Business news 20 November 2023

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Businesses must take risks to survive. Brexit has boosted wage growth in the UK. Richest 1% account for more carbon emissions than poorest 66%. Office refurbs bounce back.  Retailers face high street recession & more business news that we thought would interest our members.

Businesses must take risks to survive

A survey by PwC of over 3,900 companies worldwide found that three-fifths view generative artificial intelligence as a good opportunity, but 37% believe they are highly or extremely exposed to cyber risks. Additionally, a quarter of respondents felt their organisations were very exposed to geopolitical conflict. Sam Samaratunga, global and UK head of risk services for PwC UK, said: “In a world that is persistently in a state of flux, it is clear that organisations need to transform, with new and emerging technologies playing a critical role in that transformation. So it is no surprise that cyber and digital risks are top-of-mind in 2023, with those leaders responsible for managing risk ranking cyber higher than inflation. However, the survey highlights that if organisations don’t take risks, they will not progress.”

Brexit has boosted wage growth in the UK, economists say

A crackdown on uncontrolled immigration from the EU has boosted wages for UK based workers, economists have said. Figures last week showed that wages, excluding bonuses, were growing at a near-record pace of 7.7%. Mabrouk Chetouane, the head of global market strategy at French investment bank Natixis, explained that labour supply has been cut massively due to Brexit. “It creates an imbalance that continues to fuel wage growth and this situation is here to stay.” Jack Kennedy, a senior economist at hiring website Indeed, said he believed Brexit was “certainly likely to be a contributory factor” towards faster than expected wage growth for lower-skilled jobs. “A lot of the lower paid sectors are seeing pretty strong rates of wage growth of between 7% and 10% in our data.”

Richest 1% account for more carbon emissions than poorest 66%

A report by Oxfam claims twelve of the world’s wealthiest billionaires produce more greenhouse gas emissions from their yachts, private jets, mansions and financial investments than the annual energy emissions of 2m homes. Oxfam worked with the Stockholm Environment Institute and other experts on The Great Carbon Divide, which explores the causes and consequences of carbon inequality and the disproportionate impact of “the polluter elite” on climate change. Oxfam is calling for a 60% tax on the incomes of the wealthiest 1% and windfall taxes on fossil fuel companies to support the worst affected, reduce inequality and fund a transition to renewable energy. The report claims that the wealth tax alone would raise $6.4tn a year and could cut emissions by 695m tonnes, which is more than the 2019 footprint of the UK.

Office refurbs bounce back

A record number of office refurbishments were begun in London this summer as landlords rushed to improve the state of their buildings. Between April and September, renovation work began on 34 office blocks totalling 3.3m sq ft of workspace, according to Deloitte. “Occupiers’ focus on premium space, coupled with addressing the anticipated [minimum energy efficiency standard] deadline and drive to net zero, are continuing to provide a strong stimulus to refurbishment activity,” Philip Parnell, partner and real estate valuation lead at Deloitte, said. “This is a trend that is countering the backdrop of an otherwise challenging macro-economic environment.”

House prices

Nationwide warned that mortgage arrears are rising as the UK’s third-largest mortgage lender reported on Friday that profits were boosted by rising interest rates. Encouragingly, Nationwide said economic activity, while still weak by historical standards, has held up better than expected, and there are signs that cost-of-living pressures are starting to ease.

Leasehold reforms could boost property prices by 10%

Analysis published by property consultancy Knight Frank and Bayes Business School suggests Michael Gove’s leasehold reforms could boost property prices by 10%. If proposals are passed in the Leasehold Bill drawn up by the levelling-up and housing secretary leaseholders would have the right to extend a lease to 990 years, removing the need to pay tens of thousands of pounds to the freeholder for an extension. Capping all existing ground rents at a “peppercorn” rate will also benefit leaseholders. Assuming leaseholders take advantage of the reforms and extend their leases, this would add £24,896 to the price of a short-lease property on average, transferring £10.9bn in total from freeholders to leaseholders, the report found, while homes with short leases would increase in value by 9.9% on average.

Retailers face high street recession as sales slump in October

Retailers faced a slump in sales in October, indicating a high street recession as borrowing costs and rising prices took their toll. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported a 2.7% year-on-year decline in retail sales, with clothing and household goods stores being the hardest hit. The ONS also revealed a 0.3% month-on-month drop, lower than economists’ expectations. Retail sales volumes in October were at their lowest level since February 2021. The ONS attributed the decline to factors such as bad weather, higher petrol and diesel prices, and consumers prioritising essential items. Martin Beck, the chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said: “The retail sector is unlikely to experience a significant uptick in fortunes in the near term. The impact of higher interest rates is building, with an extra 1.5m households set to see fixed-rate deals expire and roll on to higher rates before the end of 2024.”

Now is the time to go for growth

In an interview with the Telegraph on Saturday, Jeremy Hunt says the UK economy had “turned a corner” and now was the time to focus on growth. The Chancellor indicated that with inflation on its way down and the tax burden at an almost 70-year high, the Conservatives would be forging a path to tax cuts. “It’s not an easy path. There are difficult decisions you have to take to get there,” he said. “But we believe if we’re going to grow the economy, this is going to be an Autumn Statement for growth, then we have to show the country there is a path to a lower tax economy.” Mr Hunt declined to be drawn on specific tax cuts in the Autumn Statement, but there have been widespread reports that he and the Prime Minister are considering a cut to inheritance tax, stamp duty and for businesses, an extension of so-called “full expensing”, which allows firms to claim back up to 25p for every £1 invested. Meanwhile, during a visit to a green power company in Sheffield, Mr Hunt signalled a drive to improve public sector efficiency. “You’ll be hearing lots about that going forward,” he said. “If we increase public sector productivity growth by just 1% a year we can start to reduce the tax burden as a proportion of GDP.”

We want to cut taxes responsibly

The Chancellor continued to hint at possible tax cuts in a round of media interviews on Sunday. Speculation has been rife that he and the Prime Minister would look to cut income tax in the Autumn Statement after public finances improved. Jeremy Hunt told Times Radio that he will only cut taxes in a “responsible” way, emphasising the need for discipline. He suggested to Sky News that tax cuts would help to boost economic growth – motivating people to work and take risks. Another option to increase workers’ take home pay is to raise tax thresholds, which have been frozen for years, dragging ever more people into the net as inflation pulls up wages. Other major decisions still to be finalised are whether to increase the pensions triple lock by average earnings of 8.5%, or to strip out bonuses and one-off payments, lowering the rise to 7.8%, and whether to increase benefits in line with the CPI rate of inflation in September (6.7%) or October (4.6%). Rishi Sunak and the Chancellor are concerned that income tax cuts could cause inflation to rebound, so many expect them to focus on growth-enhancing measures and cuts to business taxes. Any cut to inheritance tax is now widely thought to be set aside for the Spring Budget.

Future Fund start-ups failing faster than rivals

Companies backed by Rishi Sunak’s £1.1bn Covid tech fund are raising less funding and going bankrupt at a faster rate than rival firms, raising questions about whether the scheme will net a profit for the taxpayer. An analysis of the Future Fund by RSM found that the 1,191 companies that received taxpayer loans under the scheme grew more slowly than a control group of peers. The £1.1bn fund, set up when Mr Sunak was Chancellor, was praised for helping loss-making start-ups stay afloat during a pandemic credit crunch in 2020. However, a string of failures and worsening funding conditions has led to questions about the scheme. “The amount of money raised by Future Fund companies had fallen by 22% in 2022, while a ‘counterfactual’ group of similar companies not backed by the scheme grew funding by 4%,” according to the RSM report commissioned by the British Business Bank. Future Fund companies outperformed the control group in 2021 before performance deteriorated last year.

Chancellor mulls ways to attract more private equity to university spinouts

Jeremy Hunt is considering proposals that would see the stakes universities hold in spin-off companies restricted to between 10 and 30%. Universities have been known to take stakes as high as 50%, making it harder for founders to sell to private equity investors and secure more investment. For software businesses, the stake could be limited to 10%. Douglas Hansen-Luke, executive chairman of Future Planet Capital, which backs university spinouts, welcomed moves to simplify and reduce disputes between universities and founders on start-up equity but believes it’s more important to think about how to increase scale-up funding for companies that have gone beyond start-up and are at the growth stage.

Hospitality industry demands urgent action on business rates

The CEO of UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, is urging Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to take immediate action on business rates to prevent a wave of small businesses from closing next spring. The hospitality industry, which employs 3.5m people and pays £54bn in tax annually, is still recovering from the impact of the pandemic and faces another ‘cliff edge’ if rates are not frozen. Currently, small businesses in the sector pay only 25% of the levy, but in April, all business rates relief for the hospitality sector is due to end and bills will increase by September’s rate of inflation. Nicholls warns that without action, the industry will face an extra £1bn bill. She also calls for a cut in VAT, which was temporarily reduced during Covid, to stimulate growth and recovery.

Luxury fashion brand accuses Royal Mail of failing small businesses

A luxury fashion brand, Lavender Hill, has accused Royal Mail of failing small businesses after the postal service lost 26 parcels in a single day. The company, known for sustainable clothing staples, is facing a loss of thousands of pounds due to the missing deliveries. Royal Mail, which recently received a £5.6m fine for poor performance, has been unable to locate the packages worth over £2,000. Lavender Hill’s founder, Isobel Ridley, expressed frustration and highlighted the financial burden of constantly refunding customers. Martin McTague, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, emphasised the need for reliable and prompt services during the holiday season. He said: “Disappointing their customers whose Christmas orders don’t turn up on time is the last thing small businesses want, not to mention the extra financial burden of refunds.”


Sam Altman was removed from his role as CEO of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. In a statement, the firm’s board said it had lost confidence in Mr Altman because “he was not consistently candid in his communications”. OpenAI’s board has hired Emmett Shear, the former chief executive officer of Amazon’s game-streaming site Twitch, to replace Sam Altman. UPDATE – Sam Altman didnt stay unemployed long. He’s been hired by Microsoft ( a major backer of OpenAI) to head their own in house AI division.


Multiple companies, including IBM, Apple, & Disneystopped advertising on X (formerly known as Twitter) over antisemitism concerns after Elon Musk promoted an antisemitic conspiracy theory on the app. Musk responded saying he wished “only the best for humanity.”

Latest Insolvencies

Petitions to wind up (Companies) – H & A RICE (HOLDINGS) LIMITED
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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.

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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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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!

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