Top stories

  1. Prime Minister’s speech to highlight ‘best days to come for Britain’
  2. Senior financial officers highlight concerns over audit shake-up proposals
  3. Fraudsters increasingly using software to manipulate text messages

Stat of the day

£24.1bn – Gross mortgage lending for the total UK market in August: 1.2 per cent lower than a year earlier, according to UK Finance’s latest Household Finance Update.

Prime Minister’s speech to highlight ‘best days to come for Britain’

Several newspapers report that Prime Minister Theresa May will today conclude the Conservative Party conference on an optimistic and rallying note, with a speech entitled ‘The Future Is In Our Hands’. She will insist that Britain’s “best days lie ahead” (Times, p1, £) and the future after the nation exits the EU is “full of promise”, which the Express (p4) calls “an unashamedly patriotic call” to show how the nation will thrive post-Brexit. She will say that the Conservatives stand for the “decent, moderate and patriotic” (Guardian, p1).

The i front page highlighted the divisions in the Conservative party, saying that the battle ‘for the soul of the Tories’ between Mrs May and Boris Johnson had been ramped up by their respective comments on Tuesday; Johnson calling her negotiating stance “humiliating” and insisting she “chuck Chequers” (Guardian, p10) , with her responding by saying she was ”cross” and “frustrated” with her former Foreign Secretary. Meanwhile, the Telegraph (p1, £) reports that Cabinet ministers are keen for the PM to set out a timetable for her departure by 2020, as they feel she cannot lead the party into the next election.

Senior financial officers highlight concerns over audit shake-up proposals

A number of chief financial officers from the UK’s largest companies have raised concerns over proposals to make significant changes to the audit market, reports the Financial Times (p20, £). At a private meeting attended by senior figures from the 100 Group, which represents FTSE 100 finance directors, concerns were aired about the ability of other firms to audit their businesses, while some said they would be happy to see more choice in the market.

The shake-up is intended to eliminate the chance of conflicts of interest and remove power of audit from company boards, amid fears that the Big Four have become too dominant and audit quality has fallen too low. Business Secretary Greg Clark this week called for a review into competition in the audit market (Economia, online only).

Elsewhere, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned against loosening regulations after Brexit in order to keep the City of London competitive (Telegraph, p1, Times, p40, £). Chairman Charles Randell said that the FCA remained committed to high standards and that watering down regulation may only sow the seeds of a future crisis. This echoes previous comments from UK Finance that the finance industry “does not want to see any weakening of current regulatory standards, which are a key source of competitive strength”.

Fraudsters increasingly using software to manipulate text messages

The Daily Mail (p31) reports on how fraudsters are using software to manipulate text messages to consumers, making them look as if they are from the customer’s bank. The criminals then use various pieces of information to convince customers into handing over their money.

UK Finance comments: “UK Finance and its members invest millions to protect customers from fraud and take the causes of scams such as spoofing very seriously. Many of the solutions to this issue lie outside the financial sector which is why the industry works closely with network operators, government and other industry stakeholders on efforts to crack down on smishing messages.

“We want to build on previous successes of joint work to eliminate certain types of vishing scams. We also ensure consumers are made aware of the dangers of spoofing as part of our national consumer awareness campaign Take Five to Stop Fraud.”

Latest from UK Finance

Daniel Cichocki, Principal, Commercial Finance, blogs about how access to finance is now far less of a concern to SME businesses than a variety of other factors.

News in Brief

  • Activity in Britain’s private services sector, the PMI headline index, slowed in September to 53.9 and remains below its long-term average (Financial Times, online only, £).
  • Confidence among builders in the construction industry fell to its second lowest rate since February 2013, as the sector grew at its slowest pace in six months (Times, p40, £).
  • Fuel duty will be frozen for the ninth consecutive year, the prime minister will today announce in her keynote speech (BBC, online).
  • Bank and ATM closures hit the poor and the elderly hardest, according to a survey from Which?, with three-quarters of the two most vulnerable groups relying on cash (Mirror, online only).
  • London is Europe’s most expensive city to accommodate workers, according to the latest Savills Live/Work rankings – only Hong Kong and New York rank higher than London worldwide (City AM, p8).
  • The European Central Bank (ECB) has urged the EU to take a more unified approach to regulations for fighting money laundering (Reuters, online only).

What the commentators say

Philip Johnston, writing in the Telegraph (p18, £), claims that while Boris Johnson is ‘a man the country might turn to in a crisis’, his moment to mount a leadership bid may have passed. He argues that Prime Minister Theresa May, despite a series of blows that ‘would have flattened Anthony Joshua’ over the past year, is looking ‘in remarkably fine fettle’. He suggests that the priority for the Conservative Party is simply to ‘get Brexit over the line’, and as a consequence a leadership challenge by Mr Johnson would not be something the party would welcome at such a turbulent time.

Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, argues in the Financial Times(online only, £) that the government should revise its Chequers plan in order to reach a Brexit deal with the EU. He suggests that the UK should remain in a customs union with the EU for a long period and extend its proposed common rulebook in goods to areas such as employment and environmental standards, to ensure a level playing field. However, Grant concludes that while such a compromise may be supported in the UK Parliament, including by some Labour MPs, it would not be easy to get the European Commission and key member states such as France and Germany to accept it.

Calendar

  • Theresa May’s keynote speech to end Conservative Party conference
  • Conference session on campaigning ahead of 2022 election
  • European Parliament Plenary Session in Strasbourg
  • World Trade Report launch
  • UK Services Purchasing Managers Index released

For a full list of upcoming UK Finance statistics releases, please click here.

News in brief – 3 October 2018