What Private Business in Scotland wants from the Autumn Statement

| Nov 02, 2016

The Autumn Statement is weeks away. In this blog post, Susie Simpson, partner and head of private business in Scotland, puts forward some suggestions for the Chancellor to include to give a positive message to businesses in Scotland.

A little comfort

Susie said:

“When the new Chancellor provides his first budget on November 23 it would be great to see some certainty and security around maintain existing tax reliefs which promote enterprise and growing trading businesses.

"A little comfort would be welcome that the benefits of reliefs such as Entrepreneurs' Relief - so important for promoting shareholder/employee ownership in businesses - and other business/angel investor reliefs including Enterprise Investment Scheme Relief and Business Property Relief for inheritance tax will be protected and not further restricted within the next Budget."

Clarity over Corporation Tax

Susie added:

"Businesses also wish for clarity over whether recently announced plans to cut corporation tax further will continue. The headline rate of UK tax sends a powerful message internationally and our Scottish private businesses tell us that tax is an important, albeit not the only, consideration as they weigh up where to expand, invest, move jobs and so on.

"If there was a drop in corporation tax, it would attract further companies and investment into the UK and allow existing UK businesses to plan for the longer term at least as regards their tax rates in the sea of other political/economic uncertainty.

"Conversely, a rise in corporation tax could be seen as yet another reason for businesses to delay investment decisions indefinitely and possibly consider the big step of a move abroad resulting in a potentially significant short term impact on economic performance for UK plc.

"Looking at every change as an opportunity, an eventual “Brexit” will give more freedom to use tax to help different people, regions and industries. In Scotland we would of course vote for help for our core and new industries such as food & drink, property/housebuilding, services, energy, tourism and technology.  

"We are already seeing jitters in many of those industries and the housing market as we move into the autumn and learn to live with the "new normal". A steadying of the tiller in these sectors would be very welcome.”

R&D Credits

Susie said:

“Many have asked for certainty over what Brexit could mean for UK innovation incentives like R&D credits, patent box, EU and national grant funding.  Parts of the current legislation will continue to apply with no aspects placing reliance on the UK being part of the EU.

“Even where changes will be necessary, the Government should be keen to maintain and enhance measures that support competitiveness to counter wider uncertainty and have always encouraged and promoted innovation to attract and retain businesses. We now need to consider what will be done to replace/replicate that EU funding where it inevitably falls away.

“So not a small ask for Philip Hammond – a bit of clarity, no big unnerving changes and some incentives to stimulate growth and investment – all within the bounds of the budget briefcase.

“In three weeks, we will find out…"

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