No Osborne bonanza for business

George Osborne's difficult autumn statement gave little away to ordinary consumers though there is a re-energised right-to-buy scheme for council and housing association tenants, plus a delay on the planned fuel duty rise and other titbits. But what about the impact for business? The additional £20bn of funding from pension funds and capital markets will certainly help some sectors. Let's have a sort through.

New deal?

Investors putting money into small start-ups (under £150,000) now get a decent tax break - 50%; useful if you've capital gains to shelter.

There's been a switch for the Large Company Research & Development Tax Credit. That now is turned into a proper tax credit rather than being a deduction against profits. There will be an extension of preferential capital allowance rates for areas including Liverpool, Sheffield, the Black Country and Humber Valley.


Pensions auto-enrolment - an attempt by the government to tackle the UK's pension provision crisis - has been rolled back a year. Companies with fewer than 50 staff won't have to start automatically enrolling employees in pension schemes. Less pressure for company bosses but not a good move for many employees.

Businesses that are energy-entensive now have up to £100m help from government to help them tackle the carbon price floor (£16 a tonne from April) on electricity costs, though any compensation will be subject to a barrage of state aid rules.

Additionally, there will also be tax relief from the UK climate change levy. Some companies will be able to claw back a 65% rebate on the tax, planned to rise to 90% come April 2013 (a cost to the Treasury of £40m).

Faster journeys

There will also be an extension of Air Passenger Duty (APD) for flights taken on business jets, from 1 April 2013.

Many will welcome new investment in Britain's motorway and A road network, plus railways will receive an extra £6bn in infrastructure expenditure. A new hub airport in the Thames estuary area is also pencilled in.

The electrification of the Leeds to Manchester rail route is now confirmed and there will be a new line linking Oxford to Milton Keynes and Bedford, amongst other changes.

Enough? Or too little too late?
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