The Chancellor’s little red book

08 March 2017

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Chris Sanger, head of tax policy, EY, comments on changes to the last ever Spring Budget:

Following the hiatus at the 2015 Autumn Statement when Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell produced his copy of “the little red book”, being Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, the Chancellor has produced one of his own.  The last Spring Budget covered only 64 pages, and contained only 28 policy measures, half of which were in tax.  In comparison, the last Budget of his predecessor was more than double the size and covered 77 measures, including 50 in tax.

Far from being a tinkerer’s Budget, the Chancellor lived up to his “less is more” reputation, focusing on a few key themes of business rates for SMEs and taxation of the new ways of working, together with a small assortment of measures to address ‘avoidance, evasion and imbalances’.

The few issues he did touch on are likely to continue to rumble.  Business rates, which have increased from 41.4% in 2010 to 48% from this April, will still hit large business hard and deter investment, particular in retail and manufacturing sectors.  On the taxation of work, Matthew Taylor’s forthcoming review will raise the issue again in the summer.

So whilst the Chancellor may have had little to say on tax in his 6,753 word speech, we may yet hear much more to come.