Business news 24 February 2022

James Salmon, Operations Director.

As Russia launches war against Ukraine, today’s business news seems meaningless but here goes.

Ukraine war hits markets

Currencies and stock tumbled as Russia launched an unprovoked offensive against its neighbour Ukraine.  Stocks fell and currencies shifted to safe havens such as the dollar and Yen. Risk averse sentiment dominates, pushing gold and oil higher, while stocks and cryptocurrencies tumble. Western leaders have threatened severe sanctions.

Begbies predicts rise in company administrations
Begbies Traynor said company administrations are set to rise this year due to Covid support measures coming to an end alongside wider economic pressures. Administrations still remain “much lower” than pre-pandemic levels, the firm said, but Begbies should benefit from a return to more normal numbers in its new financial year. Executive chairman Ric Traynor said: “Although insolvency numbers are inexorably rising, the market is still awaiting a rise in the larger and more complex instructions that may result from the current economic headwinds and the removal of the final Government financial support measures in March.”

HMRC increases take from small probes
HMRC is extracting an average of £18,400 for each investigation into an individual or small business, up from £17,500 last year, according to new data. Phil Kinzett-Evans, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “HMRC is looking to squeeze as much money as they can from every investigation. Those who avoid tax are now facing larger penalties as HMRC looks to make up for income lost during the pandemic.” Kinzett-Evans adds that HMRC will also be targeting those who have profited from retail trading and cryptocurrency speculation over the past two years, both of which spiked in popularity over the course of the pandemic.

Bailey: Hold down prices to help battle inflation
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey has told companies to hold down prices to help Britain battle inflation. If companies demand higher prices and workers seek higher wages to compensate, inflation is likely to become more embedded in the economy, Bailey told MPs on the Treasury select committee. Bailey was attempting to explain remarks he made earlier this month when he called for the “moderation” of pay rises to mitigate rampant price growth. “It is not just wage-setting, it is also price-setting. It is also company margins. I want to make clear that it is both,” Mr Bailey said, calling for “thought and restraint”. Inflation has already hit 5.5% and the Bank expects it to peak in April at 7.25%, almost four times the Bank’s 2% target.

Covid fraud should not be brushed under the carpet
Jonathan Tickner, a partner at Peters & Peters, comments in the Times on the billions lost to Covid support fraud. He says the UK lacks the capabilities other countries have to detect and prevent fraud. An alternative to a new anti-fraud body to replace the smaller, toothless government agencies, as suggested by the Treasury select committee, is “for the HMRC and a government task force to give opportunities to the private sector to work with them to turn the tide on London’s reputation as the laundromat of dirty money.” Tickner says: “There will be no shortage of volunteers from the fraud and asset recovery fields with lawyers, forensic accountants and investigators able to recover assets on behalf of the state.”

British courts hear more fraud cases
Data assessed by KPMG reveals that the number of fraud cases heard by British courts soared to 298 last year, a 65% rise on the previous year. Cases worth between £100,000 and £5m rose from 164 in 2020 to 285 last year. The value of those hearings was £178m, a 77.5% increase. However, the total value of cases heard dropped £724m to £444.7m, due to more complex cases being delayed by Covid.

Infrastructure tsar: Ministers must be honest about net zero cost
Sir John Armitt, the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, has warned that the public will reject the transition to net zero unless the Government can demonstrate that it is being honest about the costs and that they will be fairly borne. The “very real concerns over the cost of living” would make progress with net zero and other infrastructure challenges more challenging, he told MPs on Wednesday. “We need to be open and honest with the public: about the costs of the big shifts we need to achieve, but also about the costs of inaction,” he said, adding that this would not always be “politically expedient”.


Heathrow Airport said its passenger numbers fell to their lowest level for 50 years in 2021, as the pandemic restricted air travel. The UK’s biggest airport does not expect passenger numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025 or 2026, boss John Holland Kaye said. The airport had a weak start to the year, with January and February numbers almost a quarter lower than expected.


Lloyds Banking Group has reported pre-tax profits surging to £6.9bn in 2021, up from £1.2bn the previous year after releasing covid-19 loan loss provisions thanks to the UK economic recovery. The lending giant said results were boosted as it booked a £1.2bn credit from provisions for bad debts, having set aside £4.2bn the previous year, while it also benefited from a boom in mortgage demand. Lloyds said its mortgage book surged £16bn to £293.3bn last year.


GlaxoSmithKline said alongside Paris-based pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, it plans to submit data for both the booster and phase three efficacy trials as the base of regulatory applications for their Covid-19 vaccine. In the VAT02 booster trial, final analysis confirmed its universal ability to boost antibodies 18-to-30-fold across vaccine platforms, including mRNA and adenovirus vaccines.

Ted Baker

Ted Baker reported robust sales growth and improved margins in its fourth-quarter. The London-based luxury clothing retailer said group sales in its fourth-quarter ended January 29 increased 35% compared to the same period a year before. Sales also rose 18% from those reported in the third quarter.

BAE Systems

BAE Systems today posted “strong results” after its sales jumped by £448m to heights of £21.3bn. The London firm said its orders exceeded expectations, as it said it expects “another year of good orders” in 2022. The arms manufacturer said the “uncertain global environment” and “complex threats” that currently face the world’s major powers will boost its business in 2022.

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