Chancellor backs UK business to fire up the economy

Kwasi backs business to fire up the economy: As his tax-cutting mini-Budget shocks markets, Chancellor cuts corporation tax and outlines measures to boost investment

  • Corporation tax hike axed
  • Investment boost for firms
  • Fresh help for start-ups

Mini-Budget: Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng

Mini-Budget: Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng

The Chancellor has outlined measures to boost business investment alongside scrapping plans to raise corporation tax.

In a mini-Budget that shocked markets – the pound fell below $1.09 for the first time since 1985 – Kwasi Kwarteng vowed to make the UK ‘a nation of entrepreneurs’.

As well as scrapping the proposed rise in corporation tax from 19 percent to 25 percent due in April, and introducing an ‘unprecedented set of tax incentives’ for business, he unveiled a package to boost investment.

The annual investment allowance – tax relief for businesses plowing money into new plants and machinery – was set at £1m permanently.

This has yo-yoed in recent years, complicating investment planning for industries that are machinery-intensive, such as farming and manufacturing. It was set to drop to £200,000 a year next April. But Kwarteng said it will ‘remain at £1m… permanently’.

Shevaun Haviland, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘Firms will be happy. It is a crucial tool which gives them the confidence to push ahead with investment, and will add greater certainty to their plans.’

The pro-business tone marked a significant shift after tax hikes under Rishi Sunak, and Boris Johnson’s infamous ‘F*** business’ comment in 2018.

Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘What we saw was a change of tone from previous f*** business, high-tax Conservatives, a host of measures that support every business in this country. It’s definitely a clean break.

‘The Truss Government is off to a flying start. The Chancellor has rightly recognized that removing taxes on jobs, investment and entrepreneurs is essential.’ Kwarteng moved to help startups, extending the venture capital trust and enterprise investment schemes offering tax reliefs to investors who buy new shares in unlisted companies. He will ‘accelerate’ reforms to the pension charge cap, letting pension funds invest in riskier UK assets.

The moves were warmly received by the investment community, with Stephen Page, chief executive of SFC Capital, saying they ‘will have entrepreneurs, angels, and venture capitalists’ ears pricking up’.

At the same time, Kwarteng said limits on the seed enterprise investment scheme and company share option plans would rise to ‘make them more generous’. Under the former, firms will now be able to raise £250,000, 66pc more than before. Kwarteng said: ‘We want this country to be an entrepreneurial share-owning democracy. These are crucial steps on the road to making this a nation of entrepreneurs.’

Russ Shaw, at Tech London Advocates, said: ‘Thousands have used these investment schemes and they have been enormously successful in supporting equity investment into British businesses.’

Alex Davies, chief executive of the Wealth Club, said: ‘The announcement will bring much-needed money into early-stage businesses at a time when we really need it.’

  • Reforms to IR35 accounting rules will be scrapped to simplify the tax system. IR35 aimed to stop freelancers working for a firm or council like a full-time employee without having to pay the extra tax this entails. Changes in 2017 and last year placed the burden on organizations to assess whether these workers were self-employed or an employee. Some said the changes, which will be reversed in April, risked damaging the self-employed and freelancers.

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