Amid virus fears and global economic shock, this year’s Spring Budget turned out to be one of the biggest spending announcements in years.
The Office for Budget Responsibility reported that it was the “largest sustained fiscal loosening” since March 1992, and many of the announcements made were focused on supporting businesses during the outbreak of COVID-19, with several temporary measures to minimise the impacts they might feel.
There were relatively few long-term and substantial changes to taxation, however, which could suggest more changes are still to come in the Autumn Budget.
For now, we’ve summarised the main Budget announcements you need to know as a business owner.
Statutory sick pay refund
Statutory sick pay is usually available to employees after four consecutive days of illness. This has been made available to employees affected by coronavirus from day one.
Of course, this comes with a cost for employers, but for businesses with less than 250 employees, the Government will now refund the costs of SSP for up to 14 days.
Earlier this year, the Government announced that the business rates retail discount, which is available for retailers with a rateable value of less than £51,000, would be increased to 50% in 2020/21.
In the Spring Budget, Sunak announced that this would be extended to 100%, meaning qualifying businesses will not need to pay any business rates for the year – and on top of that, it will apply to the leisure and hospitality sectors too.
According to the Treasury, this means 45% of all business properties in England will be exempt from business rates for a year from April 2020.
Additionally, the Government will provide a one-off £3,000 grant to businesses that are currently eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief.
These are all short-term or temporary measures, designed to respond to the impacts of coronavirus, but campaigners have been calling for more permanent change to the business rates system.
In response to this, it was announced that a “fundamental review” of business rates would be completed by the next Budget in the autumn.
Entrepreneurs’ relief allows individuals who have owned a business for two years or more to pay capital gains tax at 10%, instead of 20%, when they sell their business.
This relief has been criticised for its high cost, and for unfairness – Sunak said just 5,000 individuals benefit from three-quarters of the relief’s cost.
The Chancellor resisted calls to abolish it, though, and instead reduced the lifetime limit on the relief from £10 million to £1m.
Employers can qualify for an allowance to reduce their National Insurance bill, up to a limit of £3,000. In April, this will rise to £4,000.
However, it will be restricted to employers whose class 1 National Insurance bill was below £100,000 in the previous tax year.
Research and development
The research and development expenditure credit (RDEC) can reduce tax bills for businesses that carry out qualifying R&D work.
It’s calculated at 12% of qualifying expenditure, but that’s going to increase to 13% in April.
It’s generally aimed at large companies, but can also be claimed by SMEs that have been subcontracted to do R&D work for a large company.
What do these measures mean for you?
You can find a full summary of the changes announced in our Spring Budget 2020 report – or, if you have any questions about what’s changing, we’re happy to talk it through.
Get in touch to talk about upcoming changes for your business.