UK economy falls 0.3% in March, below expectations

GDP fell 0.3% in March, but grew by 0.1% for the first three months of the year. U.K. services sector led the decline, down 0.5%. A very strong production sector grew by 0.7%, the strongest read since May 2021. Construction up 0.2%.

Jonathan Moyes, Head of Investment Research, Wealth Club said:  “It was another weak month of data for the UK, the dominant services sector diluted stronger performance from manufacturing and construction. A fall of 0.3% was lower than the 0.0% expected.

“The UK appears to be stuck in limbo. This is the third broadly flat quarter for GDP in a row. Whilst the data suggests the UK is performing far better than most expected last year, it remains a challenge to reconcile how the UK economy can escape a recession after such a steep rise in interest rates.

“Nonetheless, whilst strike action continued to affected the data, particularly for services, manufacturing and construction are clearly pockets of strength. If confidence surveys are to be believed, there has been a notable uptick in services in April, which may give a boost Q2 numbers.”

Businesses in the UK lost more than £2.1 billion in the past year to fraud business insurance experts have released their first Business Fraud report, which uncovers that in the past year the average losses for UK organisations to fraudsters was more than £2.1 billion!

The report analyses police figures on organisational fraud and cyber crime to reveal what types of crime targeting businesses and other organisations are on the rise in the UK, where it’s happening, and what kinds of organisation it’s affecting the most.

2022-23’s Quarterly organisational fraud and cybercrime figures

Q2 2022

Q3 2022

Q4 2022

Q1 2023

Number of reported cases





Reported losses





Q3 2022 saw the highest value of reported losses, accounting almost half (46%) of the losses of the previous 4 quarters put together – though in terms of the number of reported cases, the most recent quarter was the highest. In total organisations in the UK lost more than £2.1 billion over the previous 12 month period.

What were the most common cases of fraud and cyber crime in the UK last quarter (Q4 2022) vs this quarter (Q1 2023)?

# = number of crimes reported

£ = reported losses

Q1 2023 (#)

Q1 2023 (£)

Q4 2022 (#)

Q4 2022 (£)

Banking Fraud





Consumer Fraud





Corporate Fraud





Cyber Dependent Crime





Public Sector Fraud





Investment Fraud





Advance Fee Fraud





Courier Fraud









Banking Fraud was the most common type of fraud, and represented the biggest value of losses for each of the last four quarters, accounting for over £833 million lost in total. Banking fraud covers both unauthorised access to bank accounts (e.g. via hacking) or authorised fraud (where a victim with access to an organisation’s accounts is tricked into paying money to a criminal).

In terms of total losses, the most recent quarter saw an 80% drop in value lost compared to the previous quarter for banking fraud.

James Andrews, business insurance expert says: “Fraud and cyber crimes cost businesses more than £2.1 billion in the past year. This is a reminder for organisations to invest in business insurance.

“Commercial crime insurance specifically protects businesses against crimes including theft, identity fraud, malicious data damage and securities fraud. When choosing a policy, it’s important for business owners to make sure it covers not only crime by employees but also from third parties.

“If you are using a credit card for business spending, It’s important to note that business credit cards aren’t covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (which allows individuals to claim a refund from their credit card provider if the selling merchant can’t be contacted or denies any wrongdoing).

“This is because they are registered to businesses rather than an individual.This makes it even more important to protect your business from theft with an insurance policy.”

What types of organisations are targeted by cyber crime?

# of crimes Q1 2023

# of crimes  Q4 2022

Limited Company












Sole Trader









Organisational fraud is most likely to affect limited companies – as you expect given they account for 96% of corporate body types. Notably the number of crimes affecting PLCs (publically limited companies – i.e. companies with publicly traded shares) dropped by approximately 75% compared to the previous quarter.

Where have crimes increased the most quarter to quarter?

Looking at mainland police forces in the UK, Durham saw the biggest rise in organisational crime since the last quarter – more than 52% (though it sees a relatively small number overall – only 32 in the most recent quarter. This was followed by Hampshire (48% – to 248 crimes) and South Wales (45% – to 106 crimes).

Overall, 22 of the 45 mainland forces saw a greater than 10% rise in the number of crimes.

At the other end of the scale, Northamptonshire saw a drop of 58%, followed by City of London (25%) and Cumbria (21%). Only 7 forces saw a drop of greater than 10%.

How to protect your business from fraud and cyber crime

James Andrews has provided the following tips to keep your business safe from fraudsters:

  • “Make sure you invest in a comprehensive business commercial crime insurance policy which covers both inside and out of house crimes.

  • Consider taking out cyber security insurance. The cost of an attack can be far higher than simply replacing laptops or repairing databases, and insurance can make sure your business is covered for more eventualities.

  • Check you have up to date antivirus software on your business computer, work phones and tablets to help protect yourself from cyber attacks.

  • Banks and other official bodies will never request details such as credit card numbers or other personal information over the phone or email, so if someone is doing this, be wary as they could well be trying to defraud you.

  • Provide your business employees with mandatory security training to make sure they are aware of potential scams/fraud/cyber crimes such as phishing, and know how to deal with an attack.

  • Finally, If you do find yourself in a position where you have unexpectedly lost money, it is important that your bank is made aware of this as soon as possible, as depending on the circumstances, they may be able to help find the culprit or return your money to you.”

Together and Goodman Corporate Finance combine to fund desperate customer fast

Specialist lender Together has completed on a short term property transaction at rapid pace from initial application to funds drawn.

The case was brought to the lender by intermediary Goodman Corporate Finance, which had been approached by a local trading business. This customer required urgent working capital due to a transaction being held up in legal discussions.

Goodman, understanding the importance of speed in these circumstances, turned to Together; knowing that the Cheadle-based lender was one of the few who would be able to help with such a tight deadline.

After connecting with Together’s expert underwriting team, terms were issued and agreed fast. The Cheadle-based lender knew that the business had a strong background, and were able to move quickly to help them.

Roxanne, Managing Director at Goodman Corporate Finance commented: “working with the team at Together on this was nothing short of brilliant. They pulled together the legal instruction quickly and were always available with updates.

“The client is delighted that as a collective we could provide what we set out to and as a result 130 jobs in our local community have been secured and the business has the working capital it needs to continue on its growth plans.”

Marc Goldberg, CEO Commercial Finance at Together, said: “We are delighted to have been able to help Goodman and their customer achieve the finance they needed in such a tricky timeframe.

“At Together, we place a huge emphasis on helping our partners and customers achieve the finance they need, when they need it. This is an excellent example of how, as a team, we could work with Goodman to achieve the right outcome for all parties involved.”

Specialist lender Together hires property expert as Sales Performance Director

Cheadle-based finance company Together has appointed a property expert to drive its commercial sales strategy as it continues to grow its £6bn loan book.

Elliot Vure, who has more than a decade of experience in commercial and residential real estate, will be leading the specialist lender’s corporate and professional team’s sales strategy in the UK regions.

He joins from Manchester-based Beech Holdings, where he was Sales Director in charge of a team responsible for sales of the residential developer’s portfolio of properties, having previously worked in roles in the United Arab Emirates and across Asia.

Vure said: “I’m delighted to be joining such an entrepreneurial and highly-successful business as Together as it continues to grow its brand across the UK. I’m excited to be playing my part in building out a new regional structure for the teams, focusing on identifying new business opportunities and enhancing our existing corporate relationships.

“Having worked closely with many of Together’s clients, I have always been aware of the fantastic proposition that the business is able to offer. In my new role I’ll be fully utilising my extensive network of contacts, making sure more commercial clients such as property investors know how we can provide access to the finance they need to realise their ambitions.”

The University of Manchester graduate began his career with residential property giant Vita Group’s Select Property Group as a consultant, specialising in the sale of complete and off-plan investment property in the UK and abroad.

Vure moved to Select Property’s UAE headquarters in Dubai in 2012 and was promoted to sales manager within three years. He relocated to Singapore as head of sales for Asia, assisting with opening new offices in Shanghai and Beijing, managing teams across the region.

On his return to the UK in 2019, he took up a new post with Beech Holdings, where he devised and implemented a strategy leading to the sale of hundreds of individual units and portfolio developments through a large network of 1,500 property agents and brokers.

He will report to Marc Goldberg, Commercial CEO at Together in his new role as Sales Performance Director.

Mr Goldberg said: “We are pleased to welcome Elliot to the Together team. He brings with him a wealth of experience across the property market that will be a true asset to both our company and our customers.

“Our sales teams play a crucial role at Together. They are focused on finding the best product for each of our customers, helping to improve their journey and achieve the right outcome for their needs.”

Cynergy Bank appoints Claire Head as Chief People & Culture Officer

Cynergy Bank today announces the appointment of Claire Head as Chief People & Culture Officer.

Claire brings significant experience in business change and transformation within dynamic banking environments, particularly in growth scenarios. As CPO, she will lead Cynergy Bank’s HR function, developing and executing the Bank’s strategy to attract, develop and retain the best talent. She will also focus on diversity and inclusion to ensure equitable and inclusive treatment of all team members.

Nick Fahy, CEO of Cynergy Bank commented: “Claire is the latest in a series of senior appointments that reflect our evolving strategy and growth ambitions. Not only does her appointment increase female representation on our Executive Committee but also focuses on further establishing and maintaining a culture of excellence, high performance, diversity and engagement as we continue to deliver the personalised service our SME customers expect.”

Prior to joining Cynergy Bank, Claire was Chief People Officer & Executive Committee member at pension manager Isio, where she was responsible for overseeing the people & culture strategy to underpin business growth.

She also spent 5 years at Santander UK plc where she was Deputy CPO & People Director and held senior HR roles at Royal Bank of Scotland.

Claire Head, Chief People & Culture Officer said: “I am thrilled to join Cynergy Bank as it transforms the banking landscape for its customers.  I look forward to leading and evolving the people and culture priorities, building on and sustaining the strong engagement across the business to offer a positive and inspiring working environment.”

Bank CEO commits to reducing ‘stress and anxiety’ for SMEs

A specialist business bank is extending its support to businesses looking for longer-term financial stability with the launch of a ‘limited edition’ five-year fixed rate mortgage.

Redwood Bank is adding the new product to its existing two-and three-year fixed rate mortgages that were introduced last year.

Gary Wilkinson, co-founder and CEO, said: “We pride ourselves on supporting British businesses, and at a time when the Bank of England base rate remains high and inflationary pressures are causing further uncertainty, we want to remove some of the stress and anxiety for our customers.”

The five-year product is for residential and commercial investment mortgages, with an LTV up to 75 per cent for secured residential investment and 70 per cent for secured commercial property loans. Five year fixed rates start at 6.99 per cent for residential and 8.75 per cent for commercial.

Customers will be able to choose between capital and interest, up to 30 years for residential and 25 years for commercial properties, or interest only, up to 30 years for residential and up to 10 years for commercial properties.

Gary said: “Businesses have had to deal with so much over the past few years, so they really need a period of stability to be able to regroup. We want to be able to help ease the pressure on them and show our ongoing commitment to British business.

“These new five-year fixed rates will offer certainty on future payments so businesses can plan accordingly. Redwood’s bespoke pricing allows a tailored proposition for our customers, which will also provide them with a competitive reversion rate when the fixed rate period ends.”

Redwood Bank celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2022, the same year it announced its first profit, for the year-ended 31 December 2021.

Build-to-rent sector stalling as completions slump

Research from property developer, Stripe Property Group, reveals that the number of build-to-rent completions has fallen by -56% in the past year, a decline being very much driven by the London market.

Stripe analysed historic data on the number of annual UK build-to-rent completions inside and outside of London to better understand the current state of the emerging residential sector.

In 2019, the UK recorded 13,788 build-to-rent completions. As the pandemic hit in 2020, the sector proved surprisingly resilient by recording a further 12,266 despite the unprecedented economic situation created by COVID-19.

By 2021, the sector hit a high water mark for completions at 14,582, split evenly between completions inside and outside of London. But then, through 2022, the numbers dropped significantly to just 6,473 national completions.

This marks an annual completions decline of -55.6%, or -8,109 units.

This significant annual decline is driven by London’s build-to-rent sector. In 2021, the capital accounted for 48.5% of all completions, but in 2022, this fell to 43.1%.

The declining number of build-to-rent completions goes against current trends in the wider new-build sector.

In the past year, overall new-build completions in England increased from 142,140 in 2021 to 144,350 in 2022.

Managing Director of Stripe Property Group, James Forrester, commented: “In recent years, excitement around build-to-rent has boomed. The completion spike we saw in 2021 was no doubt due to the tenant demand for better facilities, more onsite amenities and outdoor space having been confined to their homes for so long during pandemic lockdowns. Build-to-rent provides all of this, plus a higher standard of service and finish than your typical rented home.

“However, recent economic conditions have led to higher materials costs, labour shortages and rising interest rates, all of which has contributed to the declining completion rates we’re now seeing.

“Build-to-rent as a concept is great news for cities, bringing young professionals back into urban centres to live and spend, but for private landlords, the sector is bad news, threatening to hoover up a significant proportion of tenants away from the private rental market.

“But the good news for landlords is that the rapid growth of build-to-rent has stalled, which means tenants are, for the foreseeable future, still going to be reliant on private rental stock and buy-to-let landlords.”

Webio announces non-executive director appointment

Dublin, Ireland – Webio, a leading provider of conversational AI solutions, is pleased to announce the appointment of David Gagie to its board as a Non-Executive Director, effective immediately.

David has global experience in banking, payments and risk management, and was a Senior Advisor on regulatory conduct issues relating to retail banking, consumer credit and payments at the Financial Conduct Authority and the Payments Systems Regulator. David is currently Chair at both ClearBank and Duologi and is also a Director of Small World Financial. Formerly he held board-level appointments for Lowell Group, Shawbrook Bank, Payzone Group, Mastercard UK, LINK, and Visa UK.

Commenting on his appointment, David Gagie said: “I’m excited to be joining the board of Webio, which is at the forefront of innovation in the conversational AI space. I look forward to working with the team in its drive for growth and creating value for shareholders.”

Cormac O’Neill, CEO of Webio, said: “We are delighted to welcome David to our board. His extensive experience in technology and financial services industries, and his proven track record of delivering results, will be invaluable as we continue to expand our business and enhance our offerings.”

As a Non-Executive Director, David will bring an independent viewpoint to the board, while contributing to the strategic direction of the company. The addition of David further strengthens the board’s collective experience and enhances its ability to guide the company’s long-term success.

Shareholders Call on Bank of America to Disclose a Climate Transition Plan

Berkleley, USA – Today, Bank of America released preliminary vote results from its annual general meeting where 28.5% of shareholders voted in favor of a resolution seeking an actionable climate transition plan for achieving its 2030 net zero greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The resolution was filed by investor representative As You Sow.

The banking sector has a critical role to play in addressing the climate crisis and aligning its financing activities with the Paris Agreement’s net zero goal. Although Bank of America has committed to aligning key sectors of its financing portfolio with net-zero targets, its plan for achieving those goals remains unclear. As indicated by the resolution, investors seek a plan for achieving the bank’s 2030 goals. This plan must provide more than general categories of action or simply rely on the success of individual clients’ transition plans.

“To reach its 2030 goals, Bank of America must have a plan in place that drives decision-making from the top down, starting with governance, and ending with banker decision-making on new financing,” said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow.

By operationalizing and translating net zero commitments into clearly disclosed and actionable strategies, Bank of America can assure investors and the public that it has a path forward to meet its 2030 goals.

The latest IPCC report warns that global emissions are not falling at the rate and speed necessary to avoid irreparable impacts from a quickly warming climate.

“This strong vote is a call to action,” said Fugere. “Bank of America has demonstrated leadership in setting 2030 targets aligned with global climate goals. Now comes the hard work of making its plan actionable.”

While other fossil fuel-related resolutions presented today at Bank of America’s annual meeting received lower votes, BofA must ultimately reconcile the issue of continuing to invest in new fossil fuel infrastructure that conflicts with achieving its net-zero goals. Banks must lead in moving financing away from high-emitting sources.

Bank of America has set 2030 reduction targets for its highest emitting portfolio sectors, including auto-manufacturing, energy, and power. The bank is a member of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, whose signatories have committed to aligning its lending and investment portfolios with the Paris Agreement’s net zero by 2050 goal. Membership signals a clear willingness to meet global climate commitments. Putting forth a transition plan will demonstrate to investors that these commitments are being made in good faith.

“We look forward to continued progress from banking institutions such as Bank of America whose actions are inextricably tied to global net-zero targets and future climate action,” said Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow.

Money and mental health organisations combine to back more support for people in difficulty

Money and mental health organisations across the UK are backing a new guide that shows creditors how to offer more support to customers in difficulty.

‘Mental Health and Money’, released today by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), was created after detailed consultation with experts in both fields.

It’s being supported by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and Citizens Advice, along with Adferiad Recovery in Wales, MindWise in Northern Ireland and Scottish organisations Change Mental Health and Citizens Advice Scotland.

Money and mental health are strongly linked, with research from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute showing one in five people (18%) living with a mental health problem are also in problem debt.

The guide outlines six ways in which creditors in financial services, utilities and the public sector can do more to support those who are struggling.

These include equipping staff to help, extra consideration when chasing payments and making it easier for people to get in touch when they need help.

Others include allowing affected customers to involve third parties in managing their account, more forbearance and proactively referring them to external support.

The guide also suggests how creditors can put the techniques into practice, lists resources they can use and reminds them of the relevant FCA duties that may require it.

Research from MaPS, published in October last year, also shows that people experiencing mental health problems are around one and a half times as likely to struggle with bills and credit commitments (74% compared to 50% of all UK adults).

MaPS also found that half of people with a mental health problem have less than £100 in savings, while over a third have none at all, leaving them without a crucial safety net if they do fall into financial difficulty.

According to MaPS, people who find themselves in financial difficulty should seek the help and guidance they need as soon as possible. The guide aims to show creditors how they can assist their customers with that journey.

Sarah Murphy, Mental Health Policy Lead at the Money and Pensions Service, said: “Money and mental health problems are closely linked and one can quickly lead to the other. Dealing with either can be tough enough, but having to cope with both at the same time can become overwhelming.

“This guide aims to show financial services, utilities and public sector organisations what they can do to help customers who are struggling, because the right support at the right time can be absolutely life-changing.

“By working together with creditors, we can help them make the changes they need to ensure no one goes through this difficult situation alone.”

Conor D’Arcy, Head of Research and Policy at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “The vicious cycle of money and mental health problems can have devastating consequences. And with the rising cost of living, more people than ever are struggling with that terrifying reality. Creditors have a crucial role to play in easing some of that strain, and reducing the worry and distress that can come alongside financial difficulty.

“By taking the steps set out in the guide, such as making their communications around debt more supportive and ensuring staff have the right training, creditors can make a huge difference in making sure their customers get the help they need. This will go a long way in improving support for struggling customers during these difficult times and beyond.”

Laura Peters, Head of Mental Health & Money Advice, Rethink Mental Illness, said: “When people are struggling with money and debt, the admin and the stress associated with it quickly begin to pile up, so it’s important that we maximise every opportunity for support to be offered. This guide should support improvements to the help that people struggling with their money and mental health receive, but we also hope it will empower creditors to play a more active role in helping to ensure their customers are better supported with the challenges they face.”