The latest Spending Review has just been delivered in the Commons to the usual jeers and japery. George Osborne's announcements included some promising news for SMEs around UK. However, it was tinged with the news that a major innovation grant scheme will become a lending programme.
To help you digest the news, here are a few takeaways from the Autumn Statement 2015, which could potentially impact your business:
- Small business rate relief is to be extended by another year, affecting 600,000 ventures.
- Local authorities are to get more powers to cut business rates to boost growth. By the end of the parliament, they'll keep all business rate revenue.
- A £12-billion Local Growth Fund will create 26 new or extended Enterprise Zones – 15 of which to be in towns and rural areas.
- Northern Ireland fell under the spotlight with infrastructure investment to go up to £600 million over 5 years and £11 billion in block grants.
- Digital tax accounts will be created for each individual and small business by 2020.
- An increase in support for aerospace and automotive industries.
- Transport capital spending increases by 50% to £61 billion, funding the largest road infrastructure scheme since the 1970s.
- London's infrastructure gets £11 billion spending.
- The Northern Powerhouse receives a boost, with £13 billion in funding for transport in the North and support for scientific research and trade missions.
- Innovate UK grants are to become loans, potentially impacting R&D ventures seeking finance for new ideas.
- Science is protected and includes a £75-million investment in the Cavendish Laboratories in Cambridge.
- A new apprenticeship levy on businesses will raise £3 billion to fund 3 million apprentices by 2020. Businesses with wage bills of £3 million a year will pay 0.5% of their paybill, but receive a £15,000 allowance to offset against the payment. At the moment, it's not clear as to what size companies will need to pay the levy, or whether they can gift some of the levy pot to smaller companies.
- Osborne has promised to double the housing budget to more than £2 billion a year and deliver 400,000 affordable new homes, with half being Starter Homes.
- As of 2017, the government will fund 30 hours of free childcare for families with 3 and 4 year olds.
- The tax-free childcare upper limit will go down from £150,000 to £100,000, and parents will need to work more than 16 hours a week.
- Nurseries get more help to provide free places for parents with a £300-million increase.
To get the details, look at the full policy paper from the Treasury.