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February 14, 2014

Also in the news this week – 14 February 2014

HMRC opens helpline for flood victims

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has launched a new helpline for anyone affected by the floods. HMRC has said it will also agree instalment arrangements where taxpayers are unable to pay as a result of the floods, agree a practical approach when vital records have been lost due to floods, suspend debt collection proceedings for those affected by the floods, and cancel penalties when the taxpayer has missed statutory deadlines. The helpline number is 0800 904 7900.

Export confidence hits record high

72% of exporters expect their turnover to improve this quarter (the highest number on record), according to new research from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in conjunction with DHL Express. The BCC/DHL Trade Confidence Index also shows that confidence is particularly strong among exporting manufacturers, with 69% believing that their turnover is likely to improve. In addition, 34% of exporting firms said that they expected to increase staff over the next quarter, and 62% believe that their profitability will increase this year.

HMRC warning on phishing scams

HMRC is warning taxpayers not to be caught out by email phishing scams which offer tax rebates in return for bank details. In the three months to January 2014, customers reported 23,247 phishing emails to HMRC – up 47% on the same period a year earlier. Gareth Lloyd, head of digital security at HMRC, said: "HMRC never contacts customers who are due a tax refund via email – we always send a letter through the post. If you receive an email claiming to be from HMRC which offers a tax rebate, please send it to [email protected] and then delete it permanently. We can, and do, close these websites down."

New timetable for RTI penalties

There will be a staggered start to the introduction of Real Time Information (RTI) penalties, HMRC has announced. The new automatic in-year PAYE penalties for late filing and late payment were due to start from 6 April 2014. Having listened to customer feedback, HMRC has decided to stagger the start of the new penalties to give employers more time to adapt to reporting in real time. Automatic in-year late filing penalties will now not be introduced until October 2014, and automatic in-year late payment penalties in April 2015.

Responsibilities shift as OFT closes

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is closing on 31 March 2014. As a result, the government is passing its work and responsibilities to a number of different bodies. Consumer advice will be handled by the Citizens Advice service. Competition and consumer protection will now be the remit of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The local authority Trading Standards Services has already taken the lead role in enforcing consumer protection law, including at a national level. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will become the regulator for the consumer credit industry and it will also, with HMRC, have new anti-money laundering powers.

Consumer attitudes to mobile marketing

New research on Social Local Mobile (SoLoMo) marketing by GI Insight reveals that 70% of UK consumers are only happy to receive location-based commercial messages via their mobile phone if they have given prior permission for a company to contact them. The report, Harnessing the power of SoLoMo, examines how receptive consumers are to mobile messages and offers from companies based on their current location. Despite initial enthusiasm for Foursquare, Facebook Deals and other initiatives, just 22% say that receiving promotions via these sites would increase their likelihood of taking up an offer.

Mumpreneurs get their own crowdfunding platform

Mums Mean Business is the world's first crowdfunding platform to be aimed specifically at mumpreneurs. The website offers access to peer-to-peer investment, professional mentoring and business tools. Founder Babou Olengha-Aaby said: "Female entrepreneurship is not a gender issue. It is an economic issue. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor figures show that in 2010 alone, 187 million women worldwide started and owned their own business with mothers accounting for the majority." Investors can back projects by pledging a financial investment in return for rewards.