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!
The Autumn Statement Is Scheduled for 22 November 2023
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, has confirmed that the Autumn Statement will be on 22 November 2023. The Autumn Statement can affect tax policy, benefits, and much more. The Chancellor will make his announcement to Parliament, setting out the Government’s plans on all matters fiscal and economic. Interestingly, this could be the Chancellor’s last statement before the next General Election, depending on the time frame that the government chooses.
Included in the announcement was the news that ‘The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have been commissioned to prepare an economic and fiscal forecast to be presented to Parliament alongside his Autumn Statement.’
Rumours have already started about what the Chancellor will – and won’t – announce, so what are some of the likely changes?
Mr Hunt is already playing down the prospect of income tax cuts and he insists inflation needs to come down further from its rate of 6.4%, he has recently stated that to put money into people’s pockets quickly, the fastest thing would be to deliver on the pledge to halve inflation. Indeed, some news outlets are predicting a tax rise in a number of other areas.
He has lately talked of a four-point growth plan focusing on enterprise, education, employment, and investment opportunities.
We could see some promises around the cost of living, with energy bills still relatively high and winter approaching.
Pensions and benefits are always a big focus of any financial statement, though there are not many rumours about potential changes. We predict the ‘triple lock’ on pensions will stay in place for now and pensioners can expect around an 8% increase to their state pension. Rumours flourish that this may change after the next general election. There may be other changes to pensions reliefs and benefits, and we will keep you up to date as and when we hear any news.
The government is currently analysing responses to several tax consultations that closed in the summer. These include reform of the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), expanding the cash basis for unincorporated businesses, and merging the two Research &Development (R&D) schemes for limited companies into one. It’s reasonable to expect the Chancellor to make announcements in these areas.
Alongside any announcements to tax policy, the Chancellor will be looking at budgets for schools, the police, hospitals, and the military. Expect to see some changes to these.
Whatever happens on the 22 November, we can be sure that tax rules and business regulations are progressively becoming more complicated. Getting expert help is essential. Please contact us about planning for change. We can provide a full tax review which will help identify the marginal tax traps waiting for you – and help you to avoid them.
Do You Know of Anyone Starting a Business?
Then ask us about our comprehensive guide to the financial, tax, and accounting considerations of starting a business, “The New Business Kit”, which we offer free to start ups or those who have recently made the jump into business ownership.
The guide helps start-ups think about:
- Selecting a legal entity;
- Registering with the tax authorities;
- Accounting and bookkeeping;
- Value Added Tax;
- Payroll taxes and pensions;
- Income and corporation tax;
- Cash planning and forecasting;
- Selecting professional advisers; and
- Digital accounting systems.
In addition, there is a section of useful names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Just ask – it is free!
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
UK Rejoins Horizon Europe
UK scientists now have access to the world’s largest research collaboration programme, Horizon Europe, which was lost as a result of Brexit.
From 7 September, UK researchers can apply for grants and bid to take part in projects under the Horizon programme, with certainty that the UK will be participating as a fully associated member for the remaining life of the programme to 2027.
Once adopted, the UK will also be able to join the governance of EU programmes – which the UK has been excluded from over the last three years – ensuring we can shape collaboration taking place next year. UK researchers will also be able to lead consortia in the next work programme of Horizon Europe projects.
The UK will also associate to Copernicus, the European Earth Observation programme. This will provide the UK’s earth observation sector with access to unique data – valuable to helping with early flood and fire warnings, for example – and with the ability to bid for contracts, which they haven’t been able to access for three years since Brexit.
ICO Consultation on the Draft Biometric Data Guidance
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has produced guidance on biometric data and biometric technologies.
The draft guidance looks at the definition of biometric data under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and how data protection law applies when using biometric recognition systems.
Biometric recognition systems are tools used by businesses to verify customers’ identity in the digital world. For example, facial recognition technology, voice recognition, fingerprint scanning, etc.
The ICO’s draft guidance covers:
- what biometric data is;
- when it is considered special category data;
- its use in biometric recognition systems; and
- the data protection requirements you need to comply with.
This guidance is for organisations that use or are considering using biometric recognition systems. It is also for vendors of these systems. The aim of the guide is to help businesses and organisations understand the law and the ICO’s recommendations for good practice.
National Manufacturing Day 2023
National Manufacturing Day is on Thursday 28 September 2023. Manufacturers throughout the UK will once again be opening their doors to members of the public who will be invited into factories and sites for a behind-the-scenes look at how Manufacturers’ facilities work, as part of this UK-wide Open House.
Local communities will have the chance to see the potential careers and jobs on offer within the wonderfully diverse manufacturing sector, as employers engage with all age groups – from school leavers, graduates, people looking to reskill, and the local residents.
For Make UK and Manufacturers, this is an opportunity to showcase the diversity of a truly fascinating sector, the range of highly skilled jobs on offer, and the amazing opportunities for reskilling and career development within manufacturing in the UK.
Join the ever-growing number of employers who have pledged to open their doors on National Manufacturing Day and help to grow the awareness of manufacturing and the fantastic careers which can be made for the next generation.
AI Safety Summit
The AI Safety Summit will take place on the 1st and 2nd November at Bletchley Park.
The summit will bring together key countries, as well as leading technology organisations, academia, and civil society to inform rapid national and international action at the frontier of Artificial Intelligence (AI) development.
The summit will focus on risks created or significantly exacerbated by the most powerful AI systems, particularly those associated with the potentially dangerous capabilities of these systems. For example, this would include the proliferation of access to information which could undermine biosecurity. The summit will also focus on how safe AI can be used for public good and to improve people’s lives – from lifesaving medical technology to safer transport.
The summit will draw on a range of perspectives both prior to and at the event itself to inform these discussions. The UK government has stated that it looks forward to working closely with global partners on these issues to make frontier AI safe, and to ensure nations and citizens globally can realise its benefits, now and in the future. As part of an iterative and consultative process, the UK is now sharing the five objectives which will be progressed. These build upon initial stakeholder consultation and evidence-gathering and will frame the discussion at the summit:
- a shared understanding of the risks posed by frontier AI and the need for action;
- a forward process for international collaboration on frontier AI safety, including how best to support national and international frameworks;
- appropriate measures which individual organisations should take to increase frontier AI safety;
- areas for potential collaboration on AI safety research, including evaluating model capabilities and the development of new standards to support governance; and
- showcase how ensuring the safe development of AI will enable AI to be used for good globally.
Accelerating AI investment, deployment and capabilities represents enormous opportunities for productivity and public good. The emergence of models with increasingly general capabilities, and step changes in accessibility and application, have created the prospect of up to $7 trillion in growth over the next 10 years and significantly faster drug discovery.
However, without appropriate guardrails, this technology also poses significant risks in ways that do not respect national boundaries. The need to address these risks, including at an international level, is increasingly urgent.
Individual countries, international organisations, businesses, academia, and civil society are already taking forward critical work and driving international collaboration on AI including at the UN, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), Council of Europe, G7, G20, and standard development organisations. The summit will build on these important initiatives by agreeing practical next steps to address risks from frontier AI. This will include further discussions on how to operationalise risk-mitigation measures at frontier AI organisations, assessment of the most important areas for international collaboration to support safe frontier AI, and a roadmap for longer-term action.
The Retail Movement Scheme
The Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme (ReMoS) will start on 1 October 2023, replacing the existing Scheme for Temporary Agrifood Movements into Northern Ireland (STAMNI) from that point.
Businesses are now able to register for the Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme (NIRMS). If you have pre-registered, you can review and confirm your information to register.
Traders will need to provide:
- their type of business;
- departure and arrival establishments in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland;
- a UK Food Business Operator registration number; and
- contact information.
Businesses moving goods under the scheme will be able to benefit from the new green lane arrangements provided for in the Windsor Framework. This means that businesses will:
- avoid extensive and costly certification and assurance processes; and
- be able to move products that meet UK public health, organics, and fisheries rules.
All businesses responsible for selling or facilitating the movement of food for final consumption in Northern Ireland are eligible to benefit from these simplified arrangements. This includes:
- retailers selling finished goods to end consumers;
- hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants;
- those providing food to the public sector – for example schools, hospitals, and prisons;
- wholesalers supplying smaller retail outlets; and
- businesses operating factory canteens.
Registration is a simple online process.
Arts Council NI Funding Opportunities
A range of funding programmes are currently open for applications.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland, is currently accepting applications for the following programmes:
- Musical Instruments for Individuals,
- Health and Safety Capital Programme,
- Individual Artists Digital Evolution Awards,
- Musical Instruments for Bands, and
- Musical Instruments for professional and non-professional performing groups.
Eastern Transport Plan 2035 Engagement Survey
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is currently seeking views on the preparation of a new transport plan which will set the framework for making transport policy and investment decisions up until 2035.
The Eastern Transport Plan (ETP) 2035, previously known as the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan (BMTP), covers five council areas:
- Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council,
- Ards and North Down Borough Council,
- Belfast City Council,
- Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, and
- Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
ETP 2035 aims to ensure that the transport network meets the needs of the people and businesses living, working, and visiting the ETP area, both now and into the future.
At this early stage of ETP 2035 development, DfI wants to understand your views on:
- the problems which need to be solved (challenges),
- the end goal to be achieved (vision), and
- how to get there (objectives).
Hospitality Exchange 2023
The two-day Hospitality Exchange conference on 17 and 18 October 2023 is packed with guest speakers discussing all things hotels, food, drink, and tourism.
Guest chef, Tom Booton from The Dorchester in London, will join the 2023 line-up to discuss his journey from commis chef at 15 to heading up his own restaurant in London.
There are a number of sessions throughout the conference, and each can be booked separately.
Belfast Companies Offered Support to Build XR Business Capacity
As part of its support for innovation and the creative industries through The Belfast Agenda, Belfast City Council is launching XR (extended reality) Belfast to help businesses build their capacity in using emerging immersive technologies.
An umbrella term that covers VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), and MR (mixed reality), XR takes the human-to-PC screen interface and modifies it, either by immersing you in the virtual environment (VR), adding game characters to your real-world surroundings (AR), or both of those (MR).
The programme will start with two free workshops and a mentoring programme.
Supply Chain Solutions
Access free, tailored advice and support to help your business address supply chain challenges and develop its supply chain function.
Invest NI is providing specialist advisory support for manufacturers and internationally tradeable services businesses who manage a supply chain as part of their business, or who are involved in the extended supply chain.
Applications for this support scheme close on Friday 29 September 2023.
Tourism Alliance Conference 2023
To mark World Tourism Day on Wednesday 27 September 2023, Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance will host its annual conference in Titanic Belfast from 10am to 1pm.
The day will include keynote speakers from Jayne Brady, Head of the Civil Service and Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust. Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance will present its report on the economic impact of tourism including panel discussions on each of the three themes.