Autumn Statement sees small business rates relief doubled, fuel duty frozen and stamp duty reformed

Chancellor George Osborne has made several concessions to help business in his Autumn Statement, which have been welcomed by industry bodies including the Garden Industry Manufacturers Association (GIMA).

Osborne has frozen fuel duty, doubled small business rates relief for a year, and increased tax credits for small businesses engaged in research and development.

It has also undertaken a review into the structure of business rates and extended a two per cent cap on them rather than raising them with inflation.

The Treasury has pledged £400m to extend government-backed venture capital funds which invest in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), called Enterprise Capital Funds.

It also said it would guarantee up to £500m of new bank lending to SMEs.

Both schemes will be administered by the British Business Bank.

Additionally stamp duty has been reformed, with cuts for 98 per cent of homebuyers.

The HTA said: "We welcome NI exemption for apprentices which adds greater incentive to get apprentices into the industry along with changes to stamp duty that will make moving house cheaper and should encourage new home owners to spend more on their homes, including their new gardens

"We welcome further reductions in corporation tax and extensions to Entrepreneurs relief and R&D tax credits which all support UK business growth.

"We welcome the rates review announcement and extension of small business rates relief for another year and the roll over for another year of the discount for retailers with properties of less than £50,000 rateable value. HTA, as a member of BRC, have been involved in debate for reform because the existing system is no longer fit for purpose."

GIMA director Vicky Nuttall said: "The new stamp duty changes should encourage more movement in the housing market, which in turn should create more demand in the home and garden product markets.  A buoyant UK housing market tends to result in increased consumer confidence.  This coupled with the upwardly revised UK growth forecasts should help to encourage consumer spending in 2015.

"Fuel and haulage rates continue to be a major problem for manufacturers and suppliers. The freeze on fuel duty will go some way to help our members battle this ever increasing overhead.

"Smaller members will be delighted that the government has continued to pledge funds to support & guarantee lending to SME's via banks and venture capital funding.  We tend to forget that although there are a number of dominant brands and suppliers in our industry, there are also a huge number of smaller suppliers trying to stake their claim in the garden industry.

"In the longer term, the proposed review of the business rates system should go some way to support the traditional bricks and mortar retail channels in their fight against on-line retailers.  Anything that helps support our member's retail customers businesses should be good for our members too, as long as they choose to re-invest in the gardening category.

"However, we still need the sun the shine to allow any of our members to take advantage of any of the above."

Osborne said: "Now that credit conditions for households and large businesses have improved, it is right that we focus the scheme's firepower on small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our economy."

Osborne also promised help for businesses who were creating skilled jobs through apprenticeships, especially young apprentices under the age of 25.

At the moment, businesses who employ apprentices are charged National Insurance. That wiill now be abolished.

The British Retail Consortium welcomed the business rates reforms.

On planning, the Government also intends to explore whether more can be done "to support the approval of small sites in the planning system", which could mean unlock more development.

 

NFU director of policy Andrew Clark said: "The freezing of fuel duty for a further year, exempting apprenticeships from national insurance, and a further extension to small business rate relief all have the potential to help farmers. However it is disappointing that the changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax relate to residential property only.

 

"The Chancellor again suggested a need for a more balanced national economy but confined this to building a northern powerhouse in northern cities. We think there is a need to encourage business investment and growth in productive capacity throughout the whole of the UK. It is disappointing that no mention was made of the annual investment allowance or encouraging investment in business infrastructure or managing business volatility – some of the NFU’s key asks in our submission.

 

"Although news of tax relief for business contributions to flood defences is welcome, it is disappointing that flood-related announcements all relate to pre-planned capital expenditure and do not address our concerns over maintenance investment.

 

"We will study all relevant announcements in greater depth, including the government departmental spending reductions and assess the full impact of the Chancellor’s plans for agriculture."


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