The Spring Budget highlights for SMEs

20 March 2023

The Spring Budget highlights for SMEs, from creative relief to the alcohol duty freeze



The Spring Budget was designed to “cut and simplify tax for businesses to invest and grow”, according to government documents. Whether the latest Budget will spur business growth is yet to be seen, but there were a number of welcome announcements for firms across the UK.

There are often winners and losers in a Budget. Amongst the winners in the Spring Budget were research-intensive firms and those in the innovation space, where a number of new incentives were announced. 

Small businesses, on the other hand, may be left feeling short-changed. The threshold for R&D tax relief remains high, and no additional energy support was announced outside of the planned Energy Bills Discount Scheme.

Watch the full video below:


The Spring Budget for SMEs

Here are some of the key Budget announcements that could affect SMEs.

Tax reliefs for creative industries

There was good news for the creative industries, with the government temporarily extending the rate rises of three corporation tax reliefs for another two years: Theatre Tax Relief (TTR), Orchestra Tax Relief (OTR) and Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief (MGETR).

Sara Andrews, Tax Partner for Incentives & Reliefs at Haines Watts, described it as “absolutely brilliant news”.

Whether it’s museums, galleries, theatres or films, the creative sector is the lifeblood of the North East. These organisations shape the history and culture of not just our region but the whole UK.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen some of the biggest names in TV and film come to life as a result of the tax relief, from The Crown and Game of Thrones to James Bond. It will be really exciting to see what’s to come in the years ahead with this additional level of support.

Simplification of EMI options

Changes to the Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI) scheme from April 2023 will also simplify the process for granting options for employees.

At present, companies and advisers spend an awful lot of time worrying about whether employees have properly been notified about restrictions on EMI shares and making sure that employees have signed working time declarations. These requirements have now been abolished with effect from the new tax year.

 Thomas Dalby Head of Employer Solutions at Haines Watts.

Extension of the alcohol duty freeze

The hospitality sector also received support, with the Chancellor announcing that duty on draught beer will be frozen. 

From 1st August, the duty on draught products in pubs will be up to 11p lower than the duty in supermarkets as part of a “new Brexit pubs guarantee”.

Catch up with all the other announcements in our detailed Spring Budget summary.

Will the latest support be enough for SMEs?

For many businesses, it’s the ramifications of previous Budgets that are top of mind. 

David Fort, Partner at Haines Watts, watched the Spring Budget with a number of hospitality clients. While they thought the draught beer relief was beneficial for attracting customers to bars and restaurants, the wait until August is simply too long.

[A client] said, ‘in August, my fuel is going up, the living wage is going up and my rent’s going up. Inflation is hitting all my suppliers. And yet I’ve got to wait until August to get the draught beer relief’. It just seems silly.

I think most people will be more concerned about the macroeconomic issues and some of the ramifications from previous Budgets. It doesn’t seem to be helping businesses. - David Fort

Find out more about the Budget impact for SMEs

If you’ve got a question about how the Spring Budget will impact your business, our friendly team is here to help. Find your nearest Haines Watts office or send us a message using our contact form.