Autumn Budget Statement 2023

By | Budget Summary, Latest News, Uncategorized

Jeremy Hunt’s second Autumn Statement was set against a much less financially turbulent background than his first.  However, politics still loomed large with a likely election in the next 12 months prompting calls for tax cuts from within the Conservative party. Until recently the Chancellor had attempted to stall such demands with warnings of “difficult decisions” on the public finances owing to a worsened fiscal outlook since his Spring Budget. One reason that he highlighted for the deterioration was the sharply increased cost of government borrowing.

Nevertheless, the Chancellor, who had argued only two months ago that tax cuts were “virtually impossible”, appears to have had a change of heart. Echoing the Prime Minister, Mr Hunt suggested that the achievement of halving inflation in 2023 marked an economic inflexion point that permitted a new policy approach.

The outcome was an Autumn Statement that had been initially trailed as focusing on longer-term issues, but which prioritised short-term tax cuts over maintaining expenditure in later years.
On the long term front, the Chancellor confirmed as expected that ‘full expensing’ of corporate investment in plant and machinery would be made permanent at a cost of £10.7 billion a year by 2027/28.  The most headline-grabbing moves were cuts to national insurance.

Some of the rumours, such as IHT reform, did not come to fruition, but there is still a chance – the Spring Budget is now less than four months away.

Read the full statement here

Spring Budget 2023

By | Budget Summary, Investment News, Latest News, Uncategorized

The first Budget since October 2021 was widely expected to be an uneventful affair. Five months ago, the then new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, presented an Autumn Statement that was more of a Budget than many formal Budgets. Not only did his Autumn Statement result in a greater increase in the tax burden than most Budgets – £55 billion by 2027/28 – it was also accompanied by a Finance Bill.

With an election likely in autumn 2024, Mr Hunt’s ‘Budget for growth’ looked set to be a steady-as-you-go fiscal non-event.  Yet it turns out that over the next three tax years, Mr Hunt will hand back about £65 billion of the extra tax that he had planned to raise last November.  Although by 2027/28, he will still be about £40 billion a year better off.

The largest element of his three-year giveaway is the introduction of temporary full expensing for corporate investment in new plant and machinery. This goes some way to counter the impact of the corporation tax rate increase to 25% due in April 2023.  The aim behind this relief – stimulating economic growth – drove his extension of free childcare. It also provided justification for the surprise abolition of the pension lifetime allowance (LTA) and increases to the annual allowance. However, the benefits of the pension reforms to high earners have been tempered by a new cap on tax-free cash.

Whether the Chancellor succeeds in his growth agenda will not be clear until well after the next election. As Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, said: “Once again Jeremy Hunt can be grateful that the Office for Budget Responsibility is more optimistic than the Bank of England. It handed him some room for manoeuvre.”

Read the full article here

Fiscal Statement summary

By | Budget Summary

With a new King at the Palace and a new Prime Minister at Number 10, it was no surprise that the new Chancellor at Number 11 used his first statement to the House of Commons to signal a “new era” for fiscal policy.

It turned out to be a striking change of direction, as the Chancellor opened his speech, saying: “We will be bold and unashamed in pursuing growth, even where that means taking difficult decisions”.

Gone was the Sunak era’s post-Covid emphasis on fiscal responsibility. Instead, in what the Government dubbed its ‘Plan for Growth’, Kwasi Kwarteng set out an approach prioritising tax cuts for individuals and businesses over immediate repairs to the public finances.

The Chancellor’s assumption is that cutting tax rates will boost economic growth and so increase the overall tax take.

This was Mr Kwarteng’s first real test as Chancellor, 18 days into the job, with inflation sitting at 9.9 per cent and energy prices spiking, interest rates rising, a weakened pound, plus the economic recovery from Covid by no means complete.

Only a day earlier, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee had raised interest rates sharply by half a percentage point to 2.25 per cent – the highest level in eight years – in a bid to stave off spiking inflation.

Despite being a Fiscal Statement rather than a Budget, the policies trailed in the days and weeks running up to the speech suggested that it might prove to be more significant an event than many full Budgets.

  • Income Tax
  • National Insurance/ Health and Social Care Levy
  • IR35 Off-payroll Working Rules
  • Corporation Tax
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)
  • Annual Investment Allowance and SEIS
  • Investment Zones
  • Energy Bills
  • Conclusion

Income Tax

In a speech full of significant announcements, perhaps the most notable related to Income Tax.

The Chancellor announced that the Additional Rate of Income Tax, which is currently 45 per cent on income over £150,000 will be scrapped entirely from April 2023.

He then moved to bring forward the cut in the Basic Rate of Income Tax to 19 per cent planned for April 2024 to April 2023.

National Insurance Contributions/ Health and Social Care Levy

Another landmark policy of the Johnson Government was the 1.25 per cent Health and Social Care Levy paid by employees and employers to help meet the cost of social care.

The current tax year is a transitional year in which the increase has been applied to National Insurance Contributions and it was to have become a standalone tax from April 2023.

Now, the Chancellor has announced that the charge will be scrapped and will no longer apply from 6 November 2022. The move also scraps the planned increase in Dividend Tax, which were due in April 2023.

He said the reason for the move was to support smaller businesses, help households and boost economic growth.

IR35 off-payroll working rules

In an unexpected move, the Chancellor announced that the reforms to the IR35 off-payroll working rules in 2017 and 2021 for individual contractors operating via personal service companies in the public and private sectors respectively would be scrapped.

The change means that it will no longer be the responsibility of the organisation engaging contractors’ services to determine whether a contractor should pay tax on the same basis as an employee. Instead, that responsibility will revert to the contractor, as was the case previously.

Cancellation of planned Corporation Tax increase

The last Chancellor but one, Rishi Sunak, had announced a plan to increase the rate of Corporation Tax from 19 per cent to 25 per cent from April 2023 for companies with profits of more than £250,000. Those with profits of between £50,000 and £250,000 would have benefitted from tapered relief, while there would have been no increase for those with profits of £50,000 or less.

In a striking change from the previous Government’s policy, and consistent with the Prime Minister’s leadership campaign pledge, Mr Kwarteng announced that the planned increase will no longer go ahead and Corporation Tax rates will remain at 19 per cent.

He said that the rationale for the change is to encourage the investment needed to help the economy grow.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

In what might prove to become a tug of war between the Treasury and the Bank of England, just a day after many homeowners learned of a painful interest rate rise, the Chancellor offered substantial consolation in the form of a cut to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).

Indeed, just yesterday, the Governor of the Bank of England wrote to the Chancellor to warn him that tax cuts might mean even sharper interest rate rises.

Undeterred, the Chancellor pressed ahead with a move to double the SDLT threshold from £125,000 to £250,000 with immediate effect. For first-time buyers, the threshold will rise to £425,000 on properties of up to £625,000. The measure will apply permanently.

Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) and SEIS

In another surprise move, the Chancellor announced that the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) would not fall back to £200,000 in 2023 but would instead remain at its current £1 million level permanently.

Meanwhile, he said there would be a two-thirds increase in the amount companies can raise through the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) to £250,000 from April 2023. At the same time, the Annual Investor Limit will rise to £200,000.

Investment Zones

The Chancellor also announced the launch of up to 40 Investment Zones. In England, he said the Government is considering time-limited tax incentives for 10 years, including 100 per cent Business Rates relief, 100 per cent first-year allowances for qualifying expenditure of plant and machinery and an enhanced Structures and Buildings Allowance.

He said the Government is also considering zero-rate Employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) on salaries of new employees in Investment Zones up to £50,270 a year, as well as full Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) relief on land and building bought for commercial or new residential development.

The Chancellor said he will work with the Devolved Administrations to offer similar incentives in Investment Zones across the UK.

Energy Bills

Following on from the Prime Minister’s announcement on 8 September of the Energy Price Guarantee and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, Innovation and Skills in relation to business energy costs, the Chancellor reiterated the support being offered.

He said that the Energy Price Guarantee, alongside the £400 credit already announced will cut bills by around £1,400 for a typical household in comparison to the levels they were expected to reach without Government action.

Meanwhile, he confirmed that businesses, charities and public sector organisations will benefit from equivalent relief if they had not locked into a fixed-rate tariff by April 2022. That measure will last for six months from 1 October 2022.

The Chancellor said that the Government’s intervention will reduce inflation by around five percentage points.

Conclusion

The speech was a dramatic statement of the fiscal philosophy being pursued by the new occupants of Number 10 and Number 11 Downing Street. They hope that by reining in energy bills and cutting taxes, consumers will be prompted to spend and businesses will be more likely to invest, ultimately benefitting the public finances through increased tax receipts.

Whether that’s likely to be the case will be a point of serious contention amongst economists and various factions of the Conservative Party, especially given rising inflation and the possible impact on interest rates. Many will see the measures as a serious gamble.

What is certain, however, is that businesses will be more interested in what actually comes to pass than any abstract debate about whether the Government is taking the best course of action.

Link: The Growth Plan 2022

 

2021 Autumn Budget

By | Budget Summary, Latest News

The first autumn Budget for three years was a three-part presentation. The Chancellor’s well-trailed speech was accompanied by the first multi-year Spending Review since 2015 and the latest Economic and Fiscal Outlook (EFO) from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

Mr Sunak’s previous two Budgets had been dominated by the pandemic, which has wreaked havoc with the public finances. Third time around, the backdrop was brighter, at least relatively speaking.

In addition to recent helpful borrowing data, the Chancellor had the £42 billion of tax increases he announced in March and September. The extent of a further windfall was revealed in the Budget Red Book, which shows that suspending the State pension ‘triple lock’ next April will save £5.4 billion in 2022/23, rising to £6.7 billion four years later. It is therefore not surprising that few new tax-raising measures emerged in Mr Sunak’s second formal Budget of 2021. The reports from the Office for Tax Simplification on inheritance tax and capital gains tax have been left to gather more dust on the shelves of 11 Downing Street.

Mr Sunak was in spending rather than taxing mode on this occasion. He made two significant changes to Universal Credit, partially reversing the impact of the £20 a week reduction that took effect earlier this month. There were also cuts to business rates, air passenger duty and the cost of a pint of beer.

The Chancellor took advantage of better than OBR-projected economic performance both to spend more and to put some money aside. He must hope that his war chest is enough to cover whatever COVID-19 and rising inflation/interest rates conspire to deliver in the coming year.

Read the full report here.