Last year, George Osborne took to the micro-blogging site Twitter to announce his Autumn Statement. Sadly, there was no mention of this year’s speech on the Chancellor’s social media account, but we do know it will be on Wednesday December 3rd and if he follows last year, Mr Osborne will be on his feet around noon.
Here at Ellis & Co we will be listening diligently and forming a summary of his statement to share with you so that you can understand how his changes will affect you, your family and your business.
So what can we expect? After all, this is the Chancellor who gave us “the most radical reforms to pensions for a hundred years” and totally re-wrote the rules on Individual Savings Accounts. Despite the limits he has to work with, we can still expect George Osborne to pull at least one rabbit out of the hat.
It might well be another re-writing of the ISA rules – or a new type of ISA – designed to encourage peer-to-peer lending. Start-ups and small businesses are still struggling to find capital from conventional sources. Not surprisingly, there are now an increasing number of sites appearing on the web allowing businesses to ‘crowdfund’ – to raise money from the general public. There are suggestions that the Chancellor may officially recognise this trend and the help it is giving to emerging businesses and take steps to encourage this lending by the general public.
For more established businesses, there are strong suggestions – not least from Business Secretary Vince Cable – that there will be steps taken to hand small businesses rate relief. They should expect something “positive in the pipeline in the Autumn Statement” according to Mr. Cable. This may well be linked with moves to encourage investment in UK high streets, which continue to struggle.
After the pensions changes were announced in the March Budget, Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, glibly announced that the Government, “wouldn’t be bothered” if people used their pension pots to buy a Lamborghini. George Osborne seems inclined to trust the good sense of the British people, but don’t be surprised if there is further tinkering with the pensions rules. Now the dust has settled, there are suggestions that the new rules have created some loopholes which the Chancellor may be keen to close.
He will also continue with his wider crackdown on tax evasion, although as the Daily Telegraph recently commented, digital companies operating in several countries are increasingly needing “international, not local” taxation systems.
Finally, expect the Chancellor to take further steps to address the skills shortage in British industry. In a recent study by the accountants Grant Thornton, 40% of UK businesses identified skills shortages as their biggest problem, with a significant number saying that a reduction in national insurance contributions would make them more likely to take on apprentices. A move in this direction would come as no surprise.
Whatever other surprises the Chancellor comes up with on December 3rd will be covered in our Autumn Statement Bulletin. As last year, we will be preparing this as the Chancellor is speaking and will be working into the evening – so we would expect the Bulletin to be available to you on the following day.