Business News – 26th May 2017


The “I Love Manchester” sign has become a ubiquitous image of defiance in the days following the suicide bomb attack on crowds leaving a concert at the Manchester Arena that left 22 people dead and many more hurt. Seen Across Social Menda and all over the city of Manchester, from billboards to motorways, it has once again emerged as the city faces tough times.  The logo, originated with the ‘I Love MCR’ organisation, which was launched after the 2011 riots in the city.

Trump goes negative on Brexit?

Having once described the U.K.’s breakup with the European Union as a “beautiful, beautiful thing,” the U.S. president was said to have told European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday he’s now concerned it will cost American jobs. The story lingered for a while, only for the White House to deny the account.


Consumer confidence slipped

Consumer confidence slipped to its lowest level since the month after the UK voted for Brexit, according to a survey by YouGov. It fell 0.2 points from the previous month to 107.9 – its lowest since July 2016. Although a score over 100 indicates a positive outlook, the index – produced from YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) data – has yet to recover to pre-referendum levels. The Office for National Statistics also pointed to declines for consumer-facing industries such as retail and hotels and a slowdown in household spending, as well as weak growth for construction and manufacturing.

Sky news

Massive corporate tax grab lurking

The Guardian’s Felicity Lawrence reports on a tax case that could cripple the UK economy. A series of group litigations brought by big corporates argue that HMRC was discriminatory in treating transactions made by UK-registered companies and ones made by their related foreign companies differently and are seeking billions in tax paid going back to the beginning of our membership of the European community in 1973. HMRC’s 2015-16 annual accounts show it may have to repay big business £55bn of old tax as legal avenues for avoiding paying run out. British American Tobacco (BAT) is the principal test claimant in a Group Litigation Order which has been running since 2003 and involves 25 corporate groups. HMRC has one last chance of appeal to the Supreme Court while businesses are challenging a 2015 by HMRC to tax repayment awards at 45%. Ms Lawrence notes that the issue was raised during the Brexit debates with the ECJ criticised for favouring big business in the case by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. She goes on to lament that corporates can pay for lawyers and accountants to find these wheezes while the rest of us get poorer. Will any incoming government avoid the bill and make corporates pay their fair share of tax, she asks.

The Guardian, Page: 31

HMRC wins £3.1m dispute over tax software

A judge has ruled that users of tax computation software could not rely on their results despite the programmes using technical specifications provided by HMRC.

Financial Times

Lloyds chairman: City can weather a “no deal” scenario

Lloyds Banking Group chairman Lord Blackwell has told a conference that the foundations of London’s financial services industry run deep and that Brexit would not lead to a collapse of the sector, as his counterpart at HSBC has suggested. Douglas Flint warned the Treasury Select Committee that the capital’s ecosystem was like a Jenga tower at risk of collapsing if one piece is removed. But Lord Blackwell said he suspected business will continue to flow into London and that the City and UK financial services “can weather a situation of ‘no deal’.”

The Daily Telegraph

Small business unimpressed with Tory manifesto

An analysis of social media comments by small business owners by Impact Social for the Telegraph has found that 51% held negative views of the Conservative manifesto. The main concern for SMEs is the lack of costing for Tory policies followed by the apparent U-turn on social care. Neutral comment was given by 41% while only 8% posted positive views. Some companies regarded the manifesto as an “assault on free markets” while others felt there was “nothing for business” in the proposals.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1, 8


Failure to handle legal issues costly for SMEs

A YouGov survey for law-tech firm LawBite found that SMEs are experiencing on average eight legal issues every year at a cost of more than £13.6bn per year. The most common legal issues were found in five key areas: disputes, employees and key contractors, customers and suppliers, terms and conditions and software. Nearly 90% believe that losses due to legal problems would not be suffered by them. The survey also identified a correlation between the amount SMEs are willing to risk in losses and their willingness to use lawyers. Only 8% say that legal fees are good value for money and just 20% rate law firms as ‘good’ in terms of ease of access.

London Loves Business

FCA turns from P2P to crowdfunding

The Standard’s Anthony Hilton says the approval of Funding Circle by the FCA paves the way for a sizeable expansion in the peer-to-peer market. He says granting P2P platforms permission to channel funds through an Innovative Finance ISA could mobilise a mountain of retail money but crucially, the FCA has approved a new asset class – one distinct from banking and asset management – free from regulations on capital holdings. Mr Hilton adds that the FCA is now turning its attention to crowdfunders, which raise equity capital for small businesses and start-ups rather than loans. The trick with crowdfunders will be to find a compromise that brings transparency and simplicity for investors without compromising the commercial differences which define the platforms, says Mr Hilton.

Evening Standard, Page: 46

Faulty Pensions Regulator server angst for SMEs

Thousands of small businesses ordered to register for auto-enrolment pensions face fines after part of the regulator’s website crashed. An online server at the Pensions Regulator has been faulty since Wednesday leaving some businesses concerned they could face fines as a result of missing registration deadlines. The regulator said any difficulties would be taken into consideration and that it was “working hard to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

BBC News

Economic growth estimate revised down

The economy grew more slowly than first estimated in the first three months of the year, as the key services sector lost momentum. Economic growth slowed to 0.2% in the quarter, the ONS said, down from the original estimate of 0.3%. The ONS said there had been a slowdown “in consumer-focused industries, such as retail sales and accommodation”. “This was partly due to rising prices,” it added. The services sector accounts for almost 80% of the economy, but the ONS now estimates that the sector expanded by just 0.2% in the first quarter of the year. That is down from the ONS’s initial estimate of 0.3% and a sharp fall from the 0.8% growth recorded in the last quarter of 2016. The ONS added that the construction and manufacturing sectors showed “little growth”, but said business services and finance “continued to grow strongly”.

The Times, Page: 44   Evening Standard, Page: 44   The Guardian, Page: 17   Financial Times, Page: 3   Independent i, Page: 48   Yorkshire Post, Page: 7   The Scotsman, Page: 35

Net migration to UK in 2016 fell 84k

Net migration to the UK was estimated to be 248,000 in 2016, a fall of 84,000 from 2015, according to figures from the ONS, which said the change was driven by “a statistically significant” increase of 40,000 people leaving the country. The ONS report for 2016 includes six months of data following the EU referendum.

The Guardian   BBC News   Financial Times

Sterling Slipped

Sterling fell against all of its 16 major peers on Friday after a poll showed the Conservative Party’s lead over the main opposition Labour Party has narrowed to five percentage points with two weeks to go until the June 8 election.

U.S. Markets

U.S. shares scaled record peaks after strong earnings reports from retailers, outpacing European shares which were little changed, while oil prices plunged after top crude producers extended output cuts for a shorter period than expected.

Amazon, in its third decade of business, dominates the world of online shopping. But an actual bricks and mortar Amazon store? That’s still as rare as an A-list celebrity sighting. The company opened its seventh US bookshop in New York, drawing a steady stream of selfie-snapping gawkers, tourists and loyal shoppers who revelled in the novelty experience of shopping in person.


Oil prices extended losses after tumbling in the previous session when OPEC and allied producers extended output cuts but disappointed investors betting on longer or larger supply curbs.


Gold edged lower as the dollar steadied due to weakness in commodity currencies after an extension of output curbs by OPEC and other producing nations left investors hoping for bigger cuts disappointed.

Electric Cars

Battery powered cars will soon be cheaper to buy than conventional gasoline ones, offering immediate savings to drivers. Automakers from Renault SA to Tesla Inc. have long touted the cheaper fuel and running costs of electric cars that helps to displace the higher upfront prices that drivers pay when they buy the zero-emission vehicles. Now research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates that falling battery costs will mean electric vehicles will also be cheaper to buy in the U.S. and Europe as soon as 2025. Batteries currently account for about half the cost of EVs, and their prices will fall by about 77 percent between 2016 and 2030, the London-based researcher said.


Previous News pages

Business News – 25th May 2017

Business News – 24th May 2017

Business News – 23rd May 2017

Business News – 22nd May 2017

Business News – 19th May 2017

Business News – 18th May 2017

Business News – 17th May 2017

Business News – 16th May 2017

Business News – 16th May 2017

Business News – 12th May 2017

Business News – 11th May 2017

Business News – 10th May 2017

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Business News – 8th May 2017

Business News – 5th May 2017

Business News – 4th May 2017

Business News – 3rd May 2017

Business News – 2nd May 2017