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Business measures

Several measures related to business and business tax were announced.

Business rates

The doubling of Small Business Rate Relief will be extended for a further year from 1 April 2015.

In addition, the business rates discount for retail and food and drink premises with a rateable value of £50,000 and below (the ‘high street discount’) will be increased from £1,000 to £1,500 up to the State aids limit for one year from 1 April 2015.

The Government will continue the 2% cap on the RPI increase in the business rates multiplier for an additional year from 1 April 2015. It will extend the transitional arrangements for properties with a rateable value of £50,000 and below facing significant bill increases due to the ending of Transitional Rate Relief from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2017.

There will also be a new Government review of the future structure of business rates, in time for Budget 2016.

Employer NICs for apprentices

In a move designed to further encourage employers to take on apprentices, from April 2016 employer NICs up to the upper earnings limit for apprentices aged under 25 will be abolished.

Access to business finance

The Government will provide £400 million to extend the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme, to be committed over the next three years, and will enable the Enterprise Finance Guarantee to support up to £500 million of new lending in 2015/16.

Research & Development (R&D)

The rate of the above the line credit will increase from 10% to 11% and the rate of the small and medium (SME) scheme will increase from 225% to 230%. These will take effect from 1 April 2015.

Legislation will be introduced to restrict qualifying expenditure for R&D tax credits so that the costs of materials incorporated in products that are sold are not eligible. This will be effective from 1 April 2015.

An advance assurance scheme for small businesses making their first claim to R&D tax credits will be introduced along with new guidance. The Government will launch a consultation in January 2015 on the issues faced by smaller businesses when claiming R&D tax credits.

Television and orchestra reliefs

A new corporation tax relief for the production of children’s television programmes is to be introduced from 1 April 2015. The relief will be available at a rate of 25% on qualifying production expenditure. In addition, the Government will explore with the industry whether to reduce the minimum UK expenditure for high-end TV relief from 25% to 10% and to modernise the cultural test, so as to bring the relief in line with film tax relief.

The Government will consult in early 2015 on the introduction of an orchestra corporation tax relief from 1 April 2016.

Late paid interest rules

The Government is to repeal the rules concerning loans made to UK companies by a connected company in a non-qualifying territory.

Devolution of powers

The Autumn Statement confirmed that agreement has been reached with the Welsh Government on full devolution of non-domestic (business) rates policy. A fully devolved regime will be operational by April 2015.

The Government is also in talks to introduce legislation in this Parliament to devolve corporation tax rate-setting powers to the Northern Ireland Executive, subject to various factors.