May 2021 / United Kingdom

May 12 2021

Queen Addresses Key Speech to Parliament on National Recovery from COVID-19 Pandemic

On 11 May 2021, the Queen delivered a speech to the House of Lords and the House of Commons, addressing all the economic, social and tax measures the British government is planning to adopt towards alleviating the socio-economic and financial impact from the ongoing COVID-29 pandemic and preparing for a national recovery that will bring prosperity to the United Kingdom (UK).

Towards this purpose, a number of significant tax measures have been announced, as follows:

  • the National Insurance Contributions Bill, in the context of which eight new Freeports will be established creating hubs for trade and helping regenerate communities by bringing investment, trade and jobs. More specifically, the National Insurance Contributions Bill will be built on the basis of two pillars: (i) it will provide national insurance contributions relief for employers of veterans, for employers in Freeports and for the self-employed individuals who receive NHS test and trace payments, and (ii) it will strengthen the fight against attempts to avoid tax and national insurance contributions.
  • the Subsidy Control Bill that envisages to replace the European Union (EU) State aid regulatory regime post-BREXIT. More specifically, the Subsidy Control Bill will implement a domestic UK subsidy control regime that will reflect the UK's strategic interests and special national circumstances and provide a legal framework within which public authorities will form subsidy decisions. The main elements of the Bill will, among others, include the creation of a consistent set of UK-wide rules and principles that public authorities should follow when granting subsidies, as well as the establishment of an independent subsidy control body to oversee the UK's envisaged modern subsidy control system; and
  • the Building Safety Bill that will ensure that the tragedies of the past will never be repeated. More specifically, the Building Safety Bill will strengthen the regulatory system for building safety, changing the industry culture and introducing strict safety standards for construction products and a clearer path for homeowners. The main purpose of the Bill is to change the regulations and standards for the construction of high-risk buildings in order to ensure accountability and responsibility by making fundamental changes to the regulatory framework for higher-risk buildings and ensuring that products used in the construction of buildings will comply with strict safety standards.

Further information on the aforementioned can be accessed here (as a PDF).

May 1 2021

Brexit: European Union Ratifies EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

The Council of the European Union has concluded the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The decision to conclude the agreement, adopted on 29 April 2021 after the European Parliament granted its consent, is the last step for the European Union in the ratification of the agreement.

The agreement establishes a Free Trade Agreement, a close partnership on citizens' security and an overarching governance framework to regulate the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. It aims at ensuring a level playing field in areas such as VAT, customs, social security coordination, State aid, tax transparency and anti-avoidance. The agreement has been provisionally applied as of 1 January 2021.

As next steps, the United Kingdom will be notified of the finalization of the internal EU procedures and the agreement will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union before the end of the month. The agreement will enter into force on 1 May 2021.