Business and Other Briefings

HMRC: Options for improved payment methods for taxpayers and modernised debt management operations are contained in a consultation (closes 17 September 2007) document published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
 
The consultation paper forms part of HMRC's work to modernise its powers, deterrents and the accompanying safeguards.  It invites comments on a range of ideas to make it easier for taxpayers to pay on time and improve the way HMRC deals with those who do not.
 
All the options would require legislative change, if they were adopted, and would therefore be subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny and debate.
Press release ~  'Payments, Repayments and Debt: The developing programme of work'
 
ECGD: Ministers have agreed a new financial framework for Export Credits Guarantee Department, the UK's official export credit agency, which is to be in place from 1 April 2008 and will replace plans for ECGD to become a Government Trading Fund.  It takes account of the results of ECGD operating as a pilot Trading Fund over the past two years.
 
ECGD works with exporters, project sponsors, banks and buyers to help UK exporters of capital equipment and project-related goods and services, by providing insurance against non-payment risks to UK exporters and guarantees for bank loans to facilitate the arranging of finance to buyers of UK goods.
Press release ~ Export Credits Guarantee Department
 
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published the first proposals for discussion & consultation (closes on 31 December 2007) from the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).  The Discussion Paper (DP) represents ideas from the market and consumer representatives involved in the RDR and follows six months work to address the root causes of persistent problems in the retail investment market.
 
The ideas seek to improve the current standards of professionalism; find more cost-effective ways of making advice available to a wider range of consumers; and improve consumer understanding of what they are getting for their money.
Press release ~ Retail Distribution Review (RDR) Discussion Paper (DP07/1) ~ Discussion Paper, DP07/2, on 'Platforms: the role of wraps and fund supermarkets' ~ Thoresen Review of Generic Financial Advice
 
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes 28 September 2007) proposing to reform the rules firms need to follow in carrying out general insurance business with their customers.  
 
For general insurance business, such as household, motor or pet policies, this means moving to principles and high-level rules, except where detailed provisions are required by European Union Directives or in a small number of cases where they are the only practicable way to protect consumers.
 
For protection products (Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), critical illness cover, income protection and term assurance), the FSA is proposing a small number of additional rules carefully targeted to improve selling practices in areas where consumers are losing out.
 
Following the consultation, the new general insurance regime is likely to come into effect in January 2008 with firms being allowed a transitional period for implementation.
Press release ~ Consultation Paper 07/11: Proposed amendments to the Insurance Conduct of Business Sourcebook ~ ICOB Review Interim Report: Consumer Experiences and Outcomes in General Insurance Markets
 
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published independent research which indicates the benefits of the suitability letter.  This will help inform the FSA's decision whether to retain its requirement for firms to provide information on product suitability to consumers.
 
The FSA commissioned Oxera, an independent economics consultancy, to assess the benefits of its suitability letter requirement in response to Deloitte's 2006 report on the cost of regulation, which found that this rule imposes relatively high costs on the industry.  This is the second of three reports being produced as part of the FSA's response, and feeds into the regulator's broader drive to measure the benefits of financial regulation.
Press release ~ 'Assessment of the benefits of the FSA suitability letter’ ~ 'An Empirical Investigation into the Effects of the Menu' ~ 'The cost of regulation study'
 
HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers investigating a suspected multi-million pound VAT fraud made 10 arrests last week in nationwide raids.
 
Arrests were made across the UK, and 20 premises were searched in the co-ordinated dawn raids.  Operation Varlet, followed an 18 month investigation into a complicated missing trader VAT fraud, commonly known as "carousel" fraud.
Press release ~ Business Brief ~ Article on identifying MTIC ~ Chartered Institute of Taxation paper
 
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs Brief 48/07
This Brief gives details of an article concerning : VAT: introduction of a reduced rate for the supply of smoking cessation products
 
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs Brief 47/07
This Brief gives details of an article concerning : VAT: introduction of a reduced rate for the supply and installation of mobility aids for the elderly
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