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John Grainger

BECBC considered thoughts on the Autumn Statement by John Grainger

So after the Autumn Statement from the Chancellor, the dust has settled and we now can decide what impact it has had at both a personal and for BECBC members at a more corporate level.

On the personal level the judgment always has to be "Does this leave me with any more money at the end of the week or month?" Well the Chancellor reduced NIC contributions ( effectively a tax) by 2% so that has a benefit across the workforce. However not moving the threshold at which you start paying income tax, has meant that those who have received pay rises at the lowest level are likely to come into the income tax brackets, and this is the same for those going into the higher threshold of paying tax at the higher rate. This comes into the technical scope of "fiscal drag". The increase in statutory minimum wage is to be applauded, but that does have an impact on the costs of particularly the hospitality sector which has been struggling in recent years. There will clearly be another budget in the Spring, before the next General election and this will for certain be more of a tax giveaway budget with thresholds being raised, personal and corporation tax likely to be reduced as well as issues that affect individuals such as inheritance tax and stamp duty. So from an individual perspective a bit of " jam tomorrow".

But what did this "budget" mean for business? Well, full expensing for capital expenditure has been made permanent- a good move although the relief available is already in place up to £1 million. The merging of R&D schemes is to stop misuse but will be restrictive for smaller companies. Advisers in the sector will help guide you through this scheme.

One of the opportunities for some of the larger firms in our membership is the making permanent the full expensing opportunity that offers firms stability when making capital investment. BECBC has a number of growing and innovative companies that will take advantage of this scheme. This is also a boost for Foreign Direct Investment as it keeps the U.K. at the top of the tree in offering investment incentives. The announcement of a concierge service to handle inward investment enquiries will allow BECBC to work more closely with Cumberland Council, Chamber of Commerce and Cumbria LEP in maximising those opportunities to invest locally, and ensure that we can keep pace with the directly elected Mayoralty areas and the larger metropolitan competitors for investment. We have experience and expertise in landing such investment.

Planning reforms are not usually a component of a fiscal statement but there is encouragement for those investing in a low carbon future and a speedier connection to the grid. The Chancellor promised to "build domestic sustainable energy" and Small Modular Reactors are part of that although the actual monetary support was vague within a £960M package of measures and the timetable hinted at was 2025-30. We are still behind the rest of the world on green investment. Planning issues for wind farms onshore still need to be loosened and no Offshore wind schemes entered the last auction, although with improved contract for difference, then that may soon change. COP 28 is an opportunity for U.K. Government to represent their credentials.

Finally the " pot for life" is really good news for individuals changing jobs over the duration of their working life. This will consolidate your pensions in one place - something by the way you can do already! A central clearing house will be needed to unlock the estimated £27 billion sitting in lost pension pots, something that you may consider if you have had multiple positions across a variety of employers.

So a little bit of cheer at an individual and SME level but expect much better tax handouts in April as we get closer to the next election.

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