Starting A Business In The UK In 2024? Consider This

The UK is known for its rich culture and iconic landmarks, such as the historic Tower of London and the vibrant West End theatre district. It also boasts dominating industries, including finance in London and technology in Cambridge.

Among others, these factors make the UK an attractive place to start a business. However, there are important considerations for entrepreneurs. The economic state, legal and regulatory requirements, applicable taxation, and labour laws all play crucial roles in setting up a business.

Understanding these aspects is essential for anyone who wants to establish a successful business in the UK. Entrepreneurs must be well-informed and prepared to manage these elements and thrive in the UK market.


Economic Overview


The UK economy is currently navigating a slow recovery after experiencing a brief recession in late 2023. Positive signs emerged in the first quarter of 2024, with a 0.6% increase in GDP driven primarily by the services sector. Despite this growth, the economy remains fragile.

One of the significant challenges is persistently high inflation, which, although showing signs of peaking, continues to strain household budgets. Wage growth is outpacing inflation, yet rising costs still impact many consumers.

The overall outlook for the UK economy is cautious. Forecasters like KPMG UK predict slow but steady growth in the coming years, with potential improvements in unemployment rates. However, risks such as the ongoing war in Ukraine and its effect on global energy prices could impact this recovery.


Legal And Regulatory Framework


The UK offers a relatively streamlined process for starting a business, but understanding the legal and regulatory framework is essential for a smooth launch.

Entrepreneurs must first select a business structure. Sole Traders enjoy the simplest setup but bear unlimited liability, risking personal assets for business debts. Limited Companies offer limited liability protection but require more complex reporting. LLPs provide flexibility in governance with liability protection similar to limited companies.

Once the structure is chosen, registration is the next step.

Sole Traders and Partnerships must register with HMRC for self-employment and obtain a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). Partnerships should also establish agreements outlining profit-sharing and responsibilities. Limited Companies need to register their name with Companies House, appoint directors, and file incorporation documents while maintaining statutory registers.

Additional considerations include VAT registration for businesses with turnover exceeding £85,000 and obtaining industry-specific licenses or permits if necessary.



Taxation And Financial Management


Starting a business in the UK requires understanding the tax system and managing finances effectively.

Key taxes for entrepreneurs include Corporation Tax, National Insurance Contributions (NICs), and Value Added Tax (VAT). Corporation Tax applies to company profits, with a two-tier system: profits under £50,000 are taxed at 19%, and profits over £250,000 at 25%. For profits between £50,000 and £250,000, marginal relief gradually increases the effective tax rate.

National Insurance Contributions fund social security, including healthcare. Sole traders and company directors pay Class 4 NICs on profits exceeding a certain threshold, with rates varying based on profit levels. Employers also pay Class 1 NICs on employees’ salaries above a specified threshold.

Businesses must register for VAT if their turnover exceeds £85,000. VAT is charged on goods and services at each stage of the supply chain, and businesses must collect and remit it on their sales.

Proper understanding and management of these taxes are crucial for the financial health of your business.


Hiring And Managing Employees


When hiring and managing employees in the UK, it’s important to be aware of the complex labour laws.

While not always mandatory, it’s recommended to have written employment contracts outlining key terms and conditions. Employment rights dictate that businesses must adhere to the National Living Wage for employees over 25 and the National Minimum Wage for younger workers.

Additionally, employees are entitled to breaks, rest periods, and a maximum 48-hour working week averaged over a reference period. Workers also have the legal right to at least 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year, and discrimination based on protected characteristics is illegal.

As an employer, it’s important to register with HMRC and obtain a PAYE reference number for handling income tax and National Insurance deductions. Employer’s Liability Insurance is mandatory to cover costs if an employee gets injured or ill due to work, and eligible employees must be enrolled in a workplace pension scheme with mandatory employer contributions.

For detailed guidance on employment law and regulations, it’s advisable to consult the UK government’s resources for employers or seek advice from a qualified HR professional to ensure compliance with these requirements for running a legally sound business.

The UK presents opportunity for starting a business, with its rich culture and flourishing industries. However, entrepreneurs must carefully consider various factors, including the economic climate, legal requirements, taxation, and labour laws. Understanding and managing these aspects are essential for success in the UK market. With proper preparation and guidance, aspiring business owners can navigate these challenges and establish thriving ventures in the UK.