This year’s Autumn Statement was particularly highly anticipated.
It was the first statement (or budget) since the Brexit referendum and the first time that Theresa May’s chancellor, Philip Hammond, made the announcements.
Of course, for small business owners, the politics of it all doesn’t matter – all that counts are the announcements contained in that 64-page document.
Missed the Autumn Statement? Here are the top seven takeaways for UK small businesses.
Business Costs and Subsidies
Although the biggest tax announcements are traditionally seen in the main Budget in March, this year’s Autumn Statement contained a few notable business tax and subsidy changes.
#1 Reduced tax advantages for providing employee perks
Businesses which provide employee benefits through salary sacrifice schemes can expect a bigger national insurance bill. All tax and NI advantages associated with these schemes will be eliminated from April 2017, apart from schemes relating to pensions, childcare, ultra-low emission cars and Cycle to Work.
Salary sacrifice arrangements in place before April 2017 will be protected until April 2018, and arrangements for cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected until April 2021.
#2 Business rates
Small changes to business rates include a doubling of rural rate relief to 100% from the 1st of April. The government has also committed to reducing the business rates burden by £6.7 billion over the next five years.
#3 Increase in UK Export Finance support
UKEF will see its funding capacity double, helping UK exporters reach new markets.
#4 Living wage rise smaller than expected
The chancellor mapped out an increase in the national living wage from £7.20 to £7.50 in April 2017. However, this figure is lower than the expected £7.64.
Infrastructure and Transport
In the build-up to this week’s statement, it was expected that infrastructure would define it. In the end, we only heard a few new announcements.
#5 Fuel duty frozen
Fuel duty will be frozen for another year, saving motorists an average of £130 a year. This move was widely expected, given that fuel duty rises have been cancelled since 2011.
#6 Roads and Rail
An extra £1.1 billion will be invested into England’s transport infrastructure over the course of the parliament.
Hammond confirmed that an ‘expressway’ connecting Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge would be funded at a cost of £27 million.
The government is providing additional funds to accelerate the western section of the East-West Rail link in the same region.
Additionally, the East Midlands railway hub at Toton has been given the go-ahead.
#7 Boost for broadband
£1 billion has been set aside to boost the UK’s ‘digital infrastructure’. This is good news for rural businesses and those currently lacking high-speed broadband connections.
Overall, this year’s Autumn Statement was rather muted. The chancellor painted a rather grim economic picture, but the government hope that investment in infrastructure will keep businesses onside – and keen to expand.
If you’d like to read the full Autumn Statement, you’ll find all the documents over at Gov.uk.