Queen’s Speech: tax, finance and business | Economia
(TAKEN FROM THE ICAEW ECONOMIA PAGE – WRITING CREDIT TO RAYMOND DOHERTY )
Queen’s Speech: tax, finance and business
An analysis of the tax and finance announcements in the Queen’s Speech
The Criminal Finances Bill includes proposals to clamp down on corruption and tax-avoidance. Central is an offence for corporations who fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion, which was first floated by the coalition in 2015.
“Following last week’s Anti-Corruption Summit in London, legislation will be introduced to tackle corruption, money laundering and tax evasion,” said the Queen.
This includes plans to improve the operation of the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime, to target entities that carry out money laundering instead of individual transactions and provide the National Crime Agency (NCA) with more powers.
In addition, it aims to implement a more effective regime to support reporting of suspicious financial activities and improve the ability of law enforcement to recover criminal assets.
A right to automatic compensation when broadband service goes down and powers for the government to impose a universal service obligation for a minimum broadband speed have been announced. The changes could be paid for by an industry levy.
Public authorities will have new powers to share information to combat public sector fraud.
According to the Better Markets Bill it will “open up markets, boost competition, give customers more power and choice and make economic regulators work better,” specifically banking and energy.
That includes “simplifying the way economic regulators operate to make things more straight forward for business and cut red tape,” and to speed up decisions from the Competition and Markets Authority to “benefit both businesses and customers”.
The sugar tax
Announced in the Budget this year, the tax will be levied on companies, and will be assessed on the volume of the sugar-sweetened drinks produced or imported, estimated by the OBR to raise £520m.
The industry has asked the government for further details and clarification regarding the tax as companies decide what action to take.
Councils will be given powers to keep and invest 100% of business rates,
Spaceports, driverless cars and drones
Over the next 12 months the government will bid to ensure the UK is “at the forefront of technology” with its proposals for a Modern Transport Bill.
It hopes to reduce congestion and make “more efficient use of our roads, railways and airspace” to boost the economy, including proposals to ensure the safe use of technology in the drone, autonomous car and space industries.
Savings and pensions
The Lifetime Savings Bill plans to bring forward the government’s Help to Save scheme and to allow for the Lifetime ISA. The Pensions Bill provides essential protections for people in Master Trusts.
Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said, “The government was right to resist the temptation to announce lots of eye-catching initiatives in the Queen’s speech. Once the referendum hiatus is over, the focus for ministers must be on following through on several worthwhile programmes already in train to boost innovative companies.
“The most exciting area of the government’s agenda for us is the Modern Transport Bill, which continues the work on developing the UK’s first spaceport and encouraging job-creation in the industry. The Bill also contains encouragement for firms working on driverless cars, and the lays a framework for the commercial use of drones. Properly supervised, both are exciting growth areas for business.
Phil Harrold, automotive partner at PwC said, “Today’s Queen’s Speech reinforces the need for the UK to continue investing, both financially and logistically, in order to remain at the cutting edge of new vehicle technology – from propulsion systems to autonomous vehicles.
“In recent years we’ve seen a gentle creeping of transport automation, with UK engineering driving much of this capability. However the real road test will be persuading the general public to readily accept even more car or van autonomy, and for developers, manufacturers and the government to robustly respond to any safety concerns consumers may have. There are precedents they can lean on – after all, who would have thought 10 or 15 years ago that we’d readily travel on driverless trains at the airport?,” said Harrold.
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