Schedule 6 - Administration of creative sector reliefs

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:02 pm on 5 February 2024.

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Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 7:02, 5 February 2024

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

This Government are backing British business, supporting employment, and creating a simpler and fairer tax system. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor delivered an autumn statement with the clear intention of strengthening the economy, now and for the future. This Finance Bill, which Members of the House have had the opportunity to scrutinise and debate over the past few months, does exactly that. It takes forward important tax measures to help businesses invest for less; encourages innovation and supports our creative industries by elevating rates and simplifying credits; and improves and simplifies our tax system to ensure it remains fit for purpose.

Mr Deputy Speaker, allow me to remind Members of the Bill’s key aims. Our first aim is to support British industry, so that we can solidify our position as world leaders in key sectors. Making full expensing permanent allows UK businesses to invest for less. We have moved to make the UK’s plant and machinery capital allowances the most generous of any major economy. Permanent full expensing has been called the single most transformational thing we could do for investment, and it was welcomed by more than 200 companies and trade associations.

The Bill also merges two significant Government schemes: the SME scheme and the R&D expenditure scheme. In doing that, we are meeting our aim of simplifying the system while providing greater support to British businesses, so that they can spend less time on administration and more time on innovation. The Bill also introduces greater support for loss-making R&D-intensive SMEs and lowers the intensity threshold required to access that support to 30%, helping around 5,000 extra SMEs. To further support investment in renewable energy, we have introduced a new assets exemption for the electricity generator levy, a measure that will continue to drive growth in both our renewables sector and the wider economy. We also continue to support our world-leading creative industries with tax measures that reform the film, TV and video game tax reliefs, turning them into refundable expenditure credits that are easier for business.

Our second aim is to support employment. We must remove barriers to work and incentives to not work, and most of all, must ensure that hard work and expertise are rewarded. That is why the Bill makes changes to encourage people to stay in work and use their expertise for longer. The Bill will complete the abolition of the lifetime allowance, amending pension tax rules so that employees with valuable, hard-earned expertise are no longer encouraged to reduce their hours or retire early. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that this will retain 15,000 workers annually, keeping many high-skilled employees and experienced individuals in our labour market while ensuring that they receive their rightful benefits for working.

Our third aim is to create a simpler, fairer and more modern tax system—an aim that the Bill also supports. Making full expensing permanent is a huge simplification for larger firms, but we are a nation of millions of small businesses. In the Bill, we are expanding the cash basis—a simplified way for over 4 million smaller and growing traders to calculate their profits and pay their income tax. While we remain focused on reducing the tax burden, we cannot overstate the role of tax in supporting public services, so we must all do our part. Everyone must pay their fair share, which is why the Bill introduces a new criminal offence for those who promote tax avoidance schemes and continue to promote them after receiving a stop notice. Alongside this, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will for the first time be able to bring disqualification action against the directors of companies involved in promoting tax avoidance, including those who control or exercise influence over a company. These are vital steps in ensuring that the system is fair for all, and that those who try to undermine it face the consequences.

I thank right hon. and hon. Members from across the House for their helpful and insightful contributions to the debate on the Bill. I also thank the many stakeholders who have provided their views on the issues raised, the Treasury, HMRC officials and House Clerks who have helped the Bill to get to this point. This Bill backs British business, rewards hard work, nurtures innovation, and supports our leading industries while solidifying long-term economic growth. For those reasons, I commend it to the House.