Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement to the nation last week.

Gwent business people have been commenting on what they heard...

John Newell, owner, Kingston Newell Estate Agents, Newport

I has welcome the reforms to the stamp duty land tax announced in the autumn statement. The new tiered structure will benefit the vast majority of home buyers in Newport as the value of properties in the area are within the parameters where the largest savings will be made. Almost as soon as the announcement was made, we starting receiving calls from clients wanting to know if they would be better off. The news has certainly been well received and will further bolster the local market which is already vibrant even at this traditionally quiet time of the year.

Douglas Haig, vice chairman and director for Wales of the Residential Landlords Association, and member of Cwmbran Landlord Forum

Re stamp duty, this is a very welcome move, reducing the tax most people will pay. It will help reduce the major issue faced at the £250,000 mark where very few people are willing to offer over that price until the house is around £270,000+. It would have been nice to also see an increase in the zero rate to £150,000. We also welcome the money that has been committed towards flood defenses but it is only focusing on small parts of the country, when flooding is a much wider issue nationally. More needs to be done to protect homeowners around the country, but also resolve the issues surrounding the insurance industry supporting home owners that have been affected by flooding, or are at risk of flooding.

Elliott Buss, senior tax manager, UHY Hacker Young, Newport chartered accountants

This December the Chancellor has delivered Wales a Christmas present where the wrapping is more impressive than the gift itself. While the public might welcome more devolved powers for Wales, what it will really mean? Stamp duty reforms are already welcome news, so further changes are unlikely, and, Welsh Government will need to act swiftly regarding business rates to address the damages Wales SMEs have endured in recent years. For SMEs, an increase in R&D tax credit is good news, but the benefit is fairly minimal and equates to four per cent. The statement’s saving grace is the pledged £400m to extend government-backed venture capital funds and the guarantee of up to £500m of new bank lending. Welsh businesses need to take full advantage of this in order to stay competitive against the already strong South East, and future competition from the planned ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

Mary McDonagh, partner, Kilsby & Williams, Newport

The Autumn Statement was very political in theme and content with the Chancellor working very hard to divert focus from the expected bad news on the overall deficit position. There were the expected announcements on further targeting of 'domestic' tax avoidance schemes and, perhaps surprising, also news on measures to clampdown on artificial shifting of profits by multinational technology businesses. More support for innovation such as the increase in the tax rates for R&D tax credits is welcomed as is such measures as the additional support for businesses taking on young apprentices. There was a measure of surprise around the changes in the stamp duty thresholds which will be welcomed by most home owners in Wales. However, for commercial businesses, we still need to await the full devolution of business rates to the Welsh Government to assess what the overall impact of reforms here will be in the Principality.

Wyn Williams, partner, HardingEvans Solicitors, Newport

The stamp duty change was a positive one which will no doubt assist a number of our residential clients. As an example a purchaser who is purchasing at £130,000 would have to pay £1,300 stamp duty under the old regime. With the new rules they would now only have to pay £100. This should have a positive impact on property transaction in South Wales and can only help assist potential property purchasers particularly first time buyers. The changes should also have a positive impact on properties which fell around the traditional three per cent bracket of £250,000.

Jon Hayward, managing director of Smart Solutions Training, Newport

By relieving employers responsibility of paying National Insurance contributions for apprentice staff, we hope that this will not only encourage more employers to take on apprentices within their organisations but also increase the number of young people in full time employment. Long term, by offering this relief to businesses engaging apprentices under the age of 25, it will create a broader pool of candidates eligible to benefit from the incentive, including school leavers as well as graduates, increasing skills in the younger workforce and hopefully help continue to replenish trades and skillsets that have been diminished over the last 30 years. We currently work with 70 businesses across the UK which employ more than 800 apprentice learners, with more than 250 of those based in Wales, and we certainly expect this announcement will help increase figures from April 2015.

Ed Gooderham, director, Green & Co Accountants and Tax Advisors, Cwmbran

The bad news on Entrepreneurs' Relief relates to businesses changing from sole traders or partnerships to limited companies. Based on the information we have seen so far, it will no longer be possible to claim Entrepreneurs' Relief on the sale of goodwill to a related company. Similarly, it will no longer be possible to claim Corporation Tax Relief on goodwill purchased from a related party. These changes are effective immediately, but do not affect purchased goodwill from unrelated parties.

Jim Winship, director, British Sandwich Association, Chepstow

Business rates have been a burden for small businesses for far too long and are generally out of kilter with current commercial property values. Footfall on Britain’s High Streets, which is as important to cafes and sandwich businesses as it is to other retailers, is down 26 per cent since 2007. This move by the chancellor is long overdue step in the right direction in helping the high street to survive. We will happily engage with government and contribute to the re-organisation of rates.

Colin Strong, head of lending procurement, Monmouthshire Building Society, Newport

The entire industry was taken aback with the surprise reforms to the very unfair stamp duty system. The new progressive system of taxation for home purchase is much fairer for purchasers, and an essential move for a healthier housing market. The reforms will help many of our customers who are currently going through the house purchase process and those who are considering buying a new home. One Monmouthshire Building Society mortgage customer who is due to exchange in the next few days has saved £4,600 so, as you can see, this will have a very real and immediate impact.

Mark Hobbs, managing partner of Howells Solicitors, Newport

The stamp duty changes are sensible and good for the market. We are responsible for more than 800 residential property completions each month. Although the immediate changes to the system have resulted in the accounts department here working overtime to ensure potential complications caused by the reforms are managed accordingly, they do allow clients to chose whether to pay the tax at the new or current rate depending on which is best for the buyer. The reforms remove the big hikes in Stamp Duty at former pinch points especially for properties in the £250,000 and £500,000 categories. Big savings in the middle market will push more sales along next year which might counter the traditional pre election lull. One could argue that it is a clever political move by the Chancellor as it placates those calling for the introduction of a Mansion Tax but from a conveyancing viewpoint the reforms are fair and will benefit those taking their first steps on the property ladder as well as those moving up it.

Sam George, managing partner, QualitySolicitors Rubin Lewis O'Brien, Cwmbran

'Property professionals from all disciplines have long called for a fairer approach to stamp duty and the reform means that we will have a progressive tax rather than a slab tax where the whole of the property price is taxed at the same rate. The reform is positive news for the vast majority of people looking to buy and should provide encouragement to first-time buyers and so called second-steppers who are vital to the health of the property market. Stamp duty rates for commercial properties are unaffected. However, we are certainly seeing more activity from our business clients.

Leighton Reed, director, Broomfield & Alexander, Newport

“The chancellor has put together a package of measures targeted to help small business. Before the statement, many had lobbied for an overhaul of business rates. They will be happy that he promised to look at overhauling the system, as well as capping inflation linked increases and offering larger discounts to high street shops, pubs and cafes. To help the UK economy to grow faster, by aligning ourselves to the growth of other fast growing countries, he is also to introduce a package of measures to encourage investment in Asia, Africa and South America. Businesses looking to expand into those countries should benefit but the detail has yet to be understood. While the UK has one of the lowest rates of company tax at 20 per cent from April 2015, the chancellor continues to tackle tax avoidance and with the strapline 'low taxes but taxes that are paid' he will introduce a tax rate of 25 per cent on profits artificially diverted to other countries, the so-called 'Google tax'. One of the key tax incentives for business in recent years has centred on those engaged in research and development. From next year, the tax incentives will be increased to try and make the UK a centre for ideas and innovation. On the Welsh front, the plan to devolve corporation tax to Northern Ireland, and with taxes already agreed to be devolved to Scotland, it may only be a matter of time until corporation tax and income tax raising powers, policy and tax administration are devolved to Wales. This, however, may not be for some years yet and consultation is ongoing.