George the Builder – can he fix it?

Published: Wednesday 25 November 2015

Fresh (or maybe not so fresh) from our success at The British Accountancy Awards (where we won Top 50 Tax Team of the year!), I was hoping that there wouldn’t be too many changes to the tax rules to pore over in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review.  It would appear as though the Chancellor had some sympathy for my tiredness because, whilst he spoke for more than an hour about what he was going to spend and what he was going to cut, there weren’t a great many changes to the tax regime to help him raise funds.

The UK economy is continuing to outperform the Eurozone and is the fastest growing country in the G20, which has resulted in the Chancellor having to borrow £8bn less than originally forecast.  This “saving” has enabled him to have a complete u-turn on his tax credit proposals, which caused such an outcry when they were announced that they were defeated in the House of Lords.. 

Other revenue raising measures were mentioned, including a 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax “surcharge” for those buying second homes or buy to let residential properties and a 0.5% apprenticeship levy applying to payroll costs above £3m, which will only apply to the largest 2% of employers.

There was the usual rhetoric about clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion with a new 60% penalty for those successfully challenged under the General Anti Abuse Rule (GAAR). In practice HMRC will actually have to challenge someone under the GAAR first, which they don’t seem to have done since it was enacted in 2013.

Although George can’t remove the “tampon tax” without EU consent, he has promised that any monies raised through it will be directed to women’s charities.

The 3% diesel supplement on company cars, that was due to be removed in April 2016, will now stay in place until 2020, which I’m sure was for George to try and maintain his “green” credentials.

To help pay towards social care costs councils will be able to add 2% to council tax bills. They will also have the flexibility to set differing business rates to try to entice new businesses into their area.

Despite the lack of revenue raising measures, monies were promised to build new homes, new transport infrastructure, a seven days a week NHS and protection of the Police Budget.  Where all of these monies are going to come from I’m not sure, but George the Builder is laying what he believes to be the foundations for a prosperous future for the UK.