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Thursday 26 March 2015

Small firms lack confidence in late payment rules

Small businesses do not trust the Prompt Payment Code (PPC) to effectively tackle the UK's poor payment culture, according to research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). Click here for more.

Budget 2015 savings measures popular with public

The new ISAs and tax breaks announced during Budget 2015 have proven popular with the public, according to a survey by uSwitch. Click here for more.

New ISA to help first time buyers

A new type of ISA will provide a financial boost to people saving to buy their first home, the Chancellor has announced during his 2015 Budget statement. Click here for more.

Thursday 19 March 2015

Budget 2015: Reaction

The Chancellor George Osborne has delivered the final Budget statement of this Parliament. Here is a round-up of immediate reaction from the UK's leading industry bodies.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said that the Chancellor has delivered some "encouraging" measures:
"Stability and consistency are what businesses need to grow and prosper. This Budget sets the tone, providing a clear plan for fiscal health and growth."

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)

John Longworth, director general of the BCC, praised the Chancellor for balancing the government's electoral objectives with the country's long-term deficit targets:
"Businesses in every corner of the UK want more sustainable public finances, and they also want governments to take steps to support growth. Once again, it appears that the Chancellor has pulled off a difficult balancing act, maintaining fiscal discipline while ensuring that necessary deficit reduction doesn't undermine the UK's growth prospects."

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, commented on the government's review into the business rates system:
"The review into business rates is long overdue. When complete, it must deliver tangible benefits to businesses and not end up as just another report that sits on the shelf."

Association of British Insurers (ABI)

Huw Evans, director general of the ABI, spoke about the decision to further reduce the lifetime allowance:
"Pension providers support reform of pension tax relief but three piecemeal cuts to the current system in five years is the wrong way to go about it.
"We need a fundamental review of the whole system to make it fairer and to deliver long-term stability for people doing the right thing by saving for their retirement."

Budget 2015: Business announcements

The Chancellor George Osborne delivered his final Budget statement of this Parliament to the House of Commons on Wednesday 18 March 2015.
This is a summary of the main announcements affecting businesses.
  • Corporation tax: the main rate will be cut to 20% from April 2015. The rules will be amended to prevent contrived loss arrangements.
  • National insurance: NICs for under-21s will be abolished from April 2015. They will also be abolished for young apprentices from April 2016.
  • Business rates: a "major" review of business rates was announced. Small business rates relief will be extended from April 2015.
  • Tax returns: the self-assessment tax return will be abolished, affecting 12 million people and small businesses. In most cases, the information HMRC needs will be uploaded automatically into new digital tax accounts.
  • Diverted profits tax: a tax aimed at large companies that artificially shift profits offshore will come into effect from April 2015.
  • Entrepreneurs' Relief: loopholes will be closed to make the relief only available to those selling genuine stakes in businesses.
  • Travel and subsistence: a clampdown on umbrella companies and agencies that abuse tax relief on travel and subsistence.
  • Bank levy: the annual bank levy will be raised to 0.21%.
  • Farmers: Farmers will be able to average their income over 5 years for tax purposes.

Budget 2015: Other announcements

The Chancellor George Osborne has now delivered his Budget 2015 statement to the House of Commons. Here we summarise some of the other announcements affecting investment and government spending:
  • Charities: Automatic gift-aid that charities can claim will rise from £5,000 to the first £8,000 of donations. The government will give £75 million to regimental charities and emergency services.
  • Duties: The Chancellor announced a 1 pence cut on beer duty. Cider and spirit duties were cut by 2%. Fuel duty will not increase in September as previously planned.
  • Broadband: The government will invest £600 million in upgrading Britain's high-speed broadband and mobile network infrastructure.
  • Export finance: UK Trade & Investment resources will double to support British businesses exporting to China.
  • Transport: The South West will receive £7 billion for investment in transport.
  • The Severn Crossing: The toll rates for the Severn bridges will be reduced from 2018.

Budget 2015: Personal finances

Chancellor George Osborne described his final budget as one that would see Britain leaving behind the "chaos of the past" and "walking tall again."
Here's our summary of the key measures aimed at personal finances:
Minimum Wage
  • the rate will rise to £6.70 this autumn
  • people on minimum wage will be paid £8 an hour by 2020.
  • from next year, the lifetime allowance will drop from £1.25 million to £1 million
  • the lifetime allowance will be indexed to protect pension pots from inflation from 2018
  • pensioners will be able to access the money held in their annuities 
  • the 55% tax charge on accessing annuities will be abolished next year and replaced with tax at the marginal rate. 
Married couple's allowance
  • the transferable tax allowance for married couples to rise to £1,100 from April 2015.
Income tax
  • the personal income tax allowance will be raised to £10,600 for 2015/16
  • it will rise to £10,800 in 2016/17 and £11,000 in 2017/18
  • the threshold for the higher rate of income tax will increase from £42,385 this year to £43,300 by 2017/18. 
  • more flexible ISAs will allow people to remove money and return it back in the same year without losing their tax-free entitlement
  • Help to Buy ISAs will help first time buyers get on the property ladder
  • for every £200 savers deposit in a Help to Buy ISA, the government top it up by 25% (£50) up to a limit of £12,000.
Personal savings
  • from April 2016, the first £1,000 of the interest earned on savings will be tax-free
  • the allowance for higher rate taxpayers will be set at £500.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Chancellor shakes up annuity market

Annuity holders will be able to sell their annuity income without incurring a 55% tax charge, under plans announced by the Chancellor George Osborne. Click here for more.

Monday 16 March 2015

Government launches business rate review

A "wide-ranging" review of the English business rates system has been launched, Treasury officials have announced. Read the whole article on our website.

Average savings highest in a decade

British people saved more money in 2014 than in any year during the past decade, according to figures from National Savings & Investments (NS&I). Click here for more.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Employees lack access to digital services

Less than half of employees think they are able to do their jobs properly due to insufficient access to digital technology, according to a survey by Fujitsu. Read the whole article on our website.

Small firms continue to utilise equity finance

The use of equity finance among small firms has more than doubled over the past 3 years, according to a report by the British Business Bank. Click here for more.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Workplace sickness absence rates improve

Two fifths of employers have seen improvements in their sickness absence rates over the last 12 months, according to research by Group Risk Development (GRiD). See our website for more.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

New savings rate removes tax on interest

An online calculator has been launched to help people see if they are eligible for the new 0% savings tax rate, the Chancellor George Osborne has announced. Click here for more.

Monday 9 March 2015

Pension savers snub retirement advice

Almost three-quarters of over-50s are not currently planning to seek retirement advice after the government's pension reforms are introduced in April, according to research by LV=. Read more here

Friday 6 March 2015

Calls to simplify tax status for self-employed

Working out the employment status of workers should be made easier for businesses, according to a report from the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS). Read the whole article on our website.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Small costs result in big expenses for SMEs

SMEs owners often underestimate the small day-to-day costs of running a business, research by AXA has suggested. Read the whole article here.

Employees uncertain about pension contributions

The majority of employees on a workplace pension scheme think they should increase their pension contributions, according to a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Click here fore more.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

SMEs in profit at 2007 levels

The number of SMEs making a profit has returned to pre-financial crisis levels in the last 12 months, according to research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Read the whole article on our website.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Small business productivity in need of boost

Improving the productivity of UK small businesses is "one of the biggest challenges" for policy makers, according to a report by the All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group. Read more here.

Three quarters focus on saving

Almost three quarters of British people say they are currently saving, according to research by Scottish Widows. Read more here.

Monday 2 March 2015

Pension saving highest in 18 years

Pension saving is at its highest level in 18 years, according to official figures. Read the whole article on our website.

Small firms concerned about cloud computing

Almost 4 in 10 small businesses are concerned about the security of using cloud accounting services, according to research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). See more here.

Millions to benefit from marriage tax break

More than 4 million married couples and 15,000 thousand civil partnerships stand to benefit from the Marriage Allowance, according to official government estimates. Click here for more.