New prosperity index reveals East of England is third most prosperous region in the UK

On Thursday 13th May the Legatum Institute is publishing a brand-new UK Prosperity Index. It uses 256 indicators based on the latest available data (predominantly from before Covid-19 struck) to provide a comprehensive assessment of institutional, economic, and social wellbeing across the country’s 379 local authorities. The Index will be used to track the Government’s ‘levelling-up agenda’ and hold decision-makers to account for improving the prosperity of all regions of the UK.

The Index reveals that the East of England is the 3rd most prosperous region of the UK. The quality of local infrastructure, education, and the natural environment have all improved over the last decade, and the region is home to the ‘Commuter Belt’ which contains some of the most prosperous areas in the country, such as St Albans. However, levels of prosperity in the region have been deteriorating in recent years, with deteriorations in safety and security, health, and the conditions for businesses.

The Index shows that the East of England’s key strengths are:

  • The highest levels of social capital in the UK: there is little loneliness and families are strong, with the region boasting the second lowest proportion of lone parent families in the country at just 19%.
  • Strong governance: the region has the highest levels of government effectiveness in the UK, with local authorities that are very competent at managing housing benefits, council tax, and planning appeals.
  • A relatively strong economy: the region’s ‘Commuter Belt’ in particular has a high number of high-tech businesses, a diverse workforce, and high levels of productivity.
  • Some of the best living conditions in the country: the poverty rate of 18% is the third lowest in the UK.

However, the Index also reveals that there are opportunities for the East of England to ‘level-up’, including:

  • Addressing the deteriorating safety and security of local communities: urban areas such as Cambridge, Ipswich, and Watford have the highest theft rates in the country.
  • Improving conditions for enterprise across the region: the region as a whole performs poorly due to factors such as high property costs, low awareness of local enterprise partnerships, and strong views that legislation and tax compliance are major barriers to doing business.
  • Improving the strength of the economy in coastal towns: these areas suffer from low productivity and competitiveness as well as higher rates of unemployment.
  • Continuing to strengthen education: outside the ‘Commuter Belt’ most areas in the region are struggling with education, and primary attendance and attainment in areas like Peterborough and Great Yarmouth are among the lowest in the country.

Professor Matthew Goodwin, Director of the Legatum Institute’s Centre for UK Prosperity, said: “The UK Prosperity Index is the most ambitious assessment of prosperity across the country to date. With detailed data on all boroughs and council areas, it is a transformational tool that can help policy makers and influencers target their interventions more effectively on the journey towards greater prosperity. The Index will be updated annually, allowing citizens, businesses, local authorities, regions, and national government to track progress over time and hold decision-makers to account.

“The holistic and rigorous approach we have taken has allowed us to identify issues that have previously been missed in the discussion about how to level-up the country. It highlights that while the East of England performs well on the safety and security of local communities, levels of social capital, and living conditions, we also need to invest in areas such as education and the conditions for local businesses if we are to see all citizens, neighbourhoods, and communities in the region reach their full potential. We hope our Index will help leaders across the East of England set their agendas and implement strategies that will unlock real prosperity.”

At a local authority level, the Index shows that:

  • St Albans is the most prosperous council in the region and 8th in the country. Residents are healthy and have access to the necessary services to maintain good health, and the number of children in need or on child protection plans is low. St Albans benefits from strong societal ties among the community, and a thriving economy with local regulation that enables businesses to respond to the changing needs of society.
  • Uttlesford ranks 1st in the country for social capital. There is a strong sense of community, with citizens more willing to participate in local social activities such as volunteering and sports clubs than their peers across the rest of the UK, and numbers of underage pregnancies are lower than most other councils in the country.

One in four still have no emergency savings – and one in seven don’t plan to build one

74% of people say they have an emergency savings safety net – 26% of people don’t.

53% of people say the past year has made them more aware of the need for emergency savings.

9% of people say they started emergency savings during the crisis, and 36% added to existing savings.

12% of people don’t have savings but plan to start building them, while 14% have no savings and don’t plan to start saving.

38% have had an unexpected expense in the past 12 months. On average it cost them £1,420.

Statistics from a survey of 2,000 by Opinium for HL in April 2021.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: “Despite everything that has happened over the past year, one in seven people still don’t have any plans to build an emergency savings safety net.

“We have made some impressive strides forward. 2020 wasn’t a vintage year in many respects, but when it comes to emergency savings, it was outstanding. A dramatic cut in spending opportunities combined with a vital reminder of the value of having something to fall back on, meant we saved an average of £15 billion a month in the year to the end of February. Three quarters of people say they now have an emergency savings safety net.

“However, this also means one in four people don’t, and more than half of this group have no intention of saving. Unfortunately, even if we’re past the worst of the crisis, there’s still every chance you’ll need this money to fall back on.

“The past year has shown just how easy it is to be blindsided by the unexpected, and for an income shortfall to come out of the blue. On top of that there’s always the risk that we face expenses we haven’t planned for. In the past year, on top of everything else, two in four people had at least one unexpected expense, costing an average of £1,420.

“People of working age should have 3-6 months’ worth of essential expenses in an easy access account for emergencies. Our calculations show that this means having at least £3,000 in savings for the average single person.

“During the pandemic, the inability to go out or go shopping helped enormous numbers of people free up cash without really trying, but now everything is opening up again, we may need to make more of an effort to cut back. One useful approach is to keep a spending diary to see where your cash is going, and decide what you can live without. This doesn’t have to mean great sacrifices, even shopping around for utilities can be a great way to save money.

“Leaving your cash in a current account or an easy access savings account with a high street giant means you’ll get next to nothing in interest, so once you have freed up the cash, set up a direct debit into a competitive easy access savings account, on payday, so you save the cash before you have a chance to spend it.”

AML specialist SmartSearch brings ‘gold standard’ compliance to the Netherlands

Leading UK anti-money laundering (AML) firm SmartSearch is launching in the Netherlands, introducing its innovative digital solution to a second international market within 12 months.

Over the past decade SmartSearch has established itself as one of the foremost providers of SasS (software as a service) solutions for regulated businesses in the UK.

It is now taking that gold standard in AML compliance to international markets, helping to shut out the increasing threat of money laundering and financial crime, both of which have been on the rise since the outbreak of coronavirus worldwide.

SmartSearch’s move into the EU follows its launch into the USA last year, giving the West Yorkshire-based business a growing global reach.

The SmartSearch solution ensures full compliance for Dutch businesses with the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Prevention) Act (Wwft) and Sanctions Act, as it meets all requirements of the latest EU Money Laundering Directives. In addition, the full range of AML checks can be performed remotely, with no need for face-to-face contact or physical documents to be exchanged, making it Covid-secure.

SmartSearch expects that its solution will prove popular with clients in the Netherlands, as CEO John Dobson explains: “At SmartSearch we’ve developed a highly sophisticated and powerful digital solution, but at the same time made it incredibly simple for the end-user to operate.

“With many years of experience in developing the technology for the UK market, and increasing our customer base year-on-year, we’re looking forward to launching in the Netherlands, where businesses face the same issues with customer onboarding and ID checks.”

The move follows a period of sustained growth for the multi-award-winning SmartSearch, which has also been listed as one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies for the third year running with more than 5,000 client firms benefitting from its solution.

Dobson adds: “Manually checking hard copy documents to verify ID is no longer fit for purpose and the EU has recognised this with a push towards electronic verification in the sixth Money Laundering Directive which was issued at the start of this year.

“We expect many Dutch businesses to make the switch to digital, as they have in the UK, not only in order to comply with the latest regulations at all times, but also to make the customer onboarding process much more efficient, accurate and convenient for their customers. This will improve overall business efficiency saving considerable time and money.

“We have developed a bespoke product for the Dutch market so that firms using SmartSearch have the same absolute confidence as those in the UK and receive the same level of services that has resulted in a client retention rate of 98%.”

Simply by entering a name, address and date of birth, the SmartSearch solution will scan global databases including lists for sanctions and politically exposed persons (PEPs) and return a full ID report for an individual in just two seconds. For a check on businesses, including details for directors and ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs), it takes less than three minutes.

Most think financial pandemic pain is over, but could face a nasty surprise

Our figures show, a fifth of people have been hit financially by the pandemic but think the worst is now over (21%). Two fifths don’t think they’ll be hit at all financially by the pandemic (42%).

The Bank of England predicts a bounce-back: GDP was 8.75% below the pre-pandemic level in January-March, but the gap is expected to narrow to 1.25% by June-September this year.

However, these optimists could be in for a nasty surprise. Unemployment will get worse before it gets better: the unemployment rate is currently 4.9% and is expected to peak at 5.5% in June-September this year.

Some are expecting more bad news: a fifth of people say they have been hit financially, and think the worst is yet to come (20%).

HL statistics from a survey of 2,000 people by Opinium in April 2021.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown said: “This time last year, as the first lockdown eased, there was some hope that the worst was over. Experience cured us of that bout of optimism, but it’s spreading again this spring, with the reopening of the economy and the rollout of the vaccine. A fifth of people have faced their fair share of financial pain from the pandemic, but are predicting a much brighter future.

“This time, the economists share much of this optimism. The Bank of England is predicting a return to pre-pandemic levels of GDP earlier than it was willing to forecast three months ago. It also suggests that the economy will be pretty much back on its feet by the time the furlough scheme ends, so most people will leave the scheme and go back to work, rather than face unemployment. Before the scheme was extended to September, the jobless rate had been expected to peak at 7.75% in the middle of the year. Now the Bank says it will do so lower and later.

“As a result, the Bank of England says we’re likely to dial down our enthusiasm for saving, and treat ourselves a bit. Spending fell 5% in the first three months of 2021, but is expected to rise 8% in the following three months. In fact, of those who saved during the pandemic, a quarter are predicted to spend at least some of the money they put away – up from around one in ten in its survey a year ago. The bank says we’ll spend 10% of our additional savings over the next three years.

“However, not everyone is quite so enthusiastic. Our research shows that a fifth of those hit by the financial effects of the pandemic are worried that the worst is yet to come, and the Bank of England says a third plan to spend less than before the crisis – just in case. Covid has certainly shown us that we can never rule out a nasty surprise that’ll send us off track. Even if things go to plan, the Bank highlighted that there may well be more bad news on the way. Unemployment is still rising, so jobs are under threat. It also suggests a slowdown in recovery next winter.

“The crisis doesn’t have to be so widespread that it hits everyone in order to damage you and your finances. So while we hope for the best, we should always have a plan for the worst. Consider your biggest vulnerabilities. If you’re worried about losing income and paying your bills, your emergency savings safety net is key. You should have 3-6 months’ worth of essential expenses in a competitive easy access savings account just in case. If you’re eying up this cash and considering a spending spree, it’s worth thinking twice how you would deal with the unexpected without this emergency fund.”

New £2.4m pilot for people in mental health crisis to help avoid spiralling debt

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) has launched an innovative new pilot to help people in mental health crisis avoid worsening debt problems, as part of its increased funding for debt advice in 2021/22.

The government-backed MaPS, which is the largest funder of debt advice in England, has committed £94.6million overall in 2021/22 to support vital debt advice services as people continue to grapple with the financial impact of the pandemic.

As part of the increased funding, MaPS is investing £2.4million in a pilot which joins up the mental health sector with debt advice services, to refer people in crisis for a Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space.

Under the Breathing Space scheme, which launched on 4 May, people with problem debt will be given legal protections from creditors chasing them for payments and a freeze on most interest and charges on their debts for up to 60 days. A standard Breathing Space can be applied for through debt advice.

A Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space is specifically for someone who is receiving mental health crisis treatment, who may not be able to access debt advice and apply for Breathing Space themselves. It enables an application to be made on their behalf to a debt adviser, based on evidence provided by an approved mental health professional. This Breathing Space lasts for the duration of their treatment plus 30 days, to prevent their debts worsening while they are in crisis.

The pilot will be run by the charity Rethink Mental Illness over the next 12 months, and is expected to support around 6,300 people living with severe mental health problems to apply for breathing space from their debts. This will be delivered through the creation of a single online point of entry, managed by MaPS, for qualified mental health practitioners to easily refer their patients for a Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space. MaPS will also fund specialist Breathing Space training and support for debt advisors across the sector.

Rethink Mental Illness will process Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space referrals and support the client after they leave crisis care to provide debt advice where appropriate.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Chief Executive at MaPS said: “Even before the pandemic, 18% of people with mental health problems were also in problem debt. The effects of the pandemic has impacted significantly on the mental health of many, and worsened existing problems for some. We know that people in this situation may find it harder to engage with debt advice and are being chased for their debts when they are least likely to be able to deal with it.

“The toll of coronavirus on some people’s financial wellbeing will continue to be severe and long lasting. Although many have already been helped by support schemes, and special flexibility on products such as mortgages and loans, there are likely to be challenges ahead when these come to an end. Throughout the pandemic, we have taken action to ensure more support is available to people in need of debt advice, and our increased funding for the next 12 months continues our commitment.

“We hope that our pilot, which will refer people for Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space and help them avoid worsening debt problems while they are in crisis treatment, will support future larger scale roll out of initiatives which join up the healthcare sector with debt advice services.”

Sarah Murphy, Associate Director of Advice, Information and Training at Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Financial worries not only present a barrier to recovery, they can also act as a catalyst to deteriorating mental health. Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space will offer a lifeline to people in problem debt who are experiencing a mental health crisis. This innovative pilot provides specialist financial support at a crucial time, so people don’t emerge from a mental health crisis to learn that their financial situation has spiralled out of control.

“We’re proud to be supporting this work to offer vital support to people severely affected by mental illness, helping them to improve their financial and mental wellbeing so they can ultimately have a better quality of life.”

Steve Chamberlain, Chair, AMHP Leads Network, said: “Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) witness every day how the pressures of debt can be disastrous to people’s mental wellbeing, health and recovery. This additional measure to safeguard vulnerable individuals in problem debt is a welcome tool for all professionals. Having a simple and effective entry point for applications is just as important to ensure that this is an achievable task for any individual, carer or involved professional to complete.

“AMHPs will be able to provide the necessary expertise to certify when individuals are experiencing a mental health crisis of a nature requiring the legal protections of this scheme.”

The overall MaPS £94.6million investment in debt advice will support:

  • The delivery of 1.5m sessions of debt advice over the next 12 to 18 months. This comes as MaPS expects the need for debt advice to increase by as much as 60% over the next year, particularly when support measures like payment holidays and a pause on credit collection activity come to an end.
  • Debt Relief Order administration, a critical debt solution for people on low incomes, via the Competent Authorities in England. MaPS started funding all DRO administration in England from October 2020.
  • Increased digital debt advice capacity and capability over the next 12 months, to continue to provide support to people remotely due to the pandemic.
  • The ongoing Pilot of Adviser Capacity and Efficiency (PACE), a technology focussed pilot to simplify how people access and experience debt advice, while increasing efficiency.

Problems at home impact employee creativity more than problems at work

Feeling ostracised by family members has a negative effect on employee creativity, more so than feeling ostracised at work, finds new research from Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business.

Feeling ignored or excluded by family members is more prevalent than imagined – past research reveals around 60% of individuals report being ostracised by their partners. Given the increase in working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, research into the impact of family and home experiences on employees is vital.

Associate Professor Mayowa Babalola and colleagues investigated what happens when employees feel alienated by loved ones at home. Participants were all married and from various professions that required creativity, including advertising, sales and marketing, consulting, IT, engineering, finance, and healthcare.

They collected data on the participants’ need for affiliation, perceived family ostracism, strain-based family-to-work conflict (strain in the family that interferes with work responsibilities), and creative process engagement. Finally, supervisors evaluated their employees’ creativity.

The study found that feeling excluded by family creates stress which the individual then takes to work. This results in lower creative process engagement, which ultimately inhibits creativity. Employees with a greater need for affiliation at home were more susceptible to these negative effects. Their results also showed that the impact of family ostracism on creativity is more significant than the impact of workplace ostracism.

Professor Babalola says, “Employee creativity is central to the success, growth, and survival of organisations. Leaders can play a crucial role in stimulating creativity in their employees, but its development can be limited by the effects of family ostracism, so they should encourage awareness of the effects of family-related issues on creativity and develop initiatives to help individuals deal with family-based stressors. Possible approaches include developing employee mindfulness and psychological capital, and building a supportive work climate.”

These findings show that negative experiences at home can be part of the environment that affects employee creativity and those excluded and ignored by their families are more negatively affected than those experiencing the same from colleagues. Therefore, organisations should help employees cope with both work and family-related stressors and support them in dealing with negative interpersonal relationships.

These findings were published in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour.


‘Making a difference’ unites Shawbrook Bank and Saracens Rugby Club in multi-year partnership

Shawbrook Bank has today announced it is entering into a multi-year partnership with Championship rugby union side, Saracens.

The Bank, founded in 2011, offers specialist property and business finance in addition to personal loans and savings products. It will support Saracens as they seek to return to the Premiership and re-cement their standing as one of Europe’s most successful rugby union teams, a decade after winning their first English league champions title and a decade on from Shawbrook’s own inception.

Shawbrook describes itself as ‘proudly different’ and, as a specialist business operating in specialist markets, uses a balance of expert people and progressive technology to consistently deliver positive outcomes for customers – from reliably great savings rates or transparent loan pricing for consumers, to tailored products for professional property investors and businesses of all shapes and sizes right across the UK.

This day-in-day-out experience of ambition presents an obvious synergy with the north London club as they challenge for the Championship title, and promotion, in order to deliver Premiership rugby for a fan base complementary to Shawbrook’s own customer and intermediary audience.

Another key factor behind the partnership is Shawbrook and Saracens shared belief in inclusivity. The Club has been taking great strides to address gender inequality within professional sport by investing heavily in its women’s rugby team and its netball team, the Saracens Mavericks. Shawbrook, too has taken steps to improve inclusion within the bank and the wider financial services sector and will work with Saracens to support charitable and grassroots initiatives. Saracens also has a strong commitment to its surrounding community, with the Saracens High School opened in 2018 to raise the aspirations and improve the academic attainment of young people living in one of the most disadvantaged communities in the local area.

As part of the sponsorship Shawbrook will also provide ongoing financial support to the 20 year old ‘Saracens Foundation’, whose mission is to transform lives on and off the pitch to build stronger communities. As the Club’s Charitable arm, the foundation delivers a wide range of initiatives, all designed to use sport to bring about positive social change and improve the lives of local people, with a focus on those who often find themselves excluded from participation.

From 17th April 2021, Shawbrook will feature on all three of Saracens’ team kits and will have a significant presence at their stadiums. And, forming a natural extension of Shawbrook’s vision for a technologically innovative future, is the new ‘Shawbrook Stats Centre’, a portal designed to bring the bank’s data-driven philosophy to deliver additional value for fans and journalists alike by sharing key player information and stats across multiple platforms.

Shawbrook will also have use of a large corporate box for every home game to help enhance existing and develop new relationships across all its specialist markets.

Lucy Wray, CEO at Saracens commented: “We are delighted to complete this new partnership with Shawbrook. We both consistently strive to be the leaders in our respective fields, and we share a deep commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Following the recent announcement of the StoneX partnership, this is another great milestone for the Saracens family as we look towards an exciting future. We look forward to the rest of this season as we hope to return to some normality and push towards end of season goals across all three Saracens teams. It will be great to have Shawbrook by our sides as we do so.”

Neil Rudge, Managing Director for Shawbrook Bank’s Business Finance Division added: “Like Saracens, Shawbrook is an ambitious organisation and one committed not only to thinking differently in the way we work, but also to making a difference – to our customers, our people, those professionals we work alongside and to the communities in which we operate. This alone is powerful, but there are so many other elements which make this partnership so exciting.

“We know how vital it is for organisations like ours to champion inclusion and work to encourage diversity from the ground-up and being able to sponsor all three of Saracens’ high-profile teams makes this partnership all the more special. We look forward to seeing the men’s and women’s rugby and Mavericks netball sides go from strength-to-strength over the next few years in pursuit of their title ambitions.

“The incredible work done in support of local and regional communities by the Saracens Foundation is also something that aligns with our own values and will resonate with everyone at Shawbrook. This goes beyond just financial support and helps facilitate volunteer work by Shawbrook staff and across our broad network of partners, as well as fundraising in support of many causes that are close to heart.

“Standing out and being different has always been part of the DNA at Shawbrook, and this partnership will help focus more energy into making a difference across the areas that are important to us as a business, to our partners and, importantly, to our customers and the communities in which we work.”

97% of office workers want to continue working from home post pandemic

People working from home have embraced the current situation; hybrid working as the ideal situation for the future.

Nearly all employees who are working from home (97%) prefer to keep working from home, even when offices are open. According to respondents in the third round of a joint research conducted by Nyenrode Business University, Open University and Moneypenny. According to the study 9% wants to keep working from home fulltime – 88% prefers a hybrid 50-50 model. The missing of real life formal and informal contact moments with colleagues is still largely present but has not increased since November. Overall, employees found a work mode from home which they seem to resign in. An increasing number of employees is worried about the possible obligation of having to be physically present in the office again, especially to sit in on meetings.

The employees who participated in the research were able to find a work pattern they are ‘okay’ with. Employees communicate on average 4.5 hours per day digitally, even though the group of ‘bulk consumers’ is growing. 37% of the employees who are working from home communicates 5 hours or more online on a daily basis. In general, they are positive about the possibilities to meet briefly through means of digital communication. To fewer people (24% in February) online feels the same as face-to-face communication. The lack of ‘real’ contact is still seen by respondents as the main disadvantage of working from home – more than ¾ of the respondents misses informal and face-to-face contact with colleagues. 22% feels isolated. Dr. Martine Coun from the Open University is not surprised: “From the three psychological basic human needs – autonomy, competence and connection – the latter is most under pressure when people work home for such a long period of time as during the corona crisis.”

“Employees who are working from home seem to accept the fact that going into the office is not an option right now and have developed work and communication patterns they resign in. Early in the second lockdown, we saw the social cohesion figures in our research decline fast. Most people had managed working from home at that point, but the lack of contact put a strain on the cohesion within teams which was felt strongly. People also indicated to experience less work pleasure. Now we see a stabilization. We still miss each other, but it has not worsened in comparison to back in November. In fact, work pleasure has even made some sort of a comeback. On the one hand this can be explained by the fact that we are ‘tired and done fighting’, but also because we see some light at the end of the tunnel”, says Susan Smulders, homework expert at Moneypenny.

If it were up to the respondents, working from home remains a possibility, even when the office doors are wide open again. To 88% a hybrid form is seen as the ideal situation, where people can work from home for an average of 19 hours per week – about half of the number of work hours. They also want to (co-)determine when they work from home and when they go into the office, for real life contact with colleagues among other things. A large number does however expect that being physically present in the office will become an obligation again soon, rather than being a possibility. Especially the social pressure to join face-to-face meetings is feared.

Professor Pascale Peters from Nyenrode Business University takes a nuanced look at this risk: “I understand the need for individual autonomy when it comes down to the time and place we work, which becomes more and more important when we look at the many different tasks on people have to combine a daily basis now and in the future. At the same time, we must look for a good balance between individual and team preferences. If people, even when they physically can, do not physically want to come to work anymore because it is not efficient for them, you must weigh this freedom against long-term interests such as trust, responsibility, and connection. Finding a balance between these values together, is important. It will be a challenge for organizations to make these decisions explicit through conversations.”

Moneypenny, Business University Nyenrode (under management of Prof. P. Peters) and the Open University (under management of Dr. M. Coun) jointly conduct qualitative research into the experiences of working from home during the corona crisis. Last summer the results of the first research period came out, at the end of 2020 the second research period was concluded and recently the research over the third period was completed.

Super Deduction will not ensure growth in its current form

The Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) have asked the Government to amend the Super Deduction initiative to boost investment in plant and machinery by extending it to include leasing and plant hire – two of the most common ways that these assets are acquired by businesses.

In letters to Government Ministers, both trade associations have welcomed the aim of Super Deduction – its allowance of 130% on new plant and machinery investments that would normally qualify for only an 18% allowance will certainly make some investment more attractive. However, at a time when some businesses can ill-afford to make large capital expenditures, leasing or short-term hire are particularly attractive routes to acquiring newer and more productive plant and machinery. For others, these options make good business sense because the assets will only be used for limited periods or need to be updated regularly.

Expanding the scope of Super Deduction to include leasing and plant hire would benefit a much broader range of businesses and stimulate growth across all sectors – which is exactly what the recovery requires.

Stephen Haddrill, Director General of the FLA said: “The Government’s decision to restrict the scope of the super deduction amounts to a serious missed opportunity to boost investment. The idea that businesses grow and become more productive by buying plant and machinery outright is out-dated. Leasing and hire make far more sense.

“It preserves cash in the business and can avoid having expensive equipment that stands idle. 70% of construction plant and machinery is hired in for specific periods for this reason. Government support needs to be designed around the way business is actually done not around the way HMRC still thinks it is done.”

Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive of the BVRLA said: “The Government understands the important role that the vehicle leasing sector plays in delivering the UK’s road transport decarbonisation goals. This makes it all the more disappointing that leased vehicles have been omitted from the eligibility criteria of Super Deduction. This is a huge oversight, and an example of where the Government has failed to align its fiscal and environmental policies.

“An increasing number of individuals and businesses are turning to the leasing sector for cleaner vehicles, but the sector has not been immune to the impact of the Covid pandemic. With Clean Air Zones popping up around the UK, this is the perfect time to incentivise the uptake of low- and zero- emission vehicles and leasing enables businesses to keep their cash to help get them through the recovery period. Making leased vehicles eligible for Super Deduction would provide a boost to many businesses and would be a welcome shot in the arm for fleets.”

A fifth of UK workers feel remote working has reduced recognition in the workplace

Research from Ezra, the leading provider of digital coaching has revealed that a fifth of UK workers feel they get less recognition within their career as a direct result of working remotely.

It remains to be seen to what extent we will return to a full working environment, as Covid restrictions see many continue to work from home for part of, if not their whole working week.

There are, of course, positives to this change in the way we work and the research by Ezra shows that 44% of us feel more productive within our role as a result. 42% also feel their productivity hasn’t changed when comparing working from home to the office, with just 15% stating they get less done working remotely.

55% of workers also stated that they would be more likely to work additional hours to those required while working from home.

However, while working remotely has increased productivity and the number of hours worked for many, as many as a fifth of us feel it’s going unnoticed. Ezra’s research shows that 20% of workers feel they now receive less recognition within the workplace due to the nature of remote working.

72% feel that they received the same amount of recognition even when putting in additional work, with just 8% feeling they gain more recognition while working remotely.

Despite this angst around a lack of recognition, the good news is that the vast majority feel safe within their role. Just 10% of those surveyed stated that they were worried that a move towards remote working for the long term would see them lose their job as their role outsourced.

Founder of Ezra, Nick Goldberg, commented: “An interesting dynamic is currently emerging within the workplace whereby employees are enjoying the flexibility that remote working provides, however, they are starting to feel perhaps a little disconnected from the physical aspect of their role.

“For many, work satisfaction is based on a wide variety of factors and some of these factors simply can’t be obtained, or replicated, in a remote format. Workplace benefits, social interaction, the competition of the workplace or the buzz of an office, these are all things that we’re starting to realise we do actually miss to some extent.

“Hopefully, as the vaccine rollout continues we will start to see the scales tip more in favour of a return to the workplace. In the meantime, the good news is that many feel safe within their roles albeit remotely and don’t fear a wave of outsourcing to further cut costs.”