Business News England - 08.11.2021

UK Autumn budget highlights

Before last week’s Budget we already knew that corporation tax would increase in 2023 and that there will be a 1.25% rise in National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from April 2022 paid by employers, employees, self-employed and for those with share dividend income. Personal allowances are frozen until 2026 and we are told these rises are to are to pay for Covid-19 measures and reform of the social care system. The tax burden as a percentage of UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is now at its highest level since the 1950’s according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

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The "scarring assumption" of the pandemic, as the Treasury called it last week, hasn't been as bad as forecasts imagined so Chancellor Rishi Sunak, buoyed by a recent OBR economic report which has lifted its prediction for economic growth in 2021 to 6.5%, chose to increase government spending by £150 billion rather than reverse some of the previously announced tax increases. He did state at the end of his speech that the government would look at lowering the tax burden before the end of this parliament.

Some of the key spending measures include:

  • Funding will increase by an average of £4.6bn for Scottish Government, £2.5bn for Welsh Government, and £1.6bn for Northern Ireland Executive
  • £6bn of funding to help tackle NHS backlogs
  • £7bn for transport projects in areas including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Yorkshire
  • Levelling Up Fund of £1.7bn invested in local areas across the UK
  • Extra funding to clear the courts backlog
  • Tax relief for museums and galleries will be extended for two years
  • Core science funding to rise to £5.9bn a year by 2024-25
  • Universal Credit taper rate will be cut by 8% no later than 1 December, bringing it down to 55%

Despite speculation before the budget there was no changes to pension tax relief or ISA limits, CGT rates have remained the same and the first £1 million is still taxed at 10% when you sell your business.

Some welcome measures that were announced are the 50% cut in business rates for hospitality for one year and a change in the business rates multiplier, which will lower business rates. The chancellor also announced a cut in beer duty sold on premises and wider reforms that will see alcohol taxed by alcoholic strength rather than by product category. The planned rise in fuel duty was cancelled.

The national living wage (NLW) rate for those aged 23 or over has been increased to £9.50 an hour. For an employee working a 35-hour week that would mean £17,290 a year. With the 1.25% increase in employers NIC to 15.05% on earnings over £9,100 a year would mean £1,233 on top increasing the cost to the employer of £18,523 a year before pension costs.

For the details of the Autumn budget and spending review see: Budget and Spending Review – October 2021: What you need to know - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Christmas 2021 – Latest Recommended Posting Dates

Allow plenty of time for posting and post items and gifts for Christmas early, particularly for International deliveries: 

  • Friday 17 December 2021 – Royal Mail Bulk Mail Economy
  • Saturday 18 December 2021 – 2nd Class, 2nd Class Signed For, Royal Mail 48
  • Tuesday 21 December 2021 – 1st Class, 1st Class Signed For, Royal Mail 24, Royal Mail Tracked 48
  • Wednesday 22 December 2021 – Royal Mail Tracked 24
  • Thursday 23 December 2021 – Special Delivery Guaranteed

See: Get ready for Christmas 2021 | Royal Mail Group Ltd

UK Seafood Innovation Fund third call open

The Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF) is now accepting third call applications. The SIF programme focuses on delivering longer term, cutting-edge innovation across the seafood sector, and helping to take innovative ideas from early-stage research to commercial viability.

The programme includes:

  • primary producers
  • onshore supply chains
  • marine and diadromous fisheries
  • marine and land-based aquaculture

The programme excludes:

  • freshwater fishing
  • recreational fishing

This call is open for feasibility studies only. The maximum funding available is £50,000 for projects with a duration of up to five months. Successful third call feasibility studies will be eligible to apply for larger R&D funding following completion of their projects.

See: How to Apply FAQs - Seafood Innovation Fund

UK Games Fund: round 8 now open

Round 8 of the UK Games Fund is now open. Round 8 is specifically designed to help early-stage games development companies registered at the time of application.

Successful applicants can expect to be awarded a grant of £6,000.

Funding will be provided in three £2,000 tranches over three months (January to March 2022) to support the development of an interactive digital entertainment concept and associated funding proposal.

The idea is to provide companies with a certain degree of ‘breathing space’ to allow for further focus on the pitch for possible future funding from the UK Games Fund and beyond. After the three-month funded development period, successful applicants will be offered networking opportunities via access to an event in 2022.

A further chance to pitch directly to the UK Games Fund will also be provided, where successful teams can secure an additional grant of up to £19,000 (subject to external funding availability). Any additional grants will be allocated from April 2022.

Due to demand for support from the UK Games Fund, the application window for Round 8 is time-constrained. Written applications have to be submitted by 12 noon on Tuesday 2 November 2021.

An invitation to submit the video pitch part of the application will be sent to the named lead applicant as soon as possible. The deadline for the video pitch upload is Monday 8 November.

See: Apply Now - UK Games Fund

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is a collection of tens of thousands of events, activities and competitions each November that inspire millions to explore their potential as an entrepreneur while fostering connections with investors, researchers, policymakers and other start-up champions.

This year’s takes place from 8 November to 14 November 2021.

See: UK | Global Entrepreneurship Network (genglobal.org)

Digital security by design: software ecosystem development

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £8 million for projects to work on the development of the digital security by design (DSbD) software ecosystem. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The aim of this competition is to fund a range of projects that work to enrich and expand the Digital Security by Design (DSbD) software ecosystem prior to the availability of commercial hardware. Projects will leverage the DSbD Technology Hardware Prototype (also known as Morello Board) to work on a focused area within a selected and specified software stack or Operating System (OS) or developer toolchain used by a digital system.

Closing date for entries is 11am on 8 December 2021.

See: Competition overview - ISCF digital security by design - software ecosystem development - Innovation Funding Service (apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk)

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