For many, the contents of the Chancellor’s Autumn statement cum budget, came as no surprise. The country has suffered many significant setbacks over the past 2 years, as indeed have most countries. However, at some point, all the assistance and support that has been handed out over these years needs to be paid for. As small to mid sized business accountants, here’s how we see this budget impacting your business.

impact of 2022 budget on small businessesBefore we look at the impact on small businesses, let’s remember that small businesses represent 95% of all businesses in this country. Most are run by ordinary hard-working people. Home-owning, family centric people.

A quick review of the events of 2020 to 2022 that have ultimately led to the contents of this budget

Covid had a major impact on all of us. That is probably an understatement, but to put it into perspective along with this budget, consider the following.

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in exceedingly high levels of public spending. This included the furlough scheme and assistance packages to businesses and healthcare. In all, it is estimated that between £310 and £410 billion was spent. That needs to be paid for and equates to around £4,600 to £6,100 per person (Commons Library).

Covid related issues saw global trade significantly impacted which resulted in supply shortages across many industries. This began to have an inflationary impact as the costs of numerous imported items started to rise affecting retail prices in the UK.

If that wasn’t enough, 2022 though saw another unexpected development; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The impact on European energy supplies and to a degree global food prices, has been unprecedented, both practically and politically. Prices at the pumps for regular unleaded petrol rose around 66% from Early 2020 to September 2022. Meanwhile 2022 has seen wholesale energy prices heading for an increase of over 80%, with many homes experiencing energy bills that will more than triple.

Such economic pressures have resulted in an inflation rate that is now at over 11%. To control inflation, governments increase interest rates. Ordinarily, higher interest rates are good for savers. However, few home owners will have cash to save because of the economic pressures they are now facing. Many homeowners are now feeling considerable financial pressure, with mortgage payments and interest rates rising considerably above the historic lows we’ve seen in recent years. The relatively short space of time over which rates have risen has caught many off-guard, with few having the financial reserve to cope with such trends. In short, many ordinary people are now facing a severe cash flow shortage. Having enjoyed mortgage interest rates as low as one or two percent, some home owners are facing rates of over 5%. For many, this is unsustainable.

What can business expect over the next year?

In many respects small businesses are unique in how they are affected by such conditions and the measures imposed by the budget, even though they constitute 95% of all UK businesses. This is because small businesses are run by people directly connected to the business. This opposed to regular employees or directors of larger firms often with the resources to weather such storms out. Small changes to smaller businesses can have a significant impact. Large changes, such as we are seeing, can have a traumatic impact.
Here’s why.

Measures that impact the tax paid by a small business and its owner

Corporation tax. This was already set to rise from 19% to 25% in April 2023. However, businesses with profits below £50,000 will continue to pay the current 19% rate. Those between £50,000 and £250,000 will pay 25% but with a rate relief deduction. As dividends are taken net of tax paid, increased corporation tax will lessen dividends payable.

Dividend tax relief. Currently £2000, this will reduce to £1000 in 2023 and then further to £500 in 2024. When added to current personal allowances, a director could expect their tax payment threshold (20%) to start at £14,570, this will now be £13,570 from April 2023. Given the current inflation rate and the freeze on personal allowances, this constitutes an overall reduction in income in real terms.

Capital gains tax exemption is currently at 18% for residential property gains and 10% for all other gains, such as investments, for basic rate payers, and 28% and 20% respectively for higher rate payers. The threshold for this in 2021 to 2022 is £12,300. However, from April 2023 this will drop to £6000 and to £3000 from April 2024.

Other measures that directly affect tax payments and operational costs, include:

The national minimum wage will increase by 9.7% for employees aged 23 or older. As many smaller businesses with employees paid at this level may struggle to increase their revenues by 10% this coming year, and hampered by a raft of other costs spiralling upwards, this will further pressure small business’s finances.

Class 2 National Insurance for self-employed to increase to £3.45 per week from April 2023.

Income and National Insurance thresholds for both employers and employees will be frozen until 2028. In a similar way to personal allowances, if these don’t rise in-line with inflation and other costs, they have a negative impact in real terms.

The VAT registration threshold has been frozen at £85,000 until 2026. This means that many more small businesses may have to register for VAT in the next few years if their profits increase.

Businesses are major energy users too. So while the Chancellor announced that the Energy Price Guarantee will stay in place for households until April 2024 at a higher rate, he didn’t mention support with energy bills for businesses after April 2023.

Since October this year, non-domestic energy users can get a discount to bring the price of gas and electricity in line with the government supported price. So if a business had to pay more than this, they could claim a discount for the difference from the energy provider. No information has been given to say what happens after April 2023, leaving small businesses concerned about this.

Was there any good news for smaller businesses?

In short, not much. The Chancellor did announce the following measures:

The Employment Allowance, which reduces the amount of National Insurance Contributions an employer has to pay, will remain at £5,000.

The smallest businesses impacted by measures that change their eligibility for small business rate relief or rural rate relief, will see their increase in bills capped at £600 per year from April 2023.

A plan to increase business rates by 10.1% will not go ahead in 2023, instead this has been frozen. If it had gone ahead, it would have represented the biggest hike in business rates in 32 years.

The hospitality, retail and leisure sectors will see their business rates discount go up to 75%, which will also be extended for another year.

Final thoughts

Many small businesses who successfully weathered the Covid storm, were looking forward to calmer seas ahead during 2022 and beyond. However a catalogue on global issues have resulted in increased pressures at home. For the next few years, as Brexit continues to play out, combined with the ongoing energy crisis, high inflation and interest rates, businesses need to run a tight ship.

Maintaining a healthy cash flow and building a small reserve to help weather the uncertainty ahead is going to be very important. A firm grip on costs through a plan that makes allowances for much wider variability in base assumptions, such as the cost of borrowing, fluctuations in the costs of raw materials and pressures on employee’s own financial circumstances is a key part of this.

Let’s not forget the struggling company owner who, years ago, decided that it would be a great idea to take the risk and run their own business, given what at the time were some reasonable incentives to do so. TaxAgility can help them through this tough time, navigating a path through the tax changes and streamlining the financial aspects of their business efficiently and hopefully, surviving the worst that is thrown at them over the next couple of years.

Call us today on 020 8108 0090 and find out how.