13thApr
News article

HMRC names avoidance scheme promoters for first time

Tax avoidance schemes have been named for the first time by HMRC as users are warned they could face large tax bills.

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Tax avoidance schemes have been named for the first time by HMRC as users are warned they could face large tax bills.

HMRC has advised anyone involved in two schemes to withdraw from them as soon as possible to prevent generating a large tax bill.

Both schemes involve individuals agreeing an employment contract and working as a contractor. The schemes pay contractors the National Minimum Wage (NMW), with the remainder of their wage paid through a loan to try to avoid national insurance and income tax.

HMRC is letting taxpayers know as early as possible so they can steer clear of them or exit them. This is the first time HMRC has used new powers to name tax avoidance schemes and their promoters as part of a campaign to warn the public not to get caught up in tax avoidance.

Mary Aiston, Director of Counter Avoidance at HMRC, said: 'These schemes are cynically marketed as clever ways to pay less tax. The truth is they rarely work in the way the promoters claim and it's the users that end up with big tax bills.

'New legal powers allow us to name promoters and the schemes they peddle much faster, and this announcement is just the first step. But we need the public to be vigilant, and that's why we're also helping people identify and steer clear of these schemes through our Tax Avoidance – Don't Get Caught Out campaign.'

More information can be found here.

12thApr
News article

Research suggests hybrid working saves businesses significant amounts of money

Research carried out by Confused.com has revealed that hybrid working practices help businesses save an average of £8,100 per employee.

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Research carried out by Confused.com has revealed that hybrid working practices help businesses save an average of £8,100 per employee.

Financial savings for businesses can be generated by allowing employees to work from home for a portion of their week, thus reducing utilities required to operate an office.

Confused.com found that hybrid working enables workers to save an average of £328 a month on train travel and £128 per month commuting by car.

Additionally, research published by workspace network IWG showed that 49% of office employees would quit their job if they were required to work in the office five days a week.

Research has also suggested that hybrid working helps employees to reduce their carbon footprint by up to 10%.

Mark Dixon, CEO of IWG, said: 'The rapid global rise in the adoption of the hybrid-working model, where companies use technology to give their employees effective remote access and home working, in combination with easy-to-access local centres and traditional head-office sites, is here to stay.

'Not only do employees benefit from a dramatically improved work-life balance, but the model also represents a significant win for a company's bottom line as well as employee bank balances.'

11thApr
News article

Economic growth slowed in February, data shows

Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that UK economic growth slowed in February as a result of a decline in the production of vehicles and electronic products.

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Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that UK economic growth slowed in February as a result of a decline in the production of vehicles and electronic products.

The ONS found that the UK economy expanded by 0.1% in February, compared to 0.8% in January, and that the economy is currently 1.5% above its pre-COVID-19 pandemic level.

The data also revealed that the services sector grew in February, particularly in areas such as travel and tourism.

Commenting on the data, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: 'While economic output continued to rebound in February, the significant slowdown in growth indicates that the UK economy was losing steam even before the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

'February's slowdown is likely to be the start of a prolonged period of?considerably weaker growth as rising inflation, surging energy bills and higher taxes increasingly damages key drivers of UK output, including consumer spending and business investment.'

8thApr
News article

Government pledges major increase in electric car chargers by 2030

Electric vehicle owners will have access to 300,000 public charge points by the end of the decade, the government has said.

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Electric vehicle owners will have access to 300,000 public charge points by the end of the decade, the government has said.

According to the Department for Transport, £500 million will be invested to hit the target. This represents a 10-fold increase on the current 30,000 public charge points across the UK.

The 2030 deadline is the same date the government aims to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, as motorists are encouraged to go electric to help the UK hit net zero by 2050.

Helping drivers without access to off-street parking will be a focus when rolling out the new charge points.

The plan, part of the government's wider Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, also highlights the need to ensure readily accessible fast charging for longer journeys.

At least 6,000 superfast charge points will be installed across England's motorways by 2035 as part of an existing £950 million commitment.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: 'No matter where you live - be that a city centre or rural village, the north, south, east or west of the country, we're powering up the switch to electric and ensuring no-one gets left behind in the process.'

7thApr
News article

UK government unveils energy strategy

Up to eight more nuclear reactors could be delivered on existing sites as part of the UK's new energy strategy.

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Up to eight more nuclear reactors could be delivered on existing sites as part of the UK's new energy strategy.

The plan, which aims to boost UK energy independence and tackle rising prices, also includes plans to increase wind, hydrogen and solar production.

Under the government's new plans, up to 95% of the UK's electricity could come from low-carbon sources by 2030.

It outlines, for example, the goal of producing up to 50 gigawatts (GW) of energy through offshore wind farms, which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says would be more than enough to power every home in the UK.

Commenting on the strategy, Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said: 'This strategy sets an ambitious bar for a more resilient, low carbon energy system for the future. Bold words must now be matched by bold actions from the government.

'The proof will be in the strategy's delivery, in partnership between business and government. Business believes greater energy independence must go hand in hand with delivering a net-zero, higher growth economy.

'While it's welcome, this strategy addresses some long-standing challenges, companies are continuing to really struggle with increased wholesale energy costs right now. The government's next step should be to provide immediate cashflow support for firms through the Recovery Loan Scheme – and move to cut bills for energy intensive industries to maintain competitiveness.'

6thApr
News article

Treasury announces it will regulate some forms of cryptocurrency

The Treasury has announced that it intends to recognise stablecoins as a valid form of payment as part of wider government plans to 'make Britain a global hub for cryptoasset technology and investment'.

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The Treasury has announced that it intends to recognise stablecoins as a valid form of payment as part of wider government plans to 'make Britain a global hub for cryptoasset technology and investment'.

The Treasury defines 'stablecoin' as 'a form of cryptoasset that is typically pegged to a fiat currency such as the dollar and is intended to maintain a stable value'. The government plans to bring stablecoins within regulation in order to pave the way for use in the UK as a recognised form of payment.

Hopes are high amongst government officials that bringing stablecoins within regulation will create conditions for stablecoin issuers and service providers to operate and invest in the UK.

Commenting on the issue, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: 'It's my ambition to make the UK a global hub for cryptoasset technology, and the measures we've outlined . . . will help to ensure firms can invest, innovate and scale up in this country.

'We want to see the businesses of tomorrow – and the jobs they create – here in the UK, and by regulating effectively we can give them the confidence they need to think and invest long-term.'

5thApr
News article

NIC increase causes businesses to raise prices

The increase in national insurance contributions (NICs) will cause a third of businesses to raise their prices, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Institute of Directors (IoD).

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The increase in national insurance contributions (NICs) will cause a third of businesses to raise their prices, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Institute of Directors (IoD).

The survey of 689 businesses found that 29% would increase their goods and services costs to combat the 1.25% increase in NICs, while 37% said that they would try and absorb it.

The IoD survey also found that 15% of businesses would employ fewer people; 4% said they would reduce wages; and 15% stated that they would reduce planned investment into their business.

The percentage of businesses citing interest rates as a concern also rose, with nearly one in three, 32%, saying they are worried, up from 27%.

Kitty Ussher, Chief Economist at the IoD, said: 'It's understandable for businesses to have no choice but to raise prices because of the international cost of energy and other supply problems, but our data now shows that the government's own decision to push ahead with the jobs tax is also of itself pushing up inflation even further, and at the worst possible time.'

4thApr
News article

Rise in VAT will mean higher prices, businesses warn

Businesses have warned that the recent rise in VAT will increase prices for customers.

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Businesses have warned that the recent rise in VAT will increase prices for customers.

From 1 April VAT increased from 12.5% to 20%. Businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector warned that they are facing 'soaring costs', including rising costs for food and energy.

Advisory body UK Hospitality said that the rise in VAT will result in 'double-digit price increases for consumers as operators struggle to survive'. Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, said: 'Given the unfolding cost-of-living crisis for consumers and soaring operating costs for businesses, the return to 20% VAT for the sector will prove nothing less than catastrophic.

'The now inevitable price rises for consumers will dampen demand and many hospitality businesses – one in three having less than a month of cash reserves and most are carrying heavy debt burdens – will fail as a result. This can only cause the UK's wider economic recovery to falter.'

However, the Treasury stated that the lower VAT rate of 12.5% was temporary to support businesses in industries most affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

1stApr
News article

Majority of smaller businesses do not understand 'carbon jargon'

The majority of SMEs in the UK do not understand how 'carbon jargon' applies to their businesses, according to research by the British Business Bank (BBB).

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The majority of SMEs in the UK do not understand how 'carbon jargon' applies to their businesses, according to research by the British Business Bank (BBB).

The survey found that more than half of senior decision makers in small businesses believe the language, terminology and information around carbon emissions reduction is 'overcomplex'.

Over three in five say they would find more information and advice about taking action to measure and reduce their business's carbon emissions helpful.

Shanika Amarasekara, Chief Impact Officer at the BBB, said: 'Smaller businesses are far too often put off by the overcomplex 'carbon jargon' that comes with reducing emissions. By helping decipher some of the terminology around decarbonisation the BBB hopes to show smaller businesses that simple, incremental changes, such as switching off equipment when not in use can make a difference in their net zero transition.

'This will become an increasingly important businesses requirement. Given that many consumers now consider sustainability when they make a purchase, by becoming greener, smaller businesses can enhance their competitive edge and expand their customer base.'

31stMar
News article

Report warns 'millions would struggle' in cashless society

A report published by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) has suggested that millions of individuals in the UK would struggle if cash was phased out as a form of tender.

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A report published by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) has suggested that millions of individuals in the UK would struggle if cash was phased out as a form of tender.

Despite just 17% of payments being made with notes and coins, the RSA said that ten million people would struggle to cope in a cashless society.

An additional 15 million people stated that going cashless would make budgeting more challenging.

The report found that many individuals felt that they have been pushed into a world they're ill equipped for, despite millions making use of contactless and smartphone payments.

Mark Hall, Project and Evaluations Lead at the RSA, said: 'For millions of people, their relationship with cash is critical to the way they manage their weekly budget.

'Despite online banking and shopping becoming more common, our research shows the percentage of the population wholly reliant on cash is unchanged.'