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Autumn Statement 2016Back

AutumnStatement8Chancellor Philip Hammond, confirmed that he would not balance the books by the end of the Parliament, previously promised by his predecessor George Osborne. Instead, in preparation for economic uncertainty and a period of adjustment following the UK’s referendum result and Brexit, Hammond has outlined three new rules as part of his fiscal framework:

  1. To balance the books “as early as possible” in the next Parliament and cut the deficit to less than 2% by 2020,
  2. Net debt as a share of GDP should be falling by the end of the Parliament,
  3. Welfare spending must be within a “realistic” cap.

An overarching theme to the Chancellor’s statement, was his desire for flexibility. Foreshadowing turbulent and uncertain economic times, it is clear that the Chancellor wants room for manoeuvre on policies and spending.

Hammond also came through on rumours that he would abolish the Autumn Statement. He commented:

Mr Speaker I am abolishing the Autumn Statement.

“No other major economy makes hundreds of tax changes twice a year, and neither should we.

“So the spring Budget in a few months will be the final spring Budget.

“Starting in autumn 2017, Britain will have an autumn Budget, announcing tax changes well in advance of the start of the tax year.”

However, this does not necessarily mean that there will be no oral or written second statement in the future. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is required to provide bi-annual statements. As such, “from 2018 there will be a Spring Statement, responding to the forecast from the OBR, but no major fiscal event.”

The Chancellor’s aim is to allow for better scrutiny over Budget policy.


Announcement highlights

  • Government borrowing reduced by nearly two-thirds (2010 – present),

 

  • Government has set new fiscal targets which aim for 2% underlying deficit and debt falling by 2020 to ensure there is flexibility for investment in areas like roads.

 

  • Fuel duty to remain frozen for seventh year, saving car drivers on average £130 and van drivers £300 annually.

 

  • Commitment to cutting corporation tax to 17% by 2020, making the UK the lowest in the G20.

 

  • Raise the Personal Allowance to £12,500 and the Higher Rate Threshold to £50,000 by 2020-21.

 

  • Rural rate relief will increase from 50 to 100% in April 2017, saving a business up to £2900 a year.

 

  • The National Living Wage for those aged 25 and over will increase from £7.20 per hour to £7.50 per hour.

 

  • £2.3 billion for a new Housing Infrastructure Fund, to be used on areas such as roads.

 

  • £390 million investment in future transport technology, including driverless cars, renewable fuels and energy efficient transport.

 

  • Insurance Premium Tax will increase by 2% from 1 June 2017.

 

  • More money for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

 

  • Tax:
    • Removing the tax benefits of disguised earnings for self-employed and employers
    • Shutting down inappropriate use of the VAT flat rate scheme put in place to help SMEs
    • Abolishing the tax advantages linked to Employee Shareholder Status
    • Government will be consulting on reducing the differences between the treatment of cash earnings and benefits.

 

UK Economy

The UK is forecast to be the fastest growing country in the G7 in 2016 and economic activity grew 2.3% in the year to Q3 2016. The employment rate is at a record high of 74.5%, and between 2009-10 and 2015-16 the deficit was reduced by almost two-thirds from 10.1% to 4.0% of GDP.

The UK is likely to face a period of uncertainty, followed by adjustment. Reflecting this, the OBR forecasts that:

  • GDP growth will slow to 1.4% in 2017, and then recover to 1.7% in 2018, 2.1% in both 2019 and 2020, and 2.0% in 2021.

 

  • The OBR expects lower business investment and household spending to weigh on GDP in the near term.

 

  • Lower business investment is expected to exacerbate the long-standing weakness in UK productivity.

 

  • The OBR highlights that there is a higher than usual degree of uncertainty in these forecasts.

 

Pricing

A comment on pricing is made in the full Autumn Statement document. Consumer price growth has slowed in recent years, with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation falling from a peak of 5.2% in September 2011. Falling fuel and food prices through 2014 and 2015 contributed to unusually low inflation, with CPI inflation averaging 0.0% in 2015, supporting real income growth and household spending. Inflation has risen in recent months, as fuel prices have started to increase internationally, and reached 1.0% in September 2016 before falling back to 0.9% in October. The post-referendum sterling depreciation has amplified the effect of global oil price rises, increasing the contribution of the energy and transport components to CPI inflation.

The weaker exchange rate has a material effect on the OBR’s forecast for consumer prices. The depreciation is expected to put upward pressure on inflation, coupled in the short term with higher fuel prices and the drag from past falls in fuel and food prices falling out of the annual comparison. The OBR forecasts CPI inflation of 2.3% in 2017, 2.5% in 2018, 2.1% in 2019 and 2.0% in 2020 and 2021.

 

Labour market

The employment rate has been rising since 2010 and stood at a record high of 74.5% in the three months to September 2016. The number of people in employment has also reached its highest ever level in recent months, and there are now over 2.7 million more people in work than in Q1 2010. Over the same period, average hours worked have increased 1.6% to 32.1 hours per week, with full-time workers accounting for 72% of employment growth. The unemployment rate was 4.8% in the three months to September 2016, its lowest in 11 years

 

Global economy

The global economy remains subdued, posing continued challenges for the UK economy. Global growth was 3.2% in 2015, the slowest pace since the financial crisis, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that global growth will remain modest, at 3.1% in 2016 and 3.4% in 2017. Advanced economies grew 2.1% in 2015, while emerging economies grew 4.0%, the fifth consecutive year of slowing emerging economy growth. China’s growth has slowed, as policymakers seek to move to a more sustainable growth path, but, like in India, growth remains well above the global average.
Details:

National Living Wage breakdown

The National Living Wage for those aged 25 and over will increase from £7.20 per hour to £7.50 per hour.

The National Minimum Wage will also increase:

  • for 21 to 24 year olds – from £6.95 per hour to £7.05
  • for 18 to 20 year olds – from £5.55 per hour to £5.60
  • for 16 to 17 year olds – from £4.00 per hour to £4.05
  • for apprentices – from £3.40 per hour to £3.50

£4.3 million will be spent on:

  • helping small businesses to understand the rules
  • cracking down on employers who are breaking the law by not paying the minimum wage

 

Investment in future transport technology and transport infrastructure

The National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) will invest £390 million to future transport technology, including driverless cars, renewable fuels and energy efficient transport. This will be introduced by 2020-21 supporting ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), renewable fuels, and connected and autonomous vehicles.

Breakdown:

  • £80 million for ULEV charging infrastructure,
  • £150 million in support for low emission buses and taxis,
  • £20 million for the development of alternative aviation and heavy goods vehicle fuels,
  • £100 million for new UK connected car and autonomous vehicle testing infrastructure.
  • from today to the end of March 2019 the government will also offer 100% first-year allowances to companies investing in charge-points for electric vehicles. This allows companies to deduct the cost of the charge-point from their pre-tax profits in that year‎.

There will also be £1.1 billion to reduce congestion and upgrade local roads and public transport by 2020-21:

  • £220 million to tackle road safety and congestion on Highways England roads

 

Rural rate relief detail

Rural rate relief will increase from 50 to 100% in April 2017, saving a business up to £2900 a year. This business rate relief is available to businesses in rural areas with a population under 3,000, where that business is:

  • the only village shop or post office with a rateable value of up to £8,500, or
  • the only public house or petrol station with a rateable value of up to £12,500

 

Competition and consumers: whiplash reform and consumer insurance market

Whiplash reform: The Ministry of Justice is consulting on proposals which will reduce the unacceptably high number of whiplash claims and allow insurers to cut premiums. The government will bring forward supporting legislation in the Justice Bill and expects insurers to pass on savings which average around £40 for drivers in England and Wales, worth a total of £1 billion.

Consumer insurance market: New FCA rules on consumer insurance policy renewals, being introduced in April 2017, aim to encourage consumers to shop around instead of renewing their policy automatically. The FCA will monitor the effect of the rules and the government will ask the FCA to consider further intervention if necessary


Additional business and infrastructure policies

During the Autumn Statement speech, the Chancellor stated:

“Mr Speaker,

“In return for our competitive rates, the tax base must be sustainable.

“From April 2017 we will align the employee and employer National Insurance thresholds at £157 per week.

“There will be no cost to employees, and the maximum cost to business will be an annual £7.18 per employee.

National Insurance threshold: As recommended by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), the National Insurance secondary (employer) threshold and the National Insurance primary (employee) threshold will be aligned from April 2017, meaning that both employees and employers will start paying National Insurance on weekly earnings above £157. Government has stated that this will simplify the payment of National Insurance for employers.

Class 2 NICs: as announced at Budget 2016, Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2018, simplifying National Insurance for the self-employed. The Autumn Statement confirms that, following the abolition of Class 2 NICs, self-employed contributory benefit entitlement will be accessed through Class 3 and Class 4 NICs. All self-employed women will continue to be able to access the standard rate of Maternity Allowance. Self-employed people with profits below the Small Profits Limit will be able to access Contributory Employment and Support Allowance through Class 3 NICs. There will be provision to support self-employed individuals with low profits during the transition.

Salary sacrifice:  following consultation, the tax and employer National Insurance advantages of salary sacrifice schemes will be removed from April 2017, except for arrangements relating to pensions (including advice), childcare, Cycle to Work and ultralow emission cars.

This will mean that employees swapping salary for benefits will pay the same tax as the vast majority of individuals who buy them out of their post-tax income. Arrangements in place before April 2017 will be protected until April 2018, and arrangements for cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected until April 2021.

Valuation of benefits in kind: the government will consider how benefits in kind are valued for tax purposes, publishing a consultation on employer-provided living accommodation and a call for evidence on the valuation of all other benefits in kind at Budget 2017.

Employee business expenses: the government will publish a call for evidence at Budget 2017 on the use of the income tax relief for employees’ business expenses, including those that are not reimbursed by their employer.
Key points:

  • Funding will be provided to implement the Charlie Mayfield business-led initiative to boost management skills.

 

  • Government will introduce rules that limit the tax deductions that large groups can claim for their UK interest expenses from April 2017. These rules will limit deductions where a group has net interest expenses of more than £2 million, net interest expenses exceed 30% of UK taxable earnings and the group’s net interest to earnings ratio in the UK exceeds that of the worldwide group.
  • Disguised earnings tax benefit for employees will be removed– raising £630m over the forecast period.
  • Creation of a National Productivity Investment Fund of £23bn to address productivity through infrastructure and innovation over the next five years.

 

  • A 100 per cent first year capital allowance for the installation of electric vehicle charging.

 

  • The adult skills budget will be devolved to London.

 

  • To remove the inconsistency between rural rate relief and small business rate relief the government will double rural rate relief to 100% from 1 April 2017.

 

Company Car Tax (CCT) bands and rates for 2020-21 – To provide stronger incentives for the purchase of ULEVs, new, lower bands will be introduced for the lowest emitting cars. The appropriate percentage for cars emitting greater than 90g CO2 /km will rise by 1 percentage point.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 25/11/2016