Other matters

There were a number of other interesting comments made by the Chancellor which suggest future policies and changes, although lacking detail at the moment.

IR35 and off-payrolling

Over the last 20 years, there have been numerous changes to the tax system to try and address 'disguised employment' and to generate additional tax and NICs accordingly. In a surprise announcement, the government has stated that it will repeal the off-payroll working rules from 6 April 2023. From this date, workers providing their services via an intermediary will once again be responsible for determining their employment status and paying the appropriate amount of tax and NICs.

Comment

According to the government, this will free up time and money for businesses that engage contractors, that could be put towards other priorities. The change will also reduce the risk that genuinely self-employed workers are impacted by the off-payrolling rules.

Infrastructure

The Chancellor announced plans to accelerate new roads, rail and energy infrastructure with new legislation which will cut barriers and restrictions. This will make it quicker to plan and build new roads, speeding up the deployment of energy infrastructure such as offshore wind farms and streamlining environmental assessments and regulations.

Comment

According to the government, in 2021 it took 65% longer to get consent for major infrastructure projects than in 2012.

State benefits

Universal Credit claimants who earn less than the equivalent of 15 hours a week at the National Living Wage will be required to meet regularly with their work coach and take active steps to increase their earnings or face having their benefits reduced, broadly from January 2023. Jobseekers over the age of 50 will also be given extra time with Jobcentre work coaches, to help them return to the job market.

VAT-free shopping areas

The government will introduce a modern, digital, VAT-free shopping scheme with the aim of providing a boost to the high street and creating jobs in the retail and tourism sectors. The delivery will include modernising the scheme that currently operates in Northern Ireland and introducing a new digital scheme in Great Britain. The new VAT-free shopping scheme for non-UK visitors to Great Britain will enable them to obtain a VAT refund on goods bought in the high street, airports and other departure points and exported from the UK in their personal baggage.

Alcohol duties

Reforms to modernise alcohol duties will also be taken forward and the government has published a consultation response on these plans. The reforms will be implemented from 1 August 2023. The government is also freezing the alcohol duty rates from 1 February 2023 to provide additional support to the sector.

Further announcements

Over the next few weeks, the government will set out further details of plans to speed up digital infrastructure, reform business regulation, increase housing supply, improve our immigration system, make childcare cheaper, improve farming productivity and back the financial services sector.