Business news 13 December 2023

James Salmon, Operations Director.

GDP falls 0.3%. Mortgage Arrears at six year high. COP28, inflation, Unilever, Boots, Oil, tax, banking & more business news that we thought would interest our members.

Breaking news – GDP falls 0.3%

Breaking news – UK GDP falls 0.3% month on month, ahead of estimates of a 0.1% fall.

The UK Economy shrank by more than expected in October. Gross domestic product fell by 0.3% in October from September, having risen by 0.2% in September from August. This was worse than expected. According to market consensus, analysts were expecting GDP to fall by just 0.1% in October. In the three months to October, the UK economy was flat compared to the immediately previous period, though 0.7% larger compared to a year before. Services output fell by 0.2% month-on-month in October, having risen by 0.2% in September. Construction output fell by 0.5% after a 0.2% rise in September from August.

Mortgage Arrears at six year high

The proportion of mortgage balances in arrears increased to the highest level in six years in Q3, with Bank of England data showing that the proportion of total loan balances with arrears increased from 1.02% to 1.14%, quarter-on-quarter. This is the biggest proportion since Q2 2017. Mortgage Lenders and Administrators statistics show that the value of outstanding mortgage balances with arrears increased by 11.4% to £18.8bn. Year-on-year, this marked a 44% increase.

The data also shows that the value of new mortgage commitments, which covers lending agreed to be advanced in the coming months, fell by 16.5% from Q2, coming in at £51.5bn. This was 41.4% down on a year earlier. Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Arrears have reared their ugly heads, with total mortgage arrears up over 10% in a quarter and rising by almost half in a year.”

Pay growth slows as jobs market stalls

Office for National Statistics data shows that wage growth slowed in the three months to October, falling to 7.3% from 7.7% the month before. This came as the number of vacancies fell for the 17th consecutive month, with a decline of 45,000 between September and November. Despite the fall, overall vacancies remained well above pre-pandemic levels at 949,000. The ONS figures show that the unemployment rate remained at 4.2% in the three months to October, while the number of people economically inactive also remained unchanged at 20.9%.

ONS chief economist Darren Morgan said: “While annual growth in earnings remains high in cash terms, there are some signs that wage pressure might be easing overall. However, as inflation has been falling more quickly, pay continues to grow in real terms.” Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said it is “positive to see inflation continue to fall and real wages growing.”

Tony Wilson, of the Institute for Employment Studies think-tank, said the figures show the labour market is “continuing to cool but isn’t crashing.” Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG, commented: “While momentum has weakened, the labour market is still tight,” while Jake Finney, an economist at PwC said: “Signs of labour market cooling will provide some reassurance to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.”

Falling inflation will ease pressure for high pay awards

The Resolution Foundation says Bank of England concerns over the high level of pay awards are likely to be eased as wage settlements come down in response to the annual inflation rate falling. While the Bank has cited strong earnings growth as a reason for adopting a cautious approach to cutting interest rates, the think-tank says there are already signs of wage settlements coming down. It said the typical pay settlement has fallen from 6% to about 5% since the start of 2023, while the monthly increases in wage growth had halved from an average of 0.8% between January and May to 0.4% a month between June and September.

Hannah Slaughter, a senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The big recent fall in inflation should ease the pressure on pay settlements, and help to bring about more normal wage rises and price increases next year.” She added: “Ultimately, Britain needs to get back to delivering productivity-based pay rises, rather than inflation-inducing ones.”


A new draft final agreement has been drawn up at COP28 calling for countries to “transition” away from fossil fuels. That is stronger language than the previous draft released on Monday, which merely said fossil fuels should be “limited”. However, the new draft still falls short of the calls for the “phasing out” of fossil fuels that some wanted. It also included agreements to triple the deployment of renewable power by the end of the decade. All 198 countries attending must agree to the deal.


The UK Competition Regulator said it will investigate claims made by Unilever about the environmental impact of its consumer products. Unilever makes a wide variety of food & drink, cleaning, toiletry, and personal care products, including brands such as Cif, Dove and Lynx. The UK Competition & Markets Authority said it has contacted the London-based company about its claims that some of these products are environmentally friendly.


Walgreens Boots Alliance is reportedly reviving attempts to exit from the deal, seperating from the UK pharmacy chain Boots, nearly 18 months after a sale process was dropped. The UK chain could be valued in a deal at about £7 billion. It’s reportedly investigating a London initial public offering (IPO) as one possibility.


Tesla filed a recall of more than 2 million vehicles to fix autopilot issues after the NHTSA determined its driver-assistance system doesn’t do enough to prevent misuse. Shares fell pre-market.

Thames Water

Thames Water does not have enough money to settle a debt repayment due early next year.ahead of a looming deadline. The UK’s largest water supplier has £1.4bn of external debt maturing in the coming years, including £190m due in April 2024. When asked by MPs if Thames Water’s holding company had enough cash to meet that repayment, Alastair Cochran, joint interim chief executive, admitted “Not currently, no.”


Oil Prices fell 3% on Tuesday, with Brent crude hitting the lowest since June after US consumer prices rose in November, offering more evidence that the Federal Reserve was unlikely to pivot to interest rate cuts early next year.

Tax burden set to increase in 2024

Sarah Coles of Hargreaves Lansdown says taxpayers are set to be hit by a string of “sneaky tax rises” in 2024, warning: “Frozen thresholds and fiscal drag will keep pushing up your tax bill every year until the freeze ends in 2028.” Stealth tax rises awaiting taxpayers in the year ahead include a halving of the allowance for dividends earned from shares outside of the tax-free Isa allowance. Business owners paying themselves with dividends will be hit, along with investors banking capital gains on non-Isa shares and owners selling second homes and investment properties. Savers are urged to utilise their tax-free Isa allowance, while first-time buyers can benefit from a Lifetime Isa and families can save tax-free in a Junior Isa. It is noted that pension contributions qualify for tax relief, and married couples should consider switching assets to reduce tax payable.

Banks to face ‘very serious consequences’ if they lie on debanking

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chief executive Nikhil Rathi says banks will face “very serious consequences” if they are found to have lied about debanking. He told the Treasury Select Committee that it is “a very serious issue if a senior manager of a bank knowingly and intentionally gives the regulator incorrect information,” noting that doing so would breach the senior manager’s regime. “We have taken very firm action against a former chief executive of a large bank because of breaches of the integrity rules,” Mr Rathi said, adding: “So if that does come out … there’ll be some very serious consequences for the senior managers involved.”

FCA vows to intervene over withheld interest payments

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has vowed to “intervene” if investment platforms and self-invested pension providers (SIPP) unfairly withhold interest payments on customers’ cash balances or charge excessive fees for managing them. Analysis shows that while investor inflows have weakened amid economic uncertainty, platforms have been earning on the interest on customer’s uninvested cash deposits. Meanwhile, some firms are charging customers for holding their cash, profiting twice in a practice known as double dipping. Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said investment platforms and SIPP operators “need now to ensure how much of the interest they retain and, for those who are double dipping, how much they’re charging customers holding cash, results in fair value,” adding: “If they cannot make that case, they need to make changes.”

FRP Advisory sees revenue jump 19%

Professional services & Insolvency firm FRP Advisory has reported a 19% increase in revenue for the first half of 2023. The firm generated £58.7m in revenue, up from £49.4m in the same period last year. The growth was driven by an increase in restructuring activity, with administration appointments more than doubling. FRP Advisory also saw a rise in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, to £15.5m.

Latest Insolvencies

Appointment of Liquidators – RF2M LTD
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Petitions to wind up (Companies) – CONNAUGHT TECHNOLOGY 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.

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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


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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.

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

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