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Autumn Statement date is announced

The Chancellor George Osborne will make his Autumn Statement on 29 November, the Treasury has announced.

The Statement will follow the latest economic forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

It is seen as a replacement for the Pre-Budget Report, which was first introduced by Gordon Brown to outline the Government’s tax plans.

Osborne will instead use his Statement to provide an update on the UK economy and respond to the updated growth figures from the OBR.

Speaking at a dinner earlier this week, the Chancellor conceded that his short-term hopes for the economy have been revised down, but he insisted that the Government would continue with its deficit reduction plan.

PM+M awarded ‘Silver Status’ by Investors in People

We are delighted to announce that PM+M has been awarded the coveted Investors in People (IIP) Silver Status Award. We received a Certification of Recognition confirming PM+M’s Silver Status in July.

PM+M has been a proud IIP accredited firm for many years but our new Silver Status is a further mark of excellence and follows an intensive reassessment process involving interviews with our staff.

IIP Silver Status is awarded to organisations that demonstrate a forward-thinking and progressive approach to business improvement through people.

Receiving IIP Silver Status positions PM+M in the top 2% of IIP accredited companies in the UK. Just 80 organisations in the North West have received this accolade, only 11 of which are in Lancashire. We look forward to building on this success.

HMRC admits millions have not paid correct amount of tax

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has said that up to 4.7 million taxpayers will be sent letters later this year telling them they paid either too much or too little income tax in 2010/11.

Every year HMRC conducts a reconciliation exercise to check that people have paid the right tax via the PAYE system. Last September, HMRC faced severe criticism when it emerged that 5.7 million people had not paid the correct tax via PAYE for the years 2008/09 and 2009/10, which led to about 1.4 million people having to pay an extra £1,428 each on average, while about 900,000 taxpayers had their debts of up to £300 written off. The explanation given by the Revenue was that a new, more effective computer system had revealed previous calculation errors.

This year the reconciliation exercise for 2010/11 will take place in late July, and HMRC estimates that between 1.7 and 3.5 million people will be repaid an average of £340 each, while 1.2 million will owe £500-£600 each.

Cheques for people previously overtaxed are due to be sent out in August and September, and calculations for underpayments will be sent in batches after that, with the last going out in December.

Those presented with a bill will have time to challenge the calculations if they think they are wrong. If the challenge is unsuccessful then the money will be taken from their earnings each month via a change to their PAYE tax code for 2012/13.

Up to £3,000 per individual will be collected this time via PAYE, more than the previous limit of £2,000.

“We expect that hardly anyone will be faced with a bill larger than £3,000, but if they want to pay us in one go by cheque they can,” said an HMRC spokesman.

HMRC to target e-traders in new tax campaign

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is to launch a series of new campaigns to tackle tax avoidance, it has announced.

One of the campaigns will target those who use e-marketplace sites such as e-Bay and Amazon to buy and sell goods as a trade or business.

While occasional sellers are unlikely to be liable to tax, people earning a living as self-employed traders may need to pay income tax, national insurance and VAT.

Meanwhile, private tutors and coaches who are able to earn either a main or secondary income from their expertise will be the subject of a separate campaign to recoup unpaid tax.

HMRC said it will also build on its plumbers’ campaign and ‘give an opportunity to another group of tradespeople to come forward and declare unpaid tax’.

It confirmed that it would be using ‘cutting-edge tools’ including a ‘web robot’ to search the internet and find targeted information about specified people and companies.

“By being open about our areas of interest for the coming year we hope to maximise that exchange of information and ensure we reduce the tax gap and help customers pay what they owe,” commented Mike Wells, HMRC’s Director of Risk and Intelligence.

Meanwhile Gary Ashford, of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), said: “The news last week that HMRC have launched 16 criminal investigations off the back of earlier campaigns shows that the taxman is taking a very tough line against suspected tax evaders.

“It will be important for HMRC to explain to e-traders the borderline between an individual selling one’s own surplus belongings and moving into trading,” he added.

Warning over red tape challenge response

The Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned that Government plans to reduce red tape for businesses may be compromised amid growing concern from the public.

Speaking in Westminster last week, Cable claimed that members of the public and consumer groups were using the new Red Tape Challenge website to lobby for existing regulations to be maintained or increased.

Launched in April, the site gives firms and the public a chance to have their say on regulations affecting their business or lives.

The campaign forms part of the Government’s wider strategy to tackle excessive regulation and thus give businesses the freedom to innovate and grow.

However, the Prime Minister David Cameron may be forced to review his pledge to cut red tape if there is a lack of support for the deregulation plans.

“One of our top priorities is to reduce that amount of regulation that small companies and start-ups face, but please don’t pretend this is easy,” said Cable.

Pointing to the Red Tape Challenge website, he added: “Very perversely we are being bombarded by messages from the public saying please increase regulation.”

Last month the Chancellor George Osborne told the Institute of Directors’ annual conference: “There are lots of people who will oppose this, lots of pressure groups. We really need the people who make the arguments – that we need growth, we need expansion, we need new businesses, we need new business premises – to make sure they are heard. Otherwise it is Government alone defending itself against those pressure groups.”

Once online debate has closed, ministers will have three months to explain why a regulation was still required or it will be scrapped.

Lending under finance guarantee scheme plummets

Lending under the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme (EFG) has fallen to a new low, latest figures reveal.

According to a new study by specialist bank Aldermore, the value of loans offered under the Government’s flagship initiative dropped by 11% in the first three months of 2011.

It found that £92 million of loans were offered under the EFG during this period – down from £103 million in the final quarter of 2010.

The bank said this meant lending under the EFG scheme has plunged by 36% in two years.

Launched in 2009, the EFG facilitates additional bank lending to viable SMEs which are unable to secure a normal commercial loan.

Under the scheme, which is set to continue until 2014/15, the Government guarantees part of the loan, reducing the risk of losses for the lender.

Commenting on the findings, Aldermore Chief Executive, Phillip Monks, said: “Lending through the EFG is now less than half of what it was at the peak.

“If small and medium-sized businesses cannot get funding the UK’s economic recovery is not going to be sustainable.”

Banks miss targets for business loans

Under Project Merlin the five biggest UK banks – Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, HSBC and Santander – pledged to lend £190bn in 2011. But the figures suggest that banks are £2bn behind on small business lending in the first quarter of 2011.

Of the £190bn for 2011, £76bn of credit should be made available to small and medium-sized businesses this year. However, lending in the first three months is expected to collectively total £16.8bn compared with a de facto target of £19bn: a shortfall of about 12%.

Last week, Business Secretary Vince Cable warned that the banks could be punished with higher taxes if they failed to meet the Merlin targets.

But the British Bankers’ Association has claimed that its members are ‘doing all they can’ to increase lending, and it is unlikely that the banks will face any penalties at this stage, since they still have the rest of the year to make up the shortfall in lending.


Review to examine small business tax administration

In a letter to the OTS, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, has asked the organisation to examine small firms’ experience of tax administration and ‘their contact with HMRC at key stages of their annual cycle.’

“The first OTS reports have provided the basis for some genuine moves towards a simpler tax system,” wrote Gauke. “To build on this excellent start, the Chancellor and I would like the OTS to look at ways to improve the tax administration for small business.”

The review will also consider the issues involved in starting and growing a new business.

“It’s clear that many small businesses are struggling under the administrative burdens imposed by the UK tax system,” said John Whiting, interim tax director at the OTS.

“We plan to set up surveys and more road shows to really home in on what steps cause the most difficulties – and how the system can be improved, making it easier for businesses to get things right with the minimum of fuss.”

The OTS was set up last year to analyse tax reliefs, allowances and exemptions, and to conduct a review of business taxation with a view to reducing complexity.

Publishing its findings ahead of this year’s Budget, the OTS identified 47 reliefs which it said should be abolished and 17 which need to be simplified, including Entrepreneurs’ Relief and the Enterprise Investment Scheme.

The OTS will report its latest findings on small business tax administration ahead of the 2012 Budget.


Business Growth Fund launched, but FSB warns it is ‘unlikely to help small firms’

Launched by the Government and the British Bankers’ Association, the Business Growth Fund will see banks invest between £2m and £10m into participating firms in return for an equity stake ranging from 10% to 50%.

However, with the fund only accessible to businesses with an annual turnover of between £10m and £100m, the FPB claims that it will do little to address the problems encountered by smaller firms.

“The Business Growth Fund aims to bridge the clear gap in funding for ‘high growth’ firms identified in the Rowlands Review back in 2009 and so is certainly a welcome step and one that is long overdue,”commented Alex Jackman, FPB senior policy adviser.

“But we cannot allow this to overshadow the real problem – the lack of affordable lending being made available by banks to start-ups and other small businesses – those that are not eligible to benefit from the fund.”

Its thoughts were echoed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which warns that ‘without sustainable lending to viable small businesses, growth, employment and capital investments will all suffer – as will the economy generally.’

Dubbed the ‘modern day 3i’, the fund is being backed by five of the largest banks in the UK – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Standard Chartered.

Further information can be found at:

Consumers welcome the return of inflation-linked bonds

The bonds, which give savers protection against inflation, were withdrawn in July last year due to high demand.

However, savers will now be able to invest from £100 up to £15,000 tax free in a five-year bond with an interest rate of RPI plus 0.5%.

Unlike the previous deal, NS&I will be offering the certificates over a five-year term only, rather than three or five-years. It hopes the changes will mean it is able to keep the product on sale for as long as possible.

“Our aim is to keep Savings Certificates on sale for a sustained period of time and to enable as many savers as possible who wish to invest to do so,” said Jane Platt, NS&I chief executive.

The move has been welcomed by many consumers although savers have been advised to act quickly after brokers warned that the certificates could ‘sell out in weeks’.

In the Budget in March, the Chancellor George Osborne increased the net financing target for NS&I by £2bn.

The certificates are available from, by post or by telephone on 0500 500 000.