Britain offers tax relief to more companies with $2.06 billion plan - GulfToday

Britain offers tax relief to more companies with $2.06 billion plan


The rainbow flag flies above the Bank of England to celebrate the unveiling of the new fifty- pound note in London on Thursday. Associated Press

Britain pledged a further 1.5 billion pounds ($2.06 billion) in tax relief for companies hit by the coronavirus crisis but which until now had not qualified for exemption from paying business rates, a charge based on the value of commercial property.

The move comes on top of the 16 billion pounds in business rates relief already paid to or earmarked for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

The new support would be distributed according the severity of the economic hit suffered by specific sectors, rather than on the basis of falls in property values as demanded by many businesses, the ministry said.

“By providing more targeted support than the business rates appeals system, our approach will help protect and support jobs in businesses across the country,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

Sunak has so far spent or pledged about 350 billion pounds on emergency measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick said local authorities would decide how to allocate the awards.

Britain sold 500 million pounds ($686 million) of a sovereign Sukuk in its second foray in the Islamic finance market, the finance ministry said on Thursday.

Orders for the five-year security totalled more than 625 million pounds. It follows a 250 million-pound issue in 2014.

“By launching our second sovereign Sukuk, we’re cementing the UK’s position as the leading global hub for Islamic finance outside of the Islamic world,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

“Strong investor demand for this Sukuk meant we achieved a good price for the taxpayer and will help us develop our relationships with Islamic economies around the world.”

The finance ministry said the profit rate - equivalent to a yield on a bond - for the Sukuk, which matures on 22 July 2026, was set at 0.333%, flat to the yield on the existing 1.5% gilt due July 2026.

British lawmakers are voting on whether to prolong coronavirus emergency measures that have given the government unprecedented powers to restrict UK citizens’ everyday lives

Meanwhile, British lawmakers were voting Thursday on whether to prolong coronavirus emergency measures that have given the government unprecedented powers to restrict UK citizens’ everyday lives.

The government is asking Parliament to extend the powers until September, and to approve a road map for gradually easing Britain’s strict coronavirus lockdown over the next three months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s large Conservative majority in Parliament all but guarantees success, but Johnson faces rebellion from some of his own lawmakers, who say the economic, democratic and human costs of the restrictions outweighs the benefits.

The Coronavirus Act, passed a year ago as Britain went into lockdown, brought in a wide range of temporary health, economic and social powers to deal with the pandemic. It gives authorities powers to bar protests, shut down businesses, restrict travel and detain people suspected of having the virus.

Heath Secretary Matt Hancock said Parliament had had to take “extraordinary measures in response to this extraordinary threat.”

But Conservative lawmaker Mark Harper, a leading lockdown skeptic, said he had not “heard a single good answer” as to why the British government needed to extend the “draconian” powers for another six months.

Britain has recorded more than 126,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. But the U.K.’s fast-moving vaccination program has so far given at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to more than half of its adult population.

Virus infections and deaths have fallen sharply in the last month even as they are rising in much of Europe. The British government is gradually lifting a national lockdown and children returned to school on March 8. Shops, hairdressers and outdoor dining are due to reopen on April 12, followed by indoor venues on May 17. Remaining restrictions are set to end June 21, if the country is not facing a large new virus surge.

Hancock said infections were likely to rise as society opened up, but thanks to vaccines that would not automatically mean more virus-related deaths. But he said it was still right to proceed with caution.

“We must restore the freedoms that we all cherish, but in a way that doesn’t put the (National Health Service) at risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, European stocks inched lower on Thursday as investors swapped energy and retail stocks with shares of companies seen as safer during heightened economic uncertainty following a new round of coronavirus restrictions in the euro zone.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.1%, with oil & gas stocks falling 1.4% on the back of weaker crude prices.

Global sentiment took a hit after a selloff in Chinese technology shares on worries that they will be de-listed from U.S. bourses, while the number of coronavirus cases in Germany saw the biggest increase since Jan.9.


Related articles