Business news 22 November 2023

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Predictions ahead of the Autumn statement, tax, pensions, growth fund, minimum wage, inflation risks,  deliveroo, shoplifters, Insolvencies and more business news that we thought would interest our members.

Jeremy Hunt to make ‘full expensing’ capital allowance regime permanent

The Chancellor will make permanent a £10bn-a-year tax break for companies that invest in equipment and technology, according to the Times. In his Autumn Statement today, Jeremy Hunt will tout the move as the biggest tax cut for businesses in modern British history. The Chancellor’s flagship reform to boost Britain’s growth rate will be the permanent extension of “full expensing”, which allows a company to immediately deduct all of its spending on IT equipment, plant or machinery from taxable profits. The scheme was due to expire in 2026 and businesses lobbied hard to get it extended.

Jeremy Hunt to cut personal taxes in Autumn Statement

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Laura Trott, suggested on Tuesday that the Chancellor will indeed cut personal taxes in his Autumn Statement today. During a media round on Tuesday, Ms Trott pointed out that inflation had halved and real wages have been ahead of inflation for three months now. “We can now talk about tax cuts and focus on growth, and that is what we’re going to be doing,” she said. Jeremy Hunt will reportedly cut national insurance for employees and the self-employed, according to the Times. Torsten Bell, director of the Resolution Foundation think-tank, said a 1p cut would cost about £5bn, according to the Resolution Foundation, but most people would still pay more overall because thresholds have been frozen.

Borrowing figures offer boost to Chancellor’s tax cut plans

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the Government has borrowed £16.9bn less than expected so far this year, providing the Chancellor with a small boost ahead of his Autumn Statement. Britain’s debt rose by £98.3bn in this fiscal year, far lower than the £115.2bn the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) projected in March. However, the Government borrowed £14.9bn last month, the second highest figure for October since records began in 1993 and higher than the £13.7bn expected by the UK’s fiscal watchdog. The ONS revealed that Britain’s net debt stood at £2.64trn at the end of October, equalling around 97.8% of UK GDP, while debt servicing costs hit £7.5bn, the largest for October. Analysts at Deutsche Bank expect the OBR to forecast for annual debt interest spending to top £100bn each year for the next five years. The OBR is also expected to downgrade its economic growth forecasts, adding to the pressure on public finances. Alison Ring, a director at ICAEW, said Jeremy Hunt had some headroom to cut taxes or increase spending in his Autumn Statement. “But in reality, there is no headroom when the public finances continue to be on an unsustainable path without a long-term fiscal strategy to fix them,” Ring added. “The short-term improvement in the fiscal position this year will likely prove unsustainable over the next five years,” Michal Stelmach, senior economist at KPMG UK, said, pointing to the cost of higher interest rates.

Hunt to offer UK workers ‘pot for life’ in sweeping pension reforms

Measures to be outlined by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement today will give workers the right to nominate the pension scheme that their employer pays contributions to. “British workers deserve to get the most out of their pensions, so we will make it easier for employees to keep track of their hard-earned savings,” a Treasury insider told the FT. “Helping people keep the same pension pot will stop billions of pounds being needlessly lost and make sure tomorrow’s pensioners benefit from every penny they save.” Becky O’Connor at PensionBee welcomed the move saying it would solve the problem of people having lots of old pensions from multiple jobs. However, some are concerned that a shift to a “pot for life” approach could result in people choosing poorer quality pension plans. Steve Webb, former pensions minister and now partner with consultancy LCP, said: “I think this is a terrible idea. It could lead to a fragmentation of the pension system. Lower earners risk being left worse off if they can no longer access a good value workplace pension.” He explained that funds would likely compete for top earners with more retirement savings while charges would go up for others left in default employer schemes.

Chancellor to unveil new Growth Fund

Jeremy Hunt will today announce a new Growth Fund to be established within the British Business Bank to help facilitate investment by UK pension funds into high-growth start-ups. Eight pension providers and fund managers, managing total assets of over £350bn, have voiced their support for the fund. The Chancellor will also reveal £250m in funding for two investment vehicles that can be invested in by pension funds. The Government expects this will ultimately lead to over £1bn of total private capital, including substantial amounts from defined contribution pension schemes, going to support innovative UK companies. Mr Hunt said: “Innovation is the key to our future success as a nation and it’s vital that we do all we can to help companies start, scale and grow in the UK. Tomorrow’s Autumn Statement will be a huge step towards delivering our Mansion House Reforms and unleashing the full potential of our pensions industry.”

Inflation risk underestimated by markets

The Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, cast a shadow over the Autumn Statement on Tuesday warning that the persistence of UK inflation was being underestimated by markets. “We are concerned about the potential persistence of inflation as we go through the remainder of the journey down to 2%,” the BoE’s inflation target, Bailey told the House of Commons Treasury committee. “The risks are on the upside.” Also speaking before MPs was Dave Ramsden, the Bank’s deputy governor for markets and banking, who said business investment had flatlined since Brexit, holding back the productive capacity of the UK economy. “We therefore think the speed limit the economy can grow at without triggering inflation is lower,” he said.

Minimum wage to rise from April next year

The minimum wage is to increase by more than a pound to £11.44 per hour from April next year. The minimum wage, known officially as the National Living Wage, is currently £10.42 an hour for workers over 23. However, the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has announced that the rate will also apply to 21 and 22-year-olds for the first time. The current minimum wage for those aged 21-22 is £10.18 an hour. The Chancellor said: “Next April all full-time workers on the national living wage will get a pay rise of over £1,800 a year. That will end low pay in this country, delivering on our manifesto promise.” A 21-year-old would see an effective £2,300 annual rise. The separate National Minimum Wage for 18-20-year-olds will also increase to £8.60 an hour from £7.49, meaning in total, the above-inflation wage hikes will benefit 2.7m low-paid workers. Apprentices will also get a rise, with an hourly pay increase of over 20%, going from £5.28 to £6.40 an hour.

Revolving door of ‘willing amateurs’ cost UK £50bn a year

A major review into UK foreign direct investment by Lord Harrington has determined that a lack of investment expertise across Whitehall is costing the country £50bn-a-year in lost investment. According to the Telegraph, Lord Harrington’s report will reject assertions that a decline in inward investment has been driven by Brexit. It will also say that Rishi Sunak’s decision to hike corporation tax from 19% to 25% is not entirely to blame. The chief problem is a revolving of senior ministers and “willing amateur” civil servants who are “too often disorganised, risk-averse, siloed and inflexible when it comes to the needs of modern investors.” The report, which will be published alongside the Autumn Statement, will call for a new “business investment strategy” led by a senior cabinet minister with dedicated resources to attract foreign cash and create more British jobs.

Deliveroo riders not employees

The Supreme Court has ruled that people working for Deliveroo cannot be considered employees because they don’t have specified hours, can work for rival companies, and can appoint someone to work in their place. A case brought by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWUGB) argued that Deliveroo riders should have collective bargaining rights but the Supreme Court ultimately ruled said they cannot benefit from union membership as they do not meet the definition of a worker or employee. A Deliveroo spokesperson said: “UK courts repeatedly and at every level have confirmed that Deliveroo riders are self-employed, and this now includes the highest court in the country. This is a positive judgment for Deliveroo riders, who value the flexibility that self-employed work offers.” The IWUGB, which represents thousands of gig economy workers, said it was disappointed by the decision and was considering its options under international law.

Shoplifters face prison

Shoplifters this Christmas will face ‘prison’ and the ‘full force of the law’ if they attack retail staff.


Investors showed a muted reaction to the latest quarterly figures. Although the figures exceeded analysts estimates of around $18 billion – a 200% annual increase –  they failed to match the euphoria that had surrounded the maker of the AI enabling chips,  missing out on the highest predictions of $21 billion.


The dramas at the company behind ChatGPT continue with Sam Altman now set for a return as CEO and a major shake up of the board under way.


Changpeng Zhao, the boss of Binance, a crypto firm, pleaded guilty to federal money-laundering charges filed in Seattle.


Sage has launched a £350 million share buyback alongside full-year results which showed double digit growth in revenue and operating profit. The accountancy software provider said underlying recurring revenue increased by 12% to £2.10 billion, underpinned by Sage Business Cloud growth of 25% to £1.63 billion. Underlying total revenue rose by 10% to £2.18 billion and underlying operating profit climbed by 18% to £456 million, with margin increasing by 140 bps to 20.9% driven by operating efficiencies.

Johnson Matthey

Johnson Matthey said the outlook for the full-year had improved although it remains at the vagaries of moving metals prices. The company now expects “at least” high single digit growth in operating performance at constant precious metal prices and constant currency – previously at least mid-single digit

Patriotic Millionaires call for wealth tax

British multimillionaires demanding higher taxes on their wealth have lobbied the Chancellor ahead of his Autumn Statement with a message projected on to the Treasury building and the Bank of England calling for a wealth tax. The imposition of a 2% tax on those with more than £10m of assets could raise £22bn a year, or more than £420m a week, Patriotic Millionaires UK claim. “That could pay for the average salary cost of more than 600,000 nurses a year – more than three-quarters of the UK’s nursing workforce,” the group said. Phil White, a former business consultant and member of Patriotic Millionaires UK, said: “To prioritise cutting taxes, especially for the very richest, is dismal decision-making from this chancellor on tax reform. Instead we can increase investment in Britain and take the pressure off working people by taxing the super-rich.”

Shell pays UK corporate taxes for first time in four years

Shell has paid net corporate taxes in the UK for the first time in at least four years due to the Government’s introduction of an oil and gas windfall levy. From 2018 to 2021, Shell received tax credits from the UK’s treasury, but last year, the company paid $40.5m in tax from a UK profit of $1.81bn. Shell’s global profit in 2022 was $64.8bn, and it paid $13.1bn in corporate income tax. Despite the windfall levy, Shell’s tax bill in the UK was relatively small compared to neighbouring Norway. The UK’s windfall tax is expected to apply until 2028. Shell also paid no corporate tax in the Bahamas, where it posted a profit of $1.55bn. The company stated that it operates in low-tax jurisdictions for commercial reasons and not to avoid tax. Shell’s tax contributions are published voluntarily and separate from its report on payments to the government.

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