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What’s in the chancellor’s Autumn statement for you and your business?

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Thursday December 1, 2011 at 12:02pm
Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement on Tuesday with a mixed reception. The statement coupled with the latest forecasts for the UK economy from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) although containing few surprises has been generally welcomes by business leaders and most business owners.

Cutting through all the detail the following highlights form the relevant points for businesses:


  • OBR 2011 economic forecast revised down to 0.9% from 1.7%
  • 2012 forecast revised down to 0.7% from 2.5%
  • Economy expected to pick up in 2013, 2014 and 2015, forecast growth at 2.1%, 2.7% and 3%

The revised forecast comes as no real surprise. I guess we all now need to hold our nerve and hope the Euro crisis doesn’t get worse.

Transportation and infrastructure

  • £5bn guaranteed spending over three years on roads and rail
  • Plans to release billions more through pension funds
  • 35 road and rail projects approved in total
  • Fare rises to be capped at one per cent above RPI inflation
  • Early 3p rise in fuel duty scrapped
The proposed investment in infrastructure projects will hopefully benefit the wider construction sector and scrapping of the fuel duty has to help businesses in the transport sector.

Business stimulus

  • Credit easing programme to underwrite up to £40bn in low-interest loans to small and medium-sized firms
  • £1bn business finance partnership to raise money for medium-sized firms
  • Regional Growth regeneration fund to get £1bn in extra funding
  • £250m support package for energy-intensive firms, £500m for science
  • Business rates holiday relief for small firms extended to April 2013
  • New time limits for planning applications
  • £1bn ‘youth contract’ to subsidise six-month work placements for 410,000 young people
  • Qualifying period for unfair dismissal to be increased from one year to two years from April 2012
  • Bank levy to be increased to 0.088 per cent in January
It’s good to see promises of low interest loans to small businesses. In fact any measure that will see more finance available for small businesses has to be welcomed.

The Director General of the CBI seemed to cautiously welcome the announcements when he said “The Government’s dogged commitment to budget deficit reduction remains the only way to maintain the UK’s triple A credit rating and low interest rates on international money markets.” Whilst John Walker of the Federation of Small Businesses was more positive “Taken as a package, the announcements in the Autumn statement address many of the concerns raised by small businesses and are therefore welcomed. The key role for the Government now is to be consistent, and set to the task of translating policy intentions into tangible actions on the ground.”

As always with these statements the devil’s in the detail. We’ll be picking over the fine print to learn more about the real value of the benefits available for our clients.

Andy Parker
Chartered Accountant and Chartered Financial Planner

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