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Autumn Statement Spending Review headlines

The UK's business groups and leaders have urged George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to minimise the impact of today's Autumn Statement on businesses and to implement changes that will enable businesses to grow.

The ICAEW called on the Chancellor to avoid dropping any more 'bombshells'. The CBI joined in pressing the Government to "act on major infrastructure decisions that need making now" and to "deliver a package on Business Rate reform that makes the regime simpler, fairer and more competitive".

This view was supported by John Allan, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses who said "It is essential we have a reliable transport system fit for the 21st century."

Businesses are already bracing themselves for the next tax year which will see the introduction of the new National Living Wage – which is expected to affect more than half of all employers - the Apprenticeship Levy and the continued roll out of workplace pensions. Measures that will help ease the introduction of these regimes would be welcomed across the board.

However, the Chancellor must find another £20bn of public spending cuts if he is to reach his target of eliminating the deficit by 2019-20. Faced with such sizeable cuts the picture was not looking good. So what did he announce?

  • Tax reform: Tax returns to be replaced by new digital tax accounts which will be created for every small business and tax payer by 2016/17.

  • Business rates: Small business rate relief will be extended for a further year.

  • Business rates: Uniform Business Rates will be abolished and local authorities will be able to keep 100% of business rates raised locally.

  • Income tax: Devolved powers to be transferred to Wales without a referendum.

  • Support for enterprise: There will be 26 new Enterprise Zones including seven new zones in the 'Northern Powerhouse'. The existing, multiple sources of funding will be combined into a new single Local Growth Fund.

  • Innovation: New £165 million fund to provide loans to companies through Innovate UK.

  • Investment funding: New Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund to support small businesses in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and Tees Valley.

  • Capital Gains Tax: Gains on residential property to be paid within 30 days of the disposal of the property from April 2019.

  • Corporation tax: There will be new legislation to prevent tax avoidance through the abuse of the capital allowances and leasing arrangements and arrangements that use partnerships to obtain relief.

  • Stamp duty land tax: New 3% surcharge on property transactions for additional properties such as second homes and buy-to-let properties.

  • Environmental taxes: Energy Intensive Industries will be permanently exempted.

  • Company cars: The removal of the diesel supplement for company cars will be postponed until 2021.

  • Infrastructure: 50% increase on transport investment over the course of this parliament to include High Speed 2 and £13.4 billion on the Roads Investment Strategy and new investment in facilities in Kent to alleviate the problems caused by Operation Stack.

  • Apprenticeships: New apprenticeship levy will be set at 0.5% of wage bill from April 2017. There will be an allowance of £15,000 which means all employers with a wage bill below £3 million per year will be exempted from the levy.

  • Free child care: From September 2017 free child care will be doubled to 30 hours per week for three and four year olds. There will be a minimum income level equivalent to working 16 hours per week on the National Minimum Wage.

  • Pensions: State pension will rise to £119.30 per week from April 2016.

  • Pensions: The next two phases of minimum contribution increases for auto-enrolled pensions will be aligned with the tax year. 

  • Council tax: Councils with responsibility for social care will be able to levy a new, 2% social care precept on council tax to be spent on adult social care.

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