The Great Debate UK

Mood of cautious optimism in owner-managed business sector

-David Rankin is managing director of business advisory, tax and assurance at Vantis. The opinions expressed are his own.-

There is no doubt that the economy is one of the most contentious issues in the run up to the election. While politicians argue over who would be able to handle the economy in the best manner going forward, we thought it would be far more telling to ask smaller businesses, those at the hardest end of the coal-face, just what they thought would happen to the economy.

We were pleasantly surprised.

More than half of the leading owner-managed businesses in the UK surveyed believe that the economy will improve over the next 12 months, according to the latest Vantis Market inSight survey.

Latest findings have shown that 58 percent of respondents are confident in the UK’s economic prospects, despite the uncertainty caused by a general election. Just one in five believe the economy will decline.

Crisis, what crisis?

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– The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. –

 Crisis, what crisis? That could be motto for the election manifestos published by Britain’s main political parties this week. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives addressed the country’s fiscal crisis head-on.

The benefits of early ISA investment

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Rachel Mason- Rachel Mason is public relations manager at independent financial service providers Fair Investment Company. The opinions expressed are her own. -

The financial media has been packed full of ISA news over the past few months. Most of the advice has been ‘invest in your ISA before it’s too late’. And now it is too late. The media has found something else to write about because the tax year is over, and if you missed it, tough luck.

The UK should not waste its fiscal crisis

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hugodixon–  The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own  –

 The UK should not waste its fiscal crisis. As Britain embarks on its election campaign, this is a perfect opportunity to engage in radical tax and spending reforms designed not just to restore the country’s fiscal balance but to boost its long-term productivity and competitiveness.

Tories panic with tax cut pledge

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NeilCollinsNeil Collins is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own

National Insurance contributions make an unlikely battleground for the British election. They lack the sexiness of income tax cuts. But NI is a bad tax and the Tories are right to pledge to overturn Labour’s plan to raise it.

Unfortunately, their timing smacks of desperation as their poll lead melts away. More to the point, it flies in the face of their commitment to cut Britain’s vast budget deficit.

Tax year end – are you ready?

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Rachel Mason is public relations manager at independent financial service providers Fair Investment Company.The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.-

With the end of the tax year fast approaching, now is the time to make sure all your finances are in order and that you are maximising all the annual allowances, reliefs and exemptions available.

Inequality in the UK: the paradox under Labour

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Alastair Murid B0133P 0248-Ali Muriel is a Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The views expressed are his own.-

Start with two (apparently contradictory) facts about income inequality in the UK:

from Breakingviews:

Europe’s banks will suffer less from U.S. tax

-- Margaret Doyle and George Hay are Reuters Breakingview columnists. The opinions expressed are their own. --

European banks should suffer less than their American counterparts from the Obama administration’s proposed bank tax. The president’s proposed levy on banks’ wholesale funding requirements will hit all banks with a big presence on Wall Street. But assuming that U.S. banks will be taxed on their worldwide operations, the levy will hurt them more. This could be a major bonus for European investment banks -- as long as their own governments don’t follow suit.

from Breakingviews:

Bank liability levy may not be foolish

A levy on bank liabilities would get the industry squealing - especially if it approached $120 billion. But the Obama administration isn’t crazy to float the idea. A well-crafted tax could help recoup bailout costs while also giving banks an incentive to behave more sensibly. It doesn't have to apply just to the United States, either.

Populism aside, the main rationale for a levy is that the size of a bank's liabilities is a goodish proxy for the risk it poses to the financial system - as well as the benefit it received from the cheap money central banks doled out to offset the credit crunch. It’s reasonable that banks should pay for help from their lenders of last resort.

from The Great Debate:

UK bonus tax both cynical and justified

(James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

A cynical election maneuver it may well be, but Britain's plan to impose a punitive tax on bonus payments is also reasonably well crafted and in broad terms justified.

Facing a monumental budget deficit and an election in months, British Chancellor Alistair Darling announced a plan to slap a 50 percent payroll tax, payable by banks, on their bonus payments in excess of 25,000 pounds to a given employee.

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