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What's happening in the world of accountancy today

News in brief

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 05 Jun 2023

6 June 2023: Universal basic income trial: FCA fines broker ED&F Man Capital Markets; PwC Australia names partners in tax leak case.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined ED&F Man Capital Markets a record £17.2m. The came after it determined “serious failings” in the City broker’s oversight of a cum-ex trading strategy. The FCA said ED&F Man collected millions of pounds of fees for the trading strategy as its clients illegitimately reclaimed tax from Danish authorities. This mostly took place between February 2012 and March 2015, City A.M reported. 

PwC Australia has named four former partners as responsible for confidentiality breaches to a parliamentary committee. This comes amid mounting pressure in an ongoing tax leaks scandal regarding the Big Four firm. It also named 63 current and former partners and staff who received confidential information. PwC Australia is now subject to multiple investigations, including a criminal probe, the Guardian reported

Thirty people could be paid £1,600 a month without any obligation under proposals for the first trial of a universal basic income in England. Researchers from think tank Autonomy are seeking financial backing for a two-year pilot programme to see how it would change the lives of the group. The concept of a universal basic income sees government pays all individuals a set salary regardless of their means. Participants will be drawn from central Jarrow and East Finchley, the BBC reported

5 June 2023: CMA responds to AI regulation white paper; Congress averts a US default with debt deal; EY UK named Financial Times Europe Climate Leader. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has responded to the government’s AI regulation white paper. The consultation sought views on its proposal to adopt a principle-based approach to regulating AI in the UK. The CMA’s response explained how its remit relates to each principle in the government’s proposed framework. It also highlighted efforts to create coherence between regulators, build expertise in technology, and contribute to public understanding of developments in AI. 

The US Congress has approved a deal to lift the country's borrowing limit. The country was forecast to overshoot its debt ceiling on Monday. President Joe Biden will enact the measure into law, the BBC reported. His signature on the bill will spare the US from defaulting on its $31.4tn (£25trn) debt.

EY UK has been named the Financial Times’ Europe Climate Leader for a consecutive year. The listing recognises European companies that have achieved the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Actions taken by the Big Four firm include reducing air travel emissions, electricity consumption and the environmental impact of internal emissions. It has also installed replacement LED lighting and an upgraded building management system. 

2 June 2023: Wales struggles to spend £504m excess EU funds; Amazon UK pays no corporation tax; house prices fall at record pace. 

Wales is facing a challenge to spend its remaining EU funds by the end of 2023. All EU Structural Funds Programme and Rural Development Programme funding has now been committed to projects. However, £504m is still available to be spent this year. The Welsh European Funding Office and government are managing risks to maximise the drawdown of EU funding, but some are not in their control. These include exchange rate fluctuations and a reliance on projects to deliver as expected, an Audit Wales report revealed.

Amazon’s main UK division has paid no corporation tax for the second year in a row. This comes after it benefitted from a tax credit of £7.7m, on a chunk of its £1.6bn of investment in infrastructure including robotic equipment at its warehouses. Under the Super-deduction Scheme, companies can offset 130% of investment spending on infrastructure against profits for two years from April 2021, the Guardian reported

UK house prices fell at their fastest annual pace for nearly 14 years in May. They dropped by 3.4%, the biggest decline since July 2009. House prices edged down by 0.1% in May itself and the average property price now stands at £260,736. This is still 4% below their August 2022 peak, the BBC reported.

1 June 2023: UK’s first post-Brexit trade deals begin; CBI looks for new president; Universal credit childcare funding to rise 47%. 

The UK's trade deals with Australia and New Zealand have now come into effect. The deals remove tariffs on all UK goods exports Down Under, which could mean lower prices for UK consumers. They are expected to drive bilateral trade up by 53% with Australia and 59% with New Zealand. The deal will also make overseas work visas more available for Britons.

The Confederation of British Industry is searching for a new president. This comes amid proposals to overhaul its working culture, following a series of sexual misconduct allegations at the lobby group. These will be considered during a confidence vote by members next week to decide the organisation’s future, the Guardian reported. The incumbent, Brian McBride, will hand over responsibilities in January 2024 after overseeing a range of changes from the board downward. 

Parents on universal credit will be able claim hundreds of pounds more to cover childcare costs from the end of June. The government will allow parents on the benefit to claim back £951 for childcare costs for one and £1,630 for two or more children – a 47% increase. The policy was announced as part of the 2023 Budget and applies across Britain. Until now the amount parents on universal credit could claim had been frozen at £646-a-month per child, the BBC reported

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