If this year’s Autumn budget caught you by surprise, then we can help. Here we take a look at some of the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond’s key announcements and explain a bit more about how they will affect you as a business owner.
There are some key themes in there that the Chancellor looked to address – from cushioning the British economy from any negative effects of the looming Brexit deal (in whatever form that takes) through to how the UK Government plans to support innovative businesses, particularly in the tech industry. So, here is our overview of the Autumn Budget, and a few thoughts on what it will mean for you as a business owner.
- Preparing for Brexit
Clearly the negotiations for any Brexit deal are still underway, and it is anyone’s guess how the final agreement (if there is one at all) will play out. However, the UK Chancellor has already tried to lay the groundwork for what will inevitably be an uncertain and potentially rocky time for Britain’s economy, as it transitions out of the European Union.
To smooth over the move, Mr Hammond announced that the Government will be setting aside an extra £3 billion to ensure that any negative impact is minimised. The cash is earmarked to help with the new border and immigration systems, and with developing new trade relationships. The plan is that the funding is made available in two tranches – in 2018‑19 and 2019‑20.
For business owners, this has to be encouraging news, as it suggests that the UK Government is keen to minimise the amount of disruption to the way we all trade. The funding obviously has implications for those who trade with the EU, but also, it’s encouraging to hear that the Government is keen to invest in getting the immigration system right – a big concern for those of you who employ our valuable foreign workers.
- The National Living Wage
Great news for workers who are currently on the minimum wage – the hourly rate paid to over-25-year-olds will rise next year by 4.7%, meaning that full-time workers on basic pay could be better off by as much as £600 a year. Of course, as employers this means that your wage bill will also go up – and if you fail to comply with the rise you risk being fined and even publicly named.
- Tech start-ups get extra backing
Mr Hammond was keen to show how Britain is preparing to maintain its position as one of the world’s leading tech nations post-Brexit. He announced that the Government will be backing the UK’s tech entrepreneurs with funding of up to £500m, investing in everything from artificial intelligence, to 5G and full fibre broadband. Also of interest to those of you who run tech companies is the announcement that the Government will invest £21m over the next four years to expand the Tech City UK concept to create a new ‘Tech Nation’. This will see the creation of a dedicated sector programme that will offer extra support for businesses working in UK tech specialisms such as artificial intelligence and fintech. The newly extended scheme will see new regional hubs in Cambridge, Bristol, Bath, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Reading, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, and Cardiff.
So, Brexit preparations, news of a higher minimum wage and concrete backing for tech start-ups are just a few of the headlines from a Budget that we think will be good for British businesses. If you’d like to find out more about what the Budget means for you and your business, then get in touch with us today.