Queen's Speech echoes Budget
The highlight of the speech was the same as for the Budget: the news that major reforms in funding pensions and annuities are to be introduced. The Financial Services and accountancy professions have already commented widely on the proposals, not least how they seem to contradict the aims of “Auto Enrolment” – or “Workplace Pensions” - which is being introduced to the UK working population over the next 4 years.
Other bills also back up the budget:
Tougher penalties for employers who fail to pay the minimum wage and a crackdown on the abuse of zero hours contracts. The penalties for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage responsibilities are already draconian so if you have any doubts at all about your responsibilities we at robinson+co recommend you speak to Victoria Bishop, our Tax Partner, as soon as possible
A new state-funded childcare subsidy worth up to £2,000 a year, replacing the existing employer-funded scheme. This is likely to be good news for employers as it takes responsibility away from them. However, parents will be able to stay in the current scheme, certainly in the short term, so employers should not take a sigh of relief too soon
There will be a few items affecting H M Revenue & Customs:
H M Revenue & Customs will be given new powers to enforce payments in tax avoidance cases
The way national insurance contributions are collected from the self employed will be simplified. In future the contributions will be payable on 31 January and 31 July each year along with self-assessment. It is not yet clear whether there will be an option to continue paying monthly as currently
Targeted anti avoidance rules will be introduced to determine whether arrangements are designed to avoid or minimise national insurance payments
Most of these items were discussed by Victoria and our Technical Manager Brett Bennett in their Budget article which can be accessed here.
In addition there are plans for a 5p charge for plastic bags in England (Wales already charges 5p; Scotland and Northern Ireland should watch this space!), as well as plans to cut excessive redundancy payments for civil servants and giving voters the power to force a by-election if their MP has committed “serious wrong.”