Welcome to our round up of the latest business news for our clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you!

Mark Your Calendars: Autumn Statement Set for November 22, 2023

The Autumn Statement is set to take place on November 22, 2023, as confirmed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt. This statement holds significant sway over tax policies, benefits, and a range of other economic matters. Addressing Parliament, the Chancellor will outline the government’s fiscal and economic plans. Notably, this statement could potentially be the Chancellor’s final one before the impending General Election, contingent on the government’s chosen timeline.

As part of this announcement, it was revealed that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has been tasked with preparing an economic and fiscal forecast, to be presented alongside the Autumn Statement.

Speculation has already begun regarding what the Chancellor may or may not unveil. Hunt has downplayed the likelihood of income tax reductions, emphasising the need for further reduction in inflation from its current 6.4% rate. He has stressed that one of the swiftest ways to put money into people’s pockets is by fulfilling the promise to halve inflation. Some reports are even hinting at potential tax hikes in various areas.

Recently, Hunt outlined a growth plan centred on four key pillars: enterprise, education, employment, and investment opportunities.

There may be pledges related to the cost of living, particularly with energy costs remaining relatively high and winter approaching.

While pensions and benefits are typically focal points of financial statements, there are limited rumours regarding potential alterations. It is anticipated that the ‘triple lock’ on pensions will remain intact for the time being, and pensioners could expect an approximate 8% increment in their state pensions. However, speculation suggests that this might undergo changes following the next general election. Other modifications to pension reliefs and benefits may also be on the horizon, and we will keep you informed of any updates.

The government is presently scrutinising feedback from various tax consultations that concluded over the summer. These encompass reforms to the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), broadening the cash basis for unincorporated businesses, and amalgamating the two Research & Development (R&D) schemes for limited companies into one. It is reasonable to anticipate announcements from the Chancellor in these domains.

In addition to any tax policy announcements, the Chancellor will also examine budgets for schools, police, hospitals, and the military. Therefore, we can expect to witness some adjustments in these areas.

Whatever unfolds on November 22, it is evident that tax regulations and business guidelines are becoming increasingly intricate. Seeking expert guidance is imperative. We encourage you to reach out to us for assistance in planning for potential changes. We can conduct a comprehensive tax review to pinpoint any potential tax pitfalls and help you navigate them effectively.

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Are you aware of any budding entrepreneurs?

Encourage them to contact our expert accountants for a free consultation, providing them with a thorough overview of the financial, tax, and accounting considerations essential for new businesses or recent business owners.

The free consultation will help new business owners understand:

  • Selecting the appropriate legal entity.
  • Registering with tax authorities.
  • Managing accounting and bookkeeping.
  • Navigating Value Added Tax (VAT).
  • Handling payroll taxes and pensions.
  • Addressing income and corporation tax.
  • Conducting cash planning and forecasting.
  • Understanding insurance needs.
  • Choosing professional advisors.
  • Implementing digital accounting systems.

Latest HMRC tax webinars for the self-employed

Listed below are a number of live HMRC webinars that will give the self-employed an understanding of key taxes that affect them. The webinars are free and last around an hour.

Webinars for the self-employed:

Residential property income for individuals – expenses, and deductions
Wed 20 Sep at 11:45am

Capital allowances and vehicles
Thu 21 Sep at 11:45am
Wed 22 Nov at 11:45am

How to apply the VAT reverse charge for construction services
Fri 22 Sep at 1:45pm

Capital Allowances for the self-employed
Tue 26 Sep at 9:45am

Record keeping for the self-employed
Wed 27 Sep at 9:45am

Business expenses for the self-employed
Thu 28 Sep at 11:45am

Car expenses for the self-employed
Thu 28 Sep at 1:45pm

Construction Industry Scheme for contractors
Thu 9 Nov at 9:45am

Construction Industry Scheme for subcontractors
Mon 13 Nov at 11:45am

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UK rejoins Horizon Europe:

Following Brexit, the UK has now re-entered Horizon Europe, the world’s largest research collaboration program. As of September 7, UK researchers can seek grants and participate in projects under this program, with assurance of full association until its conclusion in 2027. Additionally, the UK will join the governance of EU programs, shaping future collaborations. This move also enables UK researchers to lead consortia in upcoming Horizon Europe projects. Furthermore, the UK will now be associated with Copernicus, the European Earth Observation program, granting access to crucial data for early warnings on events like floods and fires, along with the ability to bid for contracts – a privilege lost since Brexit.

See: UK joins Horizon Europe under a new bespoke deal – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

ICO Seeks Input on Draft Guidance for Biometric Data

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has developed guidance concerning biometric data and related technologies.

This preliminary guidance addresses the definition of biometric data according to the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and outlines how data protection regulations are applicable in the context of employing biometric recognition systems.

Businesses utilise biometric recognition systems as tools to authenticate customers’ identities in the digital realm. These systems encompass technologies like facial recognition, voice recognition, and fingerprint scanning.

The ICO’s draft guidance encompasses the following areas:

  • Defining biometric data.
  • Determining when it qualifies as special category data.
  • Its application within biometric recognition systems.
  • The data protection obligations that must be adhered to.

This guidance is intended for organisations either currently utilising or contemplating the use of biometric recognition systems. It is also relevant for vendors of such systems. The guide’s objective is to provide businesses and organisations with a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework and the ICO’s recommendations for best practices.

See: Guidance on biometric data | ICO

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National Manufacturing Day 2023

National Manufacturing Day 2023 is set to take place on Thursday, September 28th. Manufacturers across the UK will once again extend invitations to the public, offering them a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse into the inner workings of their factories and facilities as part of this nationwide Open House event.

Local communities will seize the chance to explore the array of potential careers available within the remarkably diverse manufacturing sector. Employers will interact with individuals across all age groups – from school graduates to those considering a career change, as well as local residents.

For both Make UK and Manufacturers, this presents an ideal platform to highlight the multifaceted nature of this captivating sector, the wide spectrum of highly skilled positions available, and the incredible prospects for reskilling and career advancement within the UK’s manufacturing industry.

We encourage more employers to join the growing ranks who have committed to opening their doors on National Manufacturing Day. By doing so, you contribute to raising awareness about manufacturing and the outstanding career opportunities that await the next generation.

See: Home | NMD 2023 (nationalmanufacturingday.org)

AI Safety Summit 

The AI Safety Summit is scheduled to occur on November 1st and 2nd at Bletchley Park.

This summit will assemble key nations, leading technology entities, academic institutions, and civil society to facilitate swift national and international initiatives on the cutting edge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) advancement.

The primary focus of the summit will be on addressing risks amplified by the most potent AI systems, particularly those associated with their potentially hazardous capabilities. This encompasses concerns like the widespread access to information that could jeopardise biosecurity. Furthermore, the summit will emphasise the beneficial use of safe AI, ranging from life-saving medical technologies to enhanced transportation systems.

The event will draw upon various viewpoints, gathered both before and during the summit, to shape these discussions. The UK government has expressed its commitment to collaborating closely with global partners to ensure the safety of frontier AI, allowing nations and citizens worldwide to harness its advantages today and in the future. As part of an iterative and consultative process, the UK is now sharing five objectives that will guide the discussions at the summit:

  • Establishing a shared understanding of the risks posed by frontier AI and the necessity for action.
  • Advancing an international collaboration process for frontier AI safety, including support for national and global frameworks.
  • Identifying appropriate measures for organisations to enhance frontier AI safety.
  • Identifying potential areas for collaboration in AI safety research, such as evaluating model capabilities and developing new standards for governance.
  • Showcasing how the safe development of AI can have a positive global impact.

Accelerating investment, deployment, and capabilities in AI presents significant opportunities for productivity and the public good, with potential growth of up to $7 trillion over the next decade and accelerated drug discovery. However, the absence of adequate safeguards can also pose substantial transnational risks. Addressing these risks, particularly at the international level, has become increasingly pressing.

Various entities, including individual countries, international organisations, businesses, academia, and civil society, are already engaged in critical work and fostering international collaboration in AI, both at the UN and within organisations such as the OECD, GPAI, Council of Europe, G7, G20, and standard development organisations. The summit will build upon these vital initiatives by establishing concrete next steps to mitigate risks associated with frontier AI. This includes further deliberation on how to implement risk-mitigation measures within frontier AI organisations, evaluating key areas for international collaboration to support safe frontier AI, and crafting a long-term action plan.

See: UK government sets out AI Safety Summit ambitions – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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New Hospitality Employment Programme

A new Hospitality Employment Programme is set to launch in Liverpool, with plans for expansion to other major cities in the coming months. This pilot scheme aims to provide benefit claimants with industry-recognised accreditation, endorsed by leading names in the sector including Greene King, Marriott Hotels, and ACC Liverpool.

This initiative, known as the Hospitality Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP), is a collaborative effort between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and UK Hospitality. It is tailored to offer specialised training from industry professionals to jobseekers, enabling them to pursue careers in the hospitality sector. This, in turn, will bolster workforce involvement in the industry and contribute to economic growth.

Participants who are benefit claimants will undergo comprehensive training and gain accredited qualifications in crucial areas like health and safety, food safety, licensing, and conflict resolution. These achievements will be documented in their Hospitality Skills Passport – a digital credential that can be highlighted on CVs, affirming that jobseekers possess the requisite skills for the sector. Additionally, they will receive training in confidence-building and assertiveness to further develop personal skills.

The programme will culminate in guaranteed job interviews for all participants, offering them a chance to apply their newly acquired skills and potentially opening doors to apprenticeships.

See: Government joins forces with industry to create next generation of hospitality leaders – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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