Spring Statement 2019

News article

How does the Spring Statement affect Northern Ireland businesses?

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, delivered his Spring Statement on Wednesday 13 March 2019. We have summarised the key points from the Budget and highlighted key issues affecting Northern Ireland businesses.

Growth forecast
1.2% in 2019
1.4% in 2020
1.6% in 2021
1.6% in 2022
1.6% in 2023

Government borrowing forecast
£29.3 billion in 2019-20
£21.2 billion in 2020-21
£17.6 billion in 2021-22
£14.4 billion in 2022-23
£13.5 billion in 2023-24

Debt forecast
82.2% of GDP in 2019-20
79% of GDP in 2020-21
74.9% of GDP in 2021-22
74% of GDP in 2022-23
73% of GDP in 2023-24

Northern Ireland specific announcements
Full fibre networks
- funding of £53 million will be allocated to nine areas of the UK through the Local Full Fibre Networks challenge fund. This will provide next-generation full fibre connections to key public buildings, nearby homes and businesses. Northern Ireland will receive £15 million from the fund.

Technology companies
The Chancellor has announced a review of global tech giants, to ensure they pay a fair share in the UK. He has asked the Competition and Markets Authority to undertake a study of the digital advertising market as soon as possible in order to update regulations and rules to protect consumers in the digital sphere.

To help smaller businesses reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions, the government is launching a call for evidence on a business energy efficiency scheme to explore how it can support investment in energy efficiency measures.

Employment and skills
Updates to apprenticeship reforms announced at Budget 2018 mean that from 1 April 2019 employers will see the co-investment rate they pay cut from 10% to 5%.

National living wage
The government will undertake a review of the latest international evidence on minimum wages to inform the future National Living Wage policy after 2020.

Financial services legislation
Following consultation later this year, the government will legislate as necessary to ensure that in the immediate period after the UK leaves the EU, the UK can maintain financial services regulatory standards, remain open to international markets and realise new trading opportunities.

New UK Export Finance (UKEF) General Export Facility
UKEF will introduce a new General Export Facility to provide more flexible short-term support to UK exporters. UKEF will make the new product available over the coming months and will publish further details once they become available.

Making Tax Digital (MTD)
Mandatory digital record keeping for VAT for businesses over the VAT threshold (with turnover over £85,000) comes into force from 1 April 2019. The government has confirmed a light-touch approach to penalties in the first year of implementation.

Where businesses are doing their best to comply, no filing or record-keeping penalties will be issued. The focus will be on supporting businesses to transition and the government will therefore not be mandating MTD for any new taxes or businesses in 2020.

Spending review
The Chancellor confirmed that the government will hold a spending review which will conclude alongside the Budget 2019. This will set departmental budgets, including three-year budgets for resource spending, if an EU exit deal is agreed.

Read full details on the Spring Statement.

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