Unilever and Diageo face expulsion from prompt payment code – business news 23 August 2021

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Unilever and Diageo face expulsion from prompt payment code. FSB calls for NI burden to be slashed. Retail Sales.  Unemployed take relaxed approach to job seeking. Thousands of office staff to continue remote working into the autumn. Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit can drive green investment and lots more.

Unilever and Diageo face expulsion from prompt payment code
Unilever and Diageo face being expelled from the Prompt Payment Code unless they improve their payment performance. The government-backed code promotes fair treatment of suppliers and despite being suspended form the code in November 2019 after failing to honour a commitment to pay 95% of bills within 60 days, Unilever and Diageo have not shown enough progress to be reinstated. Liz Barclay, the small business commissioner, is putting pressure on the companies to speed up payment or leave the Prompt Payment Code entirely. Terry Corby, chairman of Good Business Pays, a campaign for fairer payment practices, said: “Paying fast or slow is a matter of choice for big companies. If Unilever and Diageo are truly responsible, they should be working to pay suppliers faster.”

FSB calls for NI burden to be slashed
The Federation of Small Businesses is urging the Government to reduce employer national insurance contributions to help small firms struggling with higher costs. Nearly two thirds of respondents to the FSB’s Small Business Index survey said their operating costs had risen over the past year, with raw materials, labour, utilities and fuel the chief contributors to the rise. The federation’s survey also found that 37% of small companies blamed insufficient access to “appropriately” skilled staff as a main barrier to growth over the next 12 months. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said: “This government was elected on a manifesto that promised to cut the jobs tax and ministers must rediscover that reformist zeal if they want to unlock growth within the small business community.”

Retail Sales

UK retail sales fell 2.5% in July as UK consumer displayed more cautious behaviour, against expectations of a 0.4% increase. Partly the fall reflected heavy rainfall over July.

Unemployed take relaxed approach to job seeking
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of job adverts in the UK is well above pre-crisis levels as many of those out of work or on furlough decide against searching for work. A separate report by the jobs site Indeed found 41% of those on furlough and 56% of those not presently in work were not searching for a new job. Just 11% of those not working or on furlough were urgently seeking a new job. Nearly a third of those not seeking work said they a financial cushion while nearly a fifth has a spouse or partner who was employed and so could manage without working. Jack Kennedy, UK economist at Indeed, said: “Many employers are desperate for staff, but a significant portion of the workforce appear surprisingly relaxed about finding work … But with almost two million people still on the furlough job retention scheme, some may soon learn they will not be going back and will therefore need to start actively searching.”

Food industry turns to prisoners to fill staff shortages
Food manufacturing groups are trying to hire prisoners to fill the vacancies in an effort to help ease the “desperate” shortage of workers caused by COVID-19 and Brexit. A lack of HGV drivers, fruit pickers and factory workers has left some supermarkets struggling to keep shelves filled. The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers will urge HM Prison Service this week to prioritise food suppliers for the release on temporary licence (ROTL) programme. The Sunday Times reports that one prison has already told the association that it has no more inmates to spare after a surge in demand from short-staffed companies.

No need to require second jab for young workers – Dix
The former head of the vaccine taskforce, Clive Dix, has said it is unnecessary to require young, healthy staff to be double jabbed before they are allowed to return to the office. He said: “If people are young and they get double vaccinated, they’ll probably get slightly less illness than if they’re single-dosed, but most of them will be fine either way.” His comments come after ministers said it will not be a legal requirement for people to have received two doses of a COVID-19 jab before returning to the office, but that it may be a “good idea” for firms.

Thousands of office staff to continue remote working into the autumn
Despite Government guidance advising people to work from home changing in July, thousands of workers are set to continue with remote working well into the autumn, according to the Mail. Business that have decided not to compel workers to return to the office include HSBC, Vodafone, Centrica and Pearson. More than 30 firms surveyed by the paper, employing 600,000 office staff between them, said they will now move to a hybrid model, where staff spend part of their week working from home and part in the office. Only six firms said they would require staff to come back in September and mostly for only two to three days per week. They were BP, easyJet, Taylor Wimpey, Rightmove, KPMG and PwC.

Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit can drive green investment
Kwasi Kwarteng is interviewed by the Sunday Telegraph’s Edward Malnick, who asks the minister in charge of delivering the Conservatives’ net zero promises if the transition will need to be funded by higher taxes. Broadly speaking Kwarteng says he is “always very sceptical about tax increases” but with regard to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, he does relay concerns about “a serious cost-of-living issue” but tries to assuage worries that changes will be rapid and uncontrolled. Mr Kwarteng goes on to assure Malnick that public money will be spent sensibly to encourage private sector investment into Britain’s “green industrial revolution” adding that costs for consumers will fall “very, very quickly”.

Economy needs business investment to accelerate
Jack Barnett reflected in City A.M. over the weekend on how firms have kicked investment into the long grass as a result of the pandemic and considers the impact the super-deduction tax break has had on bringing investment plans forward. The policy enables companies to deduct 130% of the cost of buying qualifying capital goods off their taxable income. The Treasury says this “will give companies a strong incentive to make additional investments, and to bring planned investments forward.” Barnett says this has not been the case in the latest round of data.

But Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, says we will have a “better feel” for how the super-deduction has influenced companies next year, given it was announced in March, “the lockdown ran through much of the second quarter and capex tends to lag.” Looking at what types of things businesses need to be investing in, Thomas Pugh, UK economist at RSM, points to the importance of digital infrastructure and technology while Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, says businesses can benefit from diversifying their supply chains “so [they] have access to supplies in different regions in the event production needs to stop.” Barnett concludes that “If the UK economy is to be more resilient to future shocks, business investment needs to ramp up.”

Public borrowing falls below official forecasts
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the  UK government borrowing fell to £10.4bn from £20.5bn in June due to lower furlough payments – the second highest amount for the month since records began in 1993.  However, the figure was below forecasts and half that borrowed in July last year at the height of the Covid crisis, suggesting the economy is recovering quickly from the pandemic. Total public debt now stands at £2.2trn, nearly 99% of GDP, the worst since 1962.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our recovery from the pandemic is well underway, boosted by the huge amount of support Government has provided. But the last 18 months have had a huge impact on our economy and public finances, and many risks remain.”

Martin Beck, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, said: “Both receipts and spending continue to perform better than the OBR anticipated, largely due to the strength of the recovery through the summer which has comfortably exceeded the OBR’s very cautious near-term forecast.” Michal Stelmach, senior economist at KPMG, points out that spending on furlough continued to fall in July due to the reduced generosity of the scheme and a lower take-up. Alison Ring of the Institute of Chartered Accountants adds: “The Chancellor has some tough decisions to make the public finances more sustainable.”


Bitcoin topped the closely watched $50,000 level for the first time since mid-May in an ongoing recovery in the cryptocurrency market from a disorderly rout just three months ago.

£37bn in pension pots forgotten or lost by workers
New research has revealed that workers have forgotten or lost pensions worth £37bn, with as many as 1.6m pensions worth a typical £23,000 lying unclaimed. Profile Pensions found that one in four under-55s admitted that they have lost track of at least one pension, typically when changing jobs or moving home. The Government has previously predicted that there could be as many as 50m dormant and lost pensions by 2050. Michelle Gribbin, CIO of Profile Pensions, said: “The figures in question here are staggering. To know the average person is losing out on a potentially life-changing £23,000-worth of retirement cash speaks volumes as to what needs to be done in terms of pension education.”

More people reaching retirement age with outstanding mortgage
The number of people reaching retirement age with mortgage debt is on the up, according to Age Partnership. The UK’s biggest lending adviser for the over-50s said that 33% of its customers in the first half of 2021 still had a mortgage, up from 28% last year. Equity release loans dominate later-life borrowing with 20,000 taken out in the first half of this year while retirement interest-only (RIO) mortgages are far less popular. Advisers say affordability checks and the risk of repossession if payments are not kept up are the most common reasons why people aren’t choosing them.

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 charge our members a fixed annual subscription irrespective of how high the debt value is!

It takes less than 17 minutes to see how you would benefit, do you have the time now?

No face-to-face meeting required – just call Peter Uwins, CPA’s National Sales Manager, on 020 8846 0000 (business hours) or email nsm@cpa.co.uk 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

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.