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FSB says:- "Autumn Statement's stealth tax grabs hit small firms as more needed on growth and prosperity"

RESPONDING to the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, Daren Shaw, Area Leader for Cheshire and Warrington, at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:- "Today's Budget is high on stealth creation and low on wealth creation, piling more pressure on the UK's 5.5 million small businesses, their employees and customers. While tackling inflation is essential, so are measures to create conditions for prosperity, growth and support enterprise. Today is a missed opportunity to avoid further economic slowdown. Small businesses, which account for more than 16 million jobs in the UK, were already facing an acute cost of doing business crisis through soaring costs, falling revenues, shrinking availability of affordable finance, and a rise in invoices being paid late. On top of all that, they now face even higher taxes, cuts to innovation, and a recipe for a longer and deeper recession. The slashing of dividend taxation allowances will be a bitter blow to hard-working owners of small limited companies trying to pay the bills, earn a living and grow their business. This is a group which was excluded from direct support during the darkest days of Covid, then more recently pushed out of the cut in National Insurance. The changes set out by the Chancellor will leave a Company Director earning 40,000 a year more than 500 worse off than an employee earning 40,000 and paying income tax and national insurance. Freezing the threshold for employer National Insurance at a time of such high inflation is a stealthy hike in the jobs tax, just as recessionary pressures threaten an increase in unemployment. Alongside the understandable rise in the Living Wage, this Budget will ramp up the costs of employment without offsetting that with measures to reduce other business costs. The few saving graces here are the retention of the Employment Allowance at its current level, which was hard fought for by FSB, and the continuation of the lower National Insurance rate for the self employed and employees. Gutting the Research and Development (R&D) tax credit scheme will crush innovation and growth, resulting in tens of thousands fewer R&D intensive small businesses. This doom loop makes a mockery of plans for growth. The Chancellor has stewardship responsibilities to the next generation and he has failed with this move to kill R&D. The Office for Budget Responsibility will need to look again its assessment of the impact in due course as the ONS completes its revision of UK R&D statistics. On Business Rates, it is welcome news that transitional relief will be changed alongside next year's revaluation and with an inflationary freeze; avoiding the threat of a huge 10.1% increase in bills. The positive effect will be for those whose valuations go down, who as a result of the change will be paying a fairer level of rates from year one. Alongside significant expansion of relief for small firms in retail, hospitality and leisure, this is a positive change. As the Chancellor mentioned, FSB has been calling for these changes and it is pleasing to see them being taken onboard. Stealthily freezing the VAT threshold at a time of sky high inflation will both drag more struggling small firms into scope for the tax, while disincentivising others from growing. FSB's research shows 24% of small firms and the self employed are held back by the VAT threshold. It is welcome that the energy support package for small firms will remain in place until April, helping them through a very tough winter ahead. However, going forward, continued support should not be viewed through the narrow lens of specific sectors, but rather based upon the size of a business. The Chancellor may consider that today's Statement has steadied the economic ship after recent turbulence. But it is now time to raise the anchor, re-start the engines, and set a course towards economic recovery, promoting enterprise and innovation, and future prosperity. Whether that direction is set in the coming months is a decision which will be make or break for many small businesses."

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Over 21 million people at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning this winter

A free memorial service is being held at Mayfields Woodland Burial Ground to remember all those who are no longer with us this Christmas. Organised and led by the colleagues at the grounds based in Eastham, on the Wirral Peninsula, everyone is welcome to the service on the evening of Wednesday, 14 December 2022. It is hoped the event will provide comfort for bereaved relatives and friends who want to remember their loved ones during a particularly difficult time of year. The evening will include carol singing from:- The Oaks Community Primary School, Ellesmere Port, and festive food and refreshments. People are invited to leave a personal tribute on Mayfield's Christmas tree and light a candle to reflect and remember loved ones.

Lesley Hadley, Bereavement Coordinator for Bereavement Care; a free service provided by Southern Co-op, said:- "We hope that spending this time with others, who will be sharing similar thoughts and emotions, will bring some comfort and support. The memorial service can help people from all backgrounds come together as a caring community to express their grief and gratitude."

After the service, there will also be a special surprise guest with chocolate gifts for the children. A donation point will also be on site for those who want to donate non-perishable foods and toiletries to St Mary's Church, in Eastham Village.

Anyone interested in attended must RSVP by emailing:- Info@MayfieldsBurial.Co.UK or by phoning:- 01513272360. To find out more about Mayfields Woodland Burial Ground, visit:- MayfieldsWoodlandBurialGround.Co.UK. The memorial service will also be available via webcast on:- Wednesday, 14 Decmber 2022, at 6.30pm. People can join at:- WesleyMedia.Co.UK, and using the login pin:- 908-9940.


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