What was on offer to businesses in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement?

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Thursday, 17th November, saw the next stage in the new Rishi Sunak-led UK Government’s economic repair job, with the unveiling of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement.

Much of the reporting surrounding the event has indicated the announcement was a sobering one for a country that is having to become accustomed to getting poorer and shouldering a higher tax burden.

But was there more hope for UK businesses contained within the Chancellor’s outlined plan than initially met the eye?

“British resilience and British compassion” to face down the economic crisis

Selling the Autumn Statement as a “plan for stability, growth and public services”, Mr Hunt said his proposals would enable the UK to “face into the storm… with British resilience and British compassion.”

While there were certainly measures set out in the statement that were of interest to households – including continued, albeit lowered, support with energy costs, as well as targeted help for the especially vulnerable – many a business owner will have taken note of the Treasury’s declaration that addressing inflation “is top of the priority list”.

The department said that bearing down on inflation would be crucial to prevent it from “eating into paycheques and savings, and disrupting business growth plans.”

Business rates support gets some guarded cheer

So, what elements of the Chancellor’s plan will those presently drawing upon services in business accountancy in Newton Abbot, Plymouth, or Wellington especially welcome?

One highlight is £13.6 billion in support for business rates payers. The idea is that to help shield firms from the impacts of increasing inflation, 2023-24 will see the multiplier frozen; in addition, there will be an increase in relief for 230,000 businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure industries from 50% to 75%.

The measures were welcomed by key industry players, including trade body UKHospitality, with the organisation’s chief executive Kate Nicholls saying she was “pleased that the Chancellor has listened to the vast majority of UKHospitality’s proposals on business rates, covering a freeze in the multiplier, extended reliefs, and no downward transition.”

However, Ms Nicholls also expressed sentiments that mirrored the concerns of many other observers who hoped for a more profound, structural change to the business rates system.

“It remains the case,” she said, “that the current system is outdated and not fit for purpose. The Government made a manifesto commitment of root and branch review, and it’s essential that this is delivered as soon as possible.”

What else was of relevance to businesses in the statement?

Meanwhile, the Treasury has also signalled that it will expect “the most profitable businesses with the broadest shoulders… to bear more of the burden.” Although the threshold for employer National Insurance contributions will be fixed until April 2028, “the Employment Allowance will continue to protect 40% of businesses from paying any NICs at all.”

It was also reaffirmed in the announcement that the main rate of Corporation Tax would go up to 25% from April 2023, as had already been confirmed in October.

Ultimately, the budget-in-all-but-name represents a mixed bag for great numbers of businesses up and down the UK. That, in turn, might give your firm even more reason to look to a team of specialists like those of TS Partners to give you the benefit of the very best business-focused accountancy in Newton Abbot, Plymouth, or Wellington.