Budget help for SMEs

According to Chancellor Philip Hammond, his Budget was “unashamedly” aimed at the “the strivers, the grafters and the carers” who are the backbone of the community and the economy.

Small businesses help to make up this cohort and there were several announcements that should help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the short and longer term.

For example, the Chancellor has said he will halve the contribution, which a firm employing apprentices is required to make, for smaller firms from 10 per cent to five per cent in a £695 million package to support apprenticeships.

He has also decided that he will not scrap entrepreneurs’ relief but has made conditions for qualifying stricter and, to ensure it is going to genuine entrepreneurs, the Government will extend the minimum qualifying period for individuals from 12 months to two years.

In addition, Mr Hammond announced that the Government will provide £675 million to create a “future high streets fund” that councils can access to redevelop their high streets.

The Government will also cut the business rates of pubs, shops, restaurants and cafes with a rateable value of £51,000 or less by one third for the next two years. This is likely to show a saving for 90 per cent of those businesses. There will also be mandatory business rates relief for public lavatories. All of these add to previous reductions in business rates since the 2016 Budget, which is estimated to save firms more than £12 billion over the next five years.

As expected, there will also be a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging that contains less than 30 per cent of recycled plastic, although the details and timing of this tax is subject to consultation.

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