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Autumn Statement 2023: Key takeaways

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Autumn Statement 2023: Key Points for Businesses

Read Time:

7 mins

Topic:

UK Business

Date:

26 November 2023

Jeremy Hunt Autumn Statement Summary 2023 - Outside 10 Downing Street

Amidst a backdrop of soaring living costs, a sluggish economy, and an impending election, the 2023 Autumn Statement emerged as a crucial point in the UK's economic path. Jeremy Hunt's presentation of the Autumn Statement 2023 aimed to prioritise stability and growth. Within this announcement, Hunt unveiled 110 measures designed to stimulate growth, simplifying capital raising and reducing business taxes among them. These initiatives aim to eliminate obstacles to investment and are forecasted by the OBR to bolster GDP. Hunt dubbed this statement as an "Autumn Statement for growth," highlighting it as the biggest tax cut for businesses in modern British history.


Business Changes


Full Expensing

Highlighted as a cornerstone of what the Chancellor termed "the most substantial business tax reduction in modern British history," one of the pivotal business updates was Hunt's decision to make the complete expensing scheme a permanent fixture. This scheme grants companies 100% initial-year relief on qualifying main rate plant and machinery investments, including IT equipment. Initially introduced in the Spring Budget 2023, the scheme was set to expire in March 2026. The government anticipates this move will unlock an extra £14 billion in investment over the OBR's projected period, fostering sustainable economic expansion.


R&D Tax Credits Unified

The Autumn Statement 2023 brought forth significant overhauls to R&D tax relief, aiming to encourage innovation across the business sphere. Starting April 2024, the current R&D expenditure credit (RDEC) for larger businesses and the SME R&D scheme for smaller enterprises will merge into a single scheme. This consolidation will decrease the tax rate for loss-making companies from 25% to 19% and lower the threshold for additional support from 40% to 30%, expanding eligibility for approximately 5,000 more SMEs. Businesses fluctuating below the 30% threshold will also receive a one-year grace period, enabling more companies to qualify as 'R&D-intensive.' Forecasts predict these reforms will offer an additional £280 million in relief annually by 2028/29. However, the primary beneficiaries of the amalgamation between the two schemes—SMEs or larger enterprises—remain currently unclear.


Investment Zones

Hunt unveiled plans to establish four new investment zones, likened to "mini-Canary Wharf's" in the West Midlands, East Midlands, Wales, and Greater Manchester. These zones will specialise in advanced manufacturing and are estimated to attract roughly £3 billion in private investment, leading to the creation of approximately 65,000 new jobs.


Manufacturing Rewards

Hunt emphasised investment and pledged an extra £4.5 billion in support between 2025 and 2030 for "strategic manufacturing." This financial aid encompasses £975 million for aerospace firms, £520 million for life sciences (e.g., medical research companies), and £960 million for new green industry firms. He asserted that collectively, this backing for rapidly growing innovation sectors will attract an estimated £2 billion of additional investment annually over the next decade.


AI

The UK government recently disclosed a £500 million investment over the ensuing two years to establish new "innovation centers," aiming to reinforce the country's position as a leading AI hub. This initiative follows the success of supercomputing centers in Edinburgh and Bristol.


Planning Applications

Proposals to streamline the planning system involve permitting local authorities to charge the full cost of major business planning applications in return for adhering to accelerated processing timelines. In case of failure to meet these deadlines, fees will be automatically refunded, and the application will be processed free of charge. Hunt likened this approach to a prompt service or refund policy seen in the private sector.


EIS and VAT

The sunset clauses on EIS and Venture Capital Trust (VCT) schemes will be extended to 2035, having raised a total of £18.2 billion through EIS over the past decade.


Work Incentives


National Insurance

Hunt announced a reduction in the National Insurance rate from 12% to 10%. This decrease in the main employee National Insurance rate, from 12% to 10%, will take effect from January 6, 2024. He anticipates that this change will benefit 27 million individuals, resulting in savings of over £450 a year for someone on an average salary of £35,000. Hunt expedited the implementation of this measure to enable people to witness the benefits in their pay slips at the start of the new year, foregoing the usual April start date for such measures.


National Insurance for the Self-employed

Self-employed individuals earning over £12,570 will no longer be subject to the "Class 2" National Insurance charge of £3.45 per week. Hunt projects an average saving of £192 per year for the average self-employed person. Additionally, starting from April 2024, the Class 4 National Insurance on earnings between £12,570 and £50,270 will drop from 9% to 8%, resulting in an average annual saving of £350 for approximately two million self-employed individuals when combined with the removal of the compulsory Class 2 charge.


National Living Wage

Increase In line with the 2023 Tory Party Conference announcement, the Living Wage for individuals aged over 21 will rise from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour, effective from the spring of 2024. This increase translates to an extra £1,800 annually for the average full-time worker.


Pensions

The state pension is set to increase by 8.5% next year, aligning with average earnings and reaching £221 a week from April.


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If you have any concerns or questions about any of the recent Autumn Statement changes and want to speak to someone - an expert is always on hand to help.


Simply get in touch with us by completing the form below to request a callback.

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