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Bits you may have missed from the Autumn Statement

4 min read

04 December 2014

Former editor

While chancellor George Osborne spoke for a good 45 minutes, the Autumn Statement 2014 document itself is a full 108 pages long – so surely there must be some more nuggets contained within.

When Osborne made his journey from Downing Street to the Houses of Parliament he was clutching a speech that would not only outline what the government planned to do, but what it had achieved since coming into power.

Sat on the front bench during prime minister’s question time, Osborne was seen rehearsing particular parts of his speech – maybe making sure that his quip about Ed Miliband being free to take up the role of Gromit in 2015 was word perfect.

But the bits that didn’t go into his speech deserve a bit of air time. Real Business has had a comb through the complete Autumn Statement and unearthed a couple of promising developments.

A more highly-skilled labour market

A new offer of income-contingent loans was included in the Autumn Statement document, for those wanting to undertake postgraduate study. The government said this will build on its “lifting of the cap” on undergraduate student numbers.

Change to takeover rules

In bringing forward a proposed change, by early 2015 “cancellation” schemes of arrangement for company takeovers will not be possible. This, the government says, will ensure that takeover structures that achieve the same outcome will have the same SDLT (stamp duty land tax) treatment.

Upgrade to current account switch service

From now on 99 per cent of all SMEs will be included in the 7-day Current Account Switch Service, alongside an extension of the redirection service to 36 months. This will reportedly give customers “more reassurance” that no direct debit or standing order will fail once a switch is made to a new current account.

Alternative finance support

Big banks will now be required to open up access to credit data as well as referring SMEs that are rejected for finance. This, the government hopes, will support financial technology businesses that could use bank data to help consumers and small businesses. 

Improving access to tax schemes

The government is making it easier for qualifying investors and companies to use tax-advantaged venture capital schemes by launching a new digital process in 2016. It will also exclude all companies “substantially benefiting” from other government support for the generation of renewable energy from also benefiting from tax-advantaged venture capital schemes.

Entrepreneurs’ Relief

The chancellor mentioned Entrepreneurs’ Relief but didn’t go into much detail. The Autumn Statement document revealed that, in the future, the government will allow gains that are eligible for Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) and deferred into investment under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) or Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) to benefit from Entrepreneurs’ Relief when the gain is realised. This is hoped to encourage successful entrepreneurs to invest in these kind of companies. The annual investment limit for SITR will grow to £5m per year, up to a total of £15m per organisation.

Simplification of taxation of benefits and expenses

New proposals will ensure the taxation of benefits and expenses are more “straightforward and effective”, in turn reducing the administrative burdens on employers by an predicted £20m per annum.

More manufacturing money

An further £61m in funding will be provided to the High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres to “meet increasing demand” and provide outreach and technical support to SMEs. The government will also provide an additional £28m for a Formulation Centre to design new products across numerous sectors by combining different gases, solids or liquids.