In the news – December 2022

In this month’s Enews we consider news from the Autumn Statement, household incomes and business forecasts. We also update you with the latest on auto-enrolment and exports. With information on the Digital Services Tax and advisory fuel rates, there is a lot to update you on.

Tax burden rises following Autumn Statement

The UK’s tax burden will rise after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt reduced the threshold on the top rate of tax and announced freezes on other taxes in the Autumn Statement.

The threshold for the top 45% additional rate of income tax was cut to £125,140 from £150,000.

The government is also fixing other personal tax thresholds within income tax, NICs and inheritance tax for an additional two years, until April 2028.

The Dividend Allowance will be reduced from £2,000 to £1,000 next year and £500 from April 2024.

In addition, the capital gains tax exemption will be reduced from £12,300 to £6,000 next year and then to £3,000 from April 2024.

As energy prices continue to drive inflation, the Chancellor confirmed that the Energy Price Guarantee will be extended for a year from April 2023. However, the level at which typical bills are capped will increase to £3,000 a year from £2,500.

The windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas firms was increased from 25% to 35% and extended until March 2028.

The Chancellor also announced a £13.6 billion package of support for business rates payers in England. To protect businesses from rising inflation, the multiplier will be frozen in 2023/24, while relief for 230,000 businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors was also increased from 50% to 75% next year.

Mr Hunt also confirmed the National Living Wage (NLW) will rise from £9.50 to £10.42 an hour, while the triple lock on state pensions was protected.

The Chancellor said:

‘There is a global energy crisis, a global inflation crisis and a global economic crisis. But today with this plan for stability, growth and public services, we will face into the storm. Because of the difficult decisions we take in our plan, we strengthen our public finances, bring down inflation and protect jobs.’

Internet links: GOV.UK

CBI praises Chancellor for ‘delivering stability’ in Autumn Statement

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) praised Chancellor Jeremy Hunt for ‘delivering stability and protecting the most vulnerable‘ in the Autumn Statement.

The business group welcomed the freeze in business rates and extra support for those facing higher bills. Additionally, it said that staying the course on R&D spending and major infrastructure will give a boost to communities and the country.

However, the CBI also warned the government that many businesses will ‘think there’s more to be done on growth’. It stated that stabilising the public finances ‘inevitably means difficult decisions have to be taken’, and that businesses will consider a freeze in the national insurance contribution (NIC) thresholds and additional windfall taxes as ‘the sharpest stings in the tail’.

Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the CBI, said:

‘The Autumn Statement lays down an important marker for the direction of the country. Business will work with government to turn [the] ambitions into a serious plan for growth that can lift us all out of the current crisis.’

Internet links: CBI website

IFS warns of fall in household incomes

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that household incomes will see their biggest drop in generations following the Autumn Statement.

The think tank warned that growth in living standards had been weak since 2008 and that it was now going from ‘bad to worse’.

Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS, said:

‘Jeremy Hunt’s first fiscal event as Chancellor was a sombre affair. Surging global energy prices have made the UK a poorer country. The result is an OBR forecast that the next two years will see the biggest fall in household incomes in generations.

‘Unsurprisingly given the cost-of-living crisis, today’s Office for Budget Responsibility forecast suggests that this is going from bad to worse. This year we are set to see the largest fall in real household disposable income per head since the late 1940s

‘As ever, the forecasts are uncertain. The government’s finances could end up much healthier than expected. But if the outlook deteriorates further then Jeremy Hunt really has not left himself with much room to manoeuvre.’

Internet link: IFS website

OECD warns UK on course for biggest economic downturn

The UK economy is to suffer the biggest hit of all the G7 nations next year, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD forecasts that the UK’s GDP will reduce 0.4% next year and grow 0.2% in 2024. This is better than previous OECD predictions which has been for the economy to remain static.

The only other G7 economy to contract next year is Germany’s. which will experience a smaller contraction of 0.3%.

Growth will be small in the majority of the G7 nations. Italy’s GDP will grow 0.2%, the US will see 0.5%, France will experience 0.6% while Canada and Japan will see rises of 1% and 1.8% respectively.

The government’s Energy Price Guarantee scheme will increase inflation, requiring hiked interest rates which will result in higher borrowing costs, said the OECD report.

Mathias Cormann, OECD Secretary-General, said:

‘The global economy is facing serious headwinds. We are dealing with a major energy crisis and risks continue to be titled to the downside with lower global growth, high inflation, weak confidence and high levels of uncertainty making successful navigation of the economy out of this crisis and back toward a sustainable recovery very challenging.

‘An end to the war and a just peace for Ukraine would be the most impactful way to improve the global economic outlook right now. Until this happens, it is important that governments deploy both short- and medium-term policy measures to confront the crisis, to cushion its impact in the short term while building the foundations for a stronger and sustainable recovery.’

Internet link: OECD website

Auto-enrolment has helped workers save £114 billion into pensions

Workers have saved more than £114 billion into their pension pots since pensions automatic enrolment was implemented ten years ago, according to data published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The data showed that more than 10.7 million employees were paying into a workplace pension in 2021. The proportion of young people saving into a pension has more than doubled since the introduction of pensions auto-enrolment in 2012, according to the statistics.

The government says it intends to continue work to further boost the amount of people in a workplace pension. It says it will explore how auto-enrolment can ‘go even further to help more people save more, sooner‘ by abolishing the Lower Earnings Limit for pension contributions and reducing the eligible age to 18.

Laura Trott, Minister for Pensions, said:

‘Automatic enrolment has completely transformed how people save – with staggering results. In the ten years since its introduction, 10.7 million people have started saving for their pensions with this easy-to-use scheme. We have also seen a huge and much needed increase in women and young people being enrolled into a pension.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

UK businesses anticipate growth in exports

A significant number of UK businesses that trade internationally expect to see an increase in their exports over the coming year, according to an Institute of Directors (IoD) survey.

The survey showed that 42% of UK international traders expect export growth over the next 12 months. It also revealed that 47% of businesses are still finding Brexit challenging, and just 33% envisage opportunities materialising as a result of Brexit.

Additionally, 28% of firms reported that supply chain disruption has had a negative impact on their business, and 12% have an exportable product but are not currently exporting.

Emma Rowland, Policy Adviser for Trade at the IoD, said:

‘There is no doubt that smaller businesses in particular are finding the current international trading environment challenging. Importers and exporters feel especially constricted by the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU.

‘It is therefore encouraging that, in spite of these barriers, businesses are anticipating an increase in exports over the coming months. There are opportunities that give traders reason to be optimistic.’

Internet link: IoD website

Digital Services Tax has raised £358 million

The UK’s Digital Services Tax (DST) raised £358 million from large digital businesses in the 2020/21 tax year, according to data published by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The DST was introduced in April 2020 to combat the government’s fears that the international tax system ‘did not recognise the value being generated for digital companies through UK online users’. The tax targets firms that make large revenues from UK users of social media platforms, online search engines and online marketplaces.

The NAO found that HMRC collected 30% more DST in its first year than originally predicted. It said that most firms that are liable for the tax now pay more in DST than corporation tax.

Gareth Davies, Head of the NAO, commented:

‘The DST has succeeded in raising more tax from some big digital companies and has brought in more money than forecast in its first year. However, HMRC could still face challenges enforcing compliance, especially among groups without a physical presence in the UK.

‘It should ensure that big digital companies operating beyond the UK’s borders are aware of the tax and comply with it.’

Internet link: NAO website

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published and took effect from 1 September 2022.

The guidance states: ‘you can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 December 2022 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 14p
1401cc – 2000cc 17p
Over 2000cc 26p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 10p
1401cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 18p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 14p
1601cc – 2000cc 17p
Over 2000cc 22p

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 8p per mile. Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

If you would like to discuss your company car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR