Reaction from Stephen Poole, Senior Tax Consultant, Robson Laidler Accountants and Business Advisors.

“Being in Newcastle my ears pricked up when Philip Hammond talked about the North East with the fastest rate of employment growth. However while he has released a 30 page strategy document about the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, many pages are blank and his plans remain vague. What we need is action now in the North East.

There was not really anything for young people so I think a lot of our future leaders will feel disappointed. However, it is good to see a commitment to increasing Research and Development as this is where one of our true strengths lies. In the North East we have some of the most interesting engineering companies I have seen and I hope some of this will trickle up to them. We also have some of the strongest (and sometime more maverick) software companies and again I see a strong future here, but I am not feeling much more encouraged after reading through the documentation.

A bit more flexibility on tax advantaged investment vehicles (SEIS and EIS) will help a lot with this, and streamlining the advance assurance will have its place in helping with putting plans in place. But again little of substance. 

On taxes it is mainly ‘steady as she goes’ with a promise to increase personal allowances from £11,000 to £11,500 and ultimately to £12,500 by 2020. Corporation taxes are staying on their downward trajectory to 17% from April 2020. There is an announcement that the Government will consult in 2017 to tax non-resident companies on their UK sourced income. It will be interesting to see what other countries think of this and how it fits with double taxation treaties.

Of more concern, we have to wait until January 2017 to hear HMRC’s plans on Making Tax Digital which means we will only have 15 months to deal with maybe the biggest change to the tax system for a generation.

Many businesses, including landlords, will grumble at the increase in Insurance Premium Tax up to 12% from 10%. This feels like a ‘stealth tax’ to coin a phrase used to describe Gordon Browns tax manoeuvrings.

Is the Wentworth Woodhouse grant good news? Well on the face of it I welcome money being made available for such heritage, and to that extent the more the better. If this is all we have in the North, then that is a bit disappointing.”