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Budget and court cases: the week in news

Budget and court cases: the week in news

In a week where the news cycle was dominated by the fallout from the annual Budget statement, advisers had plenty of financial planning changes to consider. It's time to dissect what happened in the week in news.

1) Warm up act

At the start of the week, as the industry warmed up for the annual Budget epic, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond smacked the hands of financial advisers for arranging loan schemes for business owners.

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He said such behaviour, which has led some business owners to face retrospective tax bills, were the result of advisers giving people "the wrong advice".

The Chancellor made the claim on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on 28 October, and claimed that "schemes disguised as loans were always illegal tax avoidance", promoting advisers to question whether the Chancellor appreciated the subtle differences between tax avoidance and tax evasion.

2) Self-employed squeezed

By the time it came to the Budget on Monday (29 October), the Chancellor had lined up some interesting changes, eyeing up new potential sources of future revenue for the Treasury’s coffers.

Among those new sources were the self-employed, where he looked to made adjustments to the current tax accounting arrangements. He took aim at self-employed, looking to expand the off-payroll working rules – aka IR35 – from the year 2020.

New rules will mean that contractors who work for one company, but work through their own limited company, will have to pay more from April 2020. The Treasury estimates that it could recoup up to £1.2 billion a year from recategorising these people from bring self-employed.

Also impacted by the Budget reforms were landlords, who were told to expect a bigger tax bill if they let out their former home. From April 2020, letting relief will be revamped so it only benefits people in instances where the owner is in shared occupancy with the tenant. The final period exemption is also being slashed from 18 months to just nine.

3) Snouts in the trough

Away from the Budget, one of the biggest stories of the week involved a court case where a judge ruled that self-invested personal pension providers cannot circumnavigate regulatory principles by writing business on an execution only basis.

In the Berkeley Burke judicial review case, the judge ruled that companies have to consider the outcome for the client in line with Financial Conduct Authority rules on client protection, and that clients which buy business on an execution only basis are not exempt from the rules.

Berkeley Burke had been arguing that they had to execute any instruction they were given by execution only clients, but the judge agreed with the Financial Ombudsman Service and FCA assessment that the clients’ best interests need to be considered.

Advisers were quick to comment on the ruling. IFA Alan Lakey warned that claims mongers and the would be "queueing up to push their snouts into the trough" because of the ruling.

4) Top of flops

It was a tough week for the life insurance division of St James’s Place, which found it received the highest number of complaints upheld by the Financial Conduct Authority of any firm in the first half of 2018.