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Chancellor hints at further tax cuts
Jeremy Hunt has hinted that there could be further tax cuts following the recent reduction in National Insurance. The Chancellor told ITV’s The Martin Lewis Money Show Live: “After a period in which taxes have gone up in order to pay for the costs of the pandemic or the £3,500 of help we gave people in the cost of living crisis to a typical family, we now want to bring that tax burden back down.” He added that while taxes will not return to pre-pandemic levels in “one go … we can make a start,” adding that ministers “would like to go further as and when it’s affordable and responsible to do so.” In a separate interview, Mr Hunt told Robert Peston on the Rest is Money podcast that the National Insurance cut is “the start of a process", adding: "If I can afford to go further I will... I don't yet know if I can." He also stated a belief that low tax economies will outperform their high tax rivals, commenting: “If you look at the last decade, the OECD countries – the most advanced economies – that have grown the fastest have been the ones with the lower taxes, not the higher taxes.”
Daily Express   Daily Mail   The Independent  

HMRC criticised over service
Taxpayers have voiced concern over the service being offered by HMRC, with callers facing hour-long waiting times to get through and cases where letters are going unanswered. Some taxpayers are waiting up to nine months to receive acknowledgement of their correspondence. With taxpayers trying to contact HMRC ahead of the January 31 tax return deadline, some have questioned the tax office’s decision to reduce the service on its helpline. HMRC says it will only take “priority calls,” with everyone else directed to its website. Last year, taxpayers made 1.2m calls to HMRC in the eight weeks leading up to the tax return deadline, with an average of 41,000 calls per day.
Daily Mail  

Regulator: ‘Opaque’ private equity a risk for banks
Nathanael Benjamin, who is set to join the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee (FPC), has warned that financial stability could be at risk if banks fail to assess their exposure to “opaque” private equity firms when lending to the sector. In a Treasury Committee hearing, he highlighted the risks that traditional banks face when lending to the non-bank sector, such as private equity, hedge funds and investment funds. He warned: “There are a number of vulnerabilities which leave it more exposed to higher interest rates, especially if there is a deterioration in the economic outlook and a repricing of credit risk.” Flagging concern that banks which lend to private equity firms have sometimes “struggled to avoid large counterparty concentrations,” he said banks must have a “very clear line of sight to their own exposure to private equity firms.”
City AM  

Crypto and fintech groups fined $5.8bn in global crackdown on illicit money
Regulators fined crypto and digital payments companies $5.8bn over failings in customer checks, anti-money laundering controls and upholding sanctions last year, while penalties for traditional financial services groups totalled  $835m.
Financial Times  

Hays cut 1,150 jobs in 2023
Recruitment firm Hays cut 1,150 jobs over the last year amid a slowdown in the global hiring market, with around 550 job losses in Q4 alone. Dirk Hahn, chief executive of Hays, said: “Overall market conditions became increasingly challenging through the quarter, including a clear slowdown in most markets in December.” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, highlighted that recruiters tend to be “a good harbinger for the economy,” saying: “Companies are keen to hire when they’re feeling confident and tend to freeze recruitment when times are more uncertain.”
The I