Autumn Budget 2021: a focused roundup

Nov 29, 2021 | Personal finances

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Autumn Budget on 27 October 2021, with a host of changes in light of the pandemic and Brexit. 

The headlines have already been well reported but here we’ll summarise the more niche announcements relating to:

  • Owner-manager SMEs
  • Imports and exports
  • Property
  • Residency and non-doms.

Find out if these changes affect you. 

Mixed news for owner-manager SMEs

The extra costs that we were already expecting thanks to a previously announced increase in National Insurance contributions (NICs) will now be exacerbated for employers by rises to the national living wage.

The headline minimum rate for over-23s is rising 6.6% to £9.50 per hour. However, there is some relief too with a range of cuts to business rates in England and a cancellation of a scheduled rise in fuel duty. 

The Government has long championed apprenticeships as a way to bridge skills gaps in UK industry, and more money was promised in the Autumn Budget. 

An additional £2.7 billion in funding will be made available by 2024/25, so that the Government will meet 95% of the apprenticeship training cost for employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy. 

There’s also an enhanced recruitment service available by May 2022 to help SMEs hire new apprentices.

There’s good news for SMEs’ access to finance, too. 

More than £1.6bn is allocated to provide debt and equity finance for SMEs from the British Business Bank’s regional funds. This will also go towards expanding the Regional Angels programme. 

And if you’re looking for a loan, there’s an extension to the recovery loan scheme until 30 June 2022. With government backing under the scheme, it’s easier for SMEs to get loans up to £2 million. 

Import-export: supporting trade after Brexit

As the UK navigates its trade position post-Brexit, the Autumn Budget introduced new measures for imports and exports.  

There’s a £67.6m cash boost for the Department for International Trade (DIT), intended to transform its services for exporters and investors. 

The money will help UK businesses facilitate UK exports, while The DIT will expand its export support service to cover all markets, including the EU, and help businesses export their goods more widely.

The Chancellor also announced that the Government will consult businesses in the New Year on how to create a world-class customs regime. Those who trade overseas will know how pressing this has become post-Brexit.

Property – residential and commercial changes

The Government is pressing ahead with a new cladding tax to be levied on the UK’s biggest property developers. 

From April 2022, company profits from residential property development exceeding £25m will be subject to a 4% tax. 

The money raised is earmarked to deal with the cladding issues exposed by the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster, in which 72 people died.

A change to capital gains tax rules gives a little more breathing space to property investors. These tax rates won’t change, but the length of time due for any tax arising from gains to be reported and paid doubled from 30 to 60 days with immediate effect.

There’s assistance for users of commercial property space. 

From 2023, a new business rates relief will support investment in property improvements so that no business will face higher business rates bills for 12 months after making qualifying improvements to a property they occupy. 

Your business will be able to make improvements to its premises that support net-zero targets and enhance productivity as your employees return to the workplace.

Residency and non-doms – new visas announced

To address the skills shortage in the UK, the Autumn Budget confirmed new ways to attract highly-skilled people. There’s a new scale-up visa, launching in spring 2022 that will help the UK’s fastest-growing businesses to access overseas talent. 

As yet, there’s no confirmation on what qualifies as a high-skilled job for the visa, but the minimum salary requirement is £33,000. This was first announced in March’s Spring Budget 2021, but the Chancellor confirmed it would go ahead in this Autumn Budget.

You’ll also see the introduction of the “high potential individuals”, and “global business mobility” visas to attract more highly-skilled people to the UK.  

Need further help?

If you’d like to discuss how any of these changes announced in the Autumn Budget 2021 might affect you, please get in touch.