7thFeb
News article

CBI calls for Chancellor to use Budget to 'build momentum' in the economy

In its Spring Budget submission, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to 'continue building momentum' in the UK economy and 'put the country on the path to sustainable growth'.

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In its Spring Budget submission, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to 'continue building momentum' in the UK economy and 'put the country on the path to sustainable growth'.

The CBI stated that the Spring Budget is 'a crucial opportunity to firm up the foundations of growth to deliver a prosperous future for the country'.

According to the business group, the Chancellor should extend Full Expensing to cover leased and rented assets; deliver the planned expansion of eligibility to 30 hours of funded childcare; cap the increase in the business rate multiplier for England for another year; and increase the total that can be raised from Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) investments for knowledge intensive companies from £20 million to £30 million.

Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Executive at the CBI, commented: 'The Chancellor needs to perform a tricky 'high wire balancing act' of giving momentum to the economy without sacrificing hard-earned credibility. With the Autumn Statement signposting us to the right path towards stability and growth, political leaders need to stay the course and not give in to short-term political headwinds.

'Businesses are impatient for the economy to pick up steam. UK PLC needs a budget that prioritises economic momentum over election giveaways, giving firms the confidence to invest and avoiding the economy remaining on standstill until election day.'

6thFeb
News article

Small businesses 'finding it harder to access finance'

Research carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that small firms are struggling to access finance, with the success rate of finance applications falling by 10% in three months.

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Research carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that small firms are struggling to access finance, with the success rate of finance applications falling by 10% in three months.

Just 53% of credit applications were successful in the last three months of 2023, according to the business group. This was a significant fall when compared to the 62% success rate recorded in the previous three months.

The FSB revealed that of those who were successful, 33% were offered an interest rate in excess of 11%.

55% of firms sought finance for cashflow issues, whilst 19% applied for finance to expand their business and 15% wanted to upgrade equipment.

Commenting on the data, Caroline Lavelle, Chief Commercial Officer at the FSB, said: 'For 50 years FSB has been supporting its members to run and grow their businesses, including by providing tailored products and services to address the biggest needs of the day.

'It's clear that access to affordable finance has become harder recently.'

5thFeb
News article

Record 11.5 million taxpayers file tax returns by 31 January deadline

Data published by HMRC has revealed that a record 11.5 million taxpayers filed their 2022/23 self assessment tax returns by midnight on 31 January.

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Data published by HMRC has revealed that a record 11.5 million taxpayers filed their 2022/23 self assessment tax returns by midnight on 31 January.

HMRC stated that 12.1 million individuals were expected to file their tax returns and pay any tax owed.

The peak hour for filing on 31 January was between 16:00 and 16:59 when 61,549 taxpayers submitted their returns. 32,958 filed between 23:00 and 23:59.

HMRC has urged anyone who missed the deadline to submit their tax return as soon as possible – late filing and late payment penalties apply for those who failed to submit by the deadline. It stated that there are many ways to pay, including online, using the HMRC app, by bank transfer or via a Time to Pay payment plan.

Commenting on the figures, Myrtle Lloyd, Director General for Customer Services at HMRC, said: 'Thank you to the millions of self assessment customers and agents who met the deadline. Anyone who has yet to file and is concerned that they cannot pay in full may be able to spread the cost of what they owe with a payment plan. Search 'pay your self assessment' on GOV.UK to find out more.'

2ndFeb
News article

Interest rates stay at 5.25%

UK interest rates have been left unchanged at 5.25% by the Bank of England.

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UK interest rates have been left unchanged at 5.25% by the Bank of England.

It is the fourth time in a row the Bank has held rates after previously raising them 14 times in succession as it attempted to bring inflation down.

The Bank also published its inflation report, which predicts that inflation will fall back to its target of 2% between April and June this year, before rising again.

Anna Leach, Deputy Chief Economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said the decision would come as a relief to businesses and households.

She said: 'While inflation is following a downward trend towards the 2% target, it's not clear whether rates will follow suit. Relatively high wage inflation alongside an uptick in services inflation in December means that a rate cut before the summer is increasingly unlikely to materialise.

'However, that won't stop pressure piling onto the Bank of England to reduce rates as weakness in the economy persists. A rebound in growth in November following the previous month's decline is encouraging but masks the overall picture of a flatlining economy, still at risk of technical recession.

'The stakes are high for business bearing the brunt of higher borrowing costs and soft demand. They desperately need certainty on monetary policy alongside a package of measures from government to kickstart productivity and growth.'

1stFeb
News article

Employment Allowance should be increased at Spring Budget

The Employment Allowance should be increased to £6,500 in the upcoming Spring Budget, says the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

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The Employment Allowance should be increased to £6,500 in the upcoming Spring Budget, says the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

This would help make it more viable for firms to maintain and extend jobs and hours, including to those currently economically inactive and others out of work, according to the business group.

The move would also help support businesses to afford the increases to the National Living Wage (NLW) in April, the FSB said.

The business group says that if employers' National Insurance contributions (NICs) stay the same from April 2024, the current £5,000 will only cover three full time employees instead of the four it was originally designed to cover at the NLW of £11.44 an hour.

In the years ahead, the Employment Allowance should be linked to the NLW to ensure it keeps up with wage increases, the FSB added.

FSB National Chair, Martin McTague, said: 'The Employment Allowance has been a big success, giving small firms a real shot at creating jobs and making their business thrive. Entrepreneurs are the ones who helped lead us to recovery after the 2008 recession, and we need to be creating a climate where they are encouraged to make a go of it, knowing they're doing so in a supportive environment.

'Small businesses are overwhelmingly the route into work for those who are currently out of work, and we need to be doing everything we can to support small employers.'

 

31stJan
News article

IMF warns UK government against further tax cuts

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned Chancellor Jeremy Hunt that he cannot afford to cut taxes in his March Budget.

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned Chancellor Jeremy Hunt that he cannot afford to cut taxes in his March Budget.

It said preserving public services and investment implied higher spending than was reflected in the government's current plans.

Mr Hunt has hinted heavily about more tax cuts in his upcoming Budget in March and says they could boost growth.

However, the IMF says funding the transition to net zero and protecting the UK's public services would need higher spending in the medium term than current government plans.

Pierre Olivier-Gourinchas, IMF Chief Economist, said: 'There is a need to put in place medium-term fiscal plans that will accommodate a very significant increase in spending pressures.

'In the case of the UK, you might think of spending on healthcare and modernising the NHS; spending on social care; on education; you might think about critical public investment to address the climate transition; but also to boost growth.

'In that context we would advise against further discretionary tax cuts as envisioned and discussed now.'

30thJan
News article

Clarity on new border checks is vital, says BCC

The government must clarify plans around new customs processes as firms remain in the dark about crucial aspects of their operation, says the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

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The government must clarify plans around new customs processes as firms remain in the dark about crucial aspects of their operation, says the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The first phase of the UK's Border Target Operating Model begins on 31 January, with imports of plant and animal products now requiring export health certificates. 

It will be the first time for decades that EU firms will have to provide this documentation for goods they are sending to Great Britain. The BCC says it is unclear how prepared they are for the change. 

The business group says there is more concern is a lack of clarity around physical checks of consignments, due to start in April.

Government figures show the UK imports just under 30% of all the food it consumes from the EU. 

William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said: 'The government is finally implementing major changes to Great Britain's inbound border controls and customs checks stemming from Brexit, but there are still unanswered questions around its plans.

'Especially, as businesses are already facing a tough start to the year, with container shipping prices quadrupling as the Red Sea disruption continues. 

“The initial changes … should not cause many noticeable hold ups for inbound goods, although EU firms will be facing new charges to get export health certificates and will need to find vets to sign them. 

'The bigger issue is physical checks on a proportion of these imports, which are due to start in April.'

 

29thJan
News article

Only a third of UK adults confident with self assessment

Just 35% of UK adults are confident they could complete the self assessment tax return form correctly, according to research Standard Life.

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Just 35% of UK adults are confident they could complete the self assessment tax return form correctly, according to research Standard Life. 

Three in ten UK adults admit they do not feel confident they could complete the form correctly. A further 18% said they felt neither confident nor unconfident while 17% were not sure. 

The research highlighted a widespread lack of awareness around self assessment timings, with more than half not knowing when the deadline for filing is. 

In addition, among those who are currently, or soon will be, in the higher income tax bracket, 41% are unaware that they might need to fill in a self assessment tax return to claim all their pension tax relief.

Dean Butler, Managing Director for Retail Direct at Standard Life, said: 'The deadline for filing self-assessment tax returns is fast approaching, with returns needing to be submitted online by midnight on 31 January. So, if you're one of the categories of people who needs to send a tax return then now is the time to act.

'Tax returns can be tempting to put off, but it's important to understand what's required and file it on time to avoid any penalties which can be costly. Tackling the forms in advance, rather than leaving it to the last minute, will give you the time to gather the information needed and make the submission as stress free as possible.' 

If you require advice or assistance with self assessment please get in touch.

26thJan
News article

Think tank warns tax cuts may have to be scrapped due to 'economic bind'

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that tax cut promises may need to be scrapped as a result of the UK being in an 'unfortunate economic and fiscal bind'.

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The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that tax cut promises may need to be scrapped as a result of the UK being in an 'unfortunate economic and fiscal bind'.

In a new report, the IFS said that whilst tax rises and cuts for public services are built into current government plans, public services are 'showing signs of strain' and are 'performing less well than they were in 2010'.

The think tank also said that 'everything is harder' when the economy is growing slowly and public finances are more constrained.

In the report, the IFS stated: 'It might be easy to announce immediate tax cuts without any hint of what it is the state currently does that it will stop doing, or what taxes will rise in future, but this trade-off cannot be wished away.'

A spokesperson for the Treasury commented: 'The best way to deliver sustainable funding for public services in the future is to grow the economy - the UK has grown faster than France, Germany and Japan since 2010 and the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) says our action in spring and autumn will deliver the largest boost on record.'

25thJan
News article

Fall in government borrowing 'increases possibility of tax cuts' in Budget

Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that government borrowing fell to £7.8 billion in December 2023, increasing the possibility of tax cuts in the upcoming Spring Budget.

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Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that government borrowing fell to £7.8 billion in December 2023, increasing the possibility of tax cuts in the upcoming Spring Budget.

Experts have suggested that the latest figures may give Chancellor Jeremy Hunt additional 'wiggle room' for tax cuts in the Spring Budget on 6 March. During the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Hunt hinted that he wants to cut taxes, and stated that low-tax economies are 'more dynamic, more competitive and generate more money for public services'.

The ONS data also showed that interest payments on government debt fell to £4 billion, down by £14.1 billion when compared to December 2022.

Commenting on the data, a spokesperson for the Treasury said: 'We are focused on creating a more productive public sector, not a larger one, by reducing admin workloads, introducing early interventions and safely bringing in new tech like AI. This will stop the state growing ever larger and ensure taxpayers' money is spent on the public's priorities.'