Steel supplier secures £35m to support expansion
Secure Trust Bank Commercial Finance has provided a £35m finance facility to Barclay & Mathieson Ltd (B&M Steel), a national steel stockholder and supplier.
The funding provided by Secure Trust Bank Commercial Finance has allowed the company to complete a successful acquisition of South Essex Stockholders, a steel stockholder and supplier based in Southend-on-Sea.
The deal has brought the total number of depots to 16 in the UK - up from 14 - and a headcount of 400. As well as this, the funding will be used to help manage the company’s cash flow and boost working capital.
Founded in Glasgow in 1877, B&M Steel has grown to become one of the UK’s largest steel stockists and fabricators. With access to over 30,000 tonnes of steel, B&M Steel offers one of the largest product ranges on the market, including steel safety products, tubes, plates and sheets. The company also serves a broad range of sectors, including oil and gas, transport, manufacturing and construction.
This is the third steel stockholder that Secure Trust Bank Commercial Finance has backed in 2018. In March, the firm provided a £2m invoice finance facility to South West based Avon Steel to support its future acquisitions. More recently, Meridian Metal Trading secured a £35m facility to help meet its working capital requirements.
UK businesses are attacked online once every two and a half minute
UK businesses were subjected to 52,596 cyber attacks each on average in the three months to the end of June, the equivalent of 578 attempt a day or once every two and a half minutes, according to Beaming, the business ISP.
Although the rate of attack was slightly down on that experienced in the first quarter of the year, when businesses received 53,981 attacks each, there was an increase in the number of attacks targeting remote desktop services. On average, businesses received 1,655 attempts each to breach remote desktop systems between April and June this year, eight percent more than in the preceding quarter.
Remotely controlled devices such as building control systems and networked security cameras were the most commonly targeted systems over the last three months, attracting 41 percent of all attacks. Businesses experienced 21,499 attempts each on average to take control of IoT devices during Q2. Beaming believes hackers target IoT devices for use in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
BFS makes £220m available to UK SMEs in first half of 2018
6 July 2018
Independent financial services provider Bibby Financial Services has recorded a strong first half of the year, structuring 750 new funding agreements for SMEs and further growing its market share.
In the six months leading to July, BFS made £220m in funding available to UK businesses.
Results reflect an 18% increase in deal numbers, year-on-year. BFS has seen construction finance deals increase by 71% and export finance numbers increase by 32%, in addition to growth across its trade finance, commercial and corporate divisions.
Speaking of the results, BFS UK CEO, Edward Winterton said:
“In what remains a relatively flat market, we have had a tremendously strong first half of the year and we are seeing new applications for funding increasing significantly.
“We have seen growth in client numbers across the board and have achieved significant growth across our trade, export and construction finance businesses.
“Undoubtedly, our strengthened product portfolio, which now includes ABL, stock finance and foreign exchange, has helped us to uncover more opportunities to support businesses both big and small.
“Furthermore, we have had great success in combining our invoice finance solutions and FX services for businesses looking to protect margins and grow in international markets.”
Coinciding with the latest UK Finance statistics showing overall industry advances up four per cent, BFS now writes one in five of all invoice finance deals throughout the UK.
“It is fantastic that we are continuing to grow our market share, but more importantly these results reflect vital support for UK SMEs at a time of much uncertainty throughout the economy.
“Our performance is testament to the hard work and commitment of our teams across the UK, and demonstrates the benefit of our client-centric approach to supporting SMEs.”
June's UK PMI survey results, indicates strong end to the second quarter
4 July 2018
June’s UK PMI surveys indicated a strong end to the second quarter, with business activity increasing at the fastest rate for eight months in response to an upturn in order book growth. Price pressures also rose markedly during the month.
The signs of the economy rebounding in the second quarter accompanied by rising price pressures will add to expectations that the Bank of England will hike interest rates at its August meeting. Yet the details of the survey hint at the need for caution.
Of greatest concern, companies’ views on expected future growth remained worryingly downbeat. The survey responses indicate that political uncertainty, and Brexit in particular, continues to stoke nervousness about the outlook.
The fact that current business activity growth remains resilient despite business confidence being so subdued remains one of the most positive aspects of the survey, but does little to assuage worries about the longer-term sustainability of growth, and hints at widespread caution in relation to business investment.
UK plc debts soar to record high
2 July 2018
After years of rock-bottom interest rates, the debts of the UK’s listed companies have soared to a record high of £390.7bn, easily surpassing pre-crisis levels, according to the new annual Link Asset Services UK plc Debt Monitor. In the vice of the credit crunch, companies had cut their borrowings by a fifth in just two years. But since the low point in 2010/11 net debt has jumped by a staggering £159.6bn. Moreover, most of this increase (£122.6bn) has been in the last three years alone.
Over the same three-year period UK companies have paid their shareholders £263bn in dividends, despite profitability being squeezed and dividend cover levels (the relationship between profits and dividends) falling to record lows in 2016/17, before recovering this year. Faced with the demand from shareholders to continue their payouts, and needing also to invest in new assets and acquisitions, companies had to increase their borrowings significantly.
FCA publishes Financial Lives report
20 June 2018
The Financial Lives report published today by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which assesses the financial circumstances of 13,000 people in the UK, shows that people living in rural areas are far less likely to use their smartphones for banking compared to those living in urban areas according to BBC News(online only) and (Financial Times, p3, £).
UK Finance spokesperson comments:
“The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Financial Lives survey provides valuable insight into how customers experience financial services across the UK, and will help to inform future policy.
“Looking after every customer, especially those in vulnerable circumstances, is a priority for the financial services sector.
“Bank branches play an important role in local communities and decisions to close them are only ever taken after all other options, like reducing opening hours and staff numbers, have been exhausted. Bank branch visits have fallen by a quarter since 2012 as technology means people can now access banking services 24/7, including on the telephone.
“There are now more places for consumers to bank than ever before. All the major banks offer day-to-day banking services through 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK, while banks are continuing to invest in new ATMs and mobile bank branches to reach out to more rural communities.
“We will read the findings of the FCA’s report with interest and look forward to working closely with the regulator to support customers.
UK tax gap 'falls to £33bn'
18 Jun 2018
Recent figures from HMRC have revealed that the UK ‘tax gap’ equated to 5.7% of total tax liabilities for the 2016/17 tax year.
The term refers to the difference between the amount of tax that is theoretically payable to HMRC, and the amount that is actually received. According to HMRC’s latest ‘Measuring the Tax Gap’ report, the gap has fallen from 7.3% in 2005/6 to an estimated 5.7% in 2016/17, equating to £33bn in revenue. The report revealed that income tax, national insurance and capital gains tax made up the largest proportion of the tax gap.
Meanwhile, taxpayer errors and failure to take reasonable care were responsible for £9.2bn of unpaid taxes.
UK small firms 'unprepared for business interruption', FSB warns
13 Jun 2018
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that the majority of UK small firms are ‘unprepared’ for disruption risks that internal and external threats pose.
Data published by the FSB revealed that 65% of small businesses do not currently have any plans in place to handle disruption risks to their firm or to their supply chains.
Some of the most common risks to firms include customers who fail to pay for goods or services; the loss of key members of staff; cybercrime and its associated threats; and severe weather and transport issues.
The FSB has urged larger businesses to assist smaller firms with forward planning. It has also called on local governments and authorities to emphasise the need for small businesses to put continuity plans into place.
Commenting on the issue, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said: ‘Small businesses face a number of threats on a regular basis, and it is vital they are prepared to deal with them.
‘By implementing continuity plans, small firms can prepare for many of the sudden changes that can impact on them directly and their supply chains.
‘Given the likelihood that an enterprise will encounter some sort of business interruption issue more than once in their life, it is key to resilience that firms are encouraged to consider all risks that they could face.’
Financial services industry launches Death Notification Services
10 June 2018
A new service enabling people to report the death of an individual to several major financial services providers at the same time launches today (Daily Mail, p35). The free online Death Notification Service is available to anyone who wishes to notify, in a single step, one or more of the member organisations that a customer has died. The gateway service aims to make the process easier for those who have suffered a bereavement by relieving the stress around repeated notifications and enabling them to manage these at a time that is convenient.
Stephen Jones, Chief Executive of UK Finance, said:
“Following the death of a friend or family member, it can be hard to repeat the same conversation with several organisations. The launch of this new service is an important milestone in the industry’s commitment to do all it can to provide greater help and support to people during difficult circumstances.”
Over the next few months, UK Finance and member organisations will work together to evaluate, enhance and evolve the service to ensure it best meets user needs.
Rising fuel prices adversely affecting UK businesses, industry warns
05 Jun 2018
The motoring industry has warned that rising prices for both petrol and diesel are adversely affecting UK businesses.
Data published by the RAC revealed that, during May, petrol prices rose by 6p per litre – representing the ‘worst monthly rise in at least 18 years’. Meanwhile, the average price of a litre of diesel also rose by 6.12p, constituting the ‘second worst rise’ since the beginning of 2000.
Fuel prices have risen ‘every single day since 22 April’, the RAC found. It stated that the cost rises can be attributed to a combination of rising oil prices and a weaker pound, and will ultimately affect businesses and individuals alike.
‘For many people, there is little alternative to the car for the majority of journeys they have to make, so it is therefore very difficult to avoid feeling the pinch of rising pump prices
Government plans to enhance data sharing for private sector and security services
4 June 2018
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will today announce plans for increased and faster information sharing between security services and the private sector as part of an overhaul of the UK’s counter-terror strategy, reports BBC News (online only). Mr Javid is expected to call for ‘faster alerts for suspicious purchases’, and for the government to work closely with businesses to eradicate the “safe spaces” exploited by extremists (Sky News, online only). UK Finance has called for a similar approach to tackle the threat of cybercrime in its recent report ‘Staying ahead of cybercrime,’ including a robust intelligence-sharing model for firms, law enforcement and government.
Britain could remain in European VAT area post Brexit
The Financial Times (online only, £) reports the government is planning for the UK to remain inside Europe’s VAT area following the Brexit transition period, as Britain takes an active role in shaping new EU value added tax regulations for the 2020s. In a letter from Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, seen by the FT, the minister says: “The government aims to keep VAT processes after the EU exit as close as possible to what they are now” and if Britain leaves the EU VAT regime, it will need border infrastructure to impose VAT at borders, as occurs on the Swiss-German border, or accept a loss of control of VAT revenue.
Meanwhile, in an interview with The Guardian (p28), Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, comments on the current Brexit negotiations, saying, ‘it’s hard to get EU engagement on the common technical solutions’ regarding transitional arrangements, and the UK has committed to a temporary permissions regime for financial companies to replace ‘passporting’. Mr Bailey invites the EU to ‘think again’ about mutual recognition, stating it would be in the EU’s interests to look at outcomes in the negotiating jargon rather than equivalence in rules.
29 June 2018
Bank of England warn firms of cryptocurrency risk
The Daily Telegraph (B5, £) reports that the Bank of England’s deputy governor Sam Woods has written to chief executives of banks, insurers and fund managers to outline the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies. In his letter, Mr Woods has called on executives to ‘tread carefully’ and has reminded businesses that, in their short history, cryptocurrencies have shown high price volatility and relative illiquidity.
Mr Woods has highlighted the reputational risk that companies bear and raised concerns about vulnerability to fraud and manipulation, as well as money laundering and terrorist financing risks, according to the Financial Times (online only, £) and CityAM (online only).
28 June 2018
Prime Minister faces criticism over Brexit delay
Prime Minister Theresa May has been warned that time is running out to secure a Brexit deal as she prepares to face EU leaders in Brussels today. It’s understood Mrs May will brief all her EU counterparts for the last time ahead of the EU 27 Council meeting in October, hoping a Brexit deal will be secured before the UK’s March 2019 departure. An aide to French President Emmanuel Macron is reported to have said Mrs May will face a ‘serious and grave’ rebuke over insufficient progress (BBC News, online only).
The Financial Times (p2, £) reports that the Bank of England has criticised Brussels and European bank regulators over preparations by the financial sector for Brexit. Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor, accused European authorities of standing in the way of financial stability across Europe in the event of a hard Brexit. Mr Carney said the UK now had a ‘rock-solid solution’ to potential disruption to derivatives and insurance contracts but is still waiting to see similar solutions on the EU27 side.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Tony Blair said he believed Brexit ‘can and should be stopped’ and criticised the UK’s negotiations in a speech at a Chatham House think tank yesterday (The Times, online only, £).
26 June 2018
UK Finance publishes lending update for May 2018
EStimated gross mortgage lending for the total market in May 2018 was £22.2bn, 8.8 per cent higher than the same month a year earlier, with mortgage approvals by the main high street banks increasing by 3 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the UK Finance Household Finance Update published today.
The latest UK Finance Business Finance Update for May 2018 reveals lending to manufacturers grew by 5.1 per cent in the last 12 months, in contrast to a wider 2.5 per cent contraction overall in UK business borrowing.
Commenting on the household Finance Update data, Eric Leenders, Managing Director, Personal Finance at UK Finance said:
“May’s increase in mortgage approvals was driven by strong growth in remortgaging, as a large number of fixed-term mortgages came to an end and homeowners took advantage of a competitive market to shop around for attractive deals. Increased efforts by lenders to contact their customers before their current mortgage deal expires have also contributed to this rise.
“There was modest growth in card spending, reflecting a boost to retail sales amid the good weather over the recent bank holidays and the Royal Wedding celebrations.
“However, the overall economic picture remains mixed, as household incomes continue to be squeezed. This may explain the growth of deposits held in instant access accounts, with consumers increasingly choosing to keep their money close to hand.”
EBA says banks have made ‘inadequate’ contingency plans for no-deal Brexit
25 June 2018
Banks have made ‘inadequate’ contingency plans for the risk of the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreed deal, according to Andrea Enria, Chairperson of the European Banking Authority (Sky News, online only). In a letter to financial regulators across the EU and UK, Enria has urged them to make sure that banks ‘take practical steps now to prepare’ for a no-deal Brexit in March 2019 with no transition period (Financial News, online only). The Financial Times (online only) reports that the approach contrasts with statements by UK regulators, including the Bank of England, which pledged to provide a ‘regulatory underpinning’ to the agreement on a post-Brexit transition period reached by the EU and UK in March. UK Finance has called for regulators in both the EU and UK to work together to address critical cliff-edge issues such as contractual continuity and cross-border data flows, and welcomed the setting up of a joint EU-UK working group on financial services by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England in April.
Chancellor to announce plans for global financial partnerships
21 June 2018
The Chancellor Philip Hammond will use his Mansion House speech tonight to announce plans to pursue new ‘ground-breaking financial partnerships’ with countries around the world after the UK leaves the EU, according to CityAM (p3). The Chancellor is expected to propose bringing together governments, regulators and industry to build on existing deals and improve access to global financial markets, with a focus on emerging economies such as China and Brazil (The Guardian, p41). He is also expected to emphasise that the government will increase taxes rather than borrowing to fund extra spending for the NHS (BBC News, online only and The Times, p2, £).
1 May 2018
PM considers Brexit ‘association agreement’
Prime Minister Theresa May has told ministers that she may accept an ‘association agreement’ with the European Union, which could be used as a “box” to contain ‘the different strands of the Brexit deal’ (The Daily Telegraph, p12, £). Chancellor Phillip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis are reportedly ‘open to the idea’, which has been championed by the European Parliament’s Brexit Chief Guy Verhofstadt. An association agreement is usually entered into with countries looking to join the EU, and critics have warned it could amount to an ‘EU Mark II’ or even turn the UK into a ‘vassal state of Brussels’. Meanwhile, the House of Lords voted 335 to 244 in favour of a cross-party amendment to the government’s Withdrawal Bill, that will give members of parliament a vote before Theresa May can walk away from negotiations without a deal (The Independent, online only).
4 May 2018
PM requests “revised” proposals on customs union
Prime Minister Theresa May has asked officials to draw up revised proposals for post-Brexit customs arrangements, after failing to secure an agreement for her preferred option of a ‘customs partnership’ with the EU at a key meeting of cabinet ministers yesterday (BBC, online only). The Times (p1, £) reports that six members of the Brexit sub-committee, including new Home Secretary Sajid Javid, came out against the plan, while five spoke out in favour. The prime minister has reportedly asked civil servants to carry out more work on both the government’s existing proposals, the customs partnership and ‘highly streamlined’ customs arrangement, in an attempt to reach a compromise (Independent, online only). However, according to the Financial Times (p2, £), officials have warned that neither model could be up and running before the end of the Brexit transition period in January 2021.
11 May 2018
Bank of England says keeping rates on hold was a “straightforward decision”
In an interview with BBC Radio 4 Today this morning, Bank of England Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent has said holding interest rates at 0.5% was a “straightforward” decision and that it made sense “to wait to see whether we are right that the economy will bounce back from here” (Reuters, online only). Poor economic figures in the first quarter caused the Bank to cut its growth forecast for 2018 from 1.8 per cent to 1.4 per cent, but the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) concluded that this recent sluggish economic performance was likely to be a “temporary blip” caused in part by the poor weather (Financial Times, p1, £, and CityAM, p2). The Daily Mail (p20) reports that the decision to delay a rate rise is a “blow for savers”, while in the Guardian (p2) TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was the right decision as “you don’t kick the economy when it’s down”. The MPC also lowered its inflation projections for the next three years, pointing to evidence suggesting that the impact of Brexit-related depreciation in sterling is likely to fade “a little faster than previously thought” (Bloomberg, online only). However, it stuck to its previous recommendation that three interest hikes of 0.25 per cent each would be needed over the next three years to meet the government’s inflation target of two per cent. It comes as new figures from the ONS revealed that both the construction and manufacturing sector contracted in March (Financial Times, p2, £). The data shows the construction sector saw its sharpest quarterly fall since 2012, with a decline in all types of construction work during including housebuilding.
18 May 2018
Mortgage Trends Update shows continued increase in lending to first-time buyers
UK Finance’s Mortgage Trends Update for March 2018 has revealed a small increase in lending to first-time buyers compared to a year earlier, while remortgaging levels softened slightly after a busy start to the year. UK Finance research suggests the recent softening of the buy-to-let market is mostly down to a number of recent tax and regulatory changes including the limiting of landlords’ Mortgage Interest Tax Relief (MITR), the three per cent Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) surcharge and new underwriting requirements introduced by the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA).
Commenting on the data, Jackie Bennett, Director of Mortgages at UK Finance, said: ““Mortgaging levels softened in March, after a busier than usual start to the year saw customers locking into attractive deals ahead of a potential interest rate rise. There has been relatively flat growth in lending to first-time buyers, reflecting recent Bank of England figures showing a fall in mortgage approvals. Meanwhile the buy-to-let market remains subdued, as recent tax and regulatory changes continue to have an impact on demand.”
UK firms give broadly positive feedback on HMRC customer service
23 May 2018
According to a recently-published HMRC survey, 55% of UK mid-size businesses are satisfied with the customer service the Revenue has provided to them. In 2016, HMRC polled 1,800 UK businesses, with a view to examining firms’ experiences in dealing with HMRC; their perceptions of current tax administration; their attitudes towards tax compliance; and their awareness of recent tax policy. The survey revealed that 45% of businesses with 250 employees or more gave positive feedback on HMRC’s customer service – a rise when compared to the previous figure of 34%, recorded in 2015. It also found that ‘HMRC getting tax transactions right’ proved to be the most important factor in determining firms’ overall experience. 57% of survey respondents gave a positive rating in regard to this, HMRC found. Meanwhile, 76% of businesses surveyed stated that HMRC treated them fairly, and 81% believe that it treated them honestly. However, 73% of firms stated that they do not believe that HMRC minimised the time, cost and effort associated with handling tax affairs.
OTS publishes review into the taxation of savings income
31 May 2018
The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has published a comprehensive review into the taxation of savings income. In its review, the OTS identified areas that could be simplified, as well as areas that might benefit from ‘further work’. The OTS stated that the UK tax system ‘works well for most taxpayers’, but also found that many individuals ‘continue to worry about the tax treatment of their savings income’The calculation of tax on savings income ‘is not always straightforward’, said the OTS. It revealed that the tax complexity on savings and investment income can be attributed to the interactions between the ‘many reliefs and allowances’. A solution to this will need to take a ‘comprehensive view’ to ensure that taxpayer benefits derived from reliefs and allowances are ‘preserved’, the OTS stated. But many taxpayers continue to worry that they will be taxed on their savings income, and misunderstandings and confusion remain. This is the area, and inevitably the complexity, that the OTS considers is now the time to address.’
27 Apr 2018
The abolition of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for first-time homebuyers of properties worth under £300,000 has ‘benefitted 69,000 households’, government data has suggested.
During the 2017 Autumn Budget on 22 November 2017, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the abolition of SDLT, with immediate effect. From this time, most first-time buyers paying £300,000 or less for a residential property are no longer required to pay SDLT. Official figures for the period to 31 March 2018 show 69,000 first-time homebuyers have ‘benefitted from the SDLT abolition’, saving an average of £2,300 each. The government stated that this is in line with its aim of ‘helping over one million people to get onto the housing ladder’ over the next five years.
Other initiatives introduced to help individuals to get onto the housing ladder have also seen a significant uptake, with more than 387,000 people using the government’s Help to Buy scheme, and over 1.1 million Help to Buy ISA accounts having been opened.
Commenting on the data, Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘I’m proud that the cut to stamp duty for first-time buyers is helping to realise the dream of home ownership for a new generation, alongside building more homes in the right areas, and generous schemes such as the Lifetime ISA and Help to Buy.’
However, estate agent regulatory body NAEA Propertymark warned that the cost of purchasing a home for first-time buyers is ‘still very high’, with many individuals finding it ‘difficult to save for a deposit’.
11 April 2018
Proposals for making UK 'best place in world to do business' outlined by taskforce
The Small Business Taskforce has outlined a series of recommendations with the stated aim of ensuring that the UK remains ‘one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business’.
In a new ten-point manifesto, the Taskforce has urged the government to simplify the bidding process for small businesses
so that they can better access government contracts; consider extending free childcare hours for self-employed parents; and redefine self-employment, to lead to ‘fair taxation’ and a ‘better understanding’ of what it means to be self-employed.
The Small Business Taskforce stated that the recommendations have the potential to ‘deliver prosperity and fairness for all’.
Commenting on the proposals, Simon McVicker, Director of Policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), said: ‘This manifesto provides a roadmap for the government to fully embrace the benefits the self-employed bring to the economy, particularly in ensuring the UK retains its most important competitive advantage – its flexibility – at this uncertain time
18 Apr 2018
Wage growth rate overtakes inflation for 'first time in a year', official figures reveal
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that the UK’s wage growth rate rose at a faster pace than inflation during the three months to February.
Average wages rose by 2.8% compared with a year earlier, the ONS found, whilst inflation fell to 2.7% in February.
The ONS data also revealed that unemployment fell significantly. The Bank of England (BoE) predicts that the fall in unemployment will help to rapidly increase wages, which could lead the BoE to raise interest rates sooner than anticipated.
Commenting on the wage growth data, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: ‘The end of a prolonged squeeze on real wage growth is an important moment, although maintaining positive real wage growth could prove challenging without sustained increases in productivity and relieving the high upfront costs which restrict pay increases.
‘The return to positive real wage growth is unlikely to translate into materially stronger spending in the near term, with consumers expected to remain under pressure from uncomfortably high debt levels, particularly if interest rates rise further.’
23 Apr 2018
Men ‘getting better state pension deal’ than women, research suggests
Research carried out has suggested that men get a ‘better state pension deal’ than women, with men receiving almost £29,000 more than women over the course of an average 20-year retirement.
The consumer group stated that ‘significant disparities persist’ in regard to the UK’s state pension gender gap, with the average man typically receiving £153.86 per week and the average woman receiving £125.98 a week.
However, the research also suggested that the state pension gender gap has narrowed slightly. In August of last year, the average state pension payment received by women equated to 81.9% of that received by men – a rise when compared to the figure of 79.7% recorded in August 2015.
Commenting on the research, Harry Rose, Money Editor at Which?, said: ‘Our evidence shows how variable people’s state pension payments still are. Many pensioners will be shocked by the differences in average payouts to men and women, and those qualifying under the old and new systems.’
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stated: ‘Around 650,000 women reaching state pension age in the first 10 years will receive an average of £8 per week (in 2015/16 earnings terms) more, due to the new state pension valuation of their national insurance record.’
25 Apr 2018
Report finds identity fraud 'on the rise' in the UK
A new report published by fraud prevention service Cifas has revealed that 2017 had the ‘highest number of identity fraud cases ever recorded’.
Cifas polled 306 organisations and found that, during 2017, the number of identify fraud cases rose to 174,523 – representing an ‘all-time high’, and an increase of 125% when compared to ten years ago.
In 95% of these cases, victims were impersonated by criminals, Cifas stated.
It revealed that criminals are increasingly targeting sectors such as telecoms, online retail and insurance to carry out fraudulent activities, as opposed to making fraudulent applications for bank accounts and credit cards.
The report also found that the number of individuals aged between 14 and 24 becoming ‘money mules’ rose by 27%. Cifas suggested that such individuals were targeted by fraudsters with the promise of ‘easy cash’.
In addition, Cifas stated that, using non-competitive data sharing, businesses successfully prevented over £1.3 billion in fraud losses in 2017.
Commenting on the report, Mike Haley, Deputy Chief Executive of Cifas, said: ‘The absolute volume of fraud is still frighteningly high and much more still needs to be done to reduce its prevalence, including greater collaboration and sharing of fraud risk data between industry, government and law enforcement.’
24 Apr 2018
Cost of Brexit 'divorce bill' still unclear, says NAO
The National Audit Office (NAO) has stated that the final cost of the UK’s Brexit ‘divorce bill’ remains ‘uncertain’.
There are many factors that need to be considered when analysing the cost of leaving the EU, the NAO stated, and the estimate of between £35 billion and £39 billion put forward by Prime Minister Theresa May in December 2017 could rise.
The NAO said that an increase in inflation, alterations to the exchange rate or changes to the UK’s economic performance could cause the final figure to rise.
Commenting on the matter, Amyas Morse, Head of the NAO, said: ‘We have reviewed the Treasury’s estimate of how much the UK will pay the EU under the draft withdrawal agreement. The estimate reflects a number of moving parts, so the range of costs in it could have been wider than £35 billion to £39 billion.’
The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, and a transitional period is expected to last until 31 December 2020. The UK has agreed to continue to fulfil its current financial commitments following Brexit, while benefitting from most of the current trade arrangements.
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