Summer is well underway, and as we come to the end of July, there has been a number of updates in the world of business and tax over the last month.

Here’s all the latest news you need to know…

UK Inflation Falls

The ONS has announced that UK inflation has fallen to 7.9% over the last month, beating the initial prediction that it would decline to 8.2%. The International Monetary Fund has said the UK’s headline rate was on track to hit 5.25% by the end of 2023, coming close to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s target to halve inflation by the end of the year.

Inflation has said to have fallen due to a drop of more than a fifth in prices for petrol and diesel, and the slowing of a rise in food and drink prices. In July, Ofgem lowered their consumer energy price cap seeing a fall in wholesale gas and electricity prices, meaning inflation is likely to fall further over the coming months.

Due to the inflation rate fall, the interest rate is now expected to rise less sharply than the Bank of England had expected.

AI To Help Produce More Jobs In The Gaming Industry

Using AI in the gaming industry could actually open up more jobs, games developers have said. TGIA Boss Dr Richard Wilson said AI will “reduce the cost of making games and speed up the process”.

By using artificial intelligence to aid with the creation and development of new games, it could mean that more game studios can open – meaning the creation of new jobs. Wilson says “It should allow games studios to make routine aspects of game development automated, and then use that space to be more creative and focus on other areas. […] Reducing the overall cost of development will mean more games studios which should, therefore, mean more jobs.”

Flexible Working Bill Receives Royal Assent

Millions of workers across the UK will be given more flexible options for work as the governments Flexible Working Bill gains Royal Assent.

This now requires employers to discuss any requests made by their employees to have flexibility over when they work. Employees will have the right to two requests a year. Flexible working relates to anything from working hours or pattern, adjusting start and finish times to whether someone works elsewhere aside from their main base.

Business and Trade Minister Kevin Hollinrake said “A happier workforce means increased productivity, and that’s why we’re backing measures to give people across the UK even more flexibility over where and when they work. Not only does flexible working help individuals fit work alongside other commitments – whether it’s the school drop off, studying or caring for vulnerable friends and family – it’s good business sense too, helping firms to attract more talent, increase retention and improve workforce diversity.”

Scottish Businesses Look Towards a Positive Future

Research by Rathbones has found that 46% of businesses in Scotland are looking to expand in the next 12 months, with 43% looking to take on more investment.

This is a positive sign despite a worrying economic climate affecting businesses across the country, business owners in Scotland are looking at ways to help their businesses survive their current financial woes by proactively investing, expanding and selling where possible to improve their current performance.

The head of Scotland at Rathbones said: “Times have been challenging for UK businesses, so it is certainly positive to see such resilience and ambition among business owners and entrepreneurs. This confidence and desire for success, and moreover growth, should help provide some stability and
strength to the UK economy.”

UK Borrowing Lowered

Tax hikes and additional VAT from soaring product prices has lowered UK borrowing. In the last month, the ONS has revealed that the budget deficit stands at £18.5bn, down from £20bn in the previous month – lower than the predicted £22bn.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt responded to the figures, saying “Now more than ever we need to maintain discipline with the public finances. We are at a crucial juncture and need to avoid reckless spending.

As this week’s fall in inflation showed, we will start to see results if we stick to our plan to halve inflation, grow the economy and get debt falling.”

HMRC Providing Advice & Support on Tax

Through their Voluntary and Community Sector Grant Funding, HMRC are offering £5.5m to provide free support and advice to those who don’t understand their tax obligations and claiming entitlements, are excluded digitally from HMRC services and have difficulty interacting with HMRC.

This support is created to:

  • Help people comply with their tax affairs
  • Support customers with their needs
  • Help people use the digital ways of accessing HMRC’s services

Funding can be applied for between July 24 th 2023 and August 21st 2023. Those who are successful with their applications will find out in October, and receive their funding starting April 2024.

That’s all the news from July! Have a fantastic August and remember to keep an eye on the news to keep up to date with all the new updates in the business and tax world over the next month as we head towards the autumn.