On the 21st June, the Queen set out the governments agenda for the coming parliamentary session.
The speech outlined the governments proposed policies and legislation which primarily included delivering a Brexit deal that works for all parts of the UK and ‘building a stronger, fairer country by strengthening our economy, tackling injustice and promoting opportunity and aspiration.’
The supporting documentation confirms 27 Bills and draft Bills which are expected to be in the legislative programme, which will deliver on these themes.
Due to the unexpected election, tax measures such as the Making Tax Digital for Business legislation was put on hold prior to the election. However, the speech and supporting documentation made little reference to these delayed tax measures.
The reference to tax legislation states: ‘The programme will also include three Finance Bills to implement budget decisions. Summer Finance Bill 2017 will include a range of tax measures including those to tackle avoidance. The programme will also include a technical Bill to ratify several minor EU agreements and further Bills, which will be announced in due course, to effect the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The government will also be taking forward a range of other measures which may not require primary legislation.’
What does this mean for SME’s?
Indicating its importance, the Queens opening line focused on the need ‘to secure the best possible deal as the country leave the European Union.’ It includes the Repeal Bill which will overturn the 1972 Act that took Britain into the European Economic Community. There are several other Brexit-related measures that includes:
- The Customs Bill which will ensure the UK has a standalone customs regime after exiting the EU
- Flexibility for future trade agreements with the EU and other countries
- Changes can be made to the UK’s VAT and excise systems whatever the outcome of negotiations
- That the government can collect customs duties, administer the customs regime and tackle duty evasion
- Control over the import and export of goods
In addition, the Trade Bill will establish a framework to allow Britain to negotiate free trade deals with countries around the world, ensuring British companies are protected from unfair trading practices.
Furthermore, the National Insurance Contributions Bill (NIC) will legislate for the National Insurance contributions changes announced in the 2016 budget and autumn statement. This will also seek to ensure the NIC’s system is much fairer and straightforward.
Also, the documents accompanying the speech confirm that the legislation does not include the unexplained changes to national insurance for self-employed which the government was forced to cancel after strong protests from many business groups.