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  1. Prostitution and drugs are worth £10bn per year to the British economy. The boost forms part of an extra £33bn of economic activity across the UK revealed yesterday by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). When this round of re-evaluation is complete in September, ONS expects to have found the economy is as much as five per cent bigger than previously thought.

    Prostitution adds around £5.3bn to GDP, the ONS estimated, based on calculations that looked at surveys of the number of prostitutes, the changing UK male population and average prices charged. 

    The statistic body used some data from countries where the sex industry operates more openly, such as the Netherlands.

    Meanwhile illegal drugs add around £4.4bn to the economy.

    Crack is the biggest contributor, at £1.5bn, followed by power cocaine, which added £1.04bn to the economy, while cannabis added £828m and heroin £536m.

    The smallest drugs studied were amphetamines - which added £468m to the economy- and ecstacy, which contributed around £26m to the economic output.

    However, consumption levels are even higher than those headline figures suggest because of the way that officials calculate international trade in the GDP numbers.

    For instance, £2.92bn of crack is thought to be bought each year - but the sales do not add as much to GDP as some are offset by imports, and the purchases from overseas add those countries' economies, not Britain's.

    AS a result the £7.27bn of drugs sales only add £4.4bn to the economy because £2.87bn worth is imported.

    By contrast, no prostitution is imported because it is considered a service industry.

     

     

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  2. To some, fashion is just a way to hide your nakedness.

     

    It's about putting a shirt on your back, adding a tie if you have to, and nothing more.

    To others,  it is not only a matter of taste - it's about expressing your intellect. And there's no shortage of brands lining up to tell you that by buying into their collection, you have made an intellectual as well as a commercial decision. A recent exhibition in London associated a major brand with art, architecture and cinema. Collaborating with artists presents fashion brands and their wares as more than mere vessels to make you look good - it allows them to become a comment on society; both the here and now, and what comes next. 

    Almost all high - ended fashion brands love an exhibition, be it at a museum or in a shop. Not only does it add brand awareness, it helps them to keep up with the industry types. 

    How can a piece of clothing make an intellectual statement?

    When you put on a pair of trousers they need to fit, complement your backside and flatter your shape - but if they also make you feel an association with something bigger, sometimes cleverer, then that label has successfully intelectualised itself.

    This is the way some brands get away with selling ugly things: an emperor's new clothes approach to fashion.

    If you have been intellectualising your brand adequately, people will not question it.

    Brands and designers have done the groundwork to make us receptive to new ideas.  Some young designers think they can rock up and reinvent the wheel, but in reality it's a slow burn of influence; getting away with challenging ideas can take years.

    This is more prominent in womensware, but it's also seeping into the men's arena. With menswear, intellectualising tends to be about promoting exactly what it is, how it's made and the history of the person selling it to you. It's a collection of factors that, in unison, give a brand or item depth and personality beyond the threads holding it together. 

     

    So next time you pick up a designer shirt, ask yourself not only whether it makes you look good, but what it's saying about your entire world - view. 

     

     

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  3. Very few of us look forward to the annual performance review.

    45 per cent  of human resource managers do not think these meetings function as an accurate appraisal of an employee's work. But would it be better if businesses paid more attention to peer feedback, rather than just the judgement of line managers?

    Technological advances have made what would once have been a cumbersome process remarkably slick.

    One company known for its "flat", managerless structure, uses peer feedback technology to allow team members to rank each other based on key metrics ( skill level and technical ability;productivity and output). The scores are then aggregated and used to generate a figure expressing an employee's "relative value" to the company.

    Even professional services companies are interested in the peer rating system, with project staff ranking each other (across pay bands) to determine bonuses. 

     

     

     

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  4. New mortgage borrowing was at its highest level for six years last month as lenders loaned £12.billion.

    But while this marked a 52 percent year-on-year rise, mortgage approvals fell for the third month in succession, painting " a mixed " picture for the housing market. 

    The valiue of mortgages taken out in April was the highest for six years.

    However, looking ahead mortgage approvals have fallen three months in a row. The amount of borrowing is, however, still well below the levels we were seeing before the financial crisis.  

    A total of 42,173 prospective buyers had their mortgages approved in April, the fewest in 8 months. Figures also showed non-mortgage borrowing has increased by 1.4 per cent over the past 12 months, with credit card purchases rising 3.5 per cent.

    Borrowing on personal loans and overdrafts fell 0.5 per cent.   

     

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  5. If you die intestate, your estate would be apportioned according to the law, irrespective of your wishes. A common misconception is that all your assets are inherited by your widowed husband, wife or civil partner, but this is not the case.

    In England and Wales, your spouse is entitled to up to £250,000.00 of all assets, plus personal possessions. The rest of the estate would be devided amongst any children. 

    If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your surviving partner will have no automatic right to inherit. If you are single without children, your estate would be shared among surviving family members. In the absence of living relatives, the estate goes to the Crown. It is important to update your will to ensure  it reflects your wishes. Wills are revoked upon marriage, unless they are explicitly " written in contemplation of the union".

    Although employing the services of a solicitor is expensive, it is the safest way of ensuring that your wishes are carried out. If your will is unclear, it could be contested. Lawyers can help clients mitigate eventual inheritance tax reliefs. They can also assist in the establishment of discretonary trusts, where clents can ensure that the assets are passed to chosen beneficiaries when they reach   certain age. 

    Where assets are held overseas, it is essential to use a solicitor, as tax systems differ when it comes to inheritance and the repatriation of wealth.  If you live overseas, do not assume that English law can override the law of the country in which you live.

    Many European countries rely on residence rather than domicile to determine succession. 

     

    Lowry LLP - International Lawyers

     Lawyer, Attorney, Attorneys, Lawyers, Law Firm and Law Firms 

     

     

     

     

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    HM Revenue and Customs makes no distinction between assets at home or abroad.

    Widespread misconceptions about the status of overseas assets could land many UK families with large inheritance tax bills unless planning measures are taken.

    For people domiciled in the UK - which includes a large share of expatriates - Inheritance Tax (IHT) applies to worldwide assets, including property, bank accounts and investments. However, 70 per cent of of financial advisers report that their clients believe assets held overseas are not subject to UK inheritance tax.

    People with overseas assets may not be aware that these assets ... need to be treated with the same attention as their assets held in the UK.

    In particular, UK nationals who have moved overseas - standing at 1.6m in 2013,wrongly assume that their change in residence altered their tax liabilities. Shifting domicile,as opposed to residence, requires cutting financial ties with the UK and providing strong evidence of a permanent move.

    People with holiday homes or inherited bank accounts abroad are more likely to be caught unawares, rather than wealthier clients. Often, the higher the value of their assets, the better their understanding of the rules.

    Although there is no magic bullet for people looking to pass on foreign assets in a tax - efficient manner, many consider using companies or trusts to minimise taxation. Moving overseas property into companies is often an efficient way of managing estate succession. Shares in a company can be gifted while voting control can be retained.

    Using a trust effectively removes an asset from an estate after seven years, provided that the individual survives longer than that period. Assets worth up to the £325,000.00 IHT threshold, including those held overseas, can be gifted without any tax charge through a trust. A 20 per cent tax is liable above this value.

    Not all countries recognise trusts, however, and assets included in them can be therefore liable for local taxation.

    Similarily, should inheritance tax reliefs that apply in the UK - such as business property relief or agricultural reliefs - not be recognised in the country where the assets are held, local taxes would still be payable.

    To prevent duplicated taxation by both the UK and foreign authorities, HM Revenue and Customs has bilateral treaties with countries including Ireland, Switzerland and the US.

    Where there is no agreement, HMRC may give credit for IHT paid locally.

    There is no catch - all solution for mitigating IHT given that each country, even within the EU has its own rules. Your UK and overseas advisers need to work hand -in - hand. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    The final resting place of the last medieval King of England looks set to be in Leicester after the High Court yesterday rejected an attempt by distant relatives of Richard III to force a public consultation over where he should be buried.

    After he was killed by soldiers loyal to Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, Richard's corpse was taken to Leicester and buried at Grey Friars Church, where his grave lay unknown until being unearthed from a municipal car park in April 2012.

    The discovery of Richard III's remains sparked media interest around the world.

    His death had brought to an end the Wars of the Roses, but until last year he remained the only English monarch since 1066 whose final resting place had not been known. He was the last King of England to die on the battlefield and his death heralded the Tudor dynasty and the beginning of the early modern period of English history.

    Under an exhumation licence granted by the UK government, the remains were to be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral following analysis by archaeologists.

    However the Plantagenet Alliance, a not - for - profit group formed by remote descendants of the last ruler of the House of York, launched a campaign for the bones to be left to rest in York Minster because of his ties to the House of York.  This year, the group went to court to seek a public consultation over where he should be laid to rest.

    Yesterday, Lady Justice Hallett found there were no public law grounds for the court interfering with the existing decisions and dismissed the judicial review application. She noted the Dean of Leicester Cathedral had explained the efforts and expenditure invested by the city's cathedral to create a lasting burial as befits "an anointed king".

    " Since Richard III's exhumation ... passions have been roused and much ink has been spilled. Issues relating to his life and death and place of reinterment have been exhaustively explained ... it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, " she said.

    The Court hearing this year had heard submississons to  the Court there should be a public consultation over Richard's resting place, inviting representatives from the Crown, English Heritage, churches, public bodies and " those who claim a family relationship with the late King. 

     

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    A shadow has been cast over another key global financial benchmark after regulators found that a Barclays trader had manipulated the London gold fix that is used to value billions of dollars of derivativis contracts annually.

    The Financial Conduct Authority fined the bank £26m and reprimanded it for nine years of lax controls over its failure to rein in a trader who in 2012 drove the gold price lower to avoid paying £2.3m to a Barclays client.

    The conduct of the trader came the day after Barclays was fined £290m in 2012 by the UK and US authorities over the rigging of Libor, the interest rate benchmark.

    The latest controversy has raised further questions over the reliability of financial gauges, including the London gold fix.

    This adds to the pressure for change and more transparency on the gold fix.

    Dating back to 1919, the fix is a twice - daily auction process, controlled by four banks, to set a reference price for bullion.

    Critics have long alleged that it is susceptible to abuse.

    Germany's regulator is the only body to have launched a probe into the gold market, targeting Deutsche Bank which resently resigned its seat on the gold - fix panel.

     

     

     

     

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  9.  Lawyer, Attorney, Attorneys, Lawyers, Law Firm and Law Firms

    Credit Suisse this week pleaded guilty to an "extensive and wide - ranging conspiracy" to help American citizens evade taxes, and agreed to pay a $2.6bn fine to US authorities, finally to draw a line under a three - year dispute.

    The Swiss lender, which became the first large global bank for two decades to admit to criminal charges, agreed to pay $1.8 bn in fines and restitution to the US Department of Justice, $715m to New York's Department of Financial Services and $100m to the Federal Reserve.

    However, despite intense speculation about leadership changes, chief executive Brady Dougan and chairman Urs Rohner said they had no plans to step down.

    Credit Suisse's settlement - more than three times the $780m that USB was forced to pay in 2009 to settle similiar accusations - could open the way for some of the remaining 13 Swiss banking entities being probed by the Department of Justice to reach settlements.

    Switzerland's finance minister, Eveline Widemer- Schlumpf, said the morning after the Credit Suisse settlement, that she expected further deals within "the next few months".

    It also opens the way for France's BNP Paribas to agree a settlement with US authorities over alleged sanction violations, which could include a guilty plea, fines in the region of $3.5bn and a possible suspension of its ability to clear US dollar transactions.  

     

     

     

     

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    Business leaders attempted last night to soften criticism of the two main political parties over the way they handled EU issues in the European elections and opened the political door to the UK Independence Party. 

    EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said the results should act as a wakeup call to the Labour and Conservative Parties.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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