The future policies for the UK economy, which will be announced in the second budget of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, could be one of the most difficult to predict for a long time.
This follows on from an Autumn Statement in November 2022 which came at a time when inflation was increasing quickly and the stock and currency markets had seen some extreme falls.
The messages from the new Chancellor at that time included various tax increases and a cut in public spending aimed at plugging a fiscal gap in the UK’s budget of £55bn.
However, with inflationary concerns easing slightly since then, the cost of energy and transport starting to reduce and an economic position where the recession isn’t thought to be as severe, does the Chancellor now have more options? Will he find some slightly more positive messages to share with businesses and the wider population?
When is the Spring Budget 2023?
The Spring Budget is due to be announced in the House of Commons on Wednesday 15th March 2023 and traditionally is straight after the weekly Prime Minister Questions session, so the Chancellor should ‘stand up’ to begin delivering his speech around 12.30pm.
It will be shown live on various TV channels including BBC and Sky News and in recent times has also been live streamed on the Government’s social media channels such as @HMTreasury.
The Spring Budget doesn’t usually include many tax changes as it is so close to the start of the new tax year, but this event may be different.
What should businesses look out for in the budget?
In January, the Prime Minister set out his five priorities for 2023:
- Halving inflation
- Grow the economy
- Reduce the national debt
- Decrease NHS waiting lists
- Stop the small boats entering the UK illegally
The Chancellor followed that with a speech which set out his four pillars, the 4 ‘E’s: Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere which he intends to capture the national potential for the UK to be “one of Europe’s most exciting, most innovative and most prosperous economies”.
What has UK industry asked for?
Various bodies have again made their pleas to the Chancellor, setting out their wish list for his policies.
CBI has focused on how we can increase employees in the workplace by improving childcare vouchers and improving apprenticeships; extending the super-deduction capital allowance and encouraging energy resilience.
FSB say it wants to see a ‘see a strong agenda for growth’. Clearly a recurring theme amongst employers of all sizes, it has also suggested numerous measures which it thinks will boost the UK’s labour market. It’s requested schemes to increase energy efficiency, increase the threshold at which property rates become payable and reinvigorate innovation by delaying the planned R&D changes
MakeUK the organisation representing 20,000 manufacturers in the UK, has an aim to grow the sector from 10% of UK GDP to 15%, which it says will add an extra £142bn to the UK economy. In order to do this, it has requested measures to drive energy efficiency, tackle labour shortage, open up international trade (including resolving the Northern Ireland protocol), stimulate R&D, reduce tax and build more homes.
Enterprise Nation has suggested policies around the Chancellor’s Four ‘E’s including ways to encourage exports, restarting paused initiatives including publishing the government's entrepreneurship strategy and continuing others such as the Help to Grow scheme.
It is rare to see all realms of industry request such similar policies, which demonstrates how crucial these areas are to business across the country and of all sizes.
Other measures to watch out for which may affect small business.
- It is unlikely that the planned Corporation Tax increase will be cancelled, so rates on profits will increase from 19% to 25% from April 2023.
- Income tax, national insurance and VAT are also likely to remain at current levels, although some sectors may benefit from a temporary VAT reduction and the Employment Allowance for national insurance may be increased in line with the National Living Wage.
- Capital allowances will be a focus for many businesses, especially around the Annual Investment Allowance or the even more generous Super-Deduction.
- At the Autumn Statement in 2022, the Chancellor announced some changes to property rates including freezing the multiplier, reforming Transitional Relief and increasing support to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
- At this budget, there is a call for the threshold to be increased from its current rateable value of £15,000 so that all business sectors would benefit
- The previously announced 5p increase has been cancelled for several years running and it is expected to be cancelled again
- This will cost £6bn in lost income to Treasury
Capital taxes such as Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax
- These haven’t been touched for several years despite there being various consultations launched by the Government
- Business Asset Disposal Relief (formerly known as Entrepreneurs’ Relief) was cut quite severely in March 2020 and the lifetime limit of gains was reduced from £10 million to £1 million. This affects those founders who sell their business and there have been calls for this to be increased again to encourage self-employment.
Investment taxes such as EIS/SEIS and Dividend Tax
- Improvements to the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme was announced in the brief Kwasi Kwarteng tenure, but was one of the few policies which was not reversed by Jeremy Hunt so it’s unlikely that policymakers will change this now
- The end date for EIS, known as the Sunset Clause has also been extended beyond 2025 so this appears stable
- Dividend Tax was reduced at the November Autumn Statement and this was considered a tough move for founders, so there may be some change announced in this area
How can I get my business ready?
No matter what the Chancellor announces on the day, one thing will always remain true. A business which is financially healthy will be able to withstand any shocks and maintain resilience.
You can easily understand your own business’ financial health by checking your business credit score and seeing what data other companies judge you on.
The sooner you begin to track your own score and also those of your customers and suppliers, the more likely you are to be in the highest band.
Once you can achieve a high credit score for your company, you can obtain the best prices and payment terms from your suppliers and, should you choose to approach lenders for facilities, you will be offered the best interest rates available in the market.
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