16thDec
News article

Self assessment taxpayers must declare COVID grants on tax returns

HMRC has reminded self assessment taxpayers to declare any coronavirus (COVID-19) grant payments on their 2020/21 tax return.

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HMRC has reminded self assessment taxpayers to declare any coronavirus (COVID-19) grant payments on their 2020/21 tax return.

According to HMRC, more than 2.7 million customers claimed at least one Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) payment up to 5 April 2021.

The tax authority says these grants are taxable and customers should declare them on their 2020/21 tax return before the deadline on 31 January 2022.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC's Director General for Customer Services, said: 'We want to help customers get their tax returns right, first time. We have videos, guidance and helpsheets available online to support you with your self assessment.'

The SEISS is not the only COVID-19 support scheme that customers should declare on their tax return. Information on which support payments need to be reported to HMRC and any that do not is available on GOV.UK.

15thDec
News article

HMRC's Time to Pay plan raises £46 million

HMRC's self-service Time to Pay payment plan has raised £46 million since April this year, according to the tax authority's data.

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HMRC's self-service Time to Pay payment plan has raised £46 million since April this year, according to the tax authority's data.

HMRC's self-serve Time to Pay system was set up to help individuals struggling to pay their bills in full and it allows self assessment taxpayers to manage how they pay their tax.

Since the beginning of this tax year, the system has helped 20,000 people to settle outstanding tax bills. HMRC stated that last year, 123,000 taxpayers used self-serve Time to Pay to spread the cost of their 2019/20 tax bill, with a total value of £460 million.

The limit for a self-serve Time to Pay arrangement, which was increased during the pandemic, remains at £30,000 tax due. 

The service creates a bespoke monthly payment plan for the taxpayer based on how much tax is owed and the length of time needed to pay. If taxpayers owe more than £30,000 or need longer to pay, they should phone the self assessment payment helpline on 0300 200 3822.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC's Director General for Customer Services, said: 'We understand some customers might be worried about paying their self assessment bill this year, and we want to support them.'

14thDec
News article

Bank of England issues cryptocurrency warning

The Bank of England (BoE) has warned that fast-growing cryptocurrency assets could endanger the UK's financial system.

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The Bank of England (BoE) has warned that fast-growing cryptocurrency assets could endanger the UK's financial system.

The Bank's Financial Policy Committee stated that crypto assets are starting to become interconnected with the UK financial system. It has called for new regulatory and enforcement frameworks to be put in place to help manage the risks posed by cryptocurrency.

Additionally, the BoE said that financial institutions should take a cautious approach to the adoption of cryptoassets until regulatory guidelines are implemented.

Commenting on the matter, Sir Jon Cunliffe, Deputy Governor at the BoE, said: 'The point, I think, at which one worries is when it becomes integrated into the financial system, when a big price correction could really affect other markets and affect established financial market players.

'We really need to roll our sleeves up and get on with it, so that by the time this becomes a much bigger issue, we've actually got the regulatory framework to contain the risks.' 

13thDec
News article

Climate Change Committee calls for higher tax on household gas

Following COP26, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has urged the government to introduce a higher tax on household gas.

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Following COP26, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has urged the government to introduce a higher tax on household gas.

In its recommendation to the government, the Committee stated that taxes should be used to make fossil fuel heating more expensive to help reach the government's Net Zero ambitions.

The CCC also recommended that the Treasury initiates a review of the role of the tax system in delivering Net Zero, including the role of tax in achieving a higher and more consistent carbon price across the economy.

The CCC said that funding should be doubled so that key climate finance commitments can be properly adapted.

Commenting on the matter, Lord Deben, Chair of the CCC, said: 'Glasgow was a step forward in global efforts to address climate change, including a genuine increase in ambition to reduce emissions worldwide. We also saw important technical advances, with new rules agreed for reporting emissions and on international carbon trading, and multiple initiatives and sector deals. This is real and welcome progress, but success depends on what happens now.'

10thDec
News article

FCA to introduce new consumer duty

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is set to introduce a new consumer duty to better protect users of financial services.

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is set to introduce a new consumer duty to better protect users of financial services.

The new rules will help tackle harmful practices such as providers of financial services presenting information in a way that exploits consumers' behavioural biases; selling products or services that are not fit for purpose; or providing poor customer support.

The FCA says it wants to 'drive a fundamental shift in industry mindset' by raising standards and helping firms to get products and services right in the first place.

The new rules will mean firms will have to place emphasis on supporting and empowering their clients to make good financial decisions and avoid foreseeable harm throughout the customer relationship. 

Firms will be required to provide customers with information they can understand; offer products and services that are fit for purpose; and provide helpful customer service.

Sheldon Mills, Executive Director of Consumers and Competition at the FCA, said: 'Making good financial decisions is vital to financial well-being and trust, but too often consumers are not given the information they need to make good decisions and are sold products or services that do not offer the benefits they might expect. We want to change that.

'We've been working to set a higher standard for firms, to put more of the onus on them to act in their customers' interests and get their products and services right.'

9thDec
News article

New Covid restrictions are a 'setback for businesses', warns CBI

New restrictions in England aimed at limiting the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 are a 'setback for businesses' the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned.

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New restrictions in England aimed at limiting the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 are a 'setback for businesses' the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned.

The new rules, require masks in most public places, including theatres and cinemas. In addition, people will be asked to work from home where possible

From the 15 December the NHS Covid Pass will also be required for visitors to nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people.

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief Policy Director, said: 'Fresh restrictions are a big setback for businesses, particularly for those in hospitality and retail who are in a critical trading period, as well as others such as transport.

'While Covid certification can support public health, careful implementation and enforcement will be required to assist businesses affected.

'It will be vital that the impact of these restrictions is closely monitored, and that the government is ready with targeted support as required.

'Omicron will quite likely not be the last variant. We need to create consistency in our approach and build confidence by reducing the oscillation between normal life and restrictions. Prioritising daily testing, rather than self-isolation, is a good step. Firms need continued forward guidance and a commitment from government to prioritise ongoing free, mass rapid testing as we learn to live with the virus.'

8thDec
News article

CBI lowers growth forecasts as economy faces headwinds

The UK's economy will grow more slowly than previously expected, according to the latest data from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

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The UK's economy will grow more slowly than previously expected, according to the latest data from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The CBI cut its forecasts for economic growth to 6.9% in 2021 and 5.1% in 2022 from previous estimates of 8.2% and 6.1%.

The business group said that short-term headwinds – including rising costs and shortages – have grown since the business group's previous forecast in June. Longer-term challenges, notably persistently poor productivity, underline the need for a booster for business investment to support sustainable growth.

Tony Danker, Director General of the CBI, said: 'The challenge for 1 January is now very clear for the UK economy. Significant headwinds and rising costs of living threaten the extent of recovery and prospects for economic success. These hurdles for firms will provide a major test for government – can they foster sustainable UK investment and growth?

'The UK's New Year resolution must be to give firms the confidence to go for growth. We should be raising our sights on the economy's potential and seizing the moment.'

7thDec
News article

Gender pay gap has seen 'barely any change' over past 25 years, IFS finds

A report published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that the gender pay gap 'has barely shifted' in the past 25 years.

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A report published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that the gender pay gap 'has barely shifted' in the past 25 years.

The business group found that the pay gap remains, 'despite the fact that women are now considerably more likely than men to be graduates'. According to the research, working-age women carry out 50 hours a month more unpaid work than working-age men.

The IFS revealed that women are 'missing from the top of the earnings distribution', with nine out of ten of those earning the most being men.

However, it also found that raising the National Minimum Wage (NMW) has helped to close the pay gap for lower earners.

Monica Costa-Dias, Deputy Research Director at the IFS, said: 'Huge gender gaps remain across employment, working hours and wages.

'It seems unlikely that we can rely on women becoming more and more educated to close the existing gaps.' 

6thDec
News article

Rising inflation could push family spend up £1,700 a year

A typical UK family will spend £1,700 more per year on household costs in 2022, according to a forecast for BBC Panorama.

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A typical UK family will spend £1,700 more per year on household costs in 2022, according to a forecast for BBC Panorama.

The analysis, conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), projected that the inflation rate would rise to 4.6% by Christmas. This rise is mainly due to higher fuel and energy prices.

Analysts at the CEBR say the full extent of rising costs is not yet being passed on to customers by supermarkets.

They say supermarkets are trying to keep prices constant over the festive period, even if this means absorbing some of the costs because they don't want to risk losing customers at their busiest time of the year.

Compared with December 2020, the typical UK family of two adults and two children is predicted to spend £33.60 more per week as a result of inflation, adding up to £1,700 per year.

The forecast is based on the prices of commonly bought items, including food and drink, clothing and household goods. It also includes spending on utility bills such as fuel and power; transport costs; and money spent on recreation and days out.

It assumes that spending patterns will remain the same as in previous years and that inflation will remain at the projected 4.6% (up from the current 4.2%). However, experts expect that it could rise higher in spring 2022, putting further pressure on household spending.

3rdDec
News article

FCA urges banks to free 'mortgage prisoners'

Banks and building societies have been urged to consider changes to lending criteria to help so-called 'mortgage prisoners'.

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Banks and building societies have been urged to consider changes to lending criteria to help so-called 'mortgage prisoners'.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has reviewed the situation of around 47,000 borrowers who could benefit from a cheaper home loan but are currently unable to move.

The review looked at the position of borrowers whose loans were sold on to new lenders after the financial crisis. At the last count, it found about 250,000 borrowers were affected, but the number has fallen as some borrowers have been able to move.

The FCA found that there were about 195,000 households whose debts had been sold on to inactive lenders and that a quarter of them could save money if they were allowed to switch to a new deal.

However, despite changes that have made it easier for banks to offer these borrowers home loans at a better rate than the one they are currently paying, the FCA found that demand from customers and supply from lenders has been low.

The FCA said: 'We hope that more mortgage prisoners will be able to switch their mortgage. We encourage lenders to consider if they can amend their lending criteria to lend to mortgage prisoners who are close to their risk appetite.'