What does the Autumn Statement mean for small businesses?

Thu, 26 Nov 2015 | BUSINESS NEWS

George Osborne has delivered his Autumn Statement, with apprenticeships, enterprise zones and business rates among the points that will interest the UK's small businesses.

Announced on Wednesday (25 November), the Chancellor's Spending Review and Autumn Statement laid out the Government's financial plans for the next five years. And while a surprise U-turn on tax credit cuts for low-income families, the Statement included far-reaching announcements, many of which will impact on British businesses.

The first point raised was that the Government is to create new enterprise zones, which will take the total to 26. It will also extend many of the existing hubs. These enterprise zones give small firms the chance to pay less tax and receive business support, both of which will help boost growth.

Government data shows that since launching in April 2012, Enterprise Zones have helped to support 540 businesses, attracting over £2.2 billion pounds of private sector investment and helping to create 19,000 jobs. The extension of these zones will therefore come as welcome news to businesses.

Elsewhere the Chancellor announced an extension to the Small Business Rate Relief scheme, which helps the nation's smallest firms to pay less tax on their premises. The introduction of digital tax returns will also make it quicker and easier for small businesses to file their taxes.

Small businesses will also be grateful to hear that there was no substance to rumours that the popular Entrepreneurs Relief was going to be scrapped. The scheme, which allows business owners to apply for tax relief on a lifetime allowance of up to £10 million, is to stay, for now.

The Chancellor announced that an apprenticeship levy will come into effect in April 2017, at a rate of 0.5 per cent of an employer’s pay bill. There will be a £15,000 allowance, so 98 per cent of employers will pay no levy.

John Allan, national chair for the Federation of Small Businesses, was positive about the Autumn Statement. He said: "Osborne has managed to fund areas that drive productivity and long-term economic growth, such as skills and our science and innovation base.

"He has also committed to funding critical infrastructure projects which are key to successfully rebalancing growth across the country. And importantly, small firms will be relieved by the extension of small business rates relief for another year, pending the full reform due in 2017."


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