Other announcements

Capital gains tax

The annual exempt amount for capital gains tax will be frozen at £10,600 for 2012-13.

Corporation tax

The main rate of corporation tax will reduce to 25 per cent, as planned, on 1 April 2012.

Gifts of pre-eminent objects

Following consultation after the Budget 2011, the Government announced that legislation will be introduced to enable individuals and companies to receive a reduction in their income tax and capital gains tax liabilities, and corporation tax liabilities respectively, by donating pre-eminent works of art or historical objects to the nation.

Child poverty strategy

By 2014-15, the Government will invest a further £380 million a year to extend its offer of 15 hours free education and care targeted at two-year-olds from poorer families.

Youth unemployment

The Government will introduce a 'Youth Contract' to tackle the growth in youth unemployment. Amongst other measures it will include the provision of funding for an estimated 160,000 wage incentives of £2,275 to make it easier for private sector employers to take on young people and funding for at least 40,000 incentive payments for small firms taking on young apprentices.

Health and safety regulations

Following the review by Professor Löftstedt of health and safety regulations, the Government has accepted the recommendations which will further reduce red tape for UK businesses. Some of the main measures will include exempting self-employed individuals that pose no risk to others from health and safety legislation and simplifying guidance and codes of practice.

Insurers' Infrastructure Investors Forum

The Government will establish an Insurers' Infrastructure Investors Forum with the Association of British Insurers. The purpose of the forum is to explore ways to guarantee that the capital markets continue to provide an efficient and attractive source of debt finance for infrastucture projects.

Planning reform

Gaining planning permission always seems to be a challenge, with so many requirements and hurdles to jump over, so the Government have announced another endeavour to reform the planning and consent regime. The intention is to speed up planning decisions while seeking to reduce the cost of investment in UK infrastructure. These changes arise as a result of the Penfold Review and confirm that the Government will:

  • Ensure the key consenting and advisory agencies have a remit to promote sustainable development as soon as the National Planning Policy Framework is finalised
  • Introduce a 13-week maximum timescale for the majority of non-planning consents, to speed up the consenting process and give certainty to developers. This change takes effect immediately.

The Government will also:

  • Ensure that there is a more effective mechanism for applicants to obtain an award of costs, if there is an appeal against refusal of a planning permission when a statutory consultee has acted unreasonably
  • Build more flexibility into the new major infrastructure planning process particularly in the pre-application phase.

Promoting Exports

The Government announced that it will:

  • Spend £10 million to make available to 500 mid-sized businesses each year the bespoke export service support services of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)
  • Spend £35 million to increase from 25,000 to 50,000 the number of SMEs that UKTI supports each year
  • Work through the EU to complete free trade agreements with India, Singapore and Canada in 2012, and make substantial progress towards completing trade agreements with Mercosur, most ASEAN countries and Japan within the next three years; and
  • Launch HE Global - an online information and advice portal for higher education institutions wishing to expand abroad.

Investing in Education and Training

The Government is to provide a further £1.2 billion for capital investment in schools in England, including:

  • An extra £600 million to fund 100 additional Free Schools
  • An additional £600 million to support those local authorities with the greatest demographic pressures
  • Investing £250 million in 2012 to enable businesses to design, develop and purchase the vocational training programmes they need.

Increase young people's access to high quality work experience by investing £4.5 million over the next two years to support work experience as part of post-16 programmes of study; work with the Federation of Small Businesses and other employer groups to review regulation impacting on the provision of work experience by the end of December 2011; and publish shortly a guide on work experience.