Zahawi allows HMRC to pass his tax details to PM’s ethics adviser

Pressure on the Tory Party chairman increases as the head of HMRC says there are no penalties for ‘innocent errors’.

Nadhim Zahawi has authorised HM Revenue & Customs to pass details of his tax affairs to the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser – who is investigating if he broke the rules for ministers – as Rishi Sunak continued to resist calls to sack him.

Pressure on the Tory Party chairman, who has admitted paying a penalty as part of an estimated £4.8 million settlement with HMRC, intensified after the head of the organisation said such penalties were not issued for “innocent errors”.

A source close to Mr Zahawi said that he has now given HMRC permission to speak to Sir Laurie Magnus who is investigating whether his actions represented a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

Earlier, giving evidence to MPs, the head of HMRC Jim Harra said that while … Read more

Why High Pay Day matters

Have you ever wondered how long it would take a CEO to make the UK’s average yearly salary?

High Pay Day marks the moment at the start of the year when median pay for a FTSE 100 CEO surpasses the median annual wage of a worker in the UK. This year it took just 30 hours. Last year, following the grind of a global pandemic, it arrived a little later on the 7 January at 9am.

Businesses and the general population alike suffered hefty financial burdens in the wake of COVID. What sets this year apart, is that despite having learned the crucial value of key workers (children in schools, mail delivered, food and goods transported) many of those key workers are currently involved in protracted and knotty strike action over real terms pay cuts. Meanwhile, CEO pay has risen and can be anywhere between 12 to 14,000 times what … Read more

Open letter calls on Grant Shapps to boost SME credit access through improved data sharing

Codat – the universal API for small business data – and a group of lenders have written an open letter to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Grant Shapps, calling for the government to support improved data sharing initiatives to tackle the difficulties faced by SMEs in accessing credit.

The letter has been co-signed by Atom Bank, Funding Circle, iwoca, Allica Bank, SPRK Capital, Recognise Bank, Plaid, Playter, OakNorth, Wiserfunding and TrueLayer. It has also received support from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Difficulty accessing funding is one of the biggest barriers to SME growth. The problem exists because the SME lending landscape is not set up for businesses or lenders to succeed. It’s too difficult for lenders to access accurate, up to date data to make informed decisions and loan applications are too complex and time-consuming for SMEs.

Stimulating growth in the SME sector – … Read more

UK retirement age could hit 68 in the 2030s under pension plan

Britons will have to work for longer before claiming the state pension under plans to save the government billions of pounds by raising the official retirement age to 68 sooner than initially planned.

The present threshold of 66 will increase to 67 in 2028 and is due to hit 68 in 2046. However, ministers are looking at bringing forward the change to as early as 2035, affecting those who are 54 and under today.

An announcement is expected by Jeremy Hunt this year. The Sun, which first reported news of the discussions in Whitehall, said the chancellor favoured raising the retirement age to 68 in the mid-2030s but that Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, was pushing for 2042.

Last month the government began a statutory review of the state pension age, with findings to be published in May. Ministers believe the changes are necessary to make pensions affordable … Read more

Michelle Mone’s husband linked to three tax avoidance schemes 

HMRC has added five existing tax avoidance schemes to its online list of tax avoidance promoters, enablers and suppliers – three of which are linked to Michelle Mone’s husband, Douglas Barrowman.

Douglas Barrowman, Lady Mone’s husband since they married on the Isle of Man in November 2020, is the founder and chairman of the Knox Group, a financial services and wealth management firm based on the island, which is widely considered to be a tax haven. HMRC said a Manchester-based company, AML Tax (UK) Ltd, which ran the three newly named tax avoidance schemes was “a part of Doug Barrowman’s Isle of Man-based Knox Group”.

Experts have welcomed HMRC naming these schemes, but urged the government to “take decisive action” and put a stop to these operators “once and for all”.

Fred Dures, founder of PayePass (umbrella company payroll auditor), commented: “The more tax avoidance schemes that are named and … Read more