What can we expect from the Budget today?

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has made it clear that he does not have room for big tax giveaways on March 15, as forecasts for economic growth are still weak. His focus will be to continue to clamp down on double digit inflation. An economic forecast from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) will be announced alongside the budget.   

Mr Hunt has stated that he hopes to start the process of business tax cuts in his Autumn statement later this year, dependant on the OBR forecasts for the UK.

There are reports that the government will spend approximately £3bn to shield UK households from higher energy bills for the three months from April and that the freeze on fuel duty will continue.

With the war in Ukraine showing no signs of ending, we can also expect an increase in the Ministry of Defence budget over the next two years to buy equipment and weapons.

With government ministers struggling to reach a resolution of the series of public sector strikes, the chancellor has also made it clear that any additional money for pay deals should come from existing departmental budgets.

There is also speculation on a range of measures to incentivise employers to take on more employees and to encourage older workers back into employment, including a relaxation in pension contributions for the over 55’s.  Some commentators expect an announcement on raising the state pension age.

Tax Planning opportunities ahead of the new tax year

The new tax year starts 6 April 2023, so you have limited time to consider your options and once we pass this date, the majority of the tax planning options for Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax purposes will cease unless actioned this month.

Do you fall into any of these categories?

  • You have or are thinking about a change in your personal status (single, married, separating, joining or dissolving a civil partnership);
  • You are thinking about selling a capital asset, such as shares or a property. From 6 April 2023 the Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount reduces from £12,300 to £6,000;
  • You or your child’s other parent claims Child Benefit and the income of either parent is likely to exceed £50,000 for the first time during tax year 2022-23;
  • Your annual income is approaching or above £100,000;
  • You have not yet topped up your pension contributions for tax year 2022-23;
  • You are self-employed with a 31 March 2023 year-end;
  • You are self-employed and are thinking about the purchase of equipment or vehicles; or
  • You are the director and/or shareholder of a limited company and have not yet considered voting final dividends or bonuses for 2022-23.

If you do, we can help you discuss your options ahead of the April deadline!

The above list is not comprehensive, and we specialise in helping clients with all taxes including PAYE, NIC, VAT, Corporation, Capital Gains, Income, and Inheritance tax. Please contact us now!

The Wales Food and Drink Awards 2023

Applications are now open for ‘The Wales Food and Drink Awards 2023’, which take place on 18 May 2023 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno.

The national awards will provide a platform to celebrate Welsh producers and suppliers. They will highlight both the diversity of the sector and shine a light on the success stories that are scaling up, creating employment and who will be an inspiration to others.

There are 15 categories to choose from and you can enter up to 2. Your business must be located in Wales and should have started to trade on or before 18 May 2022.

See: Food and Drink Awards

Survey on the provision of Immigration Advice Services in Wales

If you are an employer who has recruited overseas workers, or you are looking to recruit from overseas, then the Welsh Government would like to hear from you.

The Welsh Government is undertaking research to determine whether businesses that are looking to recruit from overseas have the necessary support to do so. Or, whether a lack of access to immigration and advice support in Wales, prevents employers from recruiting from overseas.

See: Survey on the provision of immigration advice services in Wales (smartsurvey.co.uk)

Age-Inclusive Business Review

We are all living for longer, which means that the majority of us are likely to be working for longer too. In Wales, one third of the workforce is aged 50 or over and, by 2023, half of all adults in the UK will be over 50 years old.

Both your customers and your workforce are ageing.

So, recruiting, retaining and retraining older individuals in the workplace is essential for businesses and the wider economy. Businesses need to take action now to prevent early exit from the workplace, support later life working and make the most of benefits of intergenerational workplaces.

Business in the Community’s (BITC) Age-Inclusive Business Review is a free, online, self-assessment tool to help identify gaps and highlight strengths in relation to being an age-inclusive and age-friendly employer. It will take approximately 25 minutes to complete, and you will receive bespoke age-inclusion recommendations for your organisation.

Questions and associated recommendations fall under four key themes: Financial Wellbeing; Health and Wellbeing; Work-life Balance; and Workplace Practices (i.e. recruitment, retention, retirement, training).

By developing an effective age-inclusive action plan, your business and its workforce can benefit from a better work-life balance, increased retention, enhanced staff engagement and more satisfied and productive workers.

Business in the Community Cymru in partnership with Age Cymru are delivering the Age at Work Programme, supporting businesses to create workplaces where older workers can thrive.

See: Age-Inclusive Business Review | Business Wales (gov.wales)

Taxpayers given more time for voluntary National Insurance contributions

The UK government has extended the voluntary National Insurance deadline to 31 July 2023 to give taxpayers more time to fill gaps in their National Insurance record and help increase the amount they receive in State Pension.

This comes after members of the public voiced concern over the previous deadline of 5 April 2023.

The deadline extension was announced via a Written Ministerial Statement last week and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is urging taxpayers to ensure they do not miss out.

Anyone with gaps in their National Insurance record from April 2006 onwards now has more time to decide whether to fill the gaps to boost their new State Pension. Any payments made will be at the lower 2022/23 tax year rates.

As part of transitional arrangements to the new State Pension, taxpayers have been able to make voluntary contributions to any incomplete years in their National Insurance record between April 2006 and April 2016, to help increase the amount they receive when they retire. And after an increase in customer contact, the government has extended the deadline to ensure people have time to make their contributions.

See: Taxpayers given more time for voluntary National Insurance contributions – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The Little Book of Net Zero

The British Standards Institution (BSI) has produced a straightforward ‘how to’ guide to help you start your business sustainability journey: ‘The Little Book of Net Zero’.

You probably didn’t think much about climate change when you started your business. But climate change affects us all, and we can all play a part in combatting it. To address this problem, the UK has set a target to achieve ‘Net Zero’ GHG emissions by 2050. A goal that will only be achieved with the help of businesses.

‘The Little Book of Net Zero’ offers UK businesses, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises, the opportunity to look at the 2050 UK government’s climate goal as a win-win scenario.

Making a firm commitment to achieve net zero in your business will mean that you will:

  • become more sustainable and socially responsible,
  • take control of energy costs,
  • improve performance, and
  • become resilient.

See: The Little Book of Net Zero | BSI (bsigroup.com)

UK Export Academy

The UK Export Academy from the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) gives businesses the know-how to sell to customers around the world by providing an opportunity to learn from experts in international trade.

The academy is designed for businesses with different levels of exporting experience, whether you’re just starting to sell internationally or looking to grow your international sales. The academy will help you to overcome common challenges that businesses can face.

What will your business get from the UK Export Academy?

  • Foundation course: Build your knowledge and confidence if you’re relatively new to selling internationally or interested in learning how to start. You will leave the foundation course with an export action plan tailored to your business.
  • Sector faculties: Sector-specific webinars, masterclasses, and virtual missions. More experienced exporters can join sector faculties that will provide your business with information on how to operate effectively in particular foreign markets or sectors.
  • Market access events: Learn about the benefits of new market opportunities, including the benefits of new free trade agreements.

See: Home – UK Export Academy (great.gov.uk)

UK Tradeshow Programme

The UK Tradeshow Programme offers government support to help UK businesses attend or exhibit at overseas trade shows more effectively.

UK businesses that are currently exporting can apply:

  • for support to exhibit at or attend approved overseas trade shows and conferences, and
  • to potentially receive grants to cover some costs.

UK businesses can also apply for support if they’re thinking about exporting but are not currently doing so.

Attending or exhibiting at overseas trade shows can help you gain essential market knowledge, increase your company’s brand awareness among overseas buyers, and boost business sales by securing new customers.

See: UK Tradeshow Programme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Apply for £400 payments towards energy bills through new portal

Households without a direct relationship to an electricity supplier, such as those living in park homes and care homes, can now apply via a secure online portal to receive the support as a one-off, non-repayable lump sum under the ‘alternative funding’ route of the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS AF). For those without online access, a dedicated customer helpline is available to assist eligible customers.

The UK government will never provide any links to the application portal, or directly ask individuals to apply for the £400 support. Those that require additional help when applying for support may wish to seek assistance from a family member or trusted friend.

UK Ministers are urging all eligible households to apply as soon as possible for their support, whilst also warning households to stay alert to potential scams and report them to relevant authorities where they are suspected.

To check eligibility and apply for the £400 of support, people need to search for “Apply for energy bill support if you do not get it automatically” in the search bar on GOV.UK or in an internet search engine.

See: Help with your energy bills: If you live in a park, mobile or care home, or off the electricity grid – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Safety net for Horizon Europe applicants extended

The government has announced another extension to the support provided to UK Horizon Europe applicants. The Horizon Europe Guarantee Scheme will now be in place to cover all Horizon Europe calls that close on or before the end of June 2023.

Eligible, successful applicants to Horizon Europe will receive the full value of their funding at their UK host institution for the lifetime of their grant.

The extension will ensure that eligible Horizon Europe awardees will continue to be guaranteed funding, supporting them to continue their important work in research and innovation.

See: Apply for Horizon Europe guarantee funding – UKRI

The Great British Entrepreneur of the Year awards

The Great British Entrepreneur Awards are now open for entries.

This year’s categories include:

  • Creative Entrepreneur of the Year,
  • Disruptor of the Year,
  • Entrepreneur for Good Award,
  • Family Business Entrepreneur of the Year,
  • Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year,
  • Health & Beauty Entrepreneur of the Year,
  • Scale-Up Entrepreneur of the Year,
  • Service Entrepreneur of the Year,
  • Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year,
  • Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year,
  • Sustainability Entrepreneur of the Year,
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and
  • Great British Entrepreneur of the Year.

See: Home – The Great British Entrepreneur Awards & Community