Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced tax breaks and other new measures in today’s Spring Budget statement aimed at creating “the most pro-business, pro-enterprise tax regime anywhere”.
The Government is to introduce a new policy of “full expensing” (FE) which will allow companies to write off investment in certain plant and machinery from their profits before tax.
Eligible costs will include machines such as printers and computers, vehicles such as lorries and vans and office equipment such as chairs and desks.
Coming in on 1 April, it will mean that companies can deduct 100% of the cost from their profits straightaway rather than more slowly over the life of the asset.
Full capital expensing will initially be for the next three years but Hunt said he wanted to make it permanent “as soon as we can responsibly do so”.
He confirmed that corporation tax on profits over £250,000 was still going to rise from 19% to 25% when the current “super-deduction” ends in April but he said he was seeking to limit negative effects to businesses through tax breaks.
An “enhanced credit” has been introduced for small and medium-sized businesses if they spend 40% or more of their total expenditure on research and development. They can claim credit worth £27 for every £100 spent.
The Budget also featured a series of admin changes specifically aimed at simplifying the tax system to make it easier for small businesses.
Planned changes include measures to simplify the customs import and export processes such as improvements to the Simplified Customs Declaration Process.
Businesses will also benefit from an extension of the 5p cut in fuel duty for 12 months at a cost of £6 billion. Fuel duty will also be frozen over the coming year.
Hunt announced that the Government planned to create 12 new investment zones, described as “12 potential Canary Wharfs”, aiming to bring growth to areas which have “traditionally underperformed economically”.
Involving universities or research institutions, they will be given £80 million of support and allowed to retain some local taxes. Regions including the West Midlands, Liverpool, Teesside, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire have been identified as possible locations.
He also promised an extra £400 million for “levelling up partnerships” across England, helping to regenerate areas in need of “levelling up”.
In a small boost to working parents, Hunt said the Government would offer 30 hours of free childcare for every child from the age of nine months to two years.
He also announced incentive payments of £600 for people becoming childminders, rising to £1,200 for those joining through an agency. He also said that funding paid to nurseries would be increased by £204 million from September, rising to £288 million next year.
As part of a package of measures to get people back into work, the Government is to introduce schemes for supporting disabled people and people with mental and physical health challenges.
Focusing on the over-50s, Hunt announced a new apprenticeship, called a “returnership”, which will be geared towards people over 50 who want to return to work in a new sector. “Older people are the most skilled and experienced people,” he added.
However, Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said today’s Spring Budget would leave many small business owners “feeling short-changed”, adding: The distinct lack of new support in core areas proves that small firms are overlooked and undervalued.”
“We’ve got a Budget that on energy helps households but not small firms. On business taxes, it spends £27 billion extra on big businesses, arguing that small businesses are already catered for.
“This will leave to a feeling of being left behind instead of being considered equal partners in economic recovery – trickledown economics here simply does not work.”
Hunt cited the latest data from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) which expects inflation to fall from 10.1% in January to 2.9% by the end of 2023. In line with other forecasts, the OBR also predicts the UK’s GDP will contract by only 0.2% in 2023 instead of the 1.4% predicted in November.
More details on today’s Budget at www.gov.uk/government/publications/spring-budget-2023.