked: “The last 12 months have been extremely challenging for Lookers with the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the accounting issues. Significant restructuring activity has been necessary to ensure we lay the right foundations for the future.”

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 7 Financial Times, Page: 12 Daily Mail, Page: 84

PENSIONS NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

Millions of pension payouts to be cut under RPI reform

Millions of retirees will see the future value of their pension cut owing to a planned change in the way payments are calculated from 2030. The retail prices index measure of inflation will be altered in February 2030, saving the Government £2bn a year in interest payments on RPI-linked bonds. The Pensions Policy Institute has calculated that members of defined benefit schemes that use RPI will be about 9% worse off over their lifetimes. About 64% of schemes in the private sector are upgraded by using RPI. Holders of index-linked government bonds were told that they would receive no compensation for the change, which has been estimated to cost them as much as £100bn over the decades to come.

Money Marketing Daily Mail Daily Mirror

INDUSTRY NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

Government harms business by delaying audit reform

The Government has been accused of damaging the reputation of the accounting sector by failing to act on reforming the industry regulator. It is almost two years since Sir John Kingman’s review recommended replacing the Financial Reporting Council with a tougher regulator. The Government has also not responded to Sir Donald Brydon’s recommendations for reforming the purpose of audits, which he published last December, and the Competition and Markets Authority’s recommendations for improving choice in the market. Alok Sharma, the business secretary, failed yesterday to offer a timeline for publishing its proposals for reform, leading Michael Izza, chief executive of the ICAEW, to say: “This question mark of trust over the regulator and the profession needs to be addressed. The longer that it goes on, the more damage potentially is being done to the profession and by extension business and UK prospects.” Scott Knight, head of audit at BDO, added: “We have long been saying there’s a risk that this will get kicked into the long grass, overshadowed by Brexit and the necessary economic recovery from COVID-19. It’s important for the international standing of UK plc that this legislation gets an appropriate hearing.”

The Times, Page: 47

Big Four taking bigger slice of legal pie

Research from Thomson Reuters found that British companies spent 13% more on alternative legal service providers than last year as they shift away from traditional law firms and choose to get legal advice from the Big Four accountancy practices. The increase elsewhere in Europe was about half that, at 7%.

The Times, Page: 59

INSOLVENCY NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

Insolvency rules relief extended

A relaxation of insolvency rules designed to help business owners to trade through the pandemic has been reinstated and will now run until April 30 next year.

The Times, Page: 50

ECONOMY NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

Sunak warns of ‘economic emergency’ as borrowing hits record £394bn

The Chancellor yesterday warned that the economic emergency made manifest by the coronavirus pandemic has only just begun and that there will be lasting damage to growth and jobs. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts that GDP will plummet by 11.3% this year and not return to its pre-crisis size until the end of 2022. Unemployment will hit 7.5% by the middle of next year with 2.6m people out of work. The UK is expected to borrow £393.5bn this financial year to help pay for economic relief measures. Borrowing is also forecast to remain above £100bn-a-year – or 4% of the size of the UK economy – in five years’ time. The head of the OBR, Richard Hughes, warned that Rishi Sunak will need to find £20bn to £30bn in spending cuts or tax rises if he wants to balance revenues and day-to-day spending, and stop debt rising by the end of this parliament.

Financial Times, Page: 1 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1, 4 The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 1, 2 The I, Page: 8 The Guardian Daily Mail

Spending Review – key announcements

The Chancellor yesterday announced that the foreign aid budget would be reduced from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5% in 2021 but intends to return it to 0.7% when the fiscal situation has improved. Rishi Sunak also confirmed a new National Infrastructure Strategy that will invest £600bn over five years and £100bn next year – a £27bn year-on-year increase in real terms. Broadband, housebuilding and new roads are a key focus of this. A new National Infrastructure Bank based in the North of England has been launched and a new “levelling up fund” worth £4bn was unveiled. Health spending will increase, as will funds for schools while the Ministry of Defence has secured an additional £16.5bn over four years, making the department one of the big winners from the Spending Review.

Financial Times The Daily Telegraph The Times

OTHER NEWS – THURSDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2020

UK local councils banned from making risky property bets

The Treasury announced on Wednesday that local authorities would be banned from accessing the Public Works Loan Board as a source of cheap finance to fund risky property investments.

Financial Times

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward

NEWS – MONDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2020

NEWS – MONDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2020

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – MONDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2020

Tax reliefs would spur SME tech adoption

A report by Coadec, a business group representing start-ups, is arguing for tax reliefs to be provided by a Singapore-style digital adoption fund to help persuade small businesses to adopt productivity-enhancing technology. Coadec said government grants aimed at increasing business digitisation in Singapore were a “huge success” and a similar scheme could be “worth billions to SMEs” in the UK.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4

SMEs NEWS – MONDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2020

Small businesses may struggle to access fresh funding

The Guardian reports on concerns that, if the number of bounce back loans scheme accredited lenders shrinks, there will be a sharp rise in small businesses unable to access funds this winter. The worries stem from Tide being unable to offer any more loans because it is reliant on private investment to fund lending and the company ran out of funds in the summer. Tide is now reviewing formal documents linked to the scheme and trying to figure out how it might finance the top-ups promised by the UK Government last week. Tide has so far failed to gain access to Bank of England loans to fund further bounce back loans. Mike Cherry, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said it was important that struggling businesses are given access to much-needed funds. “Given that many firms applied for bounce back facilities at a time when the extent of disruption was so unclear, it’s vital that the roll-out of the top-up initiative is a success.”

The Guardian, Page: 32

Outlook for small manufacturers stabilises

A survey of small manufacturing firms by the CBI has found that investment plans still remain weak for the year ahead despite improving in recent months. However, output fell at a considerably slower pace in the three months to October and the survey also indicated a decline in the number of firms worried about staff shortages, cash flow and demand for goods and services. Job cuts among SME manufacturers were significant in the latest quarter, but employment is now expected to rise modestly in the months ahead.

Daily Express, Page: 46

FINANCE NEWS – MONDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2020

Last-minute fundraising expected ahead of rule change

A relaxation of fundraising rules comes to an end in three weeks, prompting the City to brace itself for a second wave of companies seeking funds from the market. The temporary change to rules on pre-emption rights was introduced by The Pre-emption Group, which represents the interests of shareholders, companies and brokers and whose secretariat is the Financial Reporting Council. Companies were permitted to raise the equivalent of up to 20% of their share capital through placings with a select group of shareholders under the new regime, in contrast to a typical threshold of 10% after which all investors have to be offered access. The regulator confirmed last week that the special measures will no longer apply from November 30th, however, the Times suggests the deadline could be extended.

The Times, Page: 39

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – MONDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2020

Real living wage rises

The Living Wage Foundation has announced an increase in the voluntary real living wage to £10.85 an hour in London and £9.50 elsewhere. The new rates will be paid by almost 7,000 employers giving more than 250,000 UK workers a pay rise. The Living Wage Foundation rate is now 78p an hour more than the Government minimum wage for over 25-year-olds and the London level is £2.13 an hour higher. Laura Gardiner, Living Wage Foundation director, said: “It’s an incredibly challenging time for us all, but today’s new living wage rates will give a boost to hundreds of thousands of UK workers, including thousands of key and essential workers like cleaners, care workers, and delivery drivers who have kept our economy going.”

The Guardian, Page: 22 Daily Express, Page: 46

Tutoring is boosting graduates aiming for top jobs

The FT reports on how graduates are hiring coaches to help them with online tests they need to pass in order to secure interviews with Big Four professional services firms.

Financial Times, Page: 21

CORPORATE NEWS – MONDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2020

Ashley ‘frozen out’ of auction for EWM brands

The Telegraph reports that Mike Ashley has been “frozen out” of the auction for three Edinburgh Woollen Mill brands. The tycoon’s Frasers group, which owns Sports Direct, House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, reportedly expressed interest in the Jaeger, Peacocks and Edinburgh Woollen Mill brands, part of Philip Day’s retail empire, which have been put up for sale. But according to a source quoted by the Telegraph, insolvency consultants at FRP Advisory “have been unhelpful throughout the process, either refusing to provide or providing very slowly the normal information a buyer would expect”. However, a spokesman for Mr Day said: “All the bidders for Peacocks and Jaeger have had access to the same information and ample opportunity to make an offer since we want to secure the best possible future for both these businesses.” The Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home chains fell into administration on Friday after a protracted process to restructure the wider business.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1

ECONOMY NEWS – MONDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2020

Pre-Christmas slump expected amid further restrictions

Further job losses and shop closures are predicted in the run up to Christmas, according to business surveys. This comes despite measures to protect businesses during the latest COVID-19 lockdown. BDO said measures of business confidence and output fell for the first time since April in October. Kaley Crossthwaite, a partner at the firm said: “The green shoots of recovery that started to emerge in May have been dealt a blow by the announcement of a second lockdown.” Elsewhere, a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the recruitment firm Adecco showed that almost a third of UK companies planned to make redundancies. Gerwyn Davies, the senior labour market adviser for the CIPD, said: “The best that can be said is that the situation is getting worse more slowly. Employment looks set to keep falling and the relatively weak demand for labour means that it is going to be a long and hard winter, affecting young jobseekers in particular.”

The Times, Page: 42 The Guardian, Page: 33 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 6

Over one in eight shops failed to reopen after first lockdown

Research by PwC and the Local Data Company indicates that up to 5,552 retail outlets that closed in March have not managed to reopen over the summer, leaving over one in eight shops in limbo. A total of 36,209 of the 43,766 shops across Britain reopened after the lockdown, whereas more than 2,000 closed permanently, the analysis found. Zelf Hussain, retail restructuring partner at PwC, said: “Businesses including pubs and bars, Italian restaurants, dentists, cinemas, social clubs and entertainment venues are particularly exposed to remaining mothballed, while hair and beauty, Asian restaurants, estate agents, mobile phone shops and off-licences; DIY shops and vaping stores are among those businesses that bounced back quickest and reopened at a higher rate.”

The Times, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 33

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward

NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

NEWS ROUNDUP

TAX NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Amazon’s membership of CBI tax team raises questions about influence

The policy positions of the Confederation of British Industry are being influenced by big businesses that sit on its committees, the Times suggests. American tech giant Amazon is a member of the tax committee of the lobby group, which has criticised the UK’s new digital services tax, arguing that it was “high risk”. The paper points out that Unilever and Barclays, which are in dispute with HMRC over tax bills, are also on the committee. The Times cites a former chief executive of a FTSE 100 company who says Amazon’s membership “seems astonishing.” They add: “Whatever they’re thinking, it will reinforce society’s view that businesses have an agenda not to pay their way. That’s pretty stupid in these times.” Elsewhere in the paper further details of multinational influence on the CBI are detailed, leading John Longworth, former director-general of the British Chambers o f Commerce, to comment: “The [CBI] is rammed with foreign multinationals who are obviously not going to have the national interest at heart.”

The Times, Page: 55 The Times, Page: 60

Self-employed face tax trap if they borrow company money

Company directors forced to draw monthly dividends despite a steep drop in income during the pandemic could face hefty tax bills as they are technically taking out “directors’ loans” and unless they are repaid the individual is liable for the debt. William Wilson of Price Bailey estimated that thousands could now be at risk of falling into a tax trap. “Many small business owners are holding a ticking time bomb. They could be facing unexpected five-figure tax bills, which they are unaware of and are in no position to pay,” he said. George Bull of RSM adds that borrowing more than £10,000 from company funds would also result in an income tax bill for the director and National Insurance costs for the company.

The Daily Telegraph, Money, Page: 1

SUNDAY

Paying for Sunak’s handouts

The Sunday Times’ David Smith considers how the UK will pay for Rishi Sunak’s latest Covid bailout with the inevitable questions posed over which taxes will be hiked to raise funds. The Tory manifesto has a commitment not to raise income tax, VAT and national insurance, leaving tax hikes on businesses, or equalising the treatment of capital gains and income and abolishing higher-rate pension tax relief, for example. Whatever the solution, Smith says tackling the massive rise in government debt “is a job for the long haul.”

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 9

More people donating £1m or more when they die

A Freedom of Information request reveals that the number of people who leave charitable donations of more than £1m in their wills has risen by almost a third, to 3,043 in 2017-18, up from 2,328 the previous year. Eleanor Sepanski of Boodle Hatfield said wealthy individuals were probably leaving as much as 10% of their estate to good causes to make the most of generous inheritance tax breaks.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 9

EMPLOYMENT NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Comments on Sunak’s latest furlough scheme

Both George Bull, senior tax partner at RSM, and Mike Warburton, former head of tax at Grant Thornton, comment on Rishi Sunak’s latest furlough scheme in letters published by the Times. Mr Bull says the opportunity to remedy the shortcomings of the first scheme has been wasted and points out that unless changes are made immediately “workers whose income collapsed during the first surge because of gaps in that support scheme will endure hardship throughout the second surge.” Mr Warburton says the Chancellor’s latest announcements “appear less sure-footed” than those he made in March and he hopes Mr Sunak is able to maintain a degree of independence from No 10. Separately, the FT explains that those unable to claim from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme include people who did not file a 2018-19 tax return because they had just started working for themselves, company directors, those earning more than £50,000 and people who earned less than half of their income from self-employment. Pressure is growing on the Government to support these groups too. Finally, a worker self-employed via a limited company says in a letter to the Telegraph that the Chancellor should “review the support for the public sector, rather than raking through the dying embers of the contractor and self-employed sector for additional savings.”

The Times, Page: 36 Financial Times, Money, Page; 3 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 25

CORPORATE NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home collapse

Two retail chains owned by Philip Day have fallen into administration putting 2,900 jobs at risk. The Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home chains collapsed on Friday after consultants failed to find buyers for the businesses. Tony Wright, joint administrator and partner at FRP, said: “The administrations will provide some further protection while we continue our search for buyers to secure the long-term futures for both businesses.”

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 56 The Guardian, Page: 45

Mears offloads data business

Mears Group has agreed the sale of its data division Terra Quest Solutions allowing the contractor to concentrate more on its core social housing business. KPMG advised Mears on the sale process.

The Times, Page: 58

SUNDAY

Clarks CVA angers landlords

The 195-year-old shoemaker Clarks has been accused of abusing insolvency processes by pushing through a restructuring they have little chance of overturning. The CVA will result in most of its 320 UK stores moving to rents based on turnover and landlords are the only creditors whose debts, which total £160m, will be compromised by the CVA, yet they account for less than 25% of the votes. “This abuse of CVAs forces property owners to absorb significant losses with little attempt to build a recovery strategy they can support as economic partners,” said Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1

Deltic targeted by buyout funds

Private equity firms Greybull Capital and Aurelius are circling the UK’s biggest nightclub operator, Deltic Group, since it hired BDO to find a buyer last month. Deltic has attempted to stave off collapse by cutting 1,000 jobs – around half of its workforce – and reopening some clubs as bars. The company has also been mulling over a CVA, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

SMEs NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SUNDAY

Unsustainable debt may stifle recovery

The Business Growth Fund is set to take stakes in growing SMEs to boost their survival chances during the pandemic, with the first investments of the £15bn National Renewal Fund expected to be made in the first quarter of 2021. But Stephen Welton, head of the BGF, warned the legacy of Covid could “materially affect the economy for generations”. He said: “We’re going to face the perfect storm of company failures, so increasing insolvencies and unemployment, combined with zombie companies that can survive but are just surviving to pay interest. Those two together will completely handicap the economy in terms of its ability to recover.” Separately, Sir Adrian Montague, head of the TheCityUK Recapitalisation Group, estimates that unsustainable corporate debt in the UK will hit £70bn by the end of March 2021 placing a “heavy drag” on the recovery.

The Sunday Telegraph, Business, Page: 3

Banks prepare for new bounce back loans boom

Following the decision by the Chancellor to extend the deadline for applications for bounce back loans and permit top-up loans from November to January banks are bracing for a flood of small business customers seeking access to the cash. NatWest estimated that about 100,000 businesses, or a third of its existing bounce back loan scheme (BBLS) customers, could be eligible for a top-up. Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over the high interest rates charged on debt accrued through the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), which can be as high as 14.99%, and big businesses are calling for the corporate financing facility (CCFF) to be extended for five years.

The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1

REGULATION NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SUNDAY

Review of listing structures aims to motivate more London floats

Lord Hill, former British commissioner to the EU and a non-executive director of the Treasury, is in line to lead a review into stock market listing rules as the Chancellor seeks to attract more tech start-ups to the City after Brexit. UK start-ups such as online fashion retailer FarFetch have picked the US over London, the Sunday Telegraph reports, with companies saying it is not just the listings regime that is attractive but the ease with which they can sell themselves to investors. Proposals likely to be considered by the review include reducing the minimum number of shares that must be sold publicly as part of a premium listing, and allowing dual-class share structures. The paper suggests both moves could raise questions over governance and control.

The Sunday Telegraph

INDUSTRY NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

No 10 explores ‘Crown Consultancy’ to stem billions going to private firms

The UK Government aims to reduce its dependence on outside experts by creating an in-house unit dubbed the “Crown Consultancy”, which would recruit young graduates to work alongside civil servants.

Financial Times, Page: 1

Pandemic drives financial advisers to speed tech change

The FT looks at how Covid has pushed financial advisers and their clients to embrace technological change and how the shift could open up the sector to a broader range of clients.

Financial Times, Money, Page: 6

PROPERTY NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Average house price exceeds £250,000 for the first time

The cost of the average UK home has risen to more than £250,000 for the first time, according to the Halifax, with prices in October up 7.5% on a year ago. The stamp duty holiday and a surge in demand for larger properties with outdoor space, driven by pandemic lockdowns, have contributed to the rise in prices. However, the lender said the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis would put “downward pressure” on prices in early 2021.

BBC News The Daily Telegraph, Page: 17 The Guardian, Page: 45

SUNDAY

Zoopla: House prices will keep climbing next year

House prices will continue to rise in 2021 even if the economy is rocked by soaring unemployment, Zoopla is predicting. Richard Donnell, Zoopla’s research and insight director, said prices could grow 4% this year and are unlikely to drop in 2021. He believes the property market will stay strong as wealthy people sell expensive city centre homes and move to the country. Prices will also be propped up for the first three months of next year by the stamp duty holiday and the extension of the Government’s furlough scheme until March. “I don’t see prices falling year-on-year by the end of next year. I just think they are going to slow down,” said Mr Donnell. “I don’t think we will see a lot of forced sellers next year and that limits the downwards pressure coming through on prices.”

The Observer

FINANCE NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SUNDAY

Reduced risk appetite causes borrowing rates to rise sharply

Interest rates for riskier borrowing hit multi-year highs during the pandemic with economists warning that rate cuts were failing to filter through to borrowers. The average interest rate on overdrafts for households has leapt 10 percentage points since February, while costs on high loan-to-value mortgages have risen as much as 140 basis points. Sanjay Raja, Deutsche UK economist, says policymakers at Threadneedle Street may need to intervene to ease credit conditions for borrowers. The Sunday Telegraph notes that a Bank of England survey found lenders were bracing for a sharp rise in mortgage defaults in the fourth quarter.

The Sunday Telegraph

ECONOMY NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SATURDAY

Markets rally at prospect of gridlock in Washington

The FTSE 100 recorded its best weekly performance since June on Friday, with gains for the week totalling 333 points, or more than 6%. Stock markets shot up on Wednesday and Thursday as it became clear that the late counting of absentee and mail-in ballots meant a big swing to the Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden across key battleground states. Wall Street boasted its best week since April while the S&P 500 rose some 7.3% through the week. Markets were relieved by the prospect of a Democrat-led White House being constrained by a Republican Senate, preventing Mr Biden from introducing corporate tax rises and curbs on oil producers. Technology shares rallied amid predictions they would no longer face changes to competition law. Additionally, unemployment fell by a full percentage point, to 6.9%, beating forecasts of a decline to 7.7%. Chris Rupkey, an analyst at MUFG, said: “Surprisingly, the recovery from the recession for the labour market is more V-shaped than many thought. The job market is opening back up and will continue to do so as long as the economy doesn’t lock back down.”

The Daily Telegraph The Times, Page: 55 The Guardian Daily Mail, Page: 105

SUNDAY

Third-quarter GDP expected to have risen by 15.5%

The Chancellor’s “eat out to help out” scheme launched in August drove a rise in consumer confidence and with it GDP between July and September, analysts believe. Andrew Goodwin, chief UK economist at Oxford Economics, said without this increase in hospitality spending the 2.1% month-on-month growth in August would have been closer to the modest rise he expects took place in September, of 0.9%. Goodwin expects the continued reopening of the economy in July and the return of pupils to school in September will have pushed third-quarter GDP up by 15.5%. Philip Shaw of Investec puts his estimate at 15.8% following a more-optimistic growth forecast for September of 1.5%. The Office for National Statistics will on Thursday reveal the GDP growth rate for September and, with it, the figure for the entire third quarter.

The Observer, Page: 61

OTHER NEWS – WEEKEND TO 8TH NOVEMBER 2020

SUNDAY

Will Trump be charged with tax evasion after he leaves office?

Nick Akerman, a prosecutor during the 1970s Watergate investigation which led to the resignation of Richard Nixon, has predicted that President Trump will be charged with tax evasion after he leaves office. He claims that Mr Trump “has done a whole series of activities that could qualify as tax fraud.” New York prosecutors have been given permission to seek years of the President’s financial documents as part of an investigation into alleged “financial improprieties” within the Trump organisation which has been going on since 2017. A legal source familiar with the case said: “Trump has immunity from prosecution as long as he is President but come January 20, that immunity ends. No President has ever pardoned themselves but there’s always a first time.”

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 9

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward