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29 October 2021

Autumn Budget 2021 – What does it mean for print?

Autumn Budget 2021 – What does it mean for print?

“Today’s Budget does not draw a line under Covid; we have challenging months ahead.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP

While the Chancellor was clear in yesterday’s Budget that the impacts of COVID-19 will be felt for some time, he was also keen to suggest that this Budget focuses on the post-pandemic economic recovery.

He said forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) show the economy will grow by 6.5% this year, with the start of 2022 being slated for a return to its pre-pandemic size. It’s a better prediction from the OBR than the Treasury was expecting, allowing for some additional optimism to work its way into spending decisions.

As usual, we’ve worked our way through the Treasury’s Red Book (so you don’t have to!) to find out what’s relevant for print.


Employment and staffing

The Treasury’s pre-briefing of the wage measures in the Budget was not well-received by the Speaker of the House of Commons, but the measures themselves are likely to be vote-winners. 

The National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) will increase.

NLW (the minimum wage for people 23 and over) will increase from £8.91 to £9.50 per hour from April 2022

 NMW The minimum wage for people 22 and under) will also increase in April 2022:

  • For 21 and 22 year olds from £8.30 to £9.18
  • For 18-20 year olds from £6.56 to £6.83
  • For 16 and 17 year olds from £4.62 to £4.81
  • For apprentices from £4.30 to £4.81


Skills & Training

Total spending on skills will increase over the Parliament; by £3.8 billion by 2024-25. The increase reflects the Treasury’s belief in the relationship between improving skills and improving productivity.
  • Extend the Kickstart Scheme to March 2022
  • Quadruple the number of places on Skills Bootcamps
  • Expand the Lifetime Skills Guarantee on free Level 3 qualifications
  • Invest £10 million a year in the Sector Based Work Academy Programme
  • Add extra classroom hours for up to 1000,000 T-Level students
  • Open 20 Institutes of Technology
  • Improve post-16 education venues, including more specialist equipment and facilities for T-Levels
  • Set up a new numeracy programme for adults, which will be called Multiply



The Budget’s Red Book cites the delivery of ‘apprenticeship system improvements for all employers.’ These include:
  • An enhanced recruitment service by May 2022 for SMEs helping them hire new apprentices
  • Supporting flexible apprenticeship training models to ensure that apprenticeship training continues to meet the needs of employers
  • By April 2022, considering changes to the provider payment profiles aimed at giving employers more choice over how the apprenticeship training is delivered, and explore the streamlining of existing additional employer support payments so that they go directly to employers
  • Introducing a return on investment tool in October 2022 to ensure employers can see the benefits apprentices create in their business
  • Extending the 3k apprentice hiring incentive for employers until 31 January 2022


Business support & Finance

Quite a business-based Budget, with the results of the Treasury’s 2020 consultation on business rates finally seeing the light. We’ll bring you more of the detail on business rates over the coming days.

Business rates

  • Make business rates fairer and timelier, reviewing them every three years (read our submission to the business rates consultation)
  • Introduce a business rates improvement relief, allowing businesses to make property improvements and pay no extra business rates for 12 months
  • Next years' planned increase in the multiplier will be cancelled
  • A new 50% business rates discount for businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector, up to £110,000
  • Extend the £1m Annual Investment Allowance until March 2023
  • Scrap the planned rise in fuel duty
  •  Expand the scope of R&D tax reliefs to include cloud computing and data costs
  • Reform the tonnage tax regime to make it simpler and more competitive
  • Continue funding for the Help to Grow schemes into 2024-25 will help SMEs improve their productivity through world-class management, skills training, and support for digital adoption
  • Reform Companies House (costing £63m) to tackle the exploitation of UK businesses by criminals
  • Continue to freeze HGV Vehicle Excise Duty for 2022-23 and suspend the HGV Levy for another 12 months from August 2022
  • Dividend rates will rise by 1.25% from April 2022
  • Uprate National Insurance limits and thresholds, and the rates of Class 2 and 3 NICs, using the Consumer Price Index figure of 3.1%
  • Issue a consultation on introducing an Online Sales Tax, the revenue from which would be used to business rates for retailers


Energy and environment

A speech short on references to climate change, and a curious decision to halve Air Passenger Duty on internal UK flights, will likely get short shrift from environmental groups and the opposition as we head into COP26. 

  • Introducing an investment relief to encourage businesses to invest in greener technologies
  • Create new green industries of the future, as announced in the Net Zero Strategy, with £30bn of funding
  • Commit to spend £20bn per year on R&D, including £1.7bn for net zero R&D
  • Provide Investment relief to encourage businesses to adopt green technologies such as solar panels


Levelling up

A long-awaited levelling up White Paper (and some accompanying clarity on the entire concept) is due any minute. Ahead of that, £1.7bn of funding in the first grants from the Treasury’s Levelling Up Fund was announced for towns and cities. These include:







Isle of Wight



Tower Hamlets

Isles of Scilly









Newcastle upon Tyne

Please find more detail on all of the above in The Red Book on the HM Treasury website and expect more from us on the business rates measures in the coming days.


Please click here to view the Autumn Budget 2021.


Charles Jarrold, BPIF CEO comments;

“Overall, it’s a budget that moves in the right direction – on skills very positively; on investment and support for business, which is so important right now, less so.

On the skills side, support for training generally, and especially in apprenticeships is really good news; the employer incentives to take on an apprentice has been extended to January 2022 which is good news, and apprenticeship funding has also been increased although we need to look at the detail on that. Kickstarter has had its challenges, but in our sector been quite successful, so we are pleased to see that extended to March 2022. 

UK print really sets an example with its training culture, and it’s really important that government recognises the importance of work based employer led training, and this budget moves in that direction.

In terms of overall business support, there’s quite a lot to welcome, but, in the environment that so many of our members find themselves in, especially with the pressures on finding staff, supply chain costs and energy, we’re going to need to work closely to see what additional steps can be taken to support businesses in the short and medium term. The steps taken in respect of support for investment are helpful and we hope those will be extended beyond the short timeframe they’ve been confirmed for, and the business rates support for retail and hospitality, an important element of print’s demand base will help the recovery in members businesses. Steps on rates don’t go far enough though, we want to see much greater reform in business rates to support UK print and manufacturing more generally.”



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