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Autumn Statement 2023 – Backing British Business

Budget Summary

To increase business investment, the government has announced a number of measures which could raise around £20 billion per year from businesses in a decade’s time. The changes include:

  • Full Expensing will be made permanent.
  • The removal of barriers to critical infrastructure by reforming the UK’s inefficient planning system and speeding up electricity grid connection times.
  • A package of pension reform and driving private investment from insurers into infrastructure by legislating for key reforms to Solvency II.
  • Making £4.5 billion available in strategic manufacturing sectors such as auto, aerospace, life sciences and clean energy from 2025 for five years.
  • New Investment Zones.
  • From April 2024, firms bidding for government contracts over £5 million will have to demonstrate that they pay their own invoices within an average of 55 days, tightening to 45 days in April 2025 and then 30 days in future years.
  • Changes to Research and Development.

Business Rates

The small business multiplier will be frozen for another year, while the 75% Retail, Hospitality and Leisure relief will be extended for 2024/25. The standard multiplier will be uprated in line with September’s Consumer Prices Index. These changes will take effect from 1 April 2024 in England.

Freeports and Investment Zones

Both regimes allow businesses in specific locations to benefit from a number of reliefs including Stamp Duty Land Tax relief, enhanced capital allowances, structures and buildings allowances and secondary Class 1 NIC relief for eligible employers.

Both regimes were originally to run for five years but the Chancellor has announced that they will both now run for ten years.

Capital allowances

The new Full Expensing rules for companies allow a 100% write-off on qualifying expenditure on most plant and machinery (excluding cars) as long as it is unused and not second-hand. The rules were originally designed to be effective for expenditure incurred on or after 1 April 2023 but before 1 April 2026. Similar rules apply to integral features and long life assets at a rate of 50%. The government has announced that both allowances will now be made permanent.

The Annual Investment Allowance, which gives a 100% write-off on certain types of plant and machinery, remains at £1 million per 12-month period.

Research and Development (R&D)

The existing Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) and SME schemes will be merged, with expenditure incurred in accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2024 being claimed in the merged scheme. The rate under the merged scheme will be set at the current RDEC rate of 20%. The notional tax rate applied to loss-makers in the merged scheme will be lowered from 25% to 19%.

A number of other changes will apply to the new regime from April 2024, including that R&D claimants will no longer be able to nominate a third-party payee for R&D tax credit payments, subject to limited exceptions. In addition, no new assignments of R&D tax credits will be possible from 22 November 2023, meaning that, in most circumstances, payments of R&D tax reliefs will be paid directly to the company that claims for the R&D.

Comment
Further action may be needed to reduce the unacceptably high levels of non-compliance with the R&D rules and HMRC will be publishing a compliance action plan.

Corporation tax rates

The government has confirmed that the rates of corporation tax will remain unchanged, which means that, from April 2024, the rate will stay at 25% for companies with profits over £250,000. The 19% small profits rate will be payable by companies with profits of £50,000 or less. Companies with profits between £50,001 and £250,000 will pay tax at the main rate reduced by a marginal relief, providing a gradual increase in the effective corporation tax rate.

VAT

The VAT registration and deregistration thresholds will not change for a further period of two years from 1 April 2024, staying at £85,000 and £83,000 respectively.

In addition, the government will extend the scope of the current VAT zero rate relief on women’s sanitary products to include reusable period underwear from 1 January 2024.

Other business measures

A number of other measures have been announced:

  • Making the cash basis of accounting the default position for the self-employed from 2024/25, with an alternative to opt for the accruals basis, together with technical changes to the regime.
  • A number of changes to strengthen the Construction Industry Scheme from April 2024.

November 30, 2023