Philip Hammond announced the Spring Statement today amid considerable uncertainty. Here’s what he said.
The Chancellor said that with less than three weeks to go until the UK withdraws from the EU, the government’s “most urgent task is to lift uncertainty” – but added that the “economy itself is remarkably robust.”
He committed to keeping the Spring Statement brief and promised a full three-year spending review before summer, if a deal with the EU is reached and uncertainty is lifted.
Despite this, there were still several points of interest for small businesses and the self-employed. Here’s what you need to know.
The Chancellor said that the government’s plans will ensure a “brighter future” for businesses across the country.
A stronger pledge to tackle the late payment problem seems to be part of those plans. Despite Paul Uppal’s appointment as Small Business Commissioner at the end of 2017, late payments continue to affect small business cash flows everywhere. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) say as many as four out of five firms have been paid late.
The Chancellor announced that large companies will need an audit committee, led by a non-executive director, to report on payment practices when dealing with small businesses in their annual accounts.
The FSB have been campaigning for #FairPayFairPlay and the Chancellor specifically mentioned their support on the issue.
Read more: how to write a late payment letter
The Chancellor said: "Under this government, Britain will lead the world in delivering a digital economy that works for everyone."
He also said Britain should embrace the technology of the future to “slay the twin demons of low productivity and low wages.”
Setting out his vision for the UK digital economy, the Chancellor said it should be a place where:
The Furman review is an independent review of competition in the digital economy. It calls for a review of competition rules for the digital age with aim of opening the market up and increasing choice and innovation for consumers. Tech giants have increased their dominance, according to its findings.
In acknowledging climate change, the Chancellor also pledged to help small businesses lower their energy bills and cut their carbon emissions.
The government plans to tackle this issue by first calling for evidence on a business energy efficiency scheme, to see how it might support investment in energy efficiency measures.
In his speech, the Chancellor acknowledged the difficulty the Apprenticeship Levy places on small businesses wanting to take on an apprentice, and promised £80 million to help get three million new apprenticeships started by 2020.
He updated his apprenticeship reforms from the 2018 Autumn Budget, meaning that from 1 April employers will pay half of the co-investment amounts they currently pay, reducing the rate from 10 per cent to five per cent.
The Chancellor dangled a £26.6 billion ‘deal dividend’ in front of Parliament, which he said would result from a boost in business confidence and finances following a smooth EU exit with a deal in place.
The deal dividend would be distributed after the three-year spending review before summer and put into our public services – beyond the NHS into social care, schools, environment and the police. We could also see cuts in taxes.
The Chancellor also took the opportunity to make several other key announcements:
How do you feel about the announcements made in the Spring Statement? Let us know in the comments below.
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