Business news 12 March 2024

Unemployment, a recession rebound? SME appetite for expansion, the inflation basket, HMRC clawing back R&D relief, anti money laundering, insolvencies & more business news that we thought would interest our members.

James Salmon, Operations Director.


Unemployment unexpectedly picked up in the three months to January, while the pace of wage growth eased. According to the Office for National Statistics, the nation’s unemployment rate in three months to January increased to 3.9%, from 3.8% in the three months to December. The jobless rate was expected to remain at 3.8% for the period.

The ONS said average earnings excluding bonuses rose 6.1% on-year in the period, the pace of growth easing from 6.2% in the three months to December, where it had been expected to remain. Including bonuses, growth eased to 5.6% from 5.8%. According to FXStreet, only a slowdown to 5.7% was expected.

The figures indicate that the Bank of England’s effort to slow demand in the economy is taking the heat out of the labour market. The pound is trading lower against all currencies bar the Yen (where the Bank of Japan is tempering expectations of interest rate rises)  with a pound buying 1.2789 USD and 1.698 Euros at the time of writing.

UK set for recession rebound as growth returns

The UK economy is however showing signs of recovery, with the service sector leading the way. Retail sales figures for January showed a 3.4% increase in sales volumes, offsetting the previous month’s steep fall. S&P’s services sector PMI for January suggests business activity is rising at its fastest pace in eight months. Meanwhile, analysis from BDO has revealed a fourth consecutive month of improving business activity, bringing its output index to its highest level since July 2022.

Economists predict that the improved performance of the service sector, along with lower inflation and improved real income growth, will lead to a faster recovery than previously expected. Rob Wood, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, says last year’s minor recession was “already disappearing in the rear-view mirror,” while Sandra Horsfield, an economist at Investec, notes that inflation is falling more rapidly than wage growth.

Small firms have an appetite for expansion

A survey of 2,100 employers by recruitment firm Manpower shows that firms are displaying “cautious optimism” over hiring. While the poll shows a slight fall in hiring intentions quarter on quarter, there is a year-on-year increase. According to Michael Stull, UK managing director at Manpower, small businesses are showing the “biggest appetite for business expansion,” while bigger organisations are taking “a more defensive stance.”

ONS adds vinyl and air fryers to inflation basket

Vinyl records, gluten-free bread and air fryers have been added to the to the basket of goods the Office for National Statistics (ONS) uses to track prices and work out the rate of inflation. The basket contains more than 700 goods and services, with these reviewed once a year. This year’s review saw 16 items added and 15 removed. Vinyl has been reinstated to the list for the first time in 32 years, with sales having hit the highest level since 1990. Matt Corder from the ONS said its inflation basket of goods “offers a fascinating snapshot of consumer spending through the years,” noting that while the list often reflects the adoption of new technology, “the return of vinyl records shows how cultural revivals can affect our spending.”

HMRC clawing back R&D tax relief

Some small businesses that received tax breaks for their innovation work are being chased to pay the money back, with HMRC reassessing past research and development (R&D) tax relief claims. This comes after the National Audit Office recommended “compliance work on older claims” for the R&D scheme because HMRC had underestimated the level of error and fraud.

However, business groups have criticised the process, with Tina McKenzie, policy chair for the Federation of Small Businesses, saying: “It’s very clear that HMRC is mishandling its approach to past and present R&D claims in a way that undermines the innovative small firms who are needed if we are to grow our economy.” She added that the tax office “needs to recognise the importance of a predictable and supportive tax environment for those businesses at the cutting edge of technological change, which are increasingly small firms.”

Dom Hallas, executive director of the lobby group Startup Coalition, said retrospective challenges on R&D tax relief are “widespread in the start-up community and crippling.”

Anti-money laundering checks could be eased

The Treasury has proposed ways to ease the burden of anti-money laundering checks applied by banks and other businesses. Officials want to make anti-money laundering rules – which are used by businesses such as banks, accountants and lawyers to undertake checks for potential red flags – more proportionate for companies and their customers, and clarify when checks are needed.

The Treasury is also considering issuing guidance on digital verification of a customer’s identity and whether legislation is needed. The consultation also explores ways to improve data sharing between agencies such as the Financial Conduct Authority in a bid to crack down on crime. The proposals are open for public consultation until June 9.


Heathrow Airport has reported its busiest February on record thanks to a sustained boom in travel demand and boost from half-term holiday makers. Some 5.8 million people passed through the airport over the month, compared to 5.2 million last year and 5.5 million in 2019, before the pandemic grounded flights. Over two million people travelled during February half term, the airport reported on Monday, while February’s extra leap year day dealt a 207,000-passenger uplift.

NMC tycoon denies knowledge of fraud

Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty, the Indian tycoon who founded NMC Health, claims that he had no knowledge of the multibillion-dollar fraud at the private healthcare group and argues that he was “misled” and “a victim of fraud committed by others.” The denial comes in response to a lawsuit brought by NMC’s joint administrators at Alvarez & Marsal, who allege that Mr Shetty and Prasanth Manghat, NMC’s former CEO and CFO, orchestrated the fraud. Mr Shetty denies knowingly participating in the fraud and claims Mr Manghat and his associates “orchestrated and carried out the fraud.” NMC collapsed after a report by Muddy Waters raised accounting and governance issues. Investigations revealed $6.6bn of debt and a shortfall of up to $4.7bn for unsecured creditors.

FRC plans to leave the City of London

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is in talks to move its headquarters out of the City of London. Sources say the FRC could leave its office in the financial district by the end of the year, noting that the accounting watchdog is considering relocating to Canary Wharf or Stratford. The potential move would bring the FRC closer to other watchdogs such as the Competition and Markets Authority, which is based in Canary Wharf, and the Financial Conduct Authority, which is located in Stratford. If the FRC does relocate, the Prudential Regulation Authority would be the only watchdog to remain in the City.

FCA lifts ban on crypto-related securities

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will allow some crypto-linked securities to be listed on the stock market. Approving the launch of crypto-backed exchange-traded notes for professional investors, the watchdog said such products will only be available to investment firms and credit institutions approved to operate in financial markets. It added that a ban on crypto exchange-traded notes (ETNs) and derivatives for retail investors will remain in place, calling them “ill-suited” because of “the harm they pose.” It also reiterated a warning that crypto was “high risk and largely unregulated,” adding that investors could “lose all their money.” The FCA did however note that “increased insight and data” meant exchanges and professional investors “should now be able to better establish whether cryptoasset ETNs meet their risk appetite.” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said the FCA’s statement “does not represent a glowing endorsement of cryptocurrencies as a potential investible asset.” Separately, the London Stock Exchange says it will accept applications for the admission of bitcoin and ether ETNs from the second quarter of this year.


Bitcoin has gone above $72,000 hitting new all time highs!


Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp,  the owner of the Daily Mail  and the UAE-backed investment fund RedBird IMI have held talks about a potential three-way joint takeover of the Telegraph Newspaper.


The UK is set to allow the building of new gas fired power plants in order to sure up energy security. The palnts due to be completed in over a decade would have to be fitted with carbon capture technology in order to fit in with net zero targets.

US economy

Jamie Dimon (of JP Morgan) isn’t completely dismissing the idea of a US recession. The market is pricing the chances of a soft landing as 70-80% but Jamie said in a conference call that he would only put it at half that.

AI in the office is yet to win over workers

Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are not saving workers any time, according to a survey by training provider Multiverse which also shows that the technology has become as unpopular as the commute to the office. The poll found that for 52% of employees who use the technology, it either does not save them time or adds more time to their work. The survey of 964 workers found that on a scale of one to ten, using AI tools was rated 4.55, coming in lower than the 4.57 grade for taking public transport to work. Ujjwal Singh, chief product and technology officer at Multiverse, said that generative AI is “incredible – but only if employees know how to harness it.”

Latest Insolvencies

Appointment of Liquidators – GRAVES ENTERPRISES LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – MARTINI RESTAURANT LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – M WALSHE LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – HOWARD CRANE LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – PROJECT PLUS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – WORTLEY CONSTRUCTION LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – GSS WORKS LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – MPP HAYES LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – BRAVEN SPORTS LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – JJ PLUMBING & HEATING LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – BOWN PROPERTIES LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – D G 205 LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – DELTA MINERALS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – STABLE CONTROL LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – MF BIDCO LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – BERRY CLOUD LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – THANE DEVELOPMENTS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – XCIO CONSULTING LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – ARDLAMONT ASSOCIATES LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – MITCHELL PALMER LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – TREADSTONE DYNAMICS LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – MOTOR 2016-1 PLC
Appointment of Administrator – MATCHESFASHION LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – WAKE LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – LINTON HAY PROPERTIES LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – CUSTOMER CALLS LTD
Appointment of Administrator – RADIANT SOLAR LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – RICKY MACKIE BUILDERS LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – CRAIGIEVAR (FR) LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – POD CREATIVE LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – DM EDUCATION LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – UK SALADS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – BID2WIN LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – LOVE HEMP HOLDINGS LTD
Appointment of Administrator – VENTECO PLC
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – GREEN LIFE MANUFACTURING LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – AELLO EXECUTIVE SEARCH LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – HOL1ST1C LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – COREBOX 5 LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – JP MILLS LTD
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – KA EMPIRE LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – LIMESQUARE ESTATES LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – SOURCIO LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – COREBOX HOLDINGS II LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – RICHARD SLADE AND COMPANY LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – CHEALE HOLDINGS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – L & M SOFTWARE 2000 LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – COREBOX CROYDON LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – SHANDELM LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – COREBOX EASTLEIGH LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – INDIESTOR LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – KUECHEN CHESHIRE LIMITED

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.