The Autumn Statement 2023 was delivered by chancellor Jeremy Hunt in parliament on November 22.

Image: Laura Chesters

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Dealer association LAPADA said the changes will only help minimally.

Freya Simms, CEO at LAPADA said: “Our members will certainly welcome the cut in National Insurance rates for employees by 2% - but this will be of limited value as the maximum benefit is effectively capped at around £750.

“The chancellor was slightly less generous to the self-employed, which many of our members are, with only a 1% reduction in Class 4 NI and a maximum saving of £377 a year. However, the abolition of the Class 2 NI will be welcomed as it removes an unnecessary complication for those who are self-employed.”

VAT relief plea

Simms said the other main measure, the permanent extension of the full write-off of most capital expenditure, will have little effect on LAPADA’s members, as many will already fall under the existing £1m annual Investment Allowance Limit. Simms added: “What we did not see, and what our members wanted, was specific relief for retailers by way of rates relief or measures to reduce the 5% VAT on the imports of art and antiques.

“However, we are working with BAMF in our campaign to get ministers and civil servants to understand how important this is for the health of the art market in the UK as you will have noted at the launch of the recently published BAMF report on the UK art market.”

Difference made

Mark Dodgson, secretary general at The British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA), said: “For those of our members with shops and galleries we very much welcome the extension of the retail, hospitality and leisure (RHL) relief against business rates.

“The 75% reduction in business rates has already made a significant difference to some members’ ability to remain in their galleries and shops at a time when footfall has not fully recovered post Covid-19.

“My only concern is that future governments do not create a cliff-edge effect by suddenly withdrawing the relief with effect from April 2025. We would prefer the relief for shops to continue indefinitely but should a future government decide to withdraw it then then they should do so in a gradual, staggered way, particularly as the rates multiplier is now going up.”

Dodgson added that while the RHL relief was a welcome move, “it’s worth bearing in mind that a significant number of dealers do not have a shop or gallery so will not benefit from this help”.