UK: Autumn Statement Sets Stage for Port Linking Investment

The UK Chancellor issued the Autumn Statement 2014  on 3 December,  setting out the next stage of the government’s long-term economic plan.

The UK Chamber of Shipping welcomed the statement, saying that in addition to tax, welfare and devolution proposals announced  by the Chancellor, earlier this week the government pledged billions of pounds to road infrastructure projects, which has been trumpeted as the biggest upgrade to the road network in a generation.

The proposals include infrastructure improvements for 7 major ports; much of the detail of which had previously been announced, with new elements including green-lighting the development of the network to the Port of Liverpool, and improved road access to Southampton and Teesport, alongside previous commitments to improve port connectivity.

The UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Guy Platten said: “Our ports and shipping services are a vital part of our infrastructure, and poor access to those ports by road has long been of concern to the shipping industry.  So the Chancellor’s focus on transport infrastructure improvements is necessary but long overdue.  The UK must remain competitive in the global market and in order to do so thoughtful, long–term planning for port access is required.

“Whilst the new spending is very welcome, given that the government cut nearly £4bn from the spending plans that they inherited for strategic roads in the 2010 spending review we are now playing catch up on ensuring the road links to ports are up to standard.” 

The Autumn Statement is generally helpful for the shipping and offshore sectors, according to international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens.

Moore Stephens tax partner Sue Bill says: “Overall, setting aside the changes for non-UK-domiciled individuals, this is generally a helpful budget for the shipping and offshore sectors. The new exemption from withholding tax on interest on qualifying private placements, while subject to further details, could make it easier for companies to raise finance without incurring withholding tax liabilities of up to 20 percent on interest payments. The continuing government clampdown on aggressive tax avoidance by multinational enterprises is not unexpected. Meanwhile, the new high-pressure, high-temperature cluster area allowance taking effect from 3 December 2014 is among a number of encouraging measures for the oil and gas sector.”

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