Autumn Statement predictions 2016

10 minute read
21 November 2016

On Wednesday 23 November at 12:30, UK Chancellor Phillip Hammond will deliver his first Autumn Statement. Gowling WLG will be following the event live and tweeting reactions from our lawyers. In the meantime, a number of our lawyers have made predictions about what they would like to hear. If you would like to speak any of our experts, please contact Dawn Beddard or Tim Priestman.

Robert Breedon

Partner - Health and care

"I would like to see additional funding made available to address the critical state of social care which has suffered following years of funding cuts. The current trajectory for social care services is unsustainable without additional funding. I would also like to see ring-fenced funding being made available to focus on public health services and mental health services."

"A high-profile promise during the Brexit campaign earlier this year was a commitment to increased funding for the NHS. I therefore expect to see a modest increase in healthcare spending in line with funding commitments over recent years."

Stephen Kenny

Partner - Infrastructure

"The Chancellor has a challenge with predictions of weaker growth in the economy and borrowing higher than forecast. I would expect measures to help the housing supply and investment in local transport/highways and flood defence schemes but I would not expect a massive programme of social infrastructure spend."

Charles Bond

Partner - Infrastructure

"With the pound fluctuating and Brexit effects only now starting, there may be truth in rumours that fiscal policy will soon overshadow monetary policy. Stimulating growth through fiscal policy may lead to a greater reliance on aggregates, leading to a focus on Keynesian economics and a rise in government-led spending on infrastructure. Reverting back to old fashioned tax and spend that helped bring the Great Depression to a close may be good news for the mining industry. This would help increase demand for industrial commodities. If other countries follow, then the international commodity market may rally faster than expected, and miners, including those with projects in the UK, for example in Cornwall, could be back in favour."

Dominic Richardson

Director - Infrastructure

"It would be encouraging to see a commitment to funding the delivery of the East West Rail Project in accordance with the recommendations made by the National Infrastructure Commission's report this week. More generally announcements concerning schemes such as the extension of Midland Metro to Curzon St and Birmingham Airport would provide reassurance that this Government has a long term commitment to infrastructure improvement nationally."

Jonathan Chamberlain

Partner - Employment

"HMRC should commit to working with BEIS and the Taylor Review to produce unified, practical definitions and models of employee, worker and self-employed so that innovative businesses can thrive, vulnerable individuals are protected and proper taxes are paid. The current arrangements are dysfunctional and damaging."

James Brockhurst

Senior associate - Private client services

"The new Chancellor remains anonymous in the tax world. Not much is known on his fiscal policy."

"Many will be watching how the Chancellor approaches the April 2017 reforms on the taxation of non-domiciliaries. The reforms are wide-ranging and will impact offshore trusts. There is also a clampdown on the ownership of UK residential property through offshore structures. The UK's wealthy non-domiciled individuals are not disillusioned about the tax rules, but in the way the government is constantly changing the rules. The international wealthy elite will be keeping a keen eye on Hammond and the rhetoric he deploys."

"It would be good to see an announcement on the reforms to the taxation of offshore life policies. They are a popular investment product, but the tax rules contain some serious traps for the unwary, especially when policyholders make 'partial surrenders'. I have had to help two clients recently who suffered tax rates as high as 800% because of these profoundly harsh rules. The government has been reviewing the rules since the summer."

Ian Chapman-Curry

Principal Associate - Pensions

"The Chancellor needs to encourage saving in pensions. This should be targeted where it's needed most ie low to moderate earners. This could include providing government credits to match contributions for low earners, increasing participation and contribution rates for automatic enrolment schemes, and a push on financial literacy in schools and the workplace. The government should also clarify the role of Lifetime ISAs in relation to pension saving and managing intergenerational fairness. Any push for greater pension savings does, however, need to recognise the substantial financial burdens falling on UK businesses, including the National Living Wage."

"We expect HM Treasury will be focused on revenue raising to bolster finances. This could mean further downward adjustments to the annual and/or lifetime allowances. Pension scams and cold calling are a real threat to the success of the pension flexibility introduced by the Chancellor's predecessor. More powers to tackle scammers, fraudsters and cold-callers would be sensible and popular. We expect investing in Britain to be a key theme for the Autumn Statement. Pension schemes could be encouraged to 'do their bit' by investing in infrastructure and social investments."

"HMRC's recent consultation on the reining in of salary sacrifice is likely to produce results. It's unlikely to affect pension contributions, childcare, workplace nurseries or cycles, as these are "benefits that the government specifically wants to encourage employers to provide". But the consultation warned that we should not expect other 'health-related' or flexible benefit packages to continue to be exempted in the same way. If the exemption is removed, company flex schemes could require radical adjustment, some employers' medical benefit funding plans will need to be rethought and contractual terms will need to be reviewed."

Lee Nuttall

Partner - Head of UK tax

"The corporation tax rate is likely to reduce further than 17% in some instances."

"Yes, we will be at 17% for the mainstream corporation tax rate by 2020, but it could go down to 15% and as far as 10% (for some profit streams) to keep the UK competitive in a world of higher tariffs. So, for example, to ensure that a car manufacturer would not be worse off if duties were imposed by Europe on UK imports, the extra cost of those duties would be balanced by a smaller tax bill on the resulting profits from exports to Europe."

"Lower corporation tax would be good for jobs and trade balances, but not good for tax receipts, though a Laffer curve may suggest that the smaller the rate the more the receipts because (1) companies don't bother to avoid it and (2) more businesses are attracted to the UK."

"10% would be an extremely competitive tax rate but only the same as the patent box rate and the same effective rate following the application of entrepreneurs' relief to business gains. Not beyond the realms of possibility."

"This could be signalled as an intention, as a shot across the bows of any moves to impose a fiscal/trade barrier between Europe and the UK."

SDLT Surcharge

"The introduction of the 3% surcharge for additional residential properties was a surprise, and has proved controversial. Applying the surcharge to institutional investors caused anger among those who had hitherto been encouraged by Government to increase the supply of homes-for-rent. I'd like to see 'large investors' taken out of the charge, an exclusion that Government had originally signalled would be the case. It was not all why the original decision was reversed and the decision to impose the extra charge has meant that some schemes have been postponed or cancelled altogether and some participants have moved out of this market."

"Student accommodation is specifically exempted from the surcharge, and it may be that this policy decision will be revisited."

Multiple dwellings relief

"An easy target to raise more revenue would be a modification (or abolition) of multiple dwellings relief from SDLT. This relief reduces the liability to SDLT on acquisitions of two or more residential properties by basing the calculation of the liability on the mean average price of those properties (rather than on a gross price). The Government would do well to remember the rationale for MDR - to encourage the supply of homes-for-rent. I am not aware that the housing crisis has disappeared and so the rationale for retaining the relief remains strong."

Commercial SDLT rates

"For commercial rates of SDLT, more change is likely. Only in the Finance Act 2016 was the new slice system introduced for calculating SDLT (an improvement on the old 'slab' system). But the slices and the rates - currently 0% for the first slice of £150k; 2% for £250k-500k and 5% thereafter - could be made more progressive, with the introduction of an additional slice (say, 7% for the slice above £3m)."

Mixed Acquisitions

"The higher residential rates can be avoided where a mixture of residential and commercial property is purchased together. It would not be a surprise if the two types were to be disaggregated, and the residential rates (including the surcharge) applied to the residential acquisition, and commercial rates to the commercial acquisition."

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