Business News – 26th April 2017

One-third of Brits have sleepless nights worrying about debt

A new survey has revealed that 93 percent of us believe the UK has an issue with arrears, with a quarter of Brits agreeing that debt is now just a part of everyday life.

According to the survey by debt management company PayPlan, the average person will wait until they have a debt of £25,000 before seeking professional help.A third of us ‘wing it’ financially from month to month, with a similar number experiencing sleepless nights or problems at home because of money worries.

One in three Europeans ‘wants cashless society’

The fifth annual ING International Survey Mobile Banking report, which surveyed more than 15,000 people across 15 countries, discovered that one in five (21 per cent) people in Europe now rarely carries physical notes and coins and 34 percent would go completely cashless if given the choice.

More developed economies like the UK and the Netherlands have some of the most sophisticated digital payment infrastructures in the world, claims the report – but while the appetite in these nations to drop cash completely is notable, surprisingly it is not the highest (21 per cent and 23 per cent respectively).In contrast, the emerging economies of Turkey, Poland and Romania, where digital payment infrastructure is “lagging behind”, the desire to go cash-free is significantly greater (42 per cent, 40 per cent and 38 per cent respectively) – suggesting that technological advances, as well as convenience, are big draws for consumers.

Across Europe, the study identifies a continuing decline in cash use with over half of people (54 percent) having used less cash in the last 12 months and 78 per cent of this group expecting to use it even less over the next 12 months.

Scottish Insolvency Statistics: January to March 2017

The provisional number of personal insolvencies in Scotland increased by 1,484 or 18% to 9,958 for the year 2016-17 when compared with 2015-16. in the last quarter, there were 2,513 personal insolvencies, up from 2,263 personal insolvencies in the same of quarter of 2015-16. There were 1,112 bankruptcies awarded during this quarter, an 8.2% increase on the same quarter in 2015-16. The number of Scottish registered companies becoming insolvent or entering receivership decreased in the fourth quarter of 2016-17, with 155 companies becoming insolvent compared with 230 in 2015-16 Q4. The number of members’ voluntary liquidations (solvent liquidations) decreased from 358 to 119 over the same period.

Prize seeks to transform financial management

A new report by Nesta claims Scottish small business growth could be “stifled” because of the growing burden of financial administration and “opacity” in the market for financial products and services. Nesta has launched a £5m prize to help the creation of tools that will transform financial management, with the backing of the CMA and bank funding. Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said: “Accessing the right banking products and managing finances is often seen as a complicated task for small business owners and one that takes up a disproportionate amount of their time. The Open Up Challenge has the potential to change all that. If we can genuinely support small businesses, both in terms of saving them time and providing them with access to the right financial products and services, then we have the opportunity to bring something game-changing to the economy.”

The Scotsman, Page: 36

Government borrowing falls by £20bn

Government borrowing fell by £20bn to £52bn in the year to the end of March – the lowest level since the financial crisis of 2008, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, economists said that the reduction in borrowing last year was helped by one-off factors. John Hawksworth, an economist at PwC, said: “It is good news that the deficit is coming down, but it is too soon to be complacent about the state of the public finances. As the OBR said last month, a number of one-off factors relating to the timing of tax receipts and spending flattered the deficit figures for 2016-17 but are likely to be reversed in 2017-18. So, while the deficit is now approaching a more sustainable level, there will still be some tough choices ahead on tax and spending for the next government.”

BBC News    The Times, Page: 1, 2    The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1    The Guardian, Page: 13   The Independent, Page: 63

Planned cut to pension savings limit dropped

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s planned cut to the amount pensioners can save into their pensions, from £10,000 to £4,000 a year for those who have already made use of the pension freedoms, has been delayed as the Government rushes to pass the Finance Bill ahead of the election. Former pensions minister Steve Webb, now a director at Royal London, said the Treasury was in chaos: “I think they’ve lost a year, it will be very hard for them to say ‘you should have known we were going to win the election’ and enforce the £4,000 cap,” he added.

The Daily Telegraph

Income redistribution makes society more equal

A report from the ONS has found the richest fifth of UK households had an average income before tax and benefits of £84,700 in the financial year ending 2016, compared with £7,200 for the poorest. That was a ratio of 12 to one, down from 14 to one a year earlier following an increase in pay for the poorest fifth. After taxes and benefits including public services like education, top incomes fell to £63,300 and poorer incomes rose to £17,200. Rich households were hit hardest by income tax while poorer households were helped most by housing benefit, tax credits and state pension. The Centre for Policy Studies described the findings as “not equal but fair”.

The Guardian, Page: 13   The Times, Page: 35    Evening Standard, Page: 2    The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4

MTD among reforms dropped from Finance Bill

The Government’s “Making Tax Digital” policy has been dropped from the Finance Bill after blanket opposition from taxpayers, business groups and senior political figures across all parties. The initiative would have forced millions of businesses and self-employed people to file multiple tax returns each year. Anita Monteith, tax manager at ICAEW, said: “This is a sensible decision by government. Making Tax Digital plans remain controversial and need more scrutiny by those who will be affected, and most importantly proper parliamentary debate – a clear roadmap as to how MTD will work in practice is needed”. The system was due to be rolled out next April and pilot schemes were already under way. Mike Cherry of the FSB said the next government will be asked to rethink the plans carefully following the election while Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at theACCA, said the delay would provide space for a proper debate. BDO’s Dawn Register added that many taxpayers and SMEs would be relieved at the decision. Tina Riches, tax partner at Smith & Williamson, also welcomed the delay stating that the plans had been moving at a “break-neck speed.” A spokesman for Phillip Hammond would not confirm that the plans would be reintroduced once the election was over. A tax on dividend incomes and new rules for non-doms were also removed from the Bill, leading to accusations that the Conservatives were breaking their promise to crack down on tax avoidance.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1, 2   Daily Mail, Page: 2   The Times, Page: 8-9   The Times, Page: 42    Independent i, Page: 8


Stamp duty receipts reach record high

Figures from HMRC show that gross receipts on transactions of residential and commercial properties hit £11.7bn in 2016-17, up from £10.7bn a year ago, driven by high prices and a 3% surcharge on buy-to-let and second homes. Harvey Jones in the Express says the 3% charge and the phasing out of the higher rate tax relief on mortgage interest repayments has “almost killed off property as an investment.”

Financial Times, Page: 2    Daily Express, Page: 28

EU won’t hold UK to £1.7bn import fraud bill

The EU Commission has said it will not force Britain to settle the £1.7bn fraud case, which centred around allegations that HMRC is failing to tackle systematic customs duty and VAT fraud by Chinese crime gangs using British ports, as part of the Brexit negotiations. A spokesman for HMRC said: “HMRC is handling more than 550 cases relating to potential import fraud, and will not hesitate to engage the relevant prosecuting authorities”.

Daily Express

Salaries rise for City workers

Research by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies shows pay in financial services rose by 3.5% in the year to March, more than four times faster than other professional staffing industries. Average salaries in financial services roles have risen to above £40,000, around 50% higher than the national average. Vacancies in the finance sector also rose 4% year-on-year.

City AM

Lambs gestated artificially

A lab has now successfully gestated premature lambs in artificial wombs, opening us up to considering how long it will be until a similar process is used on humans. Right now, babies born before 26 weeks are in severe danger of not surviving, and many don’t live good lives even if they do survive. An artificial womb may provide the best possible care for many premature births, as Olga Khazan explains here.

Previous News pages

Business News – 25th April 2017

Business News – 24th April 2017

Business News – 21st April 2017

Business News – 20th April 2017

Business News – 19th April 2017

Business News – 18th April 2017.