Welcome to the June 2015 Newsletter from Easterbrook Eaton Limited
In the wake of the General Election, businesses have been keen to outline what they see as the priorities facing David Cameron's new Conservative Government.
With many firms citing a sustained economic recovery as a primary concern, all eyes will once again be on Chancellor George Osborne, who has announced that he will deliver a second Budget on Wednesday 8 July. Please visit our website regularly for the latest Budget news and information.
Meanwhile, a survey of HR and finance professionals suggests that many would support a rise in pension auto-enrolment contributions. Compulsory employer contributions are currently being phased in, starting at 1% before rising to 3% from October 2018.
Businesses set out priorities for new Government
Small firms are looking for stability and certainty during the course of the new Parliament, a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) suggests.
Of the 2,327 FSB members questioned, more than a third (35%) said they want a sustained economic recovery to be the top priority for David Cameron's new Government.
When asked what issues they would like the Government to focus on during the course of the next five years, 53% said they wanted ministers to reduce the regulatory burden on business.
Some 51% of those questioned called for simplification of the tax system, while 44% of respondents said reform of business rates should be a top priority.
Commenting on the findings, Mike Cherry, National Policy Chairman at the FSB, said: 'Today's wide ranging research sends a very clear message on what small businesses want from the new Government - a supportive, light touch tax and regulatory environment in which to grow their business, creating prosperity and jobs.
'Over the five years of this Parliament, our members' top priorities are to lighten the burdens of regulation and tax, reform broken business rates, support the development and skills of young people, and improve broadband and mobile connectivity.'
Meanwhile, in an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called for 'bold action' on six issues that it says will determine the UK's economic future.
John Longworth, Director General of the BCC, wrote: 'In return for your continued commitment to an environment that encourages enterprise and aspiration, businesses in all parts of the UK stand ready to delivery prosperity, jobs, and sustained economic growth.
'Over the coming months, you must use your strengthened mandate to take bold action on six issues that will determine the UK's economic future.'
The letter calls for a focus on: public spending, trade, talent, investment, Europe and infrastructure. It ends with a request that the Prime Minister should 'make no apologies for seeking the highest growth and investment rates, and the lowest unemployment and taxation rates'.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has also expressed its views in the aftermath of the election, calling for deficit reduction to be made a priority, along with finding 'more innovative ways to deliver public services and backing the final decision from the Airports Commission.'
Its thoughts were echoed by the Institute of Directors (IoD), which said that 'returning the budget to surplus must be the overriding goal in this Parliament'. A survey of its members also revealed that infrastructure and education are two other areas company owners want to see addressed in the coming years.
Auto-enrolment welcomed by employers, survey suggests
A recent survey of employers indicates that many would be keen to see a rise in auto- enrolment contribution levels.
The previous Minister for Pensions already noted that auto-enrolment would need to be assessed early in a new parliamentary term, and the survey of over 200 senior HR and finance professionals indicates that they agree with the proposal.
76% of those questioned by financial group Jelf Employee Benefits said they believed there should be an increase in pension contribution levels, while 15% disagreed. In addition, 85% of respondents thought that any increase should come from employer contributions - either wholly or in part - while just 14% thought that increased contributions should be made only by employees.
Auto-enrolment legislation requires employers to automatically enrol eligible employees into a qualifying workplace pension and pay a minimum contribution in the fund. The measures are being phased in between 2012 and 2018, depending on the size of the business.
Head of Benefits Strategy at Jelf Employee Benefits, Steve Herbert, said: 'Frankly, we were a little surprised at these results. Many employers are yet to reach their staging date for auto enrolment, and a significant proportion of those who have already staged are not yet at the full contribution rate.
'It is very encouraging that employers continue to see the benefits of offering a quality pension scheme. A good pension offering will obviously help employees, and will also provide an important recruitment, retention and planning tool for employers'.
Visit the Your Money section of our website to explore a wealth of information on personal tax and savings issues, including our guide to auto-enrolment.