Wednesday 8 July 2015 8:40 am

July Budget 2015: From a new living wage to cutting the bank levy, the key policies that will affect UK businesses

Today was Britain's first Conservative-only Budget in almost 20 years, and in it chancellor George Osborne revealed a series of policy changes that will affect UK companies
Here are the key announcements he made in the business-friendly budget, and what they mean for the UK's companies.

Cut to corporation tax

By 2017, corporation tax will have gone down to 19 per cent, and by 2020 it will stand at 18 per cent. 
The chancellor said: 
We are giving businesses the lower taxes they need to grow with confidence. Britain is open for business.

Corporate tax accelerated for big firms

The government has committed to a “tax avoidance clampdown”, and claims it will raise £5bn by doing so. 
In today's budget, it said the biggest corporate firms – those with revenue greater than £20m – would be required to pay tax closer to the time profits are announced. 

Banks will no longer have to pay levy

In 2011, Osborne introduced an annual tax on the value of all of the debts in UK banks, but this is now being phased out following a string of heavy increases in the levy over recent years
The levy will be cut over six years and then removed entirely from worldwide balance sheets, in an attempt to encourage Britain's banks to stay. 
Instead, there will be an eight per cent surcharge on bank profits and a new insurance premium tax at 9.5 per cent.
Anna Anthony, head of financial services tax at EY, commented: 
A reduction in the rate and scope of the bank levy will be very welcome news for the sector, and can be seen as an acknowledgement from the government that the UK does need to remain a competitive location for global financial services companies.

Incentives to take on apprentices

Claiming that the skills of Britain's young are no longer higher than those of the old, Osborne is imposing an apprenticeship levy on all large firms to fund training of apprentices. 
It is "a radical, and frankly long overdue approach", he said, and one which will allow some firms to “get more back than they put in”. 
He predicts the plan will create three million more apprenticeships, and that the money will be “directly controlled by employers”. 

Shops can open for longer on Sunday

Until now, there has been a national ban on shops being open for more than six hours on Sundays. 
This rule is being removed, which will allow some companies to open for extended hours – local councils and Mayors will now have the power to set the hours in their areas. 

Small firms allowed more investment

Small and medium-sized firms will benefit from an increase in annual investment allowance to £200,000 a year. 

David Fisk, sales director at Quorum, commented:

Productivity is extremely important to any businesses and companies need to be investing in solutions that will help to boost business continuity in the event of a disaster so productivity is not hindered. We now live in a digital world and Osborne should be encouraging companies to adapt to the risks this brings and to find solutions that can help increase business output. 

New national living wage

The minimum paid by employers to its employees is increasing. “Britain deserves a pay rise, and it is getting a pay rise”, the chancellor said. 
It'll be £9 per hour by 2020 for people 25 and older. And it'll start at £7.20 an hour from next April.
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