Autumn statement encouraging for the smallest businesses, but questions remain

IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, have reacted to announcements contained within the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement address.

IPSE Chief Executive Chris Bryce said:

"We did not hear the expected response to HMRC’s discussion document on the IR35 small business tax. The Government has rightly decided to take more time to reflect on any reform to this unwieldy and burdensome tax. We are reassured that the Government has listened to IPSE, other business groups’ and our members' serious concerns on this and we will continue to work with Government to ensure a fair tax system for freelance businesses."

On tax relief for work-related travel and subsistence:

“We have always been clear that changes to tax relief for travel and subsistence should not penalise freelance businesses. Today’s announcement suggests that these firms will still be able to claim, as can every other business, but this is very much dependent on the outcome of the Government’s IR35 review.

On the departmental spending review:

“We were pleased the cut to the BIS budget was less severe than expected. We hope the 17 per cent cut announced will mean key BIS initiatives are not impacted. The work of BIS is essential to the smallest businesses, playing a crucial role in the soon to be established, Small Business commissioner and the Self-employment review due to report back in early 2015.

On infrastructure:

“We were pleased to hear that developing the UK’s vital infrastructure remains a top priority for the Government. It’s clear that the self-employed do more business when they’re better connected. They need access to good, effective infrastructure to prosper, and to maximise their contribution to the economy.

On the Northern Powerhouse:

“The Chancellor’s continued focus on the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ agenda will be welcome news for freelancers across the UK. Ensuring that centres of growth are created outside of London is essential to a balanced economy, while the devolution will allow councils to be more competitive and drive more business to their area.

On the pledge for increased funding for housing:

“This new funding could be the shot in the arm the construction industry needs. More affordable housing will always be welcome news, and the state of the industry is often indicative of that of the wider economy – so an extra boost will prove positive in the longer term as well. The Government will be relying on the 800,000 self-employed workers who power the construction industry in order to get the job done.

On the introduction of an Apprenticeships Levy:

“In principle, the Levy could be an effective means of enhancing vocational education and developing the skills of the next generation’s workforce. But it’s essential that SMEs and the self-employed are given access to the funds – even if they don’t contribute directly – because they’re best placed to train apprentices. The funding should also be made available for lesser but equally important training such as NVQs and plant operator qualifications.”

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