Tax & admin · 22 November 2017

Small business leaders reveal their last-minute Autumn Budget hopes

The Autumn Budget 2017 will be announced on 22 November at 12.30pm
The Autumn Budget 2017 will be announced on 22 November at 12.30pm

As the final countdown to today’s Autumn Budget speech begins, small business leaders have told us what measures they’d most like to see the chancellor, Philip Hammond, announce at 12.30pm.

Business owners and leaders from across the country have shared their Budget hopes and predictions, with everything from apprenticeships to tax breaks on the agenda.

Business rates

Jo Sellick, managing director at recruitment business Sellick Partnership

“I would support a business rates reduction. Rather than just tweaking rates to please employers in the short-term, the chancellor needs to go further and reform the whole system in the long-term.”

Peter Tuvey, co-founder at fintech platform Fleximize

“It’s clear that sky-high business rates are one of the biggest impediments to their growth. Many companies are yet to feel the benefit of the relief package announced in March, due to fundamental flaws in the way it’s being delivered.

“If the government ploughs ahead and increases rates by four per cent next year, it could be the final nail in the coffin for small businesses.”

Jude Whitford, managing director at mail marketing solutions provider Pepper

“There are also calls for future rate rises to be linked to the consumer price index (CPI) rather than the retail price index (RPI), which has been discredited by many as a flawed measurement of rising prices.

“But, if this does go ahead – and it’d be great if it does – how will the chancellor compensate for that loss in extra revenue?”

Employer’s allowance

Dave Chaplin, chief executive at online platform the ContractorCalculator

“Currently, the Employment Allowance offers a £3,000 a year tax relief to employers paying Class 1 national insurance. I would like to see a gradual increase, year-on-year, to the Employment Allowance, until it gets to £10,000.

“This will enable businesses to expand and hire their first two employees without incurring the prohibitive payroll tax which other companies avoid by unethically forcing would-be-employees into false self-employment.”

Tax-free dividend allowance/ venture capital trusts

Jude Whitford

“A reduction in the tax-free dividend allowance seems unlikely after the limit was already reduced from £5,000 to £2,000, but some say it’d offer the Government a ‘quick win’.

“What’s more likely is a change in the 30 per cent tax break offered venture capital trusts, which have been the subject of Government rule changes for a number of years now.

“It’s always a tricky balance for the chancellor to strike, but surely the last thing he’d want right now is for there to be a knock-on effect on startups and startup growth, at a time when it’s never been more to show that our economy can thrive independent of the EU.”

VAT

Tom Purvis, economic advisor to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE)

Lowering the threshold for VAT registration would be a disaster for self-employed people. It would be seen as just another cash grab – part of a sustained attack on the self-employed.

“It would follow harmful changes to IR35 in the public sector, the introduction of dividend taxes and, most recently, the delay to scrapping Class 2 NICs. At a time when the UK flexible labour market is one of our biggest competitive advantages, we should be looking to promote self-employment, not stifle it.

“In the short-term, lowering the VAT threshold would lead to serious cash flow problems for many self-employed people. They would quickly be faced with the stark choice of either raising their prices or absorbing the cost themselves.

“In the long-term, it could actually discourage businesses from expanding over the threshold. Having a low threshold is also likely to create much more paperwork and administration for people at the lower end of the earnings scale.”

Apprenticeships

Mark Garius, managing director of training provider ASL Group 

“I’d like to see Mr. Hammond announce measures that will result in more support for apprenticeships – both financially, and by directing businesses and young people towards them.

“More needs to be done to show young people that they have options after school beyond going to university, or straight into the world of work. Also, businesses will benefit from bringing in bright youngsters and training them up from the beginning.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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