UK Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the Spring Statement 2019 on Wednesday 13 March, and there were some key points that tradespeople will want to know about – from late payment plans to apprenticeships.
The Chancellor opened his Spring Statement saying he’d keep it brief, and he stuck to his word on that front. He also promised a full three-year spending review before the summer, if a deal with the EU is reached and uncertainty is lifted.
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So there’s an element of playing the waiting game, but here’s what you need to know for now.
Clamping down on big firms who pay late
Late payments are still affecting cash flow for self-employed people everywhere, despite Paul Uppal being appointed Small Business Commissioner at the end of 2017.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), as many as 80 per cent of firms have been paid late.
But the government’s plans are promising a “brighter future” for businesses across the country, with the Chancellor announcing that big companies will need to review and report on how they’re paying their suppliers in their annual accounts.
This means they’ll need to set up an audit committee led by a non-executive director.
Mr Hammond congratulated the FSB – who’ve been campaigning for #FairPayFairPlay – on their work to tackle this issue.
Today's #SpringStatement is this Government's opportunity to show they believe in #FairPayFairPlay 💸— FSB (@fsb_policy) March 13, 2019
For too long, small businesses have struggled with poor payment practice. Everyone deserves to be paid on time, says FSB National Chair @MikeCherryFSB. pic.twitter.com/CLT1LpUb8N
Lower rates to hire an apprentice
The Apprenticeship Levy also came up in the Chancellor’s speech, and he acknowledged the burden it puts on small businesses looking to take on an apprentice.
To ease that burden, he promised that £80 million will be made available to help start three million new apprenticeships by 2020.
From 1 April employers will pay half the co-investment amounts they pay at the moment, bringing the rate down from 10 per cent to five per cent. This is a further update to the apprenticeship reforms from the 2018 Autumn Budget.
Looking at hiring an apprentice for your small business? Read our article for tips on how to go about it.
No more fossil-fuel heating in new builds
If you’re involved in the construction of new homes, the government’s new Future Homes Standard will be of interest.
The new standard is being introduced to make sure UK homes are better for the environment while keeping customer energy bills low.
By 2025 we can expect to see new builds future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency.
Help for small businesses to lower their energy bills
The subject of the environment and climate change came up again when the Chancellor pledged to help small businesses lower their energy bills and cut their carbon emissions.
But how will the government go about it? The first thing it’ll do is call for evidence on a business energy efficiency scheme. This’ll help the government understand how it could support investment in energy efficiency measures.
“We will help small businesses cut their carbon emissions and their energy bills, publishing today a call for evidence on the Business Energy Efficiency Scheme announced at the Budget.” #SpringStatement pic.twitter.com/Z91CgGcenv— HM Treasury (@hmtreasury) March 13, 2019
And staying on the green theme, there’ll be a call for evidence on whether passenger carriers should be made to offer ‘zero carbon travel’.
With less harm to the planet there’ll be more reason to take that well-earned break – maybe we’ll even see a decrease in the 75 per cent of small business owners working the August bank holiday in the coming years.
Other Spring Statement announcements that stood out
- The UK economy has grown for the past nine consecutive years, with further growth forecast every year for the next five years.
- The growth forecast is down from 1.6 to 1.2 per cent for 2019, but up for 2021 and 2022 to 1.6 per cent, while it stays the same for 2020 at 1.4 per cent.
- £100 million will be made available to police forces in the areas worst affected by serious violence and knife crime in England and Wales.
- £81 million is going towards state-of-the-art laser technology at the UK’s leading-edge facility in Oxfordshire.
- £79 million is set aside for a new supercomputer to be located at Edinburgh University. Archer 2 is five times as fast as what we have at the moment, and it’ll be used to help with discoveries in medicine, climate science and aerospace.
- There’ll be a global review into the Economics of Biodiversity, to find ways to enhance the natural environment and deliver prosperity.
What do you think of the announcements made in the Spring Statement? Let us know in the comments below.