Chris Cowcher, Plunkett’s Head of Policy and Communications, provides a review of what was announced by the Chancellor at today’s Spring budget.

Billed as the last budget before the election, the Chancellor’s budget was always going to draw headlines.

Whether it was the way he spoke, or the number of times the term “turned a corner” was used to back his points, there can be no doubt that it was a speech delivered confidently by Jeremy Hunt. As the dust settles, it is also one that will now be pawed over for further detail and considered in the context of whether it will improve the poll ratings of the Conservative Party ahead of a General Election.

Overall, the budget focused on individual tax with there being very few announcements aimed at business. Whilst the pre-announced extension of the Recovery Loan Scheme will be welcomed by partners of Plunkett, particularly those operating in the world of social investment, there was little else in today’s announcements that was specifically targeted at the community-owned business sector.

As usual I have looked at the announcements from a purely ‘community business’ point of view and shared my thoughts below.

What is of interest?

There are number of other measures that people involved with our movement may be interested to read more about, most notably these are:

  • Individuals involved with community businesses may benefit from:

    • Extension of the Household Support Fund from April to September 2024
    • National Insurance will fall from 10% to 8% for employees from 1 April 2024, this follows the same cut which was announced in the Autumn budget
    • For the self-employed (which will include tenants of community businesses) ‘class 4’ national insurance contributions (NICs) will be cut from 9% to 8% (this is the main rate paid on self-employed profits of between £12,570 and £50,270)
    • For those who drive, fuel duty will be maintained at current rates for a further 12 months – with the chancellor cancelling the planned inflation-linked increase for 2024-25
  • Community pubs will continue to benefit from the 75% business rates discount announced last Autumn, and today it was announced that alcohol duty (which had been due to rise by 3% in August) will remain frozen until February 2025.

  • The threshold requiring businesses to register for VAT will increase to £90k (from £85k) on 1 April 2024

  • Community-owned businesses and aspiring projects that are already or are looking to co-locate with a village hall may be interested to note that an additional £5m has been made available for the Platinum Jubilee Village Halls Fund, which is delivered by our partners ACRE.

  • Community-owned businesses and aspiring projects that are already or are looking to co-locate with a heritage assets may be interested to note the £6m of funding provided to the King’s Foundation to pilot community-led regeneration projects.

  • Community-owned businesses in the devolved nations may also wish to review how the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland intend to spend the additional allocations of £300m, £170m and £100m under the Barnett formula.

What else was announced?

There was also a swathe of ‘Levelling Up’ related announcements, including 20 new places which will benefit from the Towns Fund and news of devolved powers for areas such as Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire, and Surrey. With the ambition to bring ‘power closer to communities’ through the devolution agenda it will be interesting to see how community businesses in these areas can benefit from these announcements.

Whilst devolved powers will be welcomed by the local government sector, the backdrop to today’s budget does however follow months of media coverage about the cost pressures facing local councils across England.

At a time when Plunkett has sought to deepen our relationship with local government, particularly in relation to their responsibilities for registering assets of community value in England and the delivery of UKSPF funds, we will be keen to see how the long-term implications of the budget will impact the precarious state many councils are in.

We will continue to make the case for community-owned businesses across the nation, as a movement delivering significant social, economic and environmental impacts at a grassroots level. It is vital that this sector continues to be nurtured and supported to grow and that it is not neglected in the face of expected further cuts to public finance.

What can you do?

In an election year, there will be lots opportunities for Plunkett to promote the impact of the community-owned business sector and the work of our members to politicians, prospective parliamentary candidates and other policy makers.

If you are interested supporting our advocacy work this year please do get in touch via , or join as an individual support member for £20 – Become a member link.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!