Business and Other Briefings

HMRC: The Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre (JITSIC) has opened a second ‘home’ in London. JITSIC London and JITSIC Washington will work together as a single office.
JITSIC was established in 2004 by the tax administrations of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, to supplement the ongoing work of the Australian Taxation Office, the Canada Revenue Agency, HM Revenue & Customs, and the US Internal Revenue Service in identifying & curbing tax avoidance & shelters and those who promote them & invest in them.
Press release ~ HMRC: JITSIC (Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre)
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published the findings of its latest review of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) selling standards.  They show improvements in some areas, but also that many firms are still failing to treat their customers fairly.
The FSA's latest review assessed whether firms had made improvements in five key areas.  Welcome improvements were found in two of these: the vast majority of firms are now making it clear to customers that PPI is optional; and firms are now offering cancellation refunds on virtually all single premium PPI policies.
However, little or no progress has been made in the other three areas: many firms are still not giving customers clear information about the product and what it will cost; not telling them the extent to which they are eligible for PPI cover and what they are covered for; and not telling them why, where advice is given, the recommended PPI policy meets their demands and needs.
Press release ~ PPI: FSA Money made clear ~ Phase 3 Report: The Sale of Payment Protection Insurance – results of thematic work ~ PPI Mystery Shopping Report – phase III mystery shopping results ~ Treating Customers Fairly initiative: progress report ~ Competition Commission  issues statement
BERR: The government claims that businesses will begin to see the benefits of the Companies Act 2006 from this week, as the first major provisions of the Act are implemented. The Act, which followed extensive consultation with the business community, is expected to save business up to £250m a year and bring greater shareholder engagement and transparency. Further provisions in the Act will be implemented with effect from April 2008 and October 2008.
Provisions which commenced on Monday 1 October include:
* The statutory statement of Directors' Duties (other than those on conflicts of interest)
* An enhanced business review for quoted companies
* Increased Rights for Indirect Investors
* A new approach to Company Decision Making,
* New procedures for bringing Derivative Claims
Press release ~ Full commencement time table ~ Companies Act 2006 - BERR
BERR: Millions of British workers will benefit from an increase in the national minimum wage and additional annual leave entitlements, which came into effect on Monday, 1 October 2007.
Under the changes:
* The minimum wage will increase from £5.35 to £5.52 an hour for workers aged 22 and over. There will also be increases from £4.45 to £4.60 for 18-21 year olds and from £3.30 to £3.40 for 16-17 year olds.
* The minimum annual leave entitlement will increase from 20 days to 24 days for full-time workers.  A further increase to 28 days will take place on 1 April 2009.
Press release ~ National Minimum Wage - BERR ~ Low Pay Commission ~ Holiday Entitlement - BERR
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