23 November 2017
While there are no major changes or surprises, we find little to be enthusiastic about in this week’s Autumn Statement, with several points likely to disappoint authors, particularly those on lower incomes, and nothing to stimulate publishing and the creative industries as Brexit progresses.
Yesterday’s Autumn Statement, while offering some concessions to business which will inevitably benefit some areas of publishing and the creative industries, was ultimately a missed opportunity to address concerns raised since long before the General Election in June.
As John Kampfner, CEO of The Creative Industries Federation, commented: ‘Failure to back our world-leading creative enterprises and entrepreneurs will be to the detriment of a sector that creates jobs at four times the rate of the wider UK workforce.’
Apart from a £350 increase in the tax free personal allowance (from £11,500 to £11,850) and the higher rate threshold (from £45,000 to £46,350), there is little cause for celebration around taxation in the Autumn Statement.
The Treasury quietly announced prior to the Chancellor’s speech that Class 2 self-employed National Insurance Contributions (NICS) will now not be abolished until April 2019. As we highlighted earlier this year, planned changes to the NICS regime will result in self-employed authors on low earnings paying five times as much under the new Class 3 NICS.
While this announcement only represents a stay of execution, not a change in policy, we hope that there may be some opportunity to demonstrate the impact on a substantial number of self-employed individuals.
There had been some expectation that the VAT threshold might be lowered. Fortunately, the Chancellor chose to maintain the £85,000 threshold.
However, current Making Tax Digital plans and schedule remain unchanged.
We had been hoping that the Chancellor might take the opportunity to press pause on the chaotic rollout of Universal Credit. A slowdown in the timetable would have offered an opportunity to ensure specialist training for Jobcentre Plus staff in issues faced by self-employed workers, such as averaging fluctuating incomes and dealing with the iniquity that to prove you have a business you might be expected to show earnings above the level at which benefits are paid.
What the Chancellor announced was a £1.5bn package to help ‘address concerns about the operation of the system’, and to begin to ensure that claimants can receive payments within five days.
With many SoA members, we are concerned about the lack of positive action on education in the Chancellor’s statement. While we join the Publishers’ Association in welcoming extra funding for R&D and maths education in schools, we need to look at what is missing. That is why this week we have supported CILIP’s open letter to Education Secretary Justine Greening calling for an end to the ‘shocking decline in our school libraries’.
However, the Chancellor did announce several consultations, the outcomes of some of which could impact our members, including a consultation on IR35 in the private sector.
We will of course keep an eye out for any that are relevant to authors and let you know of opportunities to contribute your views.