There was much anticipation ahead of the Chancellor’s latest Autumn Statement, especially following the big announcements made during his three previous announcements to Parliament.
However, it soon became clear that George Osborne’s focus was on the economy and public finances. He said "economic and national security" was at the heart of his Autumn Statement and that he wanted to create “an economic recovery for all, in all parts of the country."
During his speech the Chancellor announced that the Government would double the housing budget to £2 billion a year, which will fund the creation of an additional 400,000 homes in England.
This measure will provide a significant boost to the construction industry and the suppliers that support it.
Mr Osborne also announced that 98 per cent of businesses would not have to contribute to the apprenticeship levy, following the introduction of a £15,000 allowance. The levy will see some businesses pay 0.5 per cent of their payroll budget to support future apprentices in the UK.
In his speech to the Commons he reaffirmed the creation of 26 new or extended enterprise zones and said that plans to devolve business rates powers to local councils would go ahead.
Harvey Owen, Managing Partner at Nicklin LLP, said: “The Chancellor’s latest Statement has been pretty quiet compared to the last few that he has delivered and may have surprised many small businesses.
“While there may not be any big moves to support SMEs, the fact that the Chancellor has decided not to make big changes to tax or regulations should be welcomed.
“Knowing that the next six to seven months will hold fewer surprises will allow business to plan, invest and grow more easily, without the fear of a sudden change to their operations.”
However, Harvey points out that the Statement did contain some significant changes, especially for those looking to invest in the property market.
“The introduction of an additional 3 per cent surcharge on stamp duty for individual’s looking to purchase buy-to-let properties or second homes will be a big disappointment for those seeking to make a strong return on their hard earned money and may shelve many people’s long-term plans,” said Harvey.
Individuals should consult a professional if this measure affects their future retirement or investment plans, added Harvey.
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