Banking companies: excluded entities

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 5 Gorffennaf 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 9:25, 5 Gorffennaf 2016

Clauses 52 and 53 relate to the taxation of banking companies. Clause 52 amends the excluded entity test that forms part of the definition of a bank for tax purposes, and clause 53 makes provisions to restrict corporation tax loss relief.

Following the financial crash in 2008, specific taxes were imposed on the banking sector, and a definition of “banking companies” was required. The excluded entity test forms part of this definition. Clause 52 revises the legislation so that undertaking a second activity is possible, provided that the entity undertakes one of the specified regulated activities in the excluded entities test, and that the other activity, when considered by itself—that is, without taking into account the regulated activity that is specified in the excluded entities test—would not require the firm to be both an IFPRU 730K investment firm and a full-scope IFPRU firm as defined by reference to the Financial Conduct Authority handbook.

As the British Bankers Association has explained in far more articulate layman’s terms,

“Effectively there is a list of permitted activities which do not cause you to be treated as a bank and brought into the various bank-specific taxes, even if you meet all the other conditions. The change to the rules allows you to carry on more than one of those activities and still be excluded.”

This measure clarifies the rules and has been welcomed by industry. We therefore have no issue with agreeing the clause today. We also welcome clause 53, which, to quote the explanatory notes to the Bill,

“further restricts the proportion of a banking company’s annual taxable profit that can be offset by brought forward losses to 25%. The further restriction will apply to accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2016.”

At autumn statement 2014, it was announced that the amount of taxable profit that could be offset by banks’ historical carried-forward losses would be restricted to 50% from April 2015. However, this clause further restricts the proportion of a banking company’s annual taxable profit that can be offset by brought-forward losses from 50% to 25%. The restriction will remain subject to a £25 million allowance for building societies, and an exemption for losses incurred by new entrant banks. The Government estimate that this will generate over £2 billion in extra revenue between the current financial year and 2020-21. They also state that the measure should be revenue-neutral in the long run for any one bank, but the timing of the measure may well have negative implications for cash flow.

The British Bankers Association has indicated that further restricting bank losses from the financial crisis to 25% of profits rather than 50% primarily brings about a timing difference; it effectively accelerates payment of £2 billion in tax into this Parliament and out of the next one. Combined with the previous changes, it means £5 billion is being brought forward to this Parliament.

Can the Minister say why the Chancellor needed to accelerate this windfall in tax revenues? Was it part of his desperate attempts to ensure a budget surplus by 2020? I suspect it might have been. However, that argument is now redundant, given the recent suspension of that aim, and I am really glad that the Chancellor is finally listening to the experts and my hon. Friend the shadow Chancellor. Nevertheless, we welcome this new requirement on banking companies to increase their contribution to the Exchequer in the light of their role in causing the current economic situation.

I am glad that the Government are taking steps to address the casino banking sector. However, the policy should be seen in the wider context of the Government’s new settlement with financial services, as announced by the Chancellor, which includes the shift in emphasis from the bank levy to the banks’ tax surcharge as a result of lobbying by the sector, and watering down promised regulatory provisions in the Bank of England Act 2016.

In the 2016 Budget, the introduction of a general restriction on carried-forward losses was announced. That will come into effect on 1 April 2017, and the Opposition support it. In the meantime, we are more than happy to agree to the further restriction set out in clause 53.