News & views

Friday, May 19, 2017

Business rates and National Insurance both grabbed headlines in the aftermath of the Budget. But what policies might company owners have missed in the small print?

Spring is always a busy time for companies, as the annual Budget speech and start of a new tax year herald a raft of policy announcements. 2017 has been no different, with business owners facing a host of potential changes.

Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget was dominated by two big issues: support for firms affected by the business rates revaluation on the one hand, and a failed attempt to hike Class 4 National Insurance contributions for the self-employed on the other.

But away from these talking points, a range of other policy ideas were floated by the Chancellor. So let’s delve deeper into the small print to flag up the things you may have missed…


Fleet owners and motor traders

As usual, transport was a key area of focus for the Chancellor. Companies operating in this sector were told: 

  • Fuel duty will remain frozen for the seventh year in a row, as previously announced in the Autumn Statement.
  • Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) will rise in line with Retail Prices Index inflation, for cars, vans and motorcycles registered before April 2017.
  • VED and the Road User Levy will be frozen for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). A consultation with hauliers will also be launched, to ensure the HGV Road User Levy rewards those who use the road network efficiently [SC1]

Tradespeople

Tradesmen and women look set to benefit from the Chancellor’s plans to plug skills gaps through new ‘T-Levels’. These technical qualifications will be introduced in 2019, to help the country’s 16 to 19 year-olds learn a trade. They’ll give youngsters the chance to pursue 15 different career routes – with construction among them. People working towards T-Levels will on average receive more than 900 hours of training each year, and they’ll also complete high-quality work placements.

Elsewhere, the Budget reiterated support for the National Productivity Investment Fund, which seeks to boost the UK’s infrastructure, roads and housing. With £23 billion due to be invested in these areas between 2017/18 and 2021/22, the fund could provide fresh opportunities for the likes of builders, office fitters and other tradespeople.

On a similar note, a new 5G strategy has been unveiled – ensuring the UK has the right infrastructure in place to support fifth-generation mobile technology. A National 5G Innovation Network will be set up as part of this strategy, to trial and demonstrate 5G applications.

Retailers

The announcement of a snap general election on June 8 has thrown some of Mr Hammond’s plans into question. However, assuming the current administration stays in place, the Budget could have sizeable ramifications for retailers.

In order to ensure that all consumers are treated fairly, the Chancellor has proposed: 

  • New legislation to boost the power of regulators like the Competition and Markets Authority. They’d be able to ask the courts to order civil fines against firms breaking consumer laws.
  • Protection against unexpected payments when a customer’s subscription or a free trial ends.
  • Plans to make terms and conditions clearer and shorter – so people understand them better.

 

Landlords

While previous Budget announcements and Autumn Statements have made sweeping changes to the UK rental market, Mr Hammond’s speech was generally low-key in this area.

However, there was some positive news for those whose annual turnover falls below the VAT threshold. Along with unincorporated businesses, landlords in this position will now be given an extra year to comply with the Making Tax Digital system. That means they’ll have until April 2019 to get ready for digital record-keeping and quarterly tax updates.



Protecting your business

With a major business rates revaluation coming into force and a general election on the horizon, the changes unveiled in the Budget aren’t the only issues facing company owners.

At a time of such uncertainty, it’s important to shield your organisation from any potential disruption. Tracking down the right insurance policy should play a part in this – helping your firm to prepare for the unexpected.


More than you might think

NIG offers a wide range of products to cover the needs of businesses across a variety of industries from tradesmen to property owners, retailers to manufacturers, as well as offering a number of motor related products.

Our breadth of scale is also larger than you might think.

Our Business Package eProduct can cover businesses with a turnover of up to £5 million per year and is available to trade on our award-winning online trading platform TheHub.

While for larger, more complex risks, and for businesses with up to £100 million turnover, we offer Commercial Combined which can be traded via our regional offices.

To find out more about our extensive product range visit www.nig.com/products/