Welcome to your December Newsletter! I hope you all had a great Christmas and had a wonderful relaxing festive period.

There have been some changes in the business and accountancy sector this month, so here is all the latest news from December.

Strikes Take Hold

Workers in the UK in sectors from the NHS to the Rail Industry have been striking as they demand more pay from the government.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that the government will not shift on pay, saying on December 12th “While the government will do all we can to minimise disruption, the only way we can stop it completely is by unions going back around the table and calling off these strikes.”

The strikes have seen services be disrupted – specifically the postal service over the Christmas period. Strikes have been taking place since November and across December, with plans for them to continue into the New Year as the government continues to refuse to budge on their current payment plans.

PwC Closes for Christmas

PwC, one of the UK’s largest accountancy firms, closed the majority of their offices for Christmas and New Year in order to save on energy bills.

The main London office is shut from 23 December to 3 January, with smaller offices also set to close.

PwC’s chairman Kevin Ellis said opening the offices “doesn’t make sense at a time of energy scarcity”, and that he wanted their company to “do our bit to reduce energy consumption”.

UK Economy Set To Worsen

UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said that the UK economy will worsen before it begins to get better.

As increasing prices hit businesses and households across the country, the UK is now forecast to be heading for a potential recession.

He said: “These figures confirm that this is a very challenging economic situation here and across the world, and it will get worse before it gets better.”

The recession could put strain on businesses – especially small businesses – who are just getting back on their feet after a difficult few years after the Coronavirus Pandemic.

4 Day Working Week Trial See’s Business’s Implement It Permanently

The 4 Day Working Week Trial has come to an end, but some businesses are looking to make it permanent. The week meant workers would earn 100% of their salary for 80% of their hours to increase productivity.

Now, Sam Smith, co-founder of Pressure Drop brewery, has decided to continue a four-day week trial for the next year.

Sam said: “We’re happy with how it’s gone. The main issue we’ve had is that we haven’t really been able to stress test it properly in a full pelt environment…because the last six months haven’t been great economically in terms of the environment. We’re anticipating a difficult year next year. And that, kind of, frankly, is occupying our thoughts and attention a lot more than the four-day week is,” said Mr Smith.

Those campaigning for a 4 Day Week Campaign Group announced it had signed up over 100 companies and organisations for a four-day week without cutting any workers’ pay since launching in 2021.

Research from Oxford and Cambridge Universities and Boston College alongside the think tank Autonomy are due to publish the results of the trial in early 2023. Results are not expected to be published until February next year.

Scottish Employment Rate for Women at a Record High

In Scotland, the employment rate for women of working age in Scotland has hit a record high.

75.6% of women between the age of 16 to 64 were in work, according to research done by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the highest rate since 1992.

The employment rate for all people rose by 0.7% to 76% overall.

The UK government’s Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK government is committed to helping people find and progress in work, and to drive sustainable economic growth. The chancellor set out a number of measures in the Autumn Statement to put public finances on a secure footing and to promote economic growth – steps that are already making a positive contribution to tackling inflationary pressures.”

As we head into the New Year, we’ll have to keep an eye out for any upcoming changes to the economy that could affect business and accountancy firms. I hope you have a healthy, prosperous 2023!