Autumn Statement 2013: What it means for business

In his autumn statement George Osborne declared the UK deficit will be eliminated by 2019. The biggest news for many will be a 2% business rate cap from next April; there's also new incentives for shale gas investment and John Lewis-type mutual ownership schemes.

Up to 20,000 new apprenticeships are also promised by the Chancellor. Let's look at the changes in detail. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
Business Rates - John Longworth, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, welcomed the business rates move but told the Telegraph UK businesses still pay far more in property taxes than their counterparts in countries like Germany and France.

"Which undercuts the government's stated aim of maximum tax competitiveness. A cap on rate rises is better than nothing, but not nearly good enough."

For some, business rates many remain out of touch with property values, reducing the value of a cap. The CBI's Director-General, John Cridland says capping business rates "will help drive investment, create jobs and lead to more windows opening up on the high street. It will also help our manufacturers and factories to remain competitive in the global market place."

There is also a promise to look at reforming the business rate system for 2017, something many business lobby groups have been pushing for.

Small businesses - Every business operating on a premise with a rateable value up to £50,000 now gets a business rates discount worth up to £1,000. Osborne claims the move will boost small pubs and shops, à la Mary Portas.

There's also a new reoccupation relief which should halve business rates for new occupants.

Capital Gains Tax (or the 'oligarch tax') - In future, foreigners who sell any second homes will need to stump up capital gains tax, though whether the plan will apply to British people living abroad, classed as non-resident, but still own a UK property, is unclear.

Just how easy the tax will be able to collect, particularly from tax havens, remains to be seen.

Bank Levy - The rate of the bank levy rises to 0.156% from next year raising £2.7bn for the next financial year.

Shale Gas - there's a new tax allowance for investing in this sector.

Apprenticeships - 20,000 more apprenticeships announced and more start-up loans for up to 50,000 entrepreneurs claims Osborne.

Housing - New loans worth up to £1bn are announced to speed up new housing development schemes.

Stamp Duty - From April investors investing in companies listed on London's junior Aim stock market won't have to pay the 0.5pc stamp duty.

National Insurance - Osborne confirmed he would abolish employer National Insurance contributions for the under-21s from April 2015, with the exception of those earning £42,285 or more.

Film Tax Relief - the existing film tax relief scheme will be made more generous. For the first time, regional theatre may also benefit.

More broadly, Osborne has also announced more measures to head off tax avoidance, evasion and fraud - potentially raising a claimed £9bn over the next five years.

Meanwhile the UK growth forecast for this year is revised from 0.6% to 1.4% while the growth forecast for 2014 is pushed higher to 2.4%.
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