Business News May 2023

Written 22 May 2023

How high could interest rates rise?

Earlier this month the Bank of England (BOE) raised interest rates for a 12th consecutive time as the rate of rising prices remains high. The Bank rate has gone up from 4.25% to 4.5%.

The BOE has been under pressure to put rates up because it has a target to keep inflation at 2%, but prices are currently rising at more than five times that level. The rate of interest is at its highest for almost 15 years.

The BOE has been increasing interest rates since December 2021 to try to control inflation, which now stands above 10%. It looks like the UK Government will miss its pledge to halve inflation by the end of the year and the BOE has warned that the pledge may not be met until 2025. The BOE decision has an immediate impact on some borrowers and savers.

So how do you go about managing your business during these turbulent times with increasing inflation, rising interest rates, and economic uncertainty? What actions should a business owner take right now?

Take some time to look at your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and get a clear understanding of its position in the marketplace, the competition, the systems, the way things are done, and the improvements that could be made. Focus on what the business is to look like when it is “complete” or running profitably and successfully. You can then determine priorities – the big issues that need to be focussed on – and make a plan.

It is also a good idea to plan for a range of scenarios from “good to bad” so that you can be flexible about the direction your business should take. 

Please talk to us about your plans; we can assist with cash flow planning and “what if” scenarios.   

How much is my business worth?

This is a question many of our clients want answering! The truth is, it depends on a range of factors and any valuation is only useful as a guide for planning froward. The ultimate value of a business is the price a willing buyer is prepared to pay for it.  

The prevailing economic climate and state of the business’ sector can affect company valuation for better or worse, as can your reasons for selling. If you need a fast sale due to ill health, for instance, the value may be lower than if a sale was taking place under more favourable circumstances.

Valuing a business is a complex process and we are available to support you throughout.

So, what are the most common methods of valuing a business?

Price to earnings ratio (P/E)

The price to earnings ratio uses multiples of profit, so may be an appropriate valuation method if you own a well-established business with a good track record of profits. ‘Price’ refers to the company’s current share price, and ‘earnings’ to the earnings per share (EPS). The P/E ratio indicates the business’ expected growth in earnings per share in the future.

Discounted cash flow

Discounted cash flow relies on estimating future cash flows for the company, and a residual business value, and may be suited to businesses with few assets.

Entry cost

Entry cost valuation involves calculating how much it would cost to build your business to the stage that it’s reached now, including start-up and recruitment costs, marketing, and the value of assets. Any savings that could have been made should then be deducted to arrive at the valuation.

Asset valuation

The asset valuation method may be suitable if your business is well established and owns high levels of tangible assets. The Net Book Value (NBV) of assets is calculated, then adjusted to take account of external factors such as depreciation and inflation.

Valuation based on industry

Some businesses are valued based on the industry in which they operate. The retail industry is one such example, where the number of outlets is an important element for consideration. Industry ‘rules of thumb’ use factors specific to an industry and can provide a more accurate calculation in some cases.

Other considerations when valuing your business

Intangible assets are a key factor when valuing a business. Intellectual property, goodwill, business reputation, and even a premium business location, can all add considerable value in the eyes of potential purchasers.

Spotlighting these intangible assets also allows you to improve their value where appropriate – for example, registering ownership of a trademark or patent, building up their reputation even further, or improving the condition of your business premises.

Please talk to us about valuing your business as this can lead to a range of important considerations and actions.   

Business Energy Aid Toolkit

The Business Aid Energy Toolkit provides manufacturers with access to experts and equipment, helping you make significant reductions to your energy usage in short time frames. Support is available in areas such as:

  • Data-driven insights into your energy usage;
  • Help to identify production planning improvements;
  • Pinpointing cost-saving measures;
  • Discovering opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint and work towards Net Zero; and
  • Expertise from a team of specialists.

See: Business Energy Aid Toolkit – GOV.UK (

HMRC late payment interest rates to be revised after Bank of England increases base rate

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee announced on 11 May 2023 that it would increase the Bank of England base rate to 4.5% from 4.25%. HMRC interest rates are linked to the Bank of England base rate. As a consequence of the change in the base rate, HMRC interest rates for late payment and repayment will increase.

These changes will come into effect on:

  • 22 May 2023 for quarterly instalment payments, and
  • 31 May 2023 for non-quarterly instalments payments.

See: Rates and allowances: HMRC interest rates for late and early payments – GOV.UK (

Latest HMRC strike news

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union working in East Kilbride and Newcastle on employer PAYE have been asked to strike from 10 May, returning on 5 June. The PCS union has announced the following strike dates for HMRC staff in employer PAYE:

  • 22-26 May; 
  • 29-31 May; and 
  • 1 and 2 June.

HMRC recommends that employers use its online services to resolve their query where possible on strike days. It is unclear if HMRC will reallocate staff between helplines which could reduce service on other lines.

See: News | Public and Commercial Services Union (

Shopping Prices Comparison Tool

Each month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes  the latest annual inflation rate, which measures the change in the price of regularly purchased items (known as the basket of goods and services) compared with the same time the previous year.

Some goods and services contribute more to the overall inflation rate than others: if some items see a large increase in prices, while others stay more stable, then inflation would be driven by the changing prices in that spending category.

So, how the headline inflation rate affects your household depends on which items you tend to spend your money on. The shopping prices comparison tool has been built to help people understand why their household might have experienced inflation.

See: Consumer price inflation, UK – Office for National Statistics

Longer lorries to be allowed on Britain’s roads

The government is changing regulations to allow longer trailers on GB roads, which it estimates will save 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. 

These longer trailers, known as longer semi-trailers (LST) measure up to 2.05 metres longer than a standard semi-trailer and can be towed by a lorry.

The move follows an 11-year trial to ensure LSTs are used safely on roads, and operators will be encouraged to put extra safety checks and training in place. The trial demonstrated that LSTs were involved in around 61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries. 

HMRC close the VAT registration helpline 

From‌‌‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Monday‌‌‌ ‌‌22 May 2023, HMRC will close the VAT registration helpline – a subsidiary of the VAT helpline – which is dedicated specifically to helping customers who have a concern around their VAT registration application. Advisers from this helpline will be redeployed to spend their time processing VAT registration applications instead of answering calls through the helpline.  

Over 85% of calls to the VAT registration helpline are from customers who want an update on the progress of their applications. The ‘Where’s my reply‘ tool gives an expected response date. HMRC staff are spending most of their time talking to customers about their submitted applications and – as that information is already available online – they believe this time can be better used to process those applications instead.  

HMRC state that applicants can expect a reply within 40 working days. Those with applications that have been submitted within 40 working days should not contact HMRC.  

Those who submitted an application more than 40 working days ago, or are replying to a request for further information (VAT 5),  should use the dedicated email inbox, Applicants who have not received a response to their initial application within 40 working days, will receive a reply to their email within five working days.