Recruiters and businesses await the chancellor’s Autumn Statement

The Autumn Statement later today will have financial implications for recruiters and businesses alike.

Taxation of cryptoassets, cuts to income tax, ISA reforms, help for first-time home buyers, the creation of a third UK Investment Zone and planning support that would contribute £1k a year to home owners living near new pylons and electric substations are among the tantalising possibilities being touted as potential inclusions in the Autumn Statement being delivered later today [22 November 2023] by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (pictured). 

Hunt has already revealed as a precursor to the statement that the National Living Wage (NLW) will increase to £11.44 next spring from the current £10.42, and that 21- and 22-year-olds will join 23-year-olds in being eligible to receive the NLW. 

Commenting from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), deputy CEO Kate Shoesmith said: “This rise rightly takes into account both cost of living increases and the slow path of pay growth over the last decade or so. It will be a challenge for some employers to adapt but it should help make working in some sectors that are experiencing labour shortages, such as hospitality, care and retail, more attractive at a time when our data shows more than 2m job postings in the UK. 

“But pay is not the only thing workers require; flexible work that allows someone to manage their other life commitments is often top of the list for jobseekers. The NLW increase today should also serve as a reminder to employers to think about how they can offer a rounded package if they want to attract and retain talent.”

However, recruiters may want to keep their ears open for another possibility less shouted about by most commentators. One organisation suggested that the subject of regulating umbrella companies might surface in the Autumn Statement, given that the government consultation Tackling Non-Compliance in the Umbrella Company Market ended 29 August. 

In their predictions for today’s statement, Innovation 2020, a membership organisation providing professional training, marketing and compliance support for accountancy firms and their teams, raised the possibility.  

In a statement, it said: “We are likely to see measures that regulate the umbrella company market, address employment rights issues in the market and target tax avoidance, in particular abuse of the employment allowance and the VAT flat rate scheme.”

Other commentary about the Autumn Statement emerged in consultancy firm EY’s Autumn Statement survey. According to EY, their survey of more than 1,300 finance professionals from UK businesses showed that over half of UK businesses are eager to see specific cuts in the Autumn Statement to promote economic growth, with two in five (38%) urging Hunt to prioritise stable, long-term policy that provides greater business planning consistency. 

EY said: “Of those that favour intervention to drive economic growth, 36% call for cuts that encourage UK investment, while 28% would like cuts that reduce cost of living for households. And when asked specifically about business focused areas, corporation tax cuts top the list as the main priority, followed by incentives to drive green investment.”

The chancellor is expected to deliver the statement at around 12.30pm today. His statement will be followed by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves’s response.

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