All you need to know about the Autumn Statement

22 November 2023

With a General Election due next year, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered his Autumn Statement this lunchtime (Wednesday 22 November), proclaiming his economic plans are working but ‘the work is not done’. 

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts show UK growth is stronger than previously expected this year, but weaker than previous forecasts suggested for 2024-2026.

It’s predicted inflation will fall to 2.8% by the end of 2024, and will drop to the 2% target the year after. That’s more than a year later than the forecast in March.

So how will Hunt’s announcements – a whopping ‘110 growth measures’ – help you and your business? As always after every Chancellor statement, our Fortus team have distilled the key headlines that may impact you and/or your business.


  • The headline news was the main rate of employees’ national insurance contributions (NIC) are to be cut by 2% to 10%. This comes into effect on 6 January 2024.
  • For the self-employed, the Chancellor announced major NI reforms. Class 2 NICs will be abolished, and class 4 NICs will be reduced from 9% to 8%. This means people on the nation’s average wage of £35,000 will save more than £450 a year.
  • Full expensing for businesses on capital expenditure will become permanent. This tax break allowing firms to pay less Corporation Tax was due to expire in 2026.

Chris Wilson, Director – Head of Tax at Fortus, points out some notable omissions. ‘Whilst these changes will be welcomed by employed and self-employed individuals, there was no change to Inheritance Tax (IHT), despite media speculation. Nor were there any changes to the rate of Corporation Tax (with full expensing being given instead), Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) or the SDLT holiday.’

national living wage

  • The National Living Wage will rise from £10.42 to £11.44 an hour from April 2024. The eligible age for this increase of £1.02 from the current rate is to drop, from over-23s to over-21s.
  • Although the National Living Wage is lower for under-21s, this rate will increase by £1.00, meaning those aged between 18 and 20 will earn at least £8.60 an hour.
  • Apprentices and those aged 16 or 17 will also receive more – £6.40, which is a rise of £1.12 on last year.


  • The predicted simplification of the R&D tax relief system is to go ahead via the proposed single merged scheme, modelled on the current mechanism of the R&D Expenditure Scheme (RDEC).
  • The subsidy claimable by loss-making companies is to be calculated taking a rate of Corporation Tax of 19%, rather than 25%.  Assuming the RDEC mechanism is applied, this would increase the effective rate of the subsidy from 15% to 16.2%.
  • Access to the R&D intensive subsidy rate of 26.97% to be expanded by lowering the qualification threshold of R&D expenditure from 40% down to 30% of total expenditure.  5,000 more loss-making SMEs are expected to benefit from this change.

Claire Upton, our Head of R&D Tax Credits, comments: ‘Whether this last point sufficiently addresses concerns around uncertainty of R&D intensive loss-making companies to potentially flip between the intensive rate and standard rate, as R&D expenditure to total expenditure ratios fluctuate, remains to be seen. There will be a year of grace where companies that fall below the 30% threshold will continue to receive the higher subsidy in the following accounting period – this is helpful‘.


business SUPPORT

  • The 75% discount on business rates – which is the tax paid on non-domestic properties – of up to £110,000 for firms in retail, hospitality and leisure is to be extended for another year.
  • A further £500m will be invested over the next two years to fund more AI innovation centres.


  • The state pension will increase by 8.5% from April 2024 to £221.20 a week – worth almost an extra £900 a year.
  • Work will begin on allowing employees the option to nominate the pension fund their employer pays into. The fund can then follow them through their working life


  • Individual savings accounts (ISAs) will be overhauled – meaning that savers will be able to pay into multiple accounts for the first time as of next April. However, this won’t change the current £20,000 tax-free allowance.