Monday newspaper round-up: Wages, freeports, NFTs, bank bonuses

British employers are expecting to award pay rises of 3% in 2022, the highest in at least a decade, though well below the rate of inflation, as they try to recruit and retain workers, according to a new survey of businesses. The expected pay rise comes amid persistent signs of a tight labour market, with almost two-thirds of employers expecting to have difficulties filling job vacancies in the coming six months, according to a survey of more than 1,000 recruitment and human resources workers by YouGov for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). – Guardian
UK ministers and the Scottish government have reached a deal over proposed freeports in Scotland, after months of disagreement over what No 10 has billed as one of the main economic benefits of Brexit. The Scottish government had resisted the idea of freeports – specific areas that offer tax breaks and other incentives to investors – which are intended to revitalise deprived areas but have been accused of encouraging tax avoidance and lower regulation. – Guardian

British authorities have made their first ever seizures of NFTs, the Telegraph can reveal, amid rising fears that the boom in digital art is providing new ways for criminals to hide money. HM Revenue & Customs seized three Non-Fungible Tokens as part of an investigation into an attempt to defraud the taxman of £1.4m. Three people were also arrested in the alleged VAT repayment fraud. – Telegraph

As technology takes over almost every aspect of our lives, a scrap has broken out over the future of car dealing in the UK. While some dealers argue consumers will never give up the experience of wanting to see and drive a car before committing to such a large purchase, others are betting on transporting a vehicle to people’s driveways with a mere click of a button. – Telegraph

Banks are braced for a backlash as they prepare to pay annual bonuses of more than £4 billion at a time when customers are facing a cost-of-living crisis. NatWest, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group are expected to report total profits of £34 billion and bumper bonus payouts in their 2021 results over the next two weeks. Banks have benefited from the economic recovery in the past year and have cut their provisions for bad loans. A deal frenzy has boosted profits. – Telegraph

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