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The UK Autumn 2017 Budget - the small print

It has become tradition for the Chancellor’s Budget speech to become shorter as the supporting documents become thicker.

Here are some of the interesting points in it, including detail on some of the headline points – like Stamp Duty – that did not make it into the speech.

The supporting document this time is 88 pages of writing and 5 pages of titles/blanks. The page numbers given are as per the footer on the respective page and not the pdf page number.

I have segmented the points into:

  • Overall expenditure and debt
  • Funding schemes and Stamp Duty
  • International company taxation
  • Extra money for the “Nations”
  • Extra money for the “Regions”
  • Not much for London and even less for Conservative voters

Overall expenditure and debt

  • Total cash expenses in 2016/17 of £693 billion rising to £795 billion in 2022/23 (p83)
  • Debt-to-GDP to peak this year at 86.5% and then to fall away to 79% in 2022-23
  • The UK has one of the lowest tax gaps in the G-20, of 6% between the estimates of what should be collected and what is actually collected (p3)

Funding schemes and Stamp Duty

  • Student Loans (Table 1.9 p25): creating a cash cost to the Exchequer of £125 million in 2018/19 rising to £615 million in 2022/23
  • Term Funding Scheme (1.30 p15): expanded by £25 billion to £585 billion
  • Stamp Duty for First-time Buyers (Table 2.1 p28): creating a revenue shortfall for the Exchequer of £125 million in 2017/18 rising to £670 million in 2022/23
  • Help-to-Buy Equity Loan for First-time Buyers (Table 1.9 on p25 and point 5.59 on p63): extra cash as announced in October 2017 being supplied by the Exchequer of £11.9 billion up to 2020/21 – unless the availability of the scheme is extended – and then hoped-for repayments should start to come in in 2018/19 and totalling £ 3.8 billion by 2022/23, but the former is more certain than the latter

International company taxation

International company taxation generally in points 39 to 48 in Table 2.1 on p29, and then specifics in four areas:

  • Corporate Tax (and points 3.31-3.37 on p35)
  • The Hidden Economy (points 3.66-3.69 on p39)
  • Tax Avoidance (points 3.70-3.77 on p40)
  • Digital Platforms (points 3.78-3.82 on p40-41)

This is the long-overdue start of the attack on profit-shifting, royalty-based structures, trading into the UK from digital platforms outside and not complying to the legal terms for doing that.

The expected extra tax receipts look quite small compared to the size of the issues.

The highlights for international companies would be:

  • 3.33 Position paper: corporate tax and the digital economy
  • 3.34 Withholding tax: royalties – With effect from April 2019, withholding tax obligations will be extended to royalty payments, and payments for certain other rights, made to low or no tax jurisdictions in connection with sales to UK customers
  • 3.66 Requirement to notify HMRC of offshore structures
  • 3.67 Extending offshore time limits
  • 3.70 NICs Employment Allowance – The government has found evidence of some employers abusing the Employment Allowance to avoid paying the correct amount of NICs, often by using offshore arrangements
  • 3.76 Double Taxation Relief
  • 3.77 Double taxation arrangement: multilateral instrument – With effect from the Royal Assent of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2017, the powers giving effect to double taxation arrangements will be amended to allow the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting to be implemented
  • 3.78 – 3.81 Online VAT fraud in usage of digital Platforms
  • 3.82 Encouraging compliance by users of digital platforms

Extra money for the “Nations” - Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (Table 1.7 on p23; point 4.85 on p56):

  • Northern Ireland - £600 million
  • Scotland - £2 billion
  • Wales - £1.2 billion

Extra money for the “Regions”

“Northern Powerhouse” (points 4.55-4.61 on p53-54):

  • Northern Powerhouse rail - £300 million
  • North of Tyne devolution deal - £600 million
  • Tyne & Wear Metro - £337 million
  • Redcar Steelworks site - £5 million
  • Greater Manchester £243 million
  • Jodrell Bank £4 million

“Midlands Engine” (points 4.62-4.64 on p54):

  • 4.62 West Midlands – £6 million for a housing delivery taskforce, £5 million for a construction skills training scheme and a £250 million allocation from the Transforming Cities fund to be spent on local intra-city transport priorities
  • 4.63 Midlands Connect –  £2 million to develop options to address key constraints on the Coventry – Leamington Rail Corridor, and £4 million for congestion measures
  • 4.64 Manufacturing zone – The government will pilot a manufacturing zone in the East Midlands

“Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Corridor” (points 4.65-4.70 on p54-55):

  • 4.65 - ambitious integrated programme of infrastructure, housing, business investment and development.
  • 4.66 Housing – 1 million new homes in the area by 2050
  • 4.67 Rail – services between Oxford and Bedford, and Aylesbury and Milton Keynes. A new East West Rail Company to accelerate delivery of the central section between Bedford and Cambridge. £5 million for Cambridge South station
  • 4.68 Road –Expressway between Cambridge and Oxford 

Not much for London and even less for Conservative voters

London (points 4.71 and 4.72 on p55):

  • 4.71 London business rates retention pilot – London can keep and spend all its business rates for 2018-19. Errrrr – rates are a local tax to pay for local services. Why is there any question of London rates being diverted to other areas?
  • 4.72 Crossrail 2 – developing “fair and affordable plans” for Crossrail 2: why don’t they spend some of the business rates on it?
  • Five new garden towns (point 5.17 on p62): so we are desperate for several more of Harlow and Hemel?

Conservative voters – which include many self-employed – will have been relieved that we are promised only a review at this stage on extending the wider application of IR35 into the private sector (points 3.7 and 3.8 on p32): inflicting this disaster that has unfolded in the public sector onto private sector as well. Mr Phil wanted to do this now but has been dissuaded

A million people now “taken out of tax and paying nothing at all towards the costs of the public services they use, thus increasing the burden on everyone else (point 3.4 on p31).



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