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HMRC is again waiving fines for their self-assessment tax return submissions up to a month late

   News / 07 Jan 2022

Published: 07 January 2022
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


HMRC is again waiving fines for anyone who submits their self-assessment tax return up to a month after the normal deadline of 31 January. Typically, a £100 fine would be levied, but the tax agency says it will extend the deadline to 28th February because Covid has put added pressure on individuals and tax advisers to complete online submissions. HMRC also revealed 6.5 million customers have already filed their tax returns for the 2020-21 financial year, just over half of the 12.2 million required to do so.
 
House prices have seen the biggest rise in 14 years in 2021, the Halifax says, attributing the 9.8% annual rise to buyers seeking more space during lockdowns, the lure of low-cost borrowing, and stamp duty holidays. The lender said the average UK property price hit a new record high of £276,091 in December but that it expects growth to slow this year due to higher mortgage rates and a squeeze on household incomes.
 
Growth in the UK services sector fell to a 10-month low in December, according to the latest IHS Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers' index. The index fell to 53.6 from 58.5 in November, hitting its lowest level since February. The survey found that travel, leisure and hospitality businesses overwhelmingly cited a slump in activity due to tighter pandemic restrictions and cancelled events during the festive period. However, the survey still indicates growth, as the figure remains above the 50 mark that separates contraction from expansion.
 
Fashion retailer Next, bakery chain Greggs and cut-price retailer B&M have all warned in recent updates that they are facing inflationary pressures and may have to hike prices. Next is talking about a 6% rise because of labour shortages pushing up wages and higher shipping and manufacturing costs.
 
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says there has been a rise of just 1% in overall new car sales during 2021 compared to the previous 12 months. This is the second-worst figure recorded in nearly three decades. Just short of 1.65 million new vehicles were registered - up from 1.63 million in 2020 when Covid restrictions led to closed car showrooms as drivers were forced to stay at home. The SMMT said sales remained 29% down on 2019 because of virus-linked problems such as global microchip shortages, which continue to hold back manufacturing. A modern car can use between 1,500 and 3,000 semiconductors. According to consulting firm AlixPartners, the chip shortage was tipped to have cost the world's automotive industry $60bn (£45bn) in lost sales alone during the year.
 
Technology giant Samsung Electronics says it expects to post a 52% jump in profit for the last three months of 2021. The world's largest microchip maker estimates it made 13.8tn won ($11.5bn; £8.5bn) in the period, its highest fourth quarter operating profit in four years.
 
Octopus Energy's chief executive Greg Jackson has said it is impossible to know yet how high household energy bills might go after the next review of the energy price cap. He told the BBC's Today programme: "The reality is that in the energy sector, the UK buys most of its energy on a global market and we've had to pay about £20bn more than usual this year. So, in one way or another, the UK's going to have to pay that money." He added the sector was working to "minimise cost increases". The price cap sets the maximum rate suppliers can charge for a default tariff, currently meaning that the typical household should pay no more than £1,277. The new level for the price cap, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales, is due to be announced on 7 February.

A row is brewing over covid-19 vaccine distribution and pharma bosses’ bonuses. The BBC is reporting how a large coalition of investment firms are threatening to vote against renumeration packages unless vaccine makers put in place a "more equitable" global circulation policy.  Rogier Krens, chief investment officer of Achmea Investment Management, says a group of 65 companies, which collectively control almost $3.5tn (£2.59tn) in assets, believes that vaccines are "not distributed fairly at the moment".
 
Asda has come under fire from British farmers after backing out of a commitment it made in October to stock exclusively British beef. National Beef Association chairman Neil Shand said he was "deeply disappointed" by Asda's decision. Asda said their policy had changed because of the rise in British beef prices.
 
Travel agent TUI has reached a legal settlement with the survivors and relatives of the victims of the 2015 terrorist attack at a beach resort in Tunisia. Eighty people accused the travel agent of failing to provide adequate security at the Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel complex following the attack in which 30 Britons were killed. Initially, a judge ruled the deaths were unlawful and little could have been to avoid them, however a civil claim for damages estimated at £10m followed amid claims Tui had brushed aside warnings of an imminent attack. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.
 
SoftBank's Vision Fund II, the world's largest technology investor, has bought a $100m (£74m) stake in British meal-kit subscription service Gousto.
 
British shipping broker Clarksons said it expected to report underlying profit annual of at least £69m stronger than anticipated trading in December. In a short trading statement released this morning, the company said the result was driven by its broking and financial divisions.
 
Shares in London-listed Dr Martens tumbled 11% yesterday after private equity firm Permira sold 65m shares in the iconic bootmaker, around 15% of its holdings, to raise gross proceeds of some £257m. Following the placing, Permira holds just over 364m shares in Dr Martens, which represents around 36.4% of the issued share capital. Before the placing, Permira owned just over 429m shares in the company.
 
Capricorn Energy has withdrawn litigation in a tax case with the Indian government, clearing the way for the firm to receive a $1bn + refund. In 2006, the Indian government seized Capricorn shares, dividends, and tax refunds to meet a demand made in January 2016 for capital gains tax, interest, and penalties after for a reorganisation of assets at its India unit in 2006. However, the UK-based company, formerly known as Cairn Energy, won its suit against the Indian government in 2020 and Delhi was ordered to pay $1.2 billion plus interest and costs to the London-listed firm.
 
Sky News says the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is expected to confirm within days that CEO Andrea Coscelli will not seek a further term in the job he has held since 2016. The government is already hunting a permanent chairman for the body, with Jonathan Scott, its interim chair, recently having his term extended by the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng.
 
Greggs has announced that Roisin Currie is to take over from Roger Whiteside as CEO after the group's annual general meeting in May. Currie, who joined Greggs in 2010, currently holds the position of retail and property director, with responsibility for the firm's retail operations across the UK and its central support team.
 
According to Politico, France's privacy regulator - the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des liberté (CNIL) - is preparing to fine Alphabet's Google operations in Ireland and the United States €90m and €60m, respectively. The CNIL is also set to hand down a €60m penalty to Meta's Facebook division in Ireland, in both cases for breaching EU privacy laws. Both companies will apparently face additional daily penalties of €0.1m if they do not remedy their offending practices within three months of the CNIL’s decision. The CNIL has previously fined Amazon and Google €35m and €100m, in December 2020, for breaching rules on cookie tracking. It also fined Google €50m for breaking the wide-reaching General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) at the time.


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