Autumn Statement 2013

This summarises the key announcements affecting logistics that the Chancellor made in his Autumn Statement on 5 December 2013. Government also updated and released its National Infrastructure Plan yesterday; the principal announcement of note was the cancellation of plans to toll the A14 improvement.

In a speech which emphasised the need to stick to the Coalition Government’s long-term plan for reducing the deficit, the Chancellor announced that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has upgraded the economic outlook for the UK; the OBR forecast for growth this year is 1.4 per cent rather than 0.6 per cent. Growth forecasts for future years have also been upgraded, with 2.4 per cent predicted for 2014, instead of 1.8 per cent. However, OBR predicts that Euro Area GDP will shrink by 0.4 per cent, meaning that the economic fragility of our main trading partners remains a cause of concern. The Chancellor also announced that the Office for National Statistics has reassessed data relating to the recession. This shows that the fall in gross domestic product between 2008 and 2009 was not 6.3 per cent as originally thought but 7.2 per cent. He also confirmed that the data revisions show that there was no double-dip recession. Borrowing is down more than forecast and by 2017-18, debt is forecast to be over £80bn lower than anticipated in the March budget. A new charter for budget responsibility will be introduced in Parliament next year which will aim to commit the Government to running a surplus.

The Chancellor has resisted pressure to increase Corporation Tax, saying that a Treasury report shows that cutting this tax benefits the economy. He also announced that Business Rate increases will be capped at 2 per cent for the coming year. Businesses will also be allowed to pay their rates in 12-month instalments. On Apprenticeships, the Government is to create an additional 20,000 places and will also extend business start-up loans, in a measure that it says will benefit some 50,000 people.

Fuel duty
The fuel duty increase that was due to take effect on 1 September 2014, expected to be worth 1.61 pence per litre (ppl), has been cancelled. This means that duty will be frozen until the next General Election.

Duty differential for gas vehicles
The fuel duty differential between the main rate of fuel duty and the rate for road fuel gases, such as compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas and biomethane, will be maintained at current levels until March 2024. The differential between the main rate and the liquefied petroleum gas rate will continue to reduce by 1ppl each year to 2024; this will be reviewed in Budget 2018. The Government is also to seek EU approval to apply a reduced rate of fuel duty to methanol.

Rural fuel rebate
Government has extended the call for information on extension of the current rural fuel rebate scheme to remote areas on the UK mainland, and intends to submit its application for EU approval for the extension in January 2014.

Vehicle excise duty discs
The following measures will be contained in Finance Bill 2014 and will take place with effect from 1 October 2014.

  • Motorists will be able to pay their vehicle excise duty by direct debit annually, biannually or monthly, should they wish to do so. A 5 per cent surcharge will apply to biannual and monthly payments
  • A paper tax disc will no longer be issued and required to be displayed on a vehicle windscreen

HGV Road User Levy
Draft legislative clauses are expected to be published for consultation on 10 December, including the vehicle excise duty and HGV Road User Levy rates that will apply.

About the Author

Cliff Taylor