Business groups begin rolling the pitch for Autumn Statement

  • Person icon Tim Evershed
  • Calendar icon 21 September 2023 11:36
Big Ben with London Red Bus in foreground.

This year’s Autumn Statement will not be delivered until 22 November but the UK’s business groups have already begun rolling the pitch with their agendas for the Chancellor. The early proposals for policy changes range from measures to tackle skills shortages, incentives for the net zero transition and further relief for business rates.


Five key changes

As preparations begin for the Autumn Statement, the Institute of Directors (IoD) has written to the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt with five key policy recommendations.

  • Tax credits for companies that train staff to meet national skill shortages.
  • Stronger incentives for SME net zero transition – such as a differential corporation tax rate.
  • Permanent 100% capital expensing.
  • An export target based on volumes, not values, and the proportion of companies that export.
  • Greater reputational pressure on slow invoice payers.


Raising productivity

In the letter, IoD Director General Jonathan Geldart, states:

There has long been a debate around the need to raise productivity in the “long tail of British industry”. There is therefore much to be gained by thinking of interventions that shape the broader economy rather than focusing exclusively on segments that are already market-leading, important though those are.

We understand the desire on the part of government to work with strategically important “priority” sectors, but to do so exclusively misses a broad swathe of economic activity. Over half of our members do not identify as being in one of the government’s five current “priority” sectors, yet their activities are no less significant to our national prosperity.

Regardless of size or sector, 88% of our members want to see an industrial strategy that defines long-term objective for business in terms of priorities and policies.


Extending rate relief

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for the Chancellor to extend the 75 per cent business rates relief discount for retail, hospitality and leisure firms

The FSB is calling for the relief to continue beyond the April cut off in England. It says this would throw a lifeline to thousands of small firms that are vulnerable to increasing costs.

Alongside extending targeted relief, the FSB is calling for an increase in the threshold for Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) from £12,000 to at least £25,000, removing more than 250,000 small businesses from the rates system.

It also says that the Non-Domestic Rating Bill – which is currently going through Parliament - should be more ambitious, making it easier and more attractive for businesses to invest and improve by extending or upgrading their property.

Current proposals within the Bill will ensure businesses in England making qualifying building improvements will not face higher business rates bills for 12 months. The FSB believes this Improvement Relief should be extended to three years.



Support measures

The FSB is also calling for a halt in base rate hikes as inflation slows to 6.7% - although this is in the hands of the Bank of England rather than the Chancellor.

Finally, it wants Mr Hunt to announce small business support measures in the Autumn Statement

Martin McTague, National Chair of the FSB, says:

The government should commit to measures to help small firms in the Autumn Statement – they are the ones who will put economic growth back on an upward path, if given the right conditions.

Decisive action to end late payments once and for all is a necessary step. Allowing large corporates to force their small suppliers to offer them free credit is scandalous and must become unacceptable in the eyes of regulators and the law.

We also want to see an overhaul of business rates, and an extension of the current discount for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses beyond next April. Raising the VAT threshold to £100,000 would be another way to unleash the potential of many small businesses, helping to stimulate the economy.

This Autumn

Whatever happens this Autumn, Mercia’s tax experts will be watching and will provide detailed analysis of the government’s fiscal announcements. Keep your clients up to date with our range of digital products.

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