This month, in-house lawyers will be assessing the impact of the announcements made in the government’s “Growth Plan 2022”. They should also take note of the publication of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, and two reports by the FRC Lab.
2022 Autumn Statement
On 23 September 2022, the Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, delivered the 2022 Autumn Statement to Parliament, announcing the “Growth Plan 2022”. This Plan contained the expected reversal of the increase in the rate of corporation tax that was to have taken effect in April 2023. It also confirmed the previously announced reversal of the increased rate of national insurance contributions that took effect from April 2022 and repeal of the health and social care levy (which would have taken effect from April 2023). Other significant changes include, from April 2023:
- The abolition of the additional rate of income tax.
- The reversal of the recent increase in the rate of dividend taxation.
- A 1% reduction in the basic rate of income tax.
- The repeal of the off-payroll working rules.
It is unclear whether the government intends to proceed with an Autumn 2022 Budget.
Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 22 September. The Bill is effectively the second part of a legislative package designed to prevent the abuse of UK corporate structures and tackle economic crime. It proposes significant changes including:
- Companies House reform.
- An expansion of investigation powers.
- Anti-money laundering reforms.
Financial and narrative reporting
The FRC Lab has published two reports on:
- ESG data production by companies. The report sets out a recommended step-by-step approach to ESG data production, which includes performing a materiality assessment to understand the ESG topics and data points relevant to the company, and reviewing whether existing data and data quality is supporting strategic decision-making. It includes a set of questions for boards to consider in relation to how ESG data is collected and used.
- Using a structured digital format to produce annual financial reports. The report reviews the first year of the mandatory use of the electronic reporting format set out in the UK Transparency Directive European Single Electronic Format Regulation for annual financial reports by companies admitted to trading on UK regulated markets.
On 8 September the Prime Minister, Liz Truss, announced that Chris Skidmore MP will lead a review to ensure the UK delivers net zero by 2050 in the most economically efficient way that is both pro-business and pro-growth. He is due to report back by the end of 2022. There are concerns that the Prime Minister’s new energy policies will impact on the ability of the UK to achieve the net zero target. In particular, the Prime Minister announced a new target to ensure the UK is a net energy exporter by 2040.
Companies that rely on standard contractual clauses for transferring personal data from the United Kingdom to jurisdictions not considered to offer an adequate level of data protection under the UK General Data Protection Regulation can no longer use the old EU standard contractual clauses in new contracts as of 21 September.
The second reading of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDIB) was due to take place in the House of Commons on 5 September. However, it was delayed as a result of the timing of the election of the new leader of the Conservative party. A new date for the second reading has yet to be published. The House of Commons Library had previously published a research briefing, dated 31 August, on the DPDIB.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a draft chapter five of its draft guidance on anonymisation, pseudonymisation and privacy enhancing technologies (PETs). The draft guidance explains the benefits and different types of PETs available and how they can help organisations comply with data protection law. The deadline for responses has recently been extended to 31 December.
Dates for your diary
- Disclosure Pilot Scheme becomes permanent.
- Entry into force of Civil Procedure (Amendment No 2) Rules 2022 (SI 2022/783).
- Entry into force of most changes under the 149th PD Update.
Deadline for responding to Ministry of Justice consultation on increasing the use of mediation in the civil justice system.
- Extended deadline for responding to the Civil Justice Council’s Costs Working Group consultation.
- Government consultation on proposed safety ambition for self-driving vehicles closes.
- House of Commons Public Bill Committee is expected to publish its report for the Financial Services and Markets Bill.
- Closing date for House of Commons Public Bill Committee call for evidence on the Financial Services and Markets Bill.
Second readings of the following Private Members’ Bills in the House of Commons:
- Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill. A Bill to make provision in relation to the right of employees and other workers to request variations to particular terms and conditions of employment, including working hours, times and locations.
- Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) Bill. A Bill to make provision about the extension of pensions automatic enrolment to jobholders under the age of 22.
- Asylum Seekers (Permission to Work) Bill. A Bill to make provision for granting permission to work to asylum seekers who have waited six months for a decision on their asylum application.