The previously-announced increase in corporation tax for small companies has been deferred, while firms will be able to offset losses of up to £50,000 against profits made during the past three years, rather than the past 12 months.
In other measures, Darling has pledged to temporarily increase the threshold for empty property relief for commercial buildings with a rental value of below £15,000.
From today, HMRC will allow firms facing difficulties to spread their tax liabilities over a timetable they can afford. Darling says this will be for all business taxes, for as long as firms need it. “Real help when businesses need it most,” he said.
Darling welcomed a weekend commitment from RBS that it wouldn’t increase current overdraft fees, and reiterated that the government is monitoring commitments by the banks it has bailed out to treat business customers fairly.
He said that seven UK banks have asked the European Investment Bank for money available to them to loan to SMEs. This money, Darling said, will be available to their customers by the end of the year.
Darling also revealed the government is offering credit of between £1,000 and £1m to small businesses who are experiencing short-term cash flow problems, and that £1bn worth of support will be made available for export firms that are trading in difficult circumstances.
The Chancellor insisted that the measures form a “comprehensive package of support which business has been asking us to provide”, and that it’s the result of a decision to “take action to support our economy through this recession”.