Business news 21 March 2024

UK inflation falls to lowest level in two and a half years. BoE predictions, markets, insolvencies, UK PMI’s, HMRC u-turn & more business news that we thought would interest our members.

James Salmon, Operations Director.

UK inflation falls to lowest level in two and a half years

The rate of inflation fell from 4% to 3.4% last month – its lowest level in almost two and a half years. The slowing rate of price rises provides more hope that the Bank of England will cut rates over the coming months. However, economists said the Bank was still likely to hold borrowing costs at their current rate of 5.25% at this week’s meeting. The fall in inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, was driven by slowing food inflation, according to the Office for National Statistics. Core inflation fell faster than expected to 4.5% from 5.1% in January, while services inflation eased to 6.1% from 6.5%.

BoE predictions

The Bank of England looks likely to keep interest rates at their 16-year high, despite the fall in inflation as the bank is unlikely to jump ahead of the ECB of FED in the loosening cycle. Markets are expecting the first cut in August followed by at least one more before the end of the year.

Gold tops $2,200 an ounce for the first time

The price of gold exceeded $2,200 an ounce for the first time on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve maintained its outlook for three quarter-point rate cuts this year. The precious metal rose 13% last year and jumped sharply this month amid rising expectations for looser US monetary policy. The price rose as high as $2,220.89 before falling back to $2,208.32

Equity markets have responded favorably to the FED announcements that it remains on track, with US markets hitting new highs! The S&P was up 0.89% and the Nasdaq up 1.25%. The FTSE 100 is up almost 1% at the time of writing and the Euro Stoxx 50 is up 0.66%


The UK manufacturing PMI came in at 49.9  from 47.5 last month. It had been predicted to rise modestly to 47.8. Its the highest reading since July 2022 but still marks 20 consecutive months of contraction as anything below 50  signals contraction.

The UK services PMI came in at 53.4 against estimates of 53.8.  It had been 53.8 in February. It is the fifth consecutive month of expansion.

HMRC immediately drops plans to close helpline for six months

HMRC has been forced to scrap plans to close its helpline for the summer after a furious backlash prompted Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to intervene. HMRC chief executive Jim Harra said on Wednesday: “We’ve listened to the feedback and we’re halting the helpline changes as we recognise more needs to be done to ensure all taxpayers’ needs are met, whilst also encouraging them to transition to online services.” In response, the Commons Treasury select committee said it was “extremely pleased to see that common sense has prevailed”.

The Telegraph has come across a document from the 1990s revealing just how far customer service standards have fallen at HMRC. Back then, HMRC aimed to answer calls within 30 seconds and achieved this 88% of the time. In contrast, today, 63% of callers wait for longer than 10 minutes before speaking to an adviser. The average wait time on the self-assessment helpline is now 25 minutes. HMRC also set higher standards for answering letters, aiming to reply within 28 days in 93% of cases. However, last year, HMRC failed to meet this goal in 89% of cases

Accountants say HMRC’s poor service is hurting business

Two thirds of accountants say poor HMRC service is having a negative impact on business, with smaller firms feeling the largest impact, according to a survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Glenn Collins, head of strategic and technical engagement at ACCA, said: “Repeatedly we hear from our members of delays around basic requests such as VAT registration numbers, and a severe lack of skilled staff to handle more complex enquiries. ACCA will continue to call for the Chancellor to properly fund HMRC, raise the levels of service standards, and to lean on accredited finance professionals wherever possible to ensure accuracy across the board.” The ACCA also reported that 69% of accountants said the Budget will bring “either no change or negative impact to the UK financial outlook,” with one respondent describing the Chancellor’s budget as “Labour baiting”.

Brokers urge BoE to cut rates now

Mortgage brokers are urging the Bank of England to lower interest rates below 3% by the end of the year “to prevent a housing disaster”. Out of 279 brokers surveyed by MPowered Mortgages, 65% voted “yes” to lower rates. Stuart Cheetham, CEO of MPowered Mortgages, commented: “The higher interest rates we have seen over the last two years have made mortgages less affordable for first-time buyers, second-property buyers, and Buy to Let investors leading to lower demand for homes.” With higher rates expected to impact a further 5m households by 2026 and monthly mortgage repayments projected to increase by an average of around £240, or around 39%, brokers are urging the Bank to act now. Dale Townsend, a mortgage and protection advisor at Finance Advice Centre, said: “Reducing rates will give homeowners the relief they have needed for a long time and encourage first-time buyers back to the market.”

Santander boss says high taxes make UK unattractive

The chief executive of Santander UK told MPs on Wednesday that Britain has become an unattractive place to invest due to high taxes and onerous regulation. Mike Regnier told the Treasury Select Committee: “Our tax rates are higher than many of the other countries that we, as a UK business, are competing with. Even in a really good year, the level of returns that we’re able to make in the UK aren’t as high as the shareholders of our parent would expect.” Mr Regnier appeared alongside other bank chiefs Vim Maru of Barclays, Charlie Nunn of Lloyds and Paul Thwaite of NatWest, who urged lawmakers to force tech companies and telecoms operators to help lenders tackle the wave of fraud hitting the UK.

Hunt raises hopes of pre-election tax cuts

Jeremy Hunt hinted at new tax cuts after UK inflation dropped to the lowest level in more than two years. Responding to the figures, the Chancellor insisted that the Government’s “plan is working” to get the economy growing. “This sets the scene for better economic conditions which could allow further progress on our ambition to boost growth and make work pay by bringing down national insurance as we work towards abolishing the double tax on work – but only if we can do so without increasing borrowing or cutting funding for public services.” However, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves criticised the Government’s record. “After fourteen years of chaos and uncertainty under the Conservatives working people are worse off,” she said. “Prices are still high, the tax burden is the highest it has been in seventy years and mortgage payments are going up.”

Average monthly rent in UK soars by 9%

The average monthly rent in the UK rose by 9% in the year to February – the highest annual increase since records began in 2015. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday showed average monthly rents hit £1,276 in England, a 8.8% increase year-on-year. In Scotland, they rose by 10.9% to an average of £944, and in Wales by 9% to £723. Data for Northern Ireland is a couple of months behind the rest of the UK; the ONS reported a 9.3% rise there over the year to December 2023. London saw the biggest rise in England with the average monthly rent up by 10.6% year-on-year at £2,035. Ben Twomey, the chief executive of the campaign group Generation Rent, said the figures were “shocking but not surprising” and tenants were reaching “the very end of what we can afford”. Meanwhile, one in ten landlords are expected to sell up as a result of Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove’s end to so-called no-fault evictions , a survey by the National Residential Landlords Association trade body found. Separate research by PwC shows a 10% exodus of small and medium-size landlords would wipe out £4.5bn and nearly 40,000 jobs.

Nationwide & Virgin Money

Nationwide is offering 220p per share in its acquisition of Virgin Money, consisting of a 218p cash consideration and a 2p dividend. The offer values Virgin Money at approximately £2.9 billion, representing a 38% premium over the closing price on March 6, when Nationwide first announced the takeover. Nationwide intends to rebrand Virgin Money over time, with arrangements made regarding the use of the ‘Virgin Money’ brand and discussions on a potential partnership involving the ‘Virgin Red’ loyalty programme.

Direct Line

Direct Line reported that in 2023 it swung to pretax profit of £277.4 million from a £301.8 million loss in 2022. Gross written premium improved to £3.11 billion up 27% from £2.44 billion.

ONS revamps jobs market survey

The Office for National Statistics has overhauled the way it measures trends in the UK jobs market after years of declining responses to its surveys. The Bank of England has previously said a lack of reliable employment data was complicating decision-making. The ONS has spent £24m building a new survey method and its “transformed labour force survey” (TLFS) was due to be published this spring but will now not be released until September.

Latest Insolvencies

Appointment of Liquidators – SHI CONSULTING LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – FARMER BROWN’S PRODUCTS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – ASCUS PHOENIX LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – DLP CAPITAL INVESTMENTS LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – JKLEVI LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – GARNER GROUP (HOLDINGS) LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – ELF AT WORK LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – TALISIN LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – TREVOR MANNING LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – LEYCOR INVESTMENTS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – FIBRASTAR 2 LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – HELP2 LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – STATION YARD GARAGE LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – ADAMO PROPERTY GROUP LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – D R CARTER (ANGLIA) LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – TEMPER ENGINEERING LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – BAGHEERA LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – LAURA LUQUE CAREY CONSULTANCY LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – SB TRADING SOLUTIONS LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – E. J. ROBERTS ROOFING LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – SILVERBIRD GLOBAL LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – TIZARO LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – EEBRIA LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – TA YORK LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – BULLET LIFT GROUP LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – OXTON ENGINEERING COMPANY LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – GULATE LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – BURNERTECH LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – CORNHILL MORTGAGES NO.5 LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – MARK HUGHES LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – BUCKEVE LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – TALL BOAT PLANT HIRE LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – ORKA TECHNOLOGY GROUP LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – ACPI INVESTMENTS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – FUTRLI LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – SIX FORWARD LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – J.T.DOWNEY(INVESTMENTS)LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – GUS 1998 UNLIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – PAULO SILVA TRANSPORT LTD.
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – STON RETAIL MANAGEMENT LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – MENDAHOSE HYDRAULICS LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – DTADS LTD
Appointment of Administrator – HT TOOLING SOLUTIONS LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – MODUS PARTNERSHIPS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – CRAMB & MCHUGH HOLDINGS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – MENDAHOSE HOLDINGS LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – ARMADA ENTERPRISES LIMITED
Appointment of Administrator – PHASA LIMITED
Petitions to wind up (Companies) – ENVIRO PALLETS SOLUTIONS LTD
Appointment of Liquidators – NICACHU LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – JJPF CONSULTANCY LIMITED
Appointment of Liquidators – SPHERICS TECHNOLOGY LTD
Appointment of Administrator – ELITE TOOLING SOLUTIONS 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.