Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire businesses speak out on Autumn Statement

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The Autumn Statement has had mixed reviews from all industries as to whether it was putting the UK into a holding pattern or helping the country grow economically.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond delivered his first Autumn Statement on November 23, which committed to Corporation Tax falling to 17% by 2020 and investments in transport.

The ban on tenant fees has caused much to debate within the lettings industry, whilst £23 billion has been allocated to a new National Productivity Investment Fund, as well as £2.3 billion for a new Housing Infrastructure Fund.

Small businesses will also need to deal with the rise of the National Living Wage from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour, in addition to the increased National Minimum Wage.

Here are the thoughts of Lincolnshire businesses:

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Chris Connor, Corporate Tax Partner for Streets Chartered Accountants

Chris Connor, Corporate Tax Partner for Streets Chartered Accountants, said: “The Autumn Statement was as interesting for what it did not include as for what it did.

“Despite a lot of commentary in the press over recent days about getting ‘match fit’ for Brexit and needing to invest in innovation, there were no additional incentives announced around Research and Development Tax Credits and Patent Box.

“Also there was some hope amongst residential landlords that the Chancellor may take the opportunity to water down some of the punitive measures recently announced regarding the restriction of interest relief on property related borrowings to 20%, which is beginning to be phased in next April, and the 3% levy on Stamp Duty land Tax for purchasers of second residential properties and company purchasers of residential property.

“Sadly there was no announcement here which means that landlords still need to consider how they are going to manage and plan for this change, particularly if they are highly geared.”

Ruth Carver from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

Ruth Carver from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

Ruth Carver, Director of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I recognise the challenges the Chancellor faces, but if we are to have a country that works for everyone then investment and financial measures must reach every place and every part.

“A number of measures, such as 100% rate relief for small rural businesses and the raising of personal allowances to £11,500, will specifically help people and businesses in Greater Lincolnshire.

“I’m also hopeful that the multi-million pound investment in roads and digital infrastructure will be of benefit locally. Good roads are vital to a business’s ability to move its goods – and staff – while fast broadband is equally important to our growing number of digital businesses.

“As Director of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP I am very pleased to see that the role of the LEP is now fully incorporated in the government’s economic planning and that further funding for the Midlands and East of England LEPs has been announced.”

Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive at the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The surprise announcement that the Autumn Statement is being abolished and will be replaced with a single fiscal statement is good news for many of our members.

“It will enable businesses to focus more efficiently on their operations as opposed to making frequent changes to the tax system.

“With plans to double UK Export Finance Capacity and new access to £1 billion for growing firms, I’m sure a lot of small and start-up firms in the county will be happy to hear that opportunities for growth and development are possible during a period of change and uncertainty.

“Whilst we also know that £23 billion has been allocated to spend on innovation and infrastructure over the next five years, we are eager to find out how much funding the county of Lincolnshire will receive, in order to plan how this will be utilised amongst the sectors.”

David Newton, Managing Director of Chestnut Homes

David Newton, Managing Director of Chestnut Homes

David Newton, Managing Director of Langworth-based Chestnut Homes, said: “We are pleased to hear of the new measures announced yesterday to support housebuilding across the country.

“We all know we need more new homes to help meet levels of demand, and as a developer we are doing our part for Lincolnshire by building and selling more homes than we ever have in our last financial year.

“With initiatives like those announced yesterday giving a kick-start to building, and the Help to Buy equity loan scheme continuing to give a boost to buyers, it is encouraging to see action being taken at the highest level to keep the housing market buoyant and housing supply rising.”

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Michael Cope, Director at Duncan & Toplis

Michael Cope, Director at Duncan & Toplis, said: “While we have not seen an end to austerity this statement provides some relaxation in favour of flexibility to deal with the uncertainties of Brexit.

“While recent growth and employment figures have been encouraging, public borrowing is proving difficult to reduce and is likely to peek at over 90% of GDP in 2017/18. Spending and taxing plans inherited by the new administration were largely confirmed.

“The Chancellor highlighted the country’s productivity failings and has directed investment towards infrastructure, research and housing to address both this and provide a boost to economic activity.

“The trend for more people to become self-employed or work through a company was recognised as contributing to a reduction in tax collected and we could well see further announcements to counter this. Headline tax increases included a crackdown on salary sacrifice and insurance premium tax increasing from 10% to 12% from June.

“Amongst the measures likely to prove more popular were a freeze in fuel duty, a reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate and confirmation the state pension ‘triple lock’ would be maintained for this Parliament.”