With the weather steadily improving and COVID restrictions gradually easing, it feels like there are more reasons for optimism than at any point in the last 15 months. So, staying on the theme of positivity, April’s update from Team DFP showcases some of the brighter stories from the wonderful world of finance.
As well as your regular monthly message from our Director, Liam, we’ll also look at the UK’s economic growth and commercial recovery, consider how you could boost your State Pension with Specified Adult Childcare credits, continue our focus on green investments, and tease ourselves with the possibility of a potential summer vacation… Enjoy.
A message from our Director…
It’s now been over 12 months since the onset of the pandemic and what feels like a continuing barrage of restrictions, rules, negative news stories, and awful human tragedies.
So, although I’m acutely aware that this is by no means ‘the end’ of the pandemic - on either its presence or its effect - this month’s newsletter does hopefully focus on some more positive, forward looking items.
I hope you’re all managing to safely take advantage of the lifting of some restrictions to get out and about, to meet people again, and maybe even enjoy a chilly but welcome meal out!
In the news this month…
Last month, we looked at some of the more resilient sectors of the UK economy; firms that were performing well despite (or, perhaps even, because of…) the pandemic. And, with COVID rates remaining low and the roadmap providing certain assurances for businesses, it seems we could be on the precipice of strong economic growth when restrictions are finally rescinded this summer. This week, as reported by the BBC, research from the EY Item Club revealed that the national economy had proven ‘more resilient than seemed possible’ and predicted a growth forecast for 2021 of 6.8%. As well as being almost 2% higher than previously anticipated, that estimate represents the fastest rate of increase since the inception of the Office for National Statistics.
Elsewhere, reports from the first quarter of 2021 show that half of UK companies either ‘increased, restarted or held’ their shareholder pay-outs between January and March, compared with just a third in the final quarter of 2020. What’s more, in the same period, investors’ dividends declined at their lowest rate (down 27% to £12.7bn) since the outbreak of the pandemic.
These figures, compiled by the Link Group and published in the Guardian, show that - by-and-large - UK firms are slowly beginning to recover from the economic shock of the pandemic and are more confident in paying out to their shareholders.
Moving to green investments now, something we’ve covered substantially in our recent editions. An article from Business Green earlier this month suggested that the sustainable debt market could hit $1tr this year. However, in spite of the landmark levels of investment, the Climate Bonds Initiative are also wary of the somewhat one-sided ratio of investment-to-capital; capital that’s crucial for climate solutions.
Staying with Business Green, and a survey from the think tank ‘Green Alliance’, which has found that 60% of people ‘support the principle of green taxes’ and believe that ‘environmentally-damaging behaviours should be made more expensive’. The report also reveals ‘consistent support for a number of specific tax and economic reforms, such as higher carbon taxes on producers and consumers, material taxes, and cuts to VAT for green products’.
This month’s featured article…
It’s fairly commonplace for family members - particularly grandparents - to look after young children in order for the child’s parent/s to return to work. Often, these carers reduce their own working hours to be able do this, or even give up work completely. Despite this, many working-age grandparents are unaware that they could qualify for National Insurance (NI) credits, which can be used to boost their State Pension in retirement.
This month’s featured article comes from our accounting friends at Danbro, and looks at Specified Adult Childcare credits in more detail, including eligibility for making a claim.
Danbro: ‘Specified Adult Childcare Credits’
On a lighter note…
Finally then, with the rules around foreign travel set to change next month and amidst growing speculation of a traffic light system regarding certain destinations, more and more of us are feeling hopeful of a summer getaway.
However, with a still sizeable risk of disruption, cancellation, and unexpected costs, here are some useful dos and don’ts from ‘consumer champions’ Which? for you to consider before booking your trip.