London-based accountants, Grunberg & Co, has said that businesses across the region will be disappointed by the lack of reassurances during these uncertain times in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement.
The Spring Statement is intended to be a more low-key event than the annual Autumn Budget, but Grunberg & Co says the ongoing debate around Brexit meant that it played second fiddle to other events in Parliament.
Robert Bean, Managing Partner at Grunberg & Co, said: “Mr Hammond spoke about the UK’s ‘remarkably robust’ economy and recognised that ‘uncertainty hangs over it’, however, he failed to do enough to help small and medium-sized businesses to plan ahead.
“Nothing was said of any support that would be given to businesses in the event of the UK crashing out, other than some previously announced tariff precautions, so they have been offered little to no clarity on their position post-Brexit. This is disappointing and many will feel that more could have been done.”
In a Written Ministerial Statement released by HM Treasury after the Statement, the Chancellor also announced a number of consultations on tax following announcements he had made in the Autumn Budget.
These consultations will cover a wide range of matters, including preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for small and medium-sized enterprises, draft regulation on the National Insurance Contributions (NIC) Employment Allowance that would restrict it to businesses with an employer NIC bill below £100,000 and a call for evidence on lettings relief and the final period exemption, which extends private residence relief in capital gains tax.
“Businesses need to be aware of these consultations, however, we suspect that the outcome of the upcoming Brexit votes and following negotiation could lead to delays or changes to the Government’s plans,” added Robert. “Unfortunately, many businesses will still be left in limbo by today’s Statement at a time when they needed greater clarity.”
Robert added that the only glimmering hope in the entire speech was talk of tackling late payments. The Chancellor said that listed companies would have to report on their payment practices within their company accounts. Late payments are currently estimated to cost UK SMEs £6.7 billion annually.
He added: “Late payments are the ‘scourge’ of small businesses, but this one step is not enough to give small businesses the true support they need to grow and flourish.”
Grunberg & Co is calling on local businesses to seek advice from their trusted advisor in light of the uncertainty that they are facing from the indecision over Brexit.