Autumn Statement 2015: What small businesses need to know

Osborne today announced the government's economic policies for the coming year - here are the key issues UK small business owners need to be aware of

Today, the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne delivered the 2015 Autumn Statement and a raft of measures that will impact upon the country’s start-ups and small business owners.

In a speech in which Osborne described the government as the “builders of a better of a future”, the chancellor outlined plans to help businesses in the North, support businesses in rural areas, and explained his strategy to “raise the skills of the nation” – but just what do these measures mean in practice?

Startups outlines the key policies affecting businesses…

1. Small business rate relief

Osborne has revealed that the government will extend the doubling of small business rate relief in England for another 12 months, up to April 2017. The government is also said to be undertaking a review of current business rates; this review will be announced at the 2016 Budget.

2. Northern Powerhouse

The government will create a £400m “Northern Powerhouse” investment fund, together with the British Business Bank and local LEPs, to help small businesses in the North grow. It will also invest a total of £13bn to improve transport infrastructure across the North by 2020 and an additional £15m funding will be provided to support trade missions to showcase businesses in the North of England.

3.  Enterprise Zones

Osborne has announced that the government plans to create 26 new Enterprise Zones, including redeveloping and expanding eight existing Enterprise Zones. 15 of these zones will cover smaller towns and rural areas which will “spread the benefit” of Entreprise Zones to 108 sites.

View the list of new Enterprise Zones here.

4. Apprenticeship Levy

In a move to bring about “huge reform to raise the skills of the nation”, the chancellor explained how the impending Apprenticeship Levy will impact businesses.

Coming into effect in April 2017, the levy will be set at 0.5% of an employer’s wage bill but the levy will only apply to employers’ pay bills over £3m. This means the levy will only impact 2% of UK businesses.

5. Making tax digital

Announced in the March Budget, the chancellor has revealed how the government plans to digitalise tax and tax returns for small businesses and the self employed.

It will invest £1.3bn to “transform” HMRC into “one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world” and small businesses will have access to digital tax accounts by 2017. By 2020, most businesses and self-employed individuals will have to record their tax affairs digitally and HMRC will provide support to those that need help using digital technology.

6. Start Up Loans

To help fund the growth of more start-ups across the country, the government has announced that it is set to hit its target of facilitating 75,000 Start Up Loans by 2020. Find out more about Start Up Loans and how to apply for one here.

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