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Spring Statement and Cape Verde: the week in news

Spring Statement and Cape Verde: the week in news

You would be forgiven for thinking nothing but Brexit dominated the headlines this week, with no-one really any the wiser as to what the end of this month holds for the UK's exit from the European Union.

But from here on down it is a Brexit-free zone.

This is what grabbed advisers' attention this week - it is time for the week in news:

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Taxman crackdown

The finger of the taxman wagged once again this week as HM Revenue & Customs warned advisers several schemes claiming to help clients avoid the disguised remuneration loan charge would not work.

The disguised remuneration loan charge applies to individuals and companies, which paid workers via loans rather than a salary, with the intention the loans are never to be repaid. As loans are not taxable, no income tax is paid.

The Finance Bill will ban this practice and apply retrospective tax going as far back as 1999, but according to HMRC there are a number of schemes being promoted to avoid the charge.

HMRC said it strongly believed the schemes would not be successful and warned it would tackle the "promoters and users of these arrangements".

HMRC warned: "If it looks too good to be true, it usually is."

Spring has sprung

Chancellor Philip Hammond was fashionably late delivering his Spring Statement on Wednesday (March 13) but used his address to rally confidence around the UK's economy.

Mr Hammond promised a bright British future - so long as there is a Brexit deal.

The chancellor announced the UK economy continues to grow, wages are increasing and unemployment is at historic lows, with the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasting further growth every year for the next five years.  

Mr Hammond's decision to bring forward the government's £700m package of apprenticeship reforms to April was well received by the industry this week.

The changes were first announced in last year's Budget and include a  £240m fund to halve the co-investment rate employers must currently pay for apprenticeship training to 5 per cent.

Cash back in Cape Verde 

It was good news for investors in a failed multi-million pound Cape Verde property scheme last month, as the Court of Appeal ruled Clydesdale Bank must repay money lost by the claimants. 

The investment scheme was promoted by Arck LLP, tasked with fundraising for luxury property complex Paradise Beach in Cape Verde.

But the scheme, among others promoted by Arck, later failed.

Investors in the Cape Verde development gave more than £1.5m to Arck, and when the scheme collapsed sought to reclaim their money from Clydesdale Bank who had operated the accounts through which the invested money flowed. 

A High Court had originally ruled against the claimants, but the Court of Appeal recently found the investors could claim on a contract between Clydesdale and Arck despite the fact they had never seen it.

A Clydesdale spokesperson said the bank was considering its next steps in light of the judgement.