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Spring Statement 2022 – key aspects for individuals and business

spring budget statement

Sunak’s tax cuts to tackle the cost-of-living crisis

Responding to the latest inflation figures, the chancellor keeps attention on the long-term picture.

The combined pressure on the UK’s economy from the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine took centre stage in the chancellor’s 2022 Spring Statement, as he outlined his planned support for households and businesses.

Keeping a focus on the way ahead and outlining a long-term tax plan designed to create the conditions for higher growth and further tax cuts in future, the chancellor’s statement lasted less than 30 minutes.

This breaks the record for the shortest budget statement, held by Benjamin Disraeli since 1867 with a speech lasting 45 minutes.  It was just a tenth of the longest ever, delivered by Gladstone in 1853, lasting 4 hours 45 minutes.

With the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasting that inflation will average 7.4% this year, the chancellor outlined a series of measures designed to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and benefit pockets today, including a further £500 million for the Household Support Fund.  This doubles the pot announced last autumn and will continue to be distributed by local authorities to those in most need with food, energy, and water bills.

He announced a £3,000 rise in the threshold before workers’ pay national insurance contributions.  The starting point is now in line with income tax, so from July neither income tax nor national insurance will be payable on the first £12,570 of income.  However, the chancellor confirmed that the planned 1.25% rise in national insurance contributions would still go ahead.

The Spring Statement also mentioned the soaring price of fuel at the pumps, due to worldwide supply disruption surrounding Russia and the sanctions imposed following its invasion of Ukraine.  The chancellor responded by announcing a 5p per litre reduction in fuel excise duty for the next 12 months, with effect the same day[1].

Also on the energy agenda, the government announced a cut in the VAT rate to zero for homeowners installing sustainable energy solutions, including solar panels, heat pumps, insulation and wind or water turbines.

The cost of servicing the national debt has risen for the third month in a row and predictions are that service costs will rise as high as £83bn during the next fiscal year, the highest level on record.  Borrowing as a percentage of GDP is expected to be 83.5% of GDP in the coming year.

Against this backdrop, Mr Sunak said it would not be responsible to make further tax cuts now, but he gave a flavour of his future-focused tax planning strategy, by promising that if the economy remained on track for the predicted growth in future years, the basic rate of income tax would be cut from 20% to 19% in 2024.

However, the previously announced freezing of many allowances remains in place, including personal income and higher rate tax allowances from 2022-23 onwards, and exempt amounts for Capital Gains Tax, Pensions Lifetime Allowance and the threshold for Inheritance Tax all staying at their current rate up to and including 2025-26.

The chancellor also outlined his long-term strategy to drive up innovation and skills and to encourage investment towards a high productivity economy.

For small businesses, there will be an extension to the Employment Allowance, which provides relief from National Insurance payments to encourage employment.  This will increase by £1,000 to £5,000 from April.

On the high street, retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses will benefit from a 50% discount on business rates bill from April, up to £110,000.

Mr Sunak predicted further incentives in the Autumn Budget following consultation with business, looking at how best to boost investment in people, capital, and ideas to boost UK productivity.  This will include a review of technical skills development, including the apprenticeship levy, reform of research and development tax credits, and routes to increase private sector capital investment.

Our Managing Partner, Dinesh Raja, commented:

“This was a short, sharp statement from the chancellor, focused, as expected, on the economic impact of the pandemic and the fall-out from Russian action in Ukraine.

Facing up to the current world order seems to have kept the chancellor away from some of the granular detail in tax planning that we have been expecting, including an overhaul of inheritance tax following the recent consultation.  While the likely changes continue to wait in the wings, individuals and anyone planning to sell their business should keep a close eye on their tax planning.”

Looking to property, the announcements around nil VAT on energy-efficient measures will be welcome for landlords who need to comply with long term energy efficiency targets.  There were no new incentives for the residential property market, as this has remained very busy even after the ending of a temporary reduction of stamp duty.”

If you would like any more information about this article, then please feel free to contact us on telephone 020 8221 8000.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

[1] At 6pm on 23 March 2022

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