The Chancellor's Growth Plan

The Chancellor's Growth Plan
Kwasi Kwarteng’s first set piece as Chancellor of the Exchequer was never going to be easy, even before the 0.5% increase in interest rates on 22nd September. Nevertheless, Mr Kwarteng’s launch of ‘The Growth Plan’ contained some surprises.

Economic update

The Chancellor launched his Growth Plan against a challenging economic backdrop.

Inflation is currently running at an annual 9.9% and on Thursday 22 September, the Bank of England announced its seventh consecutive increase in bank rate to 2.25%. In its latest Monetary Policy Report, the Bank of England said that it expected inflation to peak in October 2022 at just under 11% and remain above 10% over the following few months before starting to fall back.

High inflation and rapidly rising interest rates are taking their toll on public finances. The latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show Government borrowing for August 2022 to be almost twice the figure projected by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) six months ago. Total Government debt now amounts to £2,427.5 billion, equivalent to 96.6% of gross domestic product (GDP). Servicing costs on that debt pile, which have been driven upwards by the cost of servicing gilts linked to the retail prices index (RPI), could reach £100bn in 2022/23.

Ahead of the Chancellor’s statement, there was some discussion about the Bank of England and the Government pulling in opposite economic directions. The bank wants to slow the economy to subdue inflation predicting that the economy would shrink in the third quarter. That would be the second successive quarterly decline, meeting one common definition of a recession.

However, both 10 and 11 Downing Street are focused on economic growth as a way out of the UK’s long-lasting economic malaise, hence the ‘The Growth Plan’ branding of Mr Kwarteng’s statement and an extra £72.4 billion of Government borrowing in the current financial year.

Income tax

The reduction in the basic rate of income tax to 19%, which was originally scheduled for 6 April 2024, will now take effect from the beginning of the 2023/24 tax year. A four-year transition period for gift aid relief will maintain the income tax basic rate relief at 20% until April 2027. A one-year transitional period for relief at source will allow pension schemes to continue claiming relief at 20%. The additional rate tax of 45% that currently applies on annual income over £150,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be abolished from 2023/24. These changes do not affect Scottish tax rates. The additional rate for savings, dividends and the default rates will also be removed from April 2023 and this change will apply across the whole of the UK.

    Dividend taxation

    From 2023/24, the tax rates applicable to dividends will be reduced by 1.25 percentage points, taking them back to 2021/22 levels.

    National Insurance contributions

    The additional 1.25 percentage points previously added to all 2022/23 Class 1 and Class 4 NIC rates will be scrapped. The change will take effect from 6 November 2022. The 1.25% health and social care levy, due to replace the NICs increase from 2023/24, will be abandoned. There is no change to the increased 2022/23 Class 1 primary threshold and Class 4 lower profits threshold announced in the Spring Statement 2022.

    IR35 - off-payroll working

    The 2017 and 2021 reforms to the off-payroll working rules (commonly known as IR35), which required employers to categorise their workers, will be repealed from 6 April 2023. From 2023/24, workers providing their services via an intermediary, such as a personal service company, will be responsible for determining their employment status and paying the appropriate amount of tax and NICs.

    Stamp duty land tax

    Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) rates for residential property will be revised from 23 September 2022, increasing the 0% band threshold from £125,000 to £250,000.

    The Government will also increase relief for first-time buyers, raising the 0% band threshold from £300,000 to £425,000 and the maximum value of property on which they can claim the relief from £500,000 to £625,000.

    These changes only affect England and Northern Ireland. The Scottish Government has announced that it will set out its plans for land and buildings transaction tax as part of the normal budget process and the Welsh Government has given no information about its land transaction tax.

    Corporation tax

    The increases to corporation tax rates due to take effect from April 2023 will no longer take place. The main rate of corporation tax will remain at 19%.

    The corresponding increase in diverted profits tax from 25% to 31% will also be cancelled from April 2023.

    Furthermore, the 5% reduction in the bank corporation tax surcharge will no longer take place, meaning it will remain at 8%.

    Annual investment allowance

    The current £1 million level of the annual investment allowance will be made permanent.

    Capital allowance - super-deduction

    Some of the technical provisions for the super-deduction will be amended to ensure that the relief continues to operate as intended, despite the cancellation of the corporation tax increase.

    Company Share Option Plan

    From April 2023, qualifying companies will be able to issue up to £60,000 of Company Share Option Plan (CSOP) options to employees, doubling the current limit. The ‘worth having’ restriction on share classes within the CSOP will be eased, better aligning the scheme rules with the rules in the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme and widening access to CSOP for growth companies.

    Venture capital schemes

    From April 2023, companies will be able to raise up to £250,000 of seed enterprise investment scheme (SEIS) investment – a £100,000 increase on the current limit. At the same time:

    • the gross asset limit will be increased to £350,000;
    • the company age limit will be raised from two to three years; and
    • the annual investor limit will double to £200,000.

    The SEIS, enterprise investment scheme (EIS) and venture capital trust (VCT) scheme will now be extended beyond 2025.

    Office of Tax simplification

    The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) will be abolished, to be replaced with a mandate to the Treasury and HMRC to focus on simplifying the tax code.

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