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2010 Autumn Statement

The Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn statement on 29 November 2010, but this was NOT a Pre Budget Report full of tax information as we had come to expect from Gordon Brown.

George Osborne was primarily responding to the report from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) which was released earlier the same day. The OBR report is a forecast of the UK's economic performance for the next few years. Previously this forecasting was performed by the Treasury and was not independently checked. The purpose of the OBR is to provide independent economic forecasts that are not influenced by political concerns.

The central message conveyed by George Osborne is that there is not going to be a double dip recession, as the UK economy is growing steadily at about 2% per year. Employment is forecast to grow, but the unemployment rate is expected to remain at around 8% for the next year. The apparent contradiction is due to more claimants being moved from long-term sickness benefit (Employment and Support Allowance) to unemployment benefit.

George Osborne mentioned tax only briefly in his speech, when he announced a series of consultations concerning the reform of corporation tax. Most of the areas under review are only relevant to multinational companies. However, there will be a review of the tax incentives for expenditure on research and development (R&D).

Currently enhanced R&D tax relief is available to large and small companies at different rates, but it can be very difficult to prove to HMRC that the work undertaken qualifies for the R&D tax relief. This system of R&D tax relief may be tweaked after this review to make it easier for small high-tech companies to claim the relief.

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