Budget 2021: Corporation Tax rise but small business escapes

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an increase in Corporation Tax from 2023, with a new rate of 25 per cent, as he looks to address the challenges of the pandemic.

However, in his Budget statement he also revealed that small businesses will not face the increase, with the creation of a ‘Small Profits Rate’, for companies with profits of less than £50,000, which will be kept at the current 19 per cent level.

Mr Sunak said that meant 70 per cent of companies would be “completely unaffected”. He added that only 10 per cent of all companies, with profits of £250,000 or more, would pay the full 25 per cent rate in two years’ time.

The threshold for paying the basic rate of income tax will rise to £12,570 next year. For higher-rate payers, the threshold will be £50,270. Both rates will stay the same until 2026. The VAT registration threshold will remain at £85,000 until 2024.

Mr Sunak also confirmed a further extension of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in his Budget statement this afternoon.

It was part of a host of measures unveiled in a bid to protect jobs and help businesses on their journey out of lockdown.

Mr Sunak told the Commons a “swifter and more sustained recovery than expected” was being forecast with the economy returning to its pre-Covid level by the middle of next year. However, he added that the economy will be three per cent smaller in five years than it would have been.

The CJRS scheme, which was set to have closed at the end of next month, will now continue until the end of September.

Mr Sunak said the scheme – which pays 80 per cent of employees’ wages for the hours they cannot work in the pandemic – would help millions through “the challenging months ahead”.

The extension to furlough, which has been credited for protecting 11 million jobs at risk from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic since it was launched last March – had been widely reported prior to his address to the Commons this lunchtime.

The government’s contribution to the scheme will start to be reduced, with employers expected to pay 10 per cent towards the hours staff do not work in July.

Employee contributions will rise to 20 per cent in August and September as the scheme is wound down and the UK economy and businesses begin to reopen.

Around 600,000 more self-employed people will also be eligible for government help as access to grants is widened. Support for the self-employed will also continue until September.

The Treasury has said hundreds of thousands more people will be eligible because tax return information for 2019/20 is now available.

A fourth grant from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be available to claim from April, which will be worth 80 per cent of three months’ average trading profits up to £7,500.

A fifth grant, which will be available from July, was also announced. Those whose turnover has fallen by 30 per cent or more will continue to receive the full 80 per cent grant. Those whose turnover has fallen by less than 30 per cent will get a 30 per cent grant.

Mr Sunak announced an extension to the £20 a week top-up to universal credit for another six months. It will be given as a one-off £500 payment.

In an effort to support the struggling high street and hospitality sector, businesses will be able to get a grant from a £5bn fund set up to help them reopen from lockdown.

Non-essential retail businesses will receive grants of up to £6,000 per premises. Hospitality and leisure businesses will get grants of up to £18,000.

The chancellor said the aim of the new Restart Grant was “to help businesses reopen and get going again.”

The business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure companies will be extended through to the end of June.

Mr Sunak said: “For the remaining nine months of the year, business rates will still be discounted by two thirds, up to a value of £2m for closed businesses, with a lower cap for those who have been able to stay open.”

Looking to further protect the hospitality and tourism sectors he confirmed that the five per cent reduced rate of VAT will be extended until the end of September, followed by an interim rate of 12.5 per cent for another six months.

The up-to-£500,000 “nil-rate band” for stamp duty will finish at the end of June, rather than the end of this month.

Post-Brexit visa rules: what you need to know

The end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 last year also saw the end of freedom of movement. The UK’s new visa points system now applies to newly arrived EU citizens planning to work here.

So, what does that mean for employers? Well, UK and EU citizens already holding residency in Europe or Britain have the same rights as before.

However, people from the EU now looking to live and work here have to go through mandatory requirements in order to gain a skilled work visa based on the points system that has been introduced. Although that doesn’t affect people coming from the Republic of Ireland.

Employers must have a sponsorship licence issued by the Home Office before they can employ non-UK resident workers coming into the country. Without one they will be unable to hire or extend current visas.

As a sponsor you need to be fully aware of your immigration duties and have processes and system in place to meet them and to maintain records that show you are complying.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review your application form and supporting documents. They may visit your business to make sure you’re trustworthy and capable of carrying out your duties.

You can sponsor a worker if the job they’re going to do has a suitable rate of pay and skill level, or meets the other criteria needed for their visa.

The licence you need depends on whether the workers you want are filling a long-term job or are temporary. You can apply for a licence covering one or both types.

You also need to appoint people within your business to manage the process when you apply for a licence, using the government’s sponsorship management system (SMS).

The roles needed are:

• authorising officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
• key contact – your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
• level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS

These roles can be filled by the same person or different people. You and your staff will be checked to make sure you’re suitable for these roles.

You will get an A-rated licence if your application is approved. That lets you start assigning certificates of sponsorship and also means your business will be listed in the register of sponsors.

However, that A-rated licence may be downgraded to a B-rating at a later stage if you do not continue to meet your sponsor duties.

If this happens, you will not be able to issue new certificates of sponsorship until you’ve made improvements and upgraded back to an A-rating.

You’ll still be able to issue certificates to workers you already employ who want to extend their permission to stay.

You must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.

When you assign the certificate to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within three months.

‘Defined certificates’ are for people applying on a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK.

You must apply for defined certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS). You’ll get access to this when you get your licence.

‘Undefined certificates’ are for skilled workers applying from inside the UK, and applicants on all other visas.

When you apply for your licence, you’ll be asked to estimate how many undefined certificates you’ll need for workers and temporary workers in the first year.

Certificates are free for citizens of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

For other citizens, you need to pay for each certificate.

You must:

• Check that your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this
• Only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship
• Tell UKVI if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa

Your licence may be downgraded, suspended or withdrawn if you do not meet these responsibilities and requirements.

You must also have HR systems in place that let you monitor your employees’ immigration status, keep copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information and track and record employees’ attendance.

You also ned to keep employee contact details up to date and report to UKVI if there is a problem, for example if your employee stops coming to work.

And you must also report any significant changes in your own circumstances within 20 working days, for example if you stop trading or become insolvent, substantially change the nature of your business or are involved in a merger or take-over.

You must also tell UKVI if you’re changing your details, like your address or allocated roles.

VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme opens

VAT liabilities deferred last year can now be spread interest free over 12 months from March to help businesses struggling with the impact of Covid-19.

To take advantage you must ‘opt in’, to the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme which went live on February 23.

HMRC says that the new scheme will be open up to and including June 21, 2021.

You can get more details about how to join at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vat-deferral-new-payment-scheme-online-service-opens

If you are on the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme or the VAT Payment on Account Scheme, you will be invited to join the new payment scheme later in March.

The new scheme lets you pay your deferred VAT in equal instalments, interest free.

You can choose the number of instalments, from two to 11, depending on when you join.

To use the online service, you must:

• join the scheme yourself, your agent cannot do this for you
• still have deferred VAT to pay
• be up to date with your VAT returns
• join by June 21 2021
• pay the first instalment when you join
• pay your instalments by Direct Debit (if want to use the scheme but cannot pay by Direct Debit, there’s an alternative entry route for you)

If you join the scheme, you can still have a Time to Pay arrangement for other HMRC debts and outstanding tax.

The month you decide to join the scheme will determine the maximum number of instalments that are available to you.

If you join the scheme in March, you will be able to pay your deferred VAT in 11 instalments or fewer.

Before joining, you must:

• create your own Government Gateway account (if you do not already have one)
• submit any outstanding VAT returns from the last four years – otherwise you’ll not be able to join the scheme
• correct errors on your VAT returns as soon as possible
• make sure you know how much you owe, including the amount you originally deferred and how much you may have already paid
• If you want to join the new payment scheme, but cannot use the online service, contact the Covid-19 helpline on: 0800 024 1222. An adviser will help you join.

More help unveiled for Self Assessment taxpayers

HM Revenue and Customs has announced that Self Assessment taxpayers will not be charged the five per cent late payment penalty if pay their tax or set up a payment plan by April 1.

The payment deadline for Self Assessment is January 31 and interest is charged from February 1 on any amounts that are outstanding.

Normally, a five per cent late payment penalty is also charged on any unpaid tax that is still outstanding on March 3.

However, this year, because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, HMRC is giving taxpayers more time to pay or set up a payment plan.

Taxpayers can pay their tax bill or set up a monthly payment plan online at the GOV.UK website. They need to do this by midnight on April 1 to prevent being charged a late payment penalty.

The online Time to Pay facility allows taxpayers to spread the cost of their bill into monthly instalments until January 2022.

HMRC says that it recognises the pressure affecting taxpayers due to the pandemic, and is encouraging anyone worried about paying their tax and unable to set up a payment plan online to contact it for help and support on 0300 200 3822.

Latest figures reveal that more than 97,260 customers have set up a self-serve Time to Pay arrangement online, totalling more than £367m

Jim Harra, HMRC’s chief executive, said: “Anyone worried about paying their tax can set up a payment plan to spread the cost into monthly instalments.

“Support is available at GOV.UK to help anyone struggling to meet their obligations.”

There are several ways that taxpayers can pay their Self Assessment tax bill in full. They can pay online, via their bank, or by post.

Taxpayers should still pay in full if they can. This is the only way to stop interest accruing.

Self Assessment taxpayers who are required to make Payments on Account, and know their 2020 to 2021 tax bill is going to be lower than in 2019 to 2020 – for example due to loss of earnings because of Covid-19 – can reduce their Payments on Account.

Self Assessment taxpayers who have yet to file their 2019 to 2020 tax return should file by February 28 to prevent being charged a late filing penalty of £100.

To discuss any issues raised in this article please contact WNJ on 01772 430000

Chancellor considers his Budget options

The countdown is on to Rishi Sunak’s Budget on March 3 with the Chancellor urged to deliver more support for small firms and sole traders.

The Treasury has already confirmed that the much-anticipated speech will “set out the next phase of the plan to tackle the virus and protect jobs”.

It follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiling his ‘roadmap’ to bringing the country out of lockdown.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman Mike Cherry says that plan must be followed with business support as restrictions continue and he urged the chancellor to do deliver on the PM’s “whatever it takes” pledge.

Under the roadmap, non-essential retail outlets and personal care premises such as hairdressers won’t open until April 12 at the earliest. That is also the earliest date that hospitality venues will be able to serve people outdoors only. Indoor hospitality won’t reopen until May 17 at the earliest.

An FSB survey of more than 1,000 small business owners has revealed that one in five have received no financial help at all from the government since the start of the Covid pandemic,

Mr Cherry said: “Whatever it takes means bringing those overlooked by current support measures into the fold, including suppliers, directors and the newly self-employed.

“Upwards of a million small business owners and sole traders are currently receiving no direct help whatsoever.

And he added: “Extension of business rates reliefs and measures to mitigate the burden of emergency debt will provide small firms with some urgently-needed breathing space as they fight to make it through to the summer.”

The FSB also wants to see employer national insurance contributions cut and a reintroduction of a job retention bonus.

The CBI, which represents 190,000 UK companies, is calling on Mr Sunak to deliver a comprehensive reform of the business rates system.

It has also called for the furlough scheme to be extended through to June, with targeted support after that for the worst-affected businesses, such as those in hospitality.

There has also been speculation that the cut to VAT to five per cent, introduced for tourism and hospitality during the pandemic, will be renewed.

As well as support schemes, businesses will also be looking closely for any possible tax hikes and the impact that may have on them.

Earlier this year the chancellor was warned that any rise in corporation tax, to help pay for the cost of support measures for the economy introduced during the pandemic, would be counter-productive.

Government support for the Covid-stricken economy has so far cost more than £250bn.

The corporation tax rate is currently 19 per cent and experts say each percentage point rise would raise £3.4bn for the Treasury.

There has been speculation that the chancellor may look to align rates more closely with income tax. Income tax rates stand at either 20 per cent, 40 per cent or 45 per cent.

There have been reports that Mr Sunak is considering a gradual increase to 23 per cent.

Other steps Mr Sunak could take range from a rise in fuel duty to an online sales tax.

Capital gains tax (GCT) is another area where the chancellor might make changes.

Earlier this year he was said to be considering proposals made by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) earlier this year to overhaul the system.

New VAT rules for the construction industry: Are you ready?

New VAT rules for the construction industry will finally come into effect on March 1 so it’s important those affected start getting ready.

The ‘domestic reverse charge’ means the UK customer who gets supplies of construction services must account for the VAT due on these supplies on their VAT return, rather than the UK supplier.

Businesses will need to adapt their accounting systems for dealing with VAT and there will be a negative impact on the cash-flows for many of those affected, as they will no longer get VAT payments from customers for services where the reverse charge applies.

The taxman says the change will remove “the scope for fraudsters to steal the VAT due”. The new reverse charge will apply to a wide range of services in the building trade.

The government delayed the implementation of these VAT changes for a second time last year, to help businesses overcome the effects of the coronavirus pandemic but now the clock is ticking to March 1.

The changes only apply to supplies of building or construction services made to or received by businesses registered for UK VAT, where such a supply must be reported through the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). It will not apply to consumers or businesses customers not meeting the reporting criteria.

GETTING PREPARED

It is important to make sure your accounting systems and software can deal with the changes. You should also consider whether this will affect your cash flow and make sure staff responsible for VAT accounting are familiar with the reverse charge and how it will work.

WHO DOES THE REVERSE CHARGE APPLY TO?

Typically, it will affect sub-contractors supplying their services to other contractors in the construction industry.

Although the provisions apply principally to services in the construction sector, they cover all supplies of labour and materials in a single contract or transaction.

The reverse charge also applies to services provided by labour only sub-contractors as they are responsible for the works carried out. However, it is not intended to apply where a contractor works directly for an ‘end user’.

WHAT IS AN END USER?

These are consumers and businesses, or groups of businesses, that are VAT and CIS registered but do not make onward supplies of the building and construction services supplied to them, namely those who have an interest in the land where the work is being undertaken.

Intermediary suppliers are also exempt from the reverse charge. These are VAT and CIS registered business in a corporate group with an end user. If they buy construction services and supply them to an end user in the same group, they are all treated as if they are an end user.

End users and intermediary suppliers both need to notify the contractor of that fact.

Supplies by employment businesses, also known as labour agencies, are also not subject to the reverse charge. Agencies supplying construction workers are, for VAT purposes, treated as supplying staff rather than building and construction services.

WHAT SUPPLIERS NEED TO KNOW

You must use the reverse charge from March 1 2021, if you are VAT registered in the UK, supply building and construction industry services and:

• Your customer is registered for VAT in the UK
• Payment for the supply is reported within the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).
• The services you supply are standard or reduced rated
• You are not an employment business supplying either staff or workers or both
• Your customer has not given written confirmation that they are an end user or intermediary supplier

You need to:

• Check if your customer has a valid VAT number
• Check your customer’s CIS registration
• Review your contracts to decide if the reverse charge will apply and tell your customers. Use the government’s flowchart to assist you –
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-reverse-charge-technical-guide#changes-to-cash-flow-and-monthly-returns)

• Ask your customer to confirm whether they are an end user or intermediary supplier
• Make arrangements to alter your invoicing to identify the rate and amount of VAT due, but not to charge it to your customer
• Make sure that a narrative appears on the invoice instructing the customer to declare the VAT on their VAT return – see link below:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-reverse-charge-technical-guide#invoices

• Find out how to record the reverse chargeable transactions in your accounts
• Analyse the impact of the new rules on your cash flow and consider applying for monthly VAT returns

WHAT CUSTOMERS NEED TO KNOW

You must account for the reverse charge from March 1, if you are VAT registered in the UK, receive supplies of building and construction industry services and:

• Your supplier is registered for VAT in the UK
• Payment for the supply is reported within the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)
• The services you receive are standard or reduced rated
• Your supplier is not an employment business supplying either staff or workers or both
• You are not an end user or intermediary supplier who has notified your suppliers of that fact

You need to:

• Check if your supplier has a valid VAT number
• Check your supplier’s CIS registration
• Review your contracts to decide if the reverse charge will apply and tell your suppliers you will not accept normal VAT invoices. Use the government’s flowchart to assist you – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-reverse-charge-technical-guide#changes-to-cash-flow-and-monthly-returns
• Make arrangements to account on your VAT returns for the VAT identified as due to HMRC on your suppliers’ invoices
• Make sure that that you refuse any normal VAT invoice issued to you by a sub-contractor where the reverse charge should be applied
• Make arrangements to pay only the net value of the work to your sub-contractors
• Find out how to account for the reverse charge transactions in your accounts

To discuss any issues raised in this article and to get advice on making sure you are prepared for the changes please contact WNJ on 01772 430000

More ‘breathing space’ for Bounce Back Loan repayments

Businesses battling to survive the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic are to be given more time to repay their government support loans.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the greater flexibility, which he says will give businesses more “breathing space to get back on their feet”.

Around £45bn has been borrowed by more than 1.4 million small firms under the government’s Bounce Back Loan scheme, which offers loans of up to £50,000.

The Treasury announced “pay as you grow” flexible terms last September. The tweaks to the scheme that have now been announced will give companies the option to extend the length of their loan from six years to ten.

Business can also opt to make interest-only payments for six months, with the ability to use this facility up to three times throughout the loan.

They can also opt for an additional six-month ‘buffer’ before making their first payment.

That move means that, along with the initial 12-month interest and repayment holiday, businesses will have 18 months before having to start paying back.

The changes announced by the chancellor come as more than 600,000 companies that took advantage of the scheme when it first opened are due to start repaying their loans in May.

There have been growing concerns about the ability of some companies to pay back the money, with the economy still in a weakened position because of the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

Announcing the latest changes, Mr Sunak said: “Businesses are continuing to feel the impact of extended disruption from Covid-19, and we’re determined to give them the backing and confidence they need to get through the pandemic.

“That’s why we’re giving Bounce Back Loan borrowers breathing space to get back on their feet, through greater flexibility and time to repay their loans on their terms.”

Banks, which have been processing the loans, will begin contacting their customers this week to explain the new options available to them.

• To discuss any issues raised by this article please contact WNJ on 01772 430000

SEISS grant – an update

The government announced the fourth extension of its Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) in November last year.

However, it has still to release details of when this latest grant, which aims to support self-employed people who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, will be paid.

It has also yet to be confirmed how much will be paid to those who are eligible for the money.

At the moment the government’s website states: “We will set out further details, including the level of the fourth grant in due course.”

The grant is set to help self-employed people who have been affected by a “significant reduction in profits”, from February 1 until April 30.

Although applications are not yet open, you can find out if you will be eligible by viewing the criteria on the government’s website.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#who-can-claim)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce further details of this fourth grant when he delivers his Budget on March 3.

There is also speculation that he may also reveal a fifth grant as part of his overall package of further support measures for the economy, as the ongoing pandemic continues to impact on businesses in all sectors.

The third grant covers a three-month period from 1 November 2020 until 29 January 2021.

It is worth 80 per cent of average monthly trading profits paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. Applications for this grant closed on January 29 this year.

To be eligible for this grant extension self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, had to be:

• previously eligible for the SEISS first and second grant – although they did not have to have claimed them
• declare that they intend to continue to trade and either:
• currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
• previously trading but temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus

These grants are being paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period.

The grants are taxable income and also subject to National Insurance contributions. The scheme has already paid out nearly £20bn.

When it comes to SEISS, you must make the claim yourself. You must not ask a tax agent or adviser to claim on your behalf as this will trigger a fraud alert, which will delay your payment.

HMRC says it will check claims and take appropriate action to withhold or recover payments found to be dishonest or inaccurate.

Supreme Court ruling is good news for SMEs

A Supreme Court ruling means many thousands of businesses will now have their insurance claims for coronavirus-related business interruption losses paid.

The court ruled in favour of policyholders in the landmark Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) business interruption insurance test case.

The decision was described as a “big victory” by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) which said SMES would breathe a sigh of relief.

The FCA says its decision to bring the test case had removed the need for policyholders to resolve many key issues individually with their insurers.

Sheldon Mills, executive director, consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “Coronavirus is causing substantial loss and distress to businesses and many are under immense financial strain to stay afloat. This test case involved complex legal issues.

“Our aim throughout this test case has been to get clarity for as wide a range of parties as possible, as quickly as possible, and today’s judgment decisively removes many of the roadblocks to claims by policyholders.

“We will be working with insurers to ensure that they now move quickly to pay claims that the judgment says should be paid, making interim payments wherever possible.

“Insurers should also communicate directly and quickly with policyholders who have made claims affected by the judgment to explain next steps.

“As we have recognised from the start of this case, tens of thousands of small firms and potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs are relying on this. We are grateful to the Supreme Court for delivering the judgment quickly. The speed with which it was reached reflects well on all parties.”

FSB chairman Mike Cherry said: “It cements the high court’s decision to grant businesses left on the brink the insurance pay-outs they are rightfully owed.

“For many, it has been a long and difficult road to get to this stage so this will bring clarity and hope to the thousands of firms which have been left in financial limbo for almost a year.

“While this is good news, and while the law has to follow procedure, it’s disappointing that so many small businesses have had to wait to get the money they desperately need under policies they believed were there to protect them, policies they bought in good faith.”

Corporation tax rise ‘danger’ warning

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been warned that any hike in corporation tax could choke off business investment and be counter-productive.

The chancellor is said to be considering announcing a rise in his March Budget as he looks at ways to help pay-off the cost of support measures for the economy introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to the City AM newspaper, Mr Sunak said the Treasury’s £280bn Covid spending over the past year was “the right thing to do”, but that “over time” he had to get the nation’s finances back under control.

The corporation tax rate is currently 19 per cent and experts say each percentage point rise would raise £3.4bn for the Treasury.

There is speculation that the chancellor will look to align rates more closely with income tax, along with taxes on second homes. Income tax rates stand at either 20 per cent, 40 per cent or 45 per cent.

However, Institute of Economic Affairs director general Mark Littlewood has said a corporation tax hike would be “illogical and counterproductive”.

CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith has also urged Mr Sunak not to raise the rate and has stressed that the chancellor should only look at broad tax changes once the economy is beginning to recover.

There is also speculation that Mr Sunak will announce another extension to the furlough scheme and the Covid business loan programme when he stands up in the Commons on March 3.

The Treasury is also reportedly looking at abolishing stamp duty and council tax at some point later this year, and instead implement a national property tax.

A tax on online shopping has also been mooted by some crystal ball watchers as they look to predict what measures Mr Sunak will take. According to reports a two per cent levy on all goods bought online would raise £2bn a year for government coffers.

In a letter to the chancellor, the CBI has called for the Job Retention Scheme, business rates relief and lengthening repayment periods for existing VAT deferrals to be extended until the end of June.

The organisation, which represents 190,000 businesses also says now is the time for comprehensive reform of business rates system.

It recommends actions that should be taken at the Budget itself to build a bridge to a sustained economic recovery by stimulating business investment – with comprehensive reform of the business rates top of the list.

The CBI is also calling for a new R&D tax credit for capital expenditure and the reduction of match funding requirements for R&D grant funding to spur business innovation.

It also wants to see the Apprenticeship Levy become a flexible Skills and Training Levy to unlock business investment in high-quality accredited training.

Rain Newton-Smith said: “This Budget is an opportunity to focus on a balanced economic recovery, not driven solely by consumption and government spending, stimulating much-needed business investment and tackling the systemic challenges that have held the UK back.

“Top of that list must be a fundamental review of our outdated business rates system, to, drive essential investment in energy efficiency, support our struggling high-streets and level-up business investment across the UK.

“Business shares the government’s ambitions of levelling up and boosting productivity and innovation. Tackling the immediate jeopardy facing firms will help build a bridge to a lasting recovery.”