Burning Issue: What is your reaction to the Autumn Statement?

January 4, 2016

Ian Malcolm (pictured)

Managing director, ElringKlinger (GB)

On tax and the Apprenticeship Levy…

The U-turn in tax credits is absurd – the tax credits cost of £30 billion per annum is completely unsustainable. Transport investment is welcomed if it becomes a reality but, if it is misplaced, HS2 won’t achieve dissemination of growth. The Apprenticeship Levy is not going to help in the large scale problem of the skills gap; the Chancellor is robbing Peter to pay Paul. The increase in funding per head for apprentices is good news, as is protecting adult learning funding, though not in real terms. I cannot see how the numbers are adding up and don’t think the public will either; I also felt that the Labour response was very poor, with nothing substantial to say.

Rob Charlton

CEO, _space group architecture

On the North and housing…

The continued support for Enterprise Zones has to be a positive for the North. Also, councils being able to keep Business Rates revenue will help local regeneration.

The increase in spending on housing is also welcomed, the plan being to deliver 400,000 affordable homes by 2020. There doesn’t seem to be any detail as to how this will be achieved, however, his focus is on home ownership rather than rental. This would suggest that this programme will be delivered by volume house builders. He has also continued with the right-to-buy for housing association tenants – I still fail to see the logic in this policy.

Louise Barker

Tax manager, Tait Walker

On charities…

Unfortunately the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015 documents do not clarify the position for charities once the power over Business Rates is devolved to Local Authorities. However, the documents do state that the Department for Communities and Local Government will be consulting over the implementation of the change by the end of the Parliament. Last year, Business Rates Relief was worth £1.7bn to the sector. Once responsibility is devolved it is possible that the relief will be removed or diluted. I hope that through the consultation, protection will be given to charities over Business Rates Relief.

Chris Hodgson

Tax associate, Tait Walker

On tax and pensions…

The Autumn Statement is also when the Chancellor announces new anti-avoidance rules designed to block perceived abuses by taxpayers. This year was no exception with a number of changes being announced. George Osborne also announced extra expenditure to fund a crackdown on tax avoidance, which is hoped to raise £5 billion. There was good news for pensioners with the triple lock being maintained and an increase in the basic state pension to £119.30 with effect from 6 April 2016.