CURRENT ISSUES
Business Regulation

In the high volume, low margin wholesale model, increases in operating costs cannot easily be absorbed and can result in increased costs in the food and drink supply chain.

 

FWD makes the case to the government and regulators for better regulation of businesses in this sector and for it to be necessary, effective and proportionate.

Budget March 2020

March 11: The Chancellor set out what was effectively an emergency budget including a £30bn package to respond to coronavirus and an unexpected spending spree.
Key points for wholesalers:
• Beer, wine and cider duties are all to be frozen this year, as is fuel duty.
• Duty rates on all tobacco products will increase by RPI + 2% until the end of this Parliament. The rate on hand-rolling tobacco will increase by RPI + 6% this year.
• The entitlement to the use of red diesel (used in refrigerated transport) will be removed from 2022 but the Government will ‘consult on whether the entitlement to use red diesel and rebated biofuels is justified for any other users’
• The National Insurance Contributions threshold will rise from £8,632 to £9,500
• The National Living Wage will reach more than £10.50 an hour by 2024.
• Plastic packaging tax will come into force from April 2022
• Significant spending on infrastructure and roads.
In terms of economic growth, expectations have been downgraded from 1.4 to 1.1%.

 

 

Coronavirus Measures 

  • Business rates will be abolished this year for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value below £51,000.
  • Statutory sick pay will be available to anyone advised to self-isolate.
  • Can receive a sick note through 111.
  • Statutory Sick Pay costs for businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be met by the government in full for up to 14 days per employee.
  • Scaling up theHMRC Time To Pay service, allowing businesses and the self-employed to defer tax payments over an agreed period of time.
  • A new, temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank.
  • Temporarily, the minimum income level will be removed from universal credit.
  • Total value of fiscal stimulus is £30bn.
  • Those on contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be able to claim from day 1 instead of day 8.
  • £500m hardship fund for local authorities to support those affected  in their areas.

 

 

Business and Tax

General

  • All alcohol duties frozen
  • Fuel duty frozen and plans to incentivise cleaner forms of transport.
  • Entrepreneurs’ relief – reduce the lifetime limit from £10m to £1m.
  • £130m of new funding for start-up loans, £200m for British Business.
  • Abolish ‘tampon tax’ of 5% VAT for women’s sanitary products
  • The government is continuing its efforts to ensure that small businesses are paid promptly. BEIS will shortly be publishing a consultation on the merits of strengthening the powers of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC).
  • Budget launches the Reforming Regulation Initiative to invite ideas from business and the public for regulatory reform.
  • £10 million for a second round of the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund.
  • Introduce a levy to be paid by firms subject to the Money Laundering Regulations to help fund new government action to tackle money laundering. The government will publish a consultation on the levy later this spring.

 

Business Rates

  • Sunak says business rates will be abolished this year for firms with a rateable value below £51,000.
  • There will be a launch of a fundamental review of business rates, due to report in the autumn.
  • £3,000 cash grant for small businesses eligible.
  • Business rate discount for pubs reduced significantly.
  • The government has announced the Business Rates retail discount will be increased to 50% in 2020-21. 
  • To support small businesses affected by COVID-19 the government is increasing it further to 100% for 2020-21.
  • The relief will also be expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors. These temporary measures, taken together with existing Small Business Rates Relief, mean that around 900,000 properties, or 45% of all properties in England, will receive 100% business rates relief in 2020-21.
  • The government has also announced the introduction of a £1,000 Business Rates discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000 in England for one year from 1 April 2020. To support pubs in response to COVID-19 the discount will be increased to £5,000.
  • Local authorities will be fully compensated for these Business Rates measures.
  • On Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), the Government has announced that it will provide £2.2 billion of funding for Local authorities in England. Providing between £3,000 to around 700,000 to businesses currently eligible.
  • On the Valuation Office Agency, the government will also invest an additional £11.5 million into the VOA in 2020-21 to support the modernisation of VOA systems and processes, to increase efficiency and improve customer service in the future.
  • The Government have also announced increased Business Rates Retention programmes in Devolution Deal areas and the Greater London Authority.

 

Tax

  • The Government have announced Corporation Tax will not be cut this year, remaining at 19%.
  • Increase in the annual rate of the structures and buildings allowance to 3% will provide over £1 billion in additional relief for business.

 

Digital Services Tax

  • The government will introduce a new 2% tax on the revenues certain digital businesses earn from 1 April 2020.
    • This will ensure the amount of tax paid in the UK reflects the value these businesses derive from their interactions with, and the contributions of, an active user base.
  • They will continue to give consideration to how the legislation applies to marketplace delivery fees and whether that application is consistent with the policy rationale of the DST.

 

High Streets and Planning

  • The Government announced a £3.6 billion Towns Fund to support the regeneration of high streets, town centres and local economies.
  • £500,000 to support Bradford in its regeneration and development plans to increase the benefits of potential Northern Powerhouse Rail connections.

 

Employment issues

General

  • Raising the employment allowance from £3,000 to £4,000, giving millions of businesses an immediate boost.
  • National insurance relief to employers who employ veterans.
  • Increase the National Insurance contributions (NICs) Primary Threshold and Lower Profits Limit, for employees and the self-employed respectively, to £9,500 from April 2020.

Living and Minimum Wages

  • Three weeks’ time, wages will rise again by 6.2% – almost £1,000 increase for a full time worker
  • 6.2% increase of the NLW to £8.72 an hour that takes effect from this April,
  • Government is on track to meet its current target of 60% of median earnings by 2020
  • New remit for Independent Low Pay Commission – 2024, NLW of two thirds of median earnings – over £10.50 per hour
  • National Insurance threshold raised £8,632 to £9,500 next month

Apprenticeships, Education and Skills

  • 1.5bn over five years to improve the quality of the further education estate
  • New £2.5 billion for the National Skills Fund
    • The Government will consult in the spring on how to target the National Skills Fund most effectively
  • A £120 million fund to bring further education and higher education providers in England together with employers to open up to eight new Institutes of Technology will also be implemented.
    • This will have the aim of delivering high-quality higher level technical education and to help close skills gaps in their local areas.
  • The Government have committed to looking at how to improve the working of the Apprenticeship Levy, to support large and small employers in meeting the long-term skills needs of the economy.
  • They will also ensure that sufficient funding is made available in 2020-21 to support an increase in the number of new high-quality apprenticeships in small and medium-sized businesses.

Other

  • Government will create an entitlement to Neonatal Leave and Pay for employees whose babies spend an extended period of time in neonatal care, providing up to 12 weeks paid leave
  • Government will consult on the design of a new in-work entitlement for employees with unpaid caring responsibilities.

 

 

Environment

  • Two or more carbon capture and storage clusters by 2030 – Up to 6,000 jobs across the country .
  • Budget accelerates the greening of the gas grid by announcing a new support scheme for biomethane, funded by a Green Gas Levy to help fund the use of greener fuels.
  • The government will also support the installation of heat pumps and biomass boilers by introducing a Low Carbon Heat Support Scheme.
  • Increase the Climate Change Levy that businesses pay on gas, whilst frozen for electricity.
  • Reopen and extend the Climate Change Agreement scheme by two years.
  • Investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and Office for Low Emission Vehicles will complete a comprehensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure review.
  • HM Treasury will also publish two reviews this year – one into the economic costs and opportunities of reaching net zero, the other led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta into the economics of biodiversity

Plastic Tax

  • Deliver a new plastic packaging tax – April 2022, £200 per tonne for plastic less than 30% recycled.

DRS

  • No mention

EPR and waste

  • An additional £700,000 will establish the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme, designed to encourage producers to make their packaging more recyclable and reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging in their products. Much of this will be spent developing IT capability to administer the future Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for packaging.

Waste Crime

  • The government will also take action to fight waste crime. The Budget will provide funding for a digital waste tracking system to provide better data on waste transport.

 

Electric vehicles

  • £500m for the roll-out of rapid charging hubs for electric vehicles.
  • To target spending from this fund effectively, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles will complete a comprehensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure review.

 

Fuel Duty

  • Fuel duty will also remain frozen for the next year.

 

Red Diesel

  • The government will remove entitlement to the use of red diesel and rebated biofuels from April 2022, except for agriculture (including horticulture, pisciculture and forestry), rail and for non-commercial heating (including domestic heating).
  • The government will consult on whether the entitlement to use red diesel and rebated biofuels is justified for any other users, for example there is a strong case for continued use by ferries carrying paid passengers on the UK’s rivers and inland waterways, or public entertainment.
  • Commercial boats on open waters, including ferries and fishing boats, will remain entitled to the Marine Voyages Relief so will not have to pay more for their fuel.
  • This measure will incentivise businesses to improve the energy efficiency of their vehicles and machinery or look for greener alternatives.
  • To support the development of alternatives that these businesses can switch to, the Budget has also committed to at least doubling the size of the energy innovation programme, accelerating the design and production of innovative clean energy technologies – £1bn.

 

Business Energy Efficiency Schemes

(No mention of above)

Immigration

  • (not mentioned in relation to employment and no reference to seasonal workers)

 

Food, Drink and Agriculture

SDIL

  • Not referenced

 

HFSS

  • Not referenced

 

Alcohol Duties and Review

  • Scotch Whisky – as a result of harmful US tariffs, £1m of support and £10 million for R&D for distilleries.
  • All alcohol duties were announced to be frozen.
  • Excise Review – The government recognises the complexity of the current duty system and will review potential reforms to be implemented after the transition period, beginning by publishing a call for evidence by the summer.

 

International Trade

  • £5 billion boost for British exports
  • Pilot a Digital Trade Network in the Asia Pacific region, helping innovative UK companies to access opportunities in major new markets.
  • DIT will establish local champions based at key overseas posts to support exporters from the Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine, and Western Gateway, and will increase the number of international trade advisers outside London.
  • Extending and increasing the lending capacity of UK Export Finance (UKEF).

 

Infrastructure

  • £5 billion to roll out super-fast broadband across rural areas and a further £1 billion to expand 4G coverage.
  • Later in the spring the government will publish a landmark National Infrastructure Strategy.

 

 

Business Rates

December 2019: In the Queen’s Speech the Government reconfirmed its intention to reform the current business rates system to protect high streets and communities from excessive tax hikes and keep town centres vibrant. Measures include more frequent evaluations and increasing the retail discount from one-third to 50 percent.