As from last week, the Budget timetable has now moved from Spring to Autumn. So, what news did the Chancellor deliver for R&C in the second Budget of 2017?
Increases in the National Minimum Wage will increase the cost base, particularly for retail businesses, though this may be offset to some extent by the fact that this, along with the increase in the personal allowance could benefit consumer spending power. Still on the subject of labour costs, many R&C businesses will await with trepidation the Government's response to Matthew Taylor's review of employment practices, which was announced as forthcoming.
Online selling platforms will need to pay even closer attention to VAT compliance by their users as HMRC will be given new powers to hold online marketplaces jointly and severally liable for evaded VAT. Conversely, this could help UK-based retailers (both online and offline) by levelling the playing field.
Takeaway businesses and coffee shops should keep a close eye on the forthcoming call for evidence on single use plastics. It seems likely that the single use carrier bag regime will be extended to impose charges on their use.
There were several developments of interest to the automotive industry. The Chancellor has said he wants the UK to be leading in the development of driverless technology and regulations requiring an operator to be on board during testing are set to be relaxed. In addition, the Chancellor has announced that the Government will invest in £200m into boosting the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and that this will be matched by £400m of private investment. A new VED diesel supplement for new diesel vehicles registered from 1 April 2018 which don't meet emissions limits in real driving conditions is clearly intended to be a stick to ensure manufacturers up their game on real world emissions.
Last but by no means least: business rates. Retailers, in particular, will welcome the acceleration of the switch from RPI to CPI increases by two years. The Treasury has estimated that this change alone will save British business £2.3bn over the next 5 years. In addition, the frequency of revaluations will be increased so they occur every 3, rather than 5, years, which should make the system fairer overall.