Business news 5 February 2024

Rising energy costs will spur price rises. Cost of living crisis affecting employee performance.  And more business news that we thought would interest our members.

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Rising energy costs will spur price rises

More than 80% of British companies expect to increase prices of their goods and services over the next two years due to rising energy costs. A survey conducted by PwC found that the majority of businesses anticipate raising prices significantly or moderately in response to higher energy costs. The Government’s financial support schemes for energy bills have expired, leaving businesses to cope with volatile energy costs while the outlook for global energy prices has worsened due to recent conflicts in the Middle East. Vicky Parker, from PwC UK, said that state subsidies for companies “cannot be a permanent coping solution for volatile energy costs. Government support has provided a helpful and much-needed short-term buffer, but it has allowed transformational thinking to become less of a priority for businesses.”

Cost of living crisis affecting employee performance, says research

New research reveals that 74% of HR leaders are concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on employee performance. A survey of 500 UK HR directors found that 34% have noticed a drop in productivity due to employees being preoccupied with financial concerns. The CEO of Mental Health UK has also warned about the cost of living crisis contributing to stress and burnout in the workforce. The survey shows that employees are doing additional ‘life admin’ during company time, such as searching for cheaper energy tariffs or speaking to mortgage lenders. In response to rising living costs, some organisations are offering additional time off, workplace counselling services, financial programs, increased salaries, and one-off support payments.

Rayner doubles down on workers’ rights pledges

Labour frontbencher Angela Rayner has reiterated the party’s commitment to strengthen workers’ rights and enshrine its employment promises in law. The move is seen as an attempt to counter complaints that Labour had abandoned its principles to appeal to big business. Speaking to Sky’s Beth Rigby, Ms Rayner said: “It’s security at work more than anything. Fundamentally it’s rights from day one, it’s ending fire and rehire, and it’s giving people guaranteed hours and making sure that people have that level of security so they can plan for their life.”

Labour plans to extend equal pay rights to BAME workers

Labour plans to introduce a draft Race Equality Act that would extend equal pay protections to black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) workers. The legal right, which would be phased in, aims to ensure that equal pay claims based on ethnicity and disability are treated the same as those made by women. The act would also cover disabled people and enact protections against “dual discrimination” – where people face prejudice because of a combination of protected characteristics. A duty would also be place on public services to collect and report data on staffing and pay by ethnicity. Labour believes that the act could be worth over £26bn a year in increased salaries for BAME people.


Fresh data released by the Office of National Statistics shows that unemployment was lower at the end of 2023 than initially estimated and was 3.9% not 4.2%. The figures are going to be a further dampener on interest rate cut expectations.

Fresh calls for apprenticeship levy reform

The group director of human resources at Marks & Spencer, Sarah Findlater, has joined calls for an overhaul of the apprenticeship scheme, citing high costs and lack of guidance as the main barriers to hiring apprentices. A poll by BDO found that almost a third of businesses want the Government to prioritise tackling the shortage of skilled labour. The apprenticeship levy, introduced in 2017, requires employers with an annual wage bill of over £3m to pay 0.5% of payroll costs into a fund for training. However, many businesses find the scheme unworkable and struggle to hire apprentices. M&S and other retailers like Superdrug are calling for more flexibility and simplicity in accessing the fund. Official figures show a decline in the number of apprentices starting their training, with unsuitable courses and program lengths being cited as barriers. The Treasury is expected to collect £3.9bn in levy receipts this year, but estimates suggest that about £800m a year will be withheld from the Department for Education and devolved administrations by 2025.

Amazon promotions will be dependent on office attendance

The retail and technology giant Amazon has started tracking the attendance of its UK-based office workers and will block promotions if people fail to adhere to its hybrid working policy – which means working in the office for a minimum of three days a week. EY is also tracking whether its staff are showing up to the office, the Times notes, while one employment lawyer said several legal firms were linking bonuses and other remuneration to office attendance.

Brexit helps City of London retain financial services crown

A major new report by the Corporation of the City of London has revealed that London has maintained its position as the top global financial centre, thanks to the boost from Brexit. The report highlights how London has surpassed its main rival, New York, due to the freedom to deregulate and introduce lighter touch rules. The Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation, Chris Hayward, said: “I am pleased to see London retain its crown as the leading global financial centre after tying with New York City last year, but our competitive edge must be revived. These report findings are a testament to the success of recent regulatory changes which have sparked business optimism by removing barriers to international talent and ease of doing business.”

Clean living a headache for the Treasury

The Treasury could lose nearly £60bn a year due to a clean-living revolution, as younger people stop drinking, smoking, and driving polluting cars. Sin taxes, such as duties and VAT on fuel, alcohol, and tobacco, contribute billions to the Chancellor’s coffers. However, the Prime Minister plans to phase out smoking and ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars. A third of 18 to 24-year-olds do not drink alcohol, and many have switched to low or no-alcohol alternatives. Experts warn that the Government will need to find new sources of income but political parties have not yet considered how to fill the gap.

Issa brother seeks to offload stake in debt-laden Asda

One of the billionaire Issa brothers, Zuber Issa, is looking to offload his stake in the debt-laden supermarket Asda. He has approached buyout specialists and retailers to explore a sale of his 22.5% shareholding in Asda, which he acquired three years ago. Zuber wants to focus on EG Group, the brothers’ petrol station empire. He has expressed a preference for another investor to join TDR and his brother Mohsin for Asda’s next phase, which may include a bid for Boots. However, any sale would need approval from Mohsin and TDR due to lock-in agreements. Zuber may also consider selling his stake to the private equity firm, although at a lower price. This potential exit would mark a partial parting of ways for the Issa brothers and comes after Mohsin recently confirmed his romantic relationship with Victoria Price, a former partner at EY, Asda’s former auditor. This has reportedly caused a rift between the brothers.

US job creation surges

Job creation in the US exceeded expectations in January, with 353,000 jobs added and a rise in average hourly pay. The unemployment rate remained steady at 3.7%. The strong employment data indicates a robust US economy, dispelling concerns of a recession and influencing the possibility of a rate cut in March. Neil Birrell from Premier Miton Investors commented, “These numbers show the US economy to be strong and will sway anyone thinking a March rate cut was on the way to look further out.”

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told the US on “60 Minutes” that they may have to wait beyond March for the central bank to cut interest rates as officials look for more economic data to confirm that inflation is headed down to 2%. The “danger of moving too soon is that the job’s not quite done,” adding “The prudent thing to do is to, is to just give it some time.”


China’s Services Sector grew less than expected in January, according to a survey released on Monday. The Caixin services purchasing managers’ index fell to 52.7 from 52.9 in December, missing expectations for a jump to 53.0. A reading above 50.0 indicates expansion, while a reading below signals contraction.

The Chinese market was extremely volatile despite the Government’s attempts to stabalise it. The CSI 1000 was down as much as 8% during the day and some $7 trillion has been wiped off valuations in China and Hong Kong since peaks in 2021.


Oil Prices nudged higher this morning (Brent $77.5), recovering from sharp falls last week, after Washington pledged to launch further strikes on Iran-backed groups in the Middle East and as Ukrainian drones struck southern Russia’s largest refinery.

US Stocks

Facebook’s parent company rose 20% on Friday to $1.2 trillion after releasing a smashing earnings report and announcing a dividend. Amazon also rose 8%. The S&P 500 hit another record high.

Latest Insolvencies

Appointment of Administrator – TEAM REDLINE RACING LIMITED
Winding up Order (Companies) – THE AVENUE LIMITED PARTNERSHIP LP
Appointment of Liquidators – H. STARKEY AND SONS LIMITED
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Appointment of Liquidators – SURGICAL EYE SERVICES LIMITED
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Petitions to wind up (Companies) – TOSELAND PROPERTIES LIMITED
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Appointment of Administrator – VENTILATION CENTRE LIMITED
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Appointment of Liquidators – ONE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT LTD
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Appointment of Liquidators – OFF BY ZERO LTD
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Why should you become a CPA member!

The Credit Protection Association (CPA) has been assisting thousands of UK businesses to get paid, since 1914. We have seen many financial crises, this one will be particularly deadly for suppliers for some time to come.

CPA eases cash from tardy debtors – Efficiently, Effectively, Economically and Ethically. And we provide credit information so you can monitor and assess your key customers.

Unlike other credit management companies, we offer our members a fixed annual subscription regardless of how high the debt value maybe!

Just call Peter Uwins, CPA’s National Sales Manager, on 020 8846 0000 (business hours) or email today.

When you see your money come in, you will be so glad you used CPA.

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections


Do you have a commercial late payer that is causing you grief? Use CPA’s no-win, no-fee, commercial debt recovery service!

If you have a particular business customer who is late paying and causing you sleepless nights, why not offer it to CPA for purchase on recourse?

CPA’s collection department will then pursue the debt. We will be liable for any costs incurred and then when we have recovered the debt, we will pay you the net principle debt recovered less our percentage.

Once you have enjoyed that success then you can consider the more cost effective membership which includes our Overdue Account Recovery service and Status/Credit reports as well as a range of other complimentary services.

Just call  020 8846 0000 and ask for Godfrey Nelson or Cris Shirley (business hours) or email today.

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections.


Get compensated for previous late payments

Have you been paid late by business customers in the last six years?

Maybe you no longer work with them. Under legislation, you are entitled to  compensation you for those late payments you have suffered.

You put up with the PAIN – now claim the GAIN!

Claim late payment compensation (LPC) from former business customers who paid you late in the last six years!

CPA (LPC) Recoveries is using our bespoke software and decades of experience to do just that for our clients

Check our compensation calculator to see how much your business could be owed!

Discover NOW the potential value of late payment compensation hidden in your sales ledger!

The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections.