Manufacturing activity slows – business news 2 February 2021.

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Manufacturing activity slows, the pandemic drives shift in work patterns, the office footprint, lock-down exit, house prices, Brexit, the coming budget, covid-19, market and other business news.

Here are CPA we want to share the business news stories we have seen that we think will affect our members and readers. Many of us are busy fighting to protect our businesses and therefore might have missed some of the news that could impact small businesses, their owners and those that sell on credit.

Manufacturing activity slows to three-month low

Post-Brexit trade barriers and the pandemic took their toll on British manufacturing in January.

The IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index declined to 54.1 in January from 57.5 in December, as manufacturing growth slowed to its lowest rate in three months.

The score was higher than analyst estimates of a 52.9 on an index where any reading above 50 shows growth.

New export orders were down, while covid-19 restrictions and transport delays, especially at ports, disrupted supply chains.

IHS Markit director Rob Dobson, who warned that the UK’s manufacturing sector “has come close to stalling”, said “a mixture of harsher COVID-19 restrictions and Brexit led to near-record supply-chain disruptions, lower exports and increased costs”.

Chris Barlow, head of manufacturing at MHA, said UK manufacturing was “artificially boosted” in December as companies took measures to avoid anticipated chaos at ports as the transition period came to an end but warned that “Brexit trade friction is starting to bite.”

Pandemic drives fundamental shift in work

The Telegraph looks at the shift toward working from home brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, considering whether the appeal previously cited by many workers may have started to wane after an extended period away from the office and amid the bleaker winter months. It notes a Deloitte survey of chief financial officers which shows many believe the pandemic will trigger a fundamental change in the business environment, with 98% saying they expect flexible and home working to increase, with a five-fold increase in home working forecast by 2025.

Firms set to shrink office footprint

A study from Grant Thornton shows that over a third of UK mid-sized firms expect to reduce their office space. The poll of more than 275 business leaders saw 74% of those who said they expect to reduce their occupied space say they anticipate reducing their office footprint by as much as a quarter, while 12% say they are likely to reduce their space by up to half. Grant Thornton’s John Burgess commented: “Our research shows that as home working becomes the norm, and demand for office space reduces, businesses will be looking to scale back their property portfolios and optimise spaces to suit new working models.”

Regions adding office space

Deloitte ’s crane survey shows that construction activity in Belfast, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester is holding firm amid the pandemic, with the cities delivering nearly 2.5m sq ft of office space in 2020. This is an increase of more than 547,000 sq ft on 2019’s total. The report also shows that 3.61m sq ft of office space is under construction

Ministers urged to work with business on lock-down exit

The CBI has called on the Government to work with the private sector to formulate a strategy for reopening the economy post-lock-down. The business body has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, urging ministers to outline a lock-down exit strategy, calling for details including what will be considered high or low-risk economic activity, whether there will be a return to tiered restrictions and what conditions need to be met to ease restrictions further. The letter also calls for further detail on the Government’s vaccination strategy and how officials will create “bespoke” reopening plans for industries most affected by the pandemic. CBI director-general Tony Danker told Mr Kwarteng there is “huge appetite among businesses to help the government create and deliver a roadmap out of lock-down that lasts, has national consensus and kick-starts our economic recovery as 2021 unfolds.”

UK House Prices

UK House Prices fell for the first time in six months in January as the end of the stamp duty holiday approached. Nationwide’s annual house price index showed that prices fell 0.3 per cent last month, the first time they have dropped since June. That means the average price for a house, not adjusted for the season, was £229,748 in January. The annual rate of growth also slowed over the same period, slipping back from 7.3 per cent to 6.4 per cent.

Mortgage approvals hit highest level since 2007

Figures from the Bank of England show that mortgage approvals rose to 818,500 in 2020, exceeding the 789,100 recorded in 2019 and hitting the highest level since 2007. While the first nationwide coronavirus lock-down prompted a slump which saw fewer than 9,400 mortgage approvals in May, an all-time low, 103,381 loan applications were approved by banks and building societies in December, with a surge in activity in H2 as buyers sought to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. The value of loans approved in December hit £22.3bn, the highest monthly level on record, while the value of loans across the year exceeded £171bn – the highest total since 2007.

Sunak to detail economic recovery plan

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to unveil a plan for economic recovery ahead of his March 3 budget, with this expected to outline a medium-term investment and skills strategy. A source close to Mr Sunak said the Chancellor expects the medium-term strategy to be the final immediate term support package set out as part of emergency government support in the wake of the pandemic.

Sunak set to maintain triple tax lock

Rishi Sunak is to stand by the Conservatives’ triple tax lock, vowing not to increase income tax, national insurance or VAT. While Treasury officials have urged the Chancellor to rethink the tax lock, Mr Sunak has reportedly agreed with Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he will stand by a manifesto pledge not to increase rates for five years. With Mr Sunak looking to cover the cost of the coronavirus crisis, adhering to the triple tax lock could see corporation tax and CGT increased instead. City AM’s James Warrington says that while Mr Sunak is expected to announce only limited tax increases in the March 3 budget, larger increases could follow as the country emerges from the pandemic.

EU urged to offer City post-Brexit access

Lobby group TheCityUK has called on EU officials to grant Britain’s financial services firms wide-ranging post-Brexit access, calling for the bloc to grant regulatory equivalence to the sector. TheCityUK said the EU should unilaterally grant equivalence for UK finance firms as it is “in the interests of customers and clients in the EU”. It has also urged the UK Government to offer greater clarity on what future financial regulatory cooperation will look like post-Brexit. TheCityUK chief executive Miles Celic said: “The industry is as eager to see structured regulatory cooperation on financial services between the UK and the EU, as it is to prevent cross-border barriers to justice and ensure certainty on the movement of data.”

Record number miss self-assessment deadline

HMRC figures show that a record 1.8m people missed the January 31 self-assessment tax return deadline, equating to 15% of the 12.1m returns due. The number of people missing the deadline was nearly double the 958,000 who filed late last year and more than double the 730,000 recorded in 2019. Those who missed the deadline will not face the normal £100 late payment fine, with HMRC waiving the charge due to challenges brought about by the pandemic, but they will see interest charges on unpaid tax at an annual rate of 2.6%. George Bull of RSM says the increase in late-payers shows “just how much people are struggling”.

Covid-19 general news

The daily numbers continued to drop with 8,607 new cases  (total 3.84m) in the UK yesterday with 406 more deaths (total 106,590).

Globally 447,127 new cases brought the total  to 103.4 million with 2,238,635 deaths.

Pfizer/ BioNTech said today they will increase deliveries to the EU by 75m doses in Q2 and an increase in deliveries starting from February 15th. AstraZeneca has also promised to increase deliveries by 30% or 9m additional doses also starting mid-February.


Global markets started the new month in a more confident mood following a three week wobble. This was partly attributable to strong US manufacturing data, improved vaccine rollout and a declining global count of newly reported covid-19 cases.

Yesterday the FTSE 100 closed at up 0.9%  at 6466.62  and the 250 Closed up 0.8% at 20,392.  Overnight, the S&P 500 rose 1.61% and the NASDAQ rose 2.55%.  Asian markets followed their lead this morning as have European markets.

Sterling is maintaining its recent strength at 1.135 Euros and 1.370 US Dollars.

Brent Crude is at $57.05, buoyed by falling inventories and hopes of a swifter global economic recovery, although halting vaccine roll-outs and renewed travel restrictions capped gains.

Gold is back down at $1851 having advanced almost 1% yesterday while Silver prices extended their blistering rally for a third straight session, gaining as much as 11% to a near eight-year peak as retail investors piled into the precious metal in a frenzy kicked off by US social media users last week.


BP said profit fell sharply in the fourth quarter of the year as the Covid-19 pandemic hit energy demand, pressuring oil and gas prices down and leading to higher exploration write-offs. For the three months ended 31 December, the underlying profit for the fourth quarter fell to £115 million from £2.57 billion year-on-year.


US hedge fund Melvin Capital has revealed it lost 53% of its value in January 2021 due to losses in shorting Gamestop. Melvin has now closed out its short position in Gamestop. Its funds under management now stand at approximately $8bn.

Robinhood tapped its shareholders for an additional $2.4bn, on top of $1bn it raised last week. The online stockbroker was forced to suspend trading as angry retail investors used it to drive up the price of GameStop, a video-games retailer heavily shorted by hedge funds; their frenzied trading depleted Robinhood’s required capital.


ASOS said it has acquired four brands from beleaguered Arcadia Group Ltd, including UK high street staples Topshop and Topman. ASOS will pay £265 million for the four brands – including Miss Selfridge and HIIT as well – and also buy £30 million in stock upfront. HIIT was a sub-brand of menswear retailer Burton, which ASOS has chosen not to acquire.

Only 300 staff will be saved as part of the deal, meaning 2,500 redundancies, and Asos, which only operates online, has not bought any of the brands’ stores. Arcadia’s administrator Deloitte confirmed the Asos deal and also said other Arcadia brands Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis were in exclusive discussions with a potential buyer.

EC questions Apple tax ruling

Apple could be required to pay €13bn in back taxes in Ireland, with EU competition enforcers looking to overturn a verdict which they claim was a legal mistake. The European Commission said in 2016 that two Irish tax rulings had suspicious reductions on Apple’s tax but a General Court ruling last year said the Commission had not met the necessary legal standard to show Apple had an unfair advantage. The Commission, which has been attempting to clamp down on aggressive tax planning by multinational firms, has since appealed to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Bookkeeper jailed

Bookkeeper Patricia Mann has been jailed for three years and nine months after it was discovered she stole more than £800,000 from a business that hired her to balance its books after it was defrauded by a previous employee. An investigation by external accountants found that she paid £801,000 from Vintage Wines into her own account, having told the firm it had a “substantial” cash flow deficit.

Don’t let Covid-19 bust your business!

It will if your cash flow dries up, either sooner or later.

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 sometime to come.

CPA eases cash from tardy debtors – Efficiently, Effectively, Economically and Ethically. Above all tactfully, because maintenance of goodwill is paramount.

To meet the needs of creditors in the current crisis, we have designed a “critical care” package especially tailored for the situation.

  • The annual package costs start at very low rates
  • A minimum performance warranty is provided
  • Several complimentary services included

Clients instruct CPA on-line via their PC or phone, completely user-friendly. Your late paying customers are told to pay you direct (not to us).

A very recent report shows a 23% increase in the number of unpaid invoices since March 11th THIS YEAR – are you getting a build-up of late payers?

Right now, overdue accounts must be a concern and CPA has a great track record of encouraging slow-payers to pay their suppliers quickly.

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 today.

When you see your money come in, you will be so glad you used CPA.

Do you sell on credit?

With pressures on the cash flow it is essential that you stay on top of the credit limits you grant customers and watch carefully for any late payments.

Those customers will look for the easiest option to boost their cash-flow. Don’t let it be you.

You can’t just assume your customers can and will pay you eventually, no matter how big their name is.

It is essential to have credit management systems in place to monitor and check your customers credit worthiness.

It is also best practice to use a trusted third party like CPA to make sure you are paid on time by customers, no matter how good a name they have.

About CPA

The Credit Protection Association can help!

Formed in 1914, CPA has been providing credit management services to SMEs for over 100 years.

At the Credit Protection Association, we provide first class credit information that can help you avoid being over extended to customers who are at risk. Our monitoring service can flag up warning signs long before the end, giving you the chance to adjust and reduce your exposure. We provide recommended credit limits and credit scores on a traffic light system and can help you set appropriate credit policies for your customers.

We regularly publish lists of the latest insolvencies but by then it is too late. Our credit reports however predict approximately 96% of company insolvencies long before they arrive.

Companies in trouble usually have very bad cash flow and they try to deal with it by delaying payment to their suppliers, increasing your exposure to them.

If you supply on credit, help us help you identify the risks.

Why use a third party collector?

As a third party collector, we can also get your payments prioritised over those who are not as hot on collections. When your customer receives a letter from the Credit Protection Association regarding their outstanding account, they are going to want to get that resolved as a priority. Our overdue account recovery service can get your unpaid invoices to the top of their “to do” list and get your invoice paid.

Over the years we have collected billions in overdue invoices for our customers.

Our debt recovery and credit management services give our members the financial freedom needed to grow and prosper, while our new Late Payment Compensation department could unlock hidden potential and offer the compensation needed to springboard your business to success.

You might be hesitant about contacting a debt collection agency. What are they going to be like?

Can they help your particular type of business?

There is no need for concern. CPA are courteous, helpful and very probably have had direct experience of working with your type of business.

Debt collection agencies are not all alike.

Success lies in both recovering money and keeping customers happy. The Credit Protection Association was founded in 1914 and has helped tens of thousands of UK businesses to collect outstanding payments and reduce the risk of incurring bad debt. We believe that creditors deserve to be paid for the work or goods they have supplied but we fully understand the need to maintain
the best possible relationship with customers!

At The Credit Protection Association, we provide solutions, advice and back-up in all areas relating to the supply of services or goods on account. Client-members receive everything they need from a single source to reduce debtor days and write-offs.

The Credit Protection Association has helped has assisted tens of thousands of UK businesses with their credit control requirements, since the First World War.

We are polite, firm and efficient when it comes to recovering outstanding debt.

“We have used CPA for a number of years now. The website is easy to navigate around with lots of helpful reports. The staff are always at hand and very friendly. CPA has helped us reduce our debt over the years and keep track of potential issues with our customers.”
~ CPA client in Buckinghamshire

“The service from CPA has proved to be everything that you said it would be. We have already seen a huge benefit. We have had a number of overdue accounts paid promptly and directly to us. It is also a huge weight off our mind to know that once we have passed an overdue payment over to you, you take care of everything whilst keeping us informed.
~ Credit Controller client in Warrington

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


Ready to speak to an advisor?

For help or advice on credit management, entirely without obligation.

Call us today

0330 053 9263

CPA is passionate about late payment

The Credit Protection Association has been protecting smaller firms against poor payment practices for over 100 years.

We are extremely passionate about breaking the late payment culture that holds back the UK economy and threatens many SMEs, with cash flow difficulties being the single biggest killer of Britain’s small businesses.

If you were regularly paid late we can help. Those former customers used you to boost their own cashflow, regularly paying you late.

As a result you had extra costs, you had the distraction of having to chase payment, you had opportunity costs because your capital was tied up in their late invoices.

Under little used legislation, you are entitled to compensation for those late payments.

You put up with the PAIN – now claim the GAIN!

Now you can boost your own cash-flow.

CPA can help unearth the those hidden treasures.

We have the technology to reveal the compensation you are due and we have the extensive experience and expertise to then turn those claims into cash.

Did you know that your business is entitled to a minimum of £40 for every commercial invoice paid late to you over the past 6 years?

How many of your invoices are paid late each month – 20, 50, 100 or more?

At £40 per invoice that’s claim of £57,600, £144,000, £288,000 plus interest. The more invoices the bigger the claim! 

At £100 per invoice it’s £144,000, £360,000, £720,000 plus interest.

Discover NOW the potential value of late payment compensation hidden in your sales ledger!

For over 20 years, CPA has calculated and recovered Late Payment Compensation on behalf of Clients!  

Yes, CPA can help you boost your business cash-flow.

Don’t let your bankers control you, contact CPA today.

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.

Read our blog here on how to crack down on the late payment culture.

Read our blog here on how to give late payers the slap they need.

The “Why” of the late payment culture.

New PM should walk the walk and back small firms over late payments

Paying late is “crack cocaine” to big business.

Late payment culture risks “spiraling out of control”

visit our late payment compensation page

See our full blog and FAQ on late payment compensation

Do you realise you could be sitting on a fortune?

Late payments often result in a cash flow crunch and leave SMEs in need of a cash injection.

If you sold B2B on credit then there may be a hidden source of capital you can call on.

If you fancy an extra bit of extra cash in your business, rather than jumping through hoops with your bank, you could look to uncover the resources from an unexpected source within your own business.

Not many are aware but there could be a hidden fortune within your business, sitting there, just waiting to be uncovered and released.

We can help you uncover the pile of gold, you didn’t even know you were sitting on.

If you trade with other businesses and were often paid late then you could be entitled to significant compensation.

Under little known and under-utilised legislation your business could be due huge amounts in compensation that you didn’t even know about.

Let’s be clear – this is not a way to weaken any customer relationships you value. It is one that identifies who’s been paying late and then recover the potentially significant sums in compensation using Late Payment Legislation from businesses where the relationship has already ended.

You can pick and choose who you want us to follow up – but once we’ve agreed which companies you’d like to pursue compensation from it’s a fast process and there’s no financial outlay to you whatsoever. My team at CPA put its expertise to work to recover the compensation due and fight late payment culture.

That compensation could provide the cash boost your business needed.

But don’t delay, that compensation evaporates if not claimed within six years of the late payment.

How can CPA help?

CPA has developed a unique technology to dig into your accounting records and discover the cash injection you are due by means of compensation. The software does all the hard work. Our software interacts over the cloud with over 300 different software packages, working directly with your accounts package, just so long as it’s stored on a computer.

We recognise that most companies do not have the resources to spend time on the identification and calculation of Late Payment Compensation. Our service can produce an Analyses within just a few days with (usually) less than 30 mins of co-operation from our clients. We work directly with over 300 accounting packages but can also work with bespoke accounts packages. Indeed, speed is essential as the oldest invoices may fall foul of the 6-year time limit.

Once the Sales Ledger Analyses is made available to clients, all that is required is that management decide which commercially sensitive ex-customers to remove from the list and return it to us.

CPA then uses its years of collection experience to explain and recover the Late Payment Compensation Claims. Clients do not handle any part of the recovery process as our team will take all communications from the companies against who the claims has been made. Often, it’s simply a case of explaining the legislation, sometimes we have to go all the way and enforce the legislation through the courts.

The result is that we are realising clients’ claims worth tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds which, of course, is pure net profit. You may also be among the recipients of “hundreds of thousands of pounds” should you elect to take advantage of our services.

We do the work, you receive the cash.

If you have supplied goods and services to businesses on credit and were regularly paid late then you could be due significant sums in late payment compensation.

We are talking to companies and unearthing claims in the hundreds of thousands from former business customers who paid them late. Large business customers who abused their power to inflict unfair and sometimes illegal payment practices.

We are helping business owners who are looking to boost the returns from their business before they retire. We are helping businesses who have lost major clients after years of loyal service to get properly compensated for systematic late payment. We are helping companies that were looking to close down, who looked insolvent and finding that cash injection they need to avoid insolvency.

Those former clients who regularly paid you late can finally be made to pay.

Ready to speak to an advisor?

For help or advice on credit management, entirely without obligation.

Call us today

0330 053 9263

The Credit Protection Association is a credit management company established in 1914. If you supply goods or services on credit then we can help you!

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

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