The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has just unveiled his Autumn Budget in the House of Commons. Alongside measures relating to business rates, levelling up and transport infrastructure he also announced 40 new hospitals, 70 upgrades for existing hospitals, 20,000 new police officers, 50,000 more nurses, £4.7bn for schools and a new £300m start for life fund.
Talking about the economy, the Chancellor said that they are forecasting growth to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021, followed by a growth of 6% in 2022.
Below are a number of highlights from the Autumn Budget:
£22bn R&D investment targeted
The Chancellor said that R&D investment would grow to £22bn by 2026/27, reaching £20bn by the next general election in 2024.
He also announced that the system is set to be modernised from April 2023, planning to widen the scope to include cloud computing and data costs plus a focus on domestic investments.
50% business rates discount for leisure and hospitality businesses
Businesses in the leisure, hospitality and retail industries will benefit from a 50% discount on business rates, up to a maximum of £110,000. This includes pubs, music venues, cinemas, restaurants, hotels, theatres and gyms.
The planned increase in the multiplier has been cancelled.
Pubs, breweries and cider makers benefit from tax reforms
Reforms to the UK Alcohol Duty reduces the number of rates from 15 to just 6.
To benefit community pubs who do 75% of their trade on draft, a new Draft Relief lowers the rate of duty on draft beer and cider. The surcharge on sparkling wines will also be abolished.
The planned increase in duty on spirits such as Scotch whisky, wine, cider and beer have all being cancelled with effect from midnight tonight.
National Living Wage increasing to £9.50 an hour
From April 2022 the National Living wage will increase from £8.91 per hour to £9.50. This rise represents an increase of just over £1,000 a year for a full time worker (based on a 35 hour working week).
The chancellor also confirmed that the government is targeting a rise in the National Living Wage to more than £10 by the next election.
Bank of England asked to maintain low and stable inflation
A result of increased demand, reduced supply, an increase in energy costs, and supply chain issues, the chancellor said the current rate of inflation would take months to ease.
Currently forecast to hit 4% in 2022, the Chancellor said that he had sent a letter to the Bank of England asking them to maintain a low and stable inflation.
Recovery Loan Scheme extended
Not mentioned in the Chancellors speech but the Recovery Loan Scheme has been extended until 30th June 2022 to ensure that lenders continue to have the confidence to lend to small and medium-sized businesses.
The Recovery Loan Scheme provides finance up to the sum of £2m per business and is currently backed 80% by the government, this is soon to reduce to 70% to encourage a move to normality as the economy recovers.