Phillip Hammond’s Autumn Budget has pledged to make Britain ‘Fit for the Future’ – announcing an increased living wage, tax thresholds and additional funding for new homes and vital systems like the NHS.
Yet, with every budget comes scrutiny. Where some felt Hammond has ‘skulked’ around the issue of Brexit, Corbyn expressed complete discontent, advising that the Government is not fit for office.
Negativity aside, the Budget certainly isn’t all bad, and for the business sector there are actually a number of plus points:
Hammond has announced that the small business VAT threshold will remain at £85,000 per annum, understanding the pressures small businesses face in growth and development. According to his calculations, this will result in an overall saving of £2.3bn for some 3 million small businesses across the UK.
Britain actually has one of the highest VAT thresholds worldwide –but instead of a dramatic threshold drop, Hammond has advised that he will review VAT over the next two years, focusing on different ways to incentivize small business growth. This is a great move from the Government, and will play a key role in aiding small business survival as Brexit looms.
£1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund
Encouraging start-ups, business growth and business development can be difficult, but introducing the Transforming Cities Fund is one way to support this. Location isn’t everything in Business, but it certainly counts for something. When Business Owners look for an office move, Cities are selected on travel links, commercial premises, business development opportunities and more.
This fund will help significantly, with a massive £250m already assigned to Andy Street and the West Midlands region alone.
£30m to Digital Skills Development
Three in four UK businesses have reported a digital skills gap amongst their workforce, which continues to rise as technology advances.
Hammonds £30m investment in digital skills distance learning courses should go a long way to supporting digital skills development, which is not only vital for supporting and protecting business growth, but also for ensuring UK workers have the right skill set to secure future employment positions.
Millennial Rail card
Encouraging Millennials to continue their daily commute, Hammond has announced an extension of the ‘Young Persons Rail card’, where the 30% annual discount will apply to those up to the age of 31.
This sounds trivial, but rail fares have risen steadily year on year, with many young people put off by City based job opportunities as a result. By increasing the age threshold, this should encourage more millennials into the City roles, helping businesses secure young talent who can help drive business growth and fill the advancing digital skills gap.
Ultimately, as we head closer and closer to the Brexit deadline, the reality of the situation and its impact on the UK economy will start to come to light.
Although Brexit was not directly addressed in mass detail during the Budget, Hammond’s savings of £3bn to prepare for every eventuality suggests it will certainly won’t be an easy ride. However, in taking steps to support business growth and development, whilst inspiring professionals to advance their digital skillset, Britain will hopefully be in the best position possible to tackle the post-Brexit era, and its resulting challenges.>