Spring Budget 2017

The Chancellor today delivered his Budget, having already published 500 pages of legislation which was previously announced and will now become law. Maybe there is little else to attack as today’s Budget was generally very tame. Hoped-for concessions on business rates, particularly for retailers and others in the South did not materialise, with only minor tinkering for small businesses and pubs. The pre-leaked changes to NI for the self-employed will increase, but not until 2018 and 2019.

The Government is still confused as to whether it wishes people to trade as self-employed or via limited companies and this confusion will continue until a review happens later in the year. Last year’s £5,000 dividend allowance is already being reduced to £2,000 from 2018. None of this is likely to change the behaviour of entrepreneurs, who look at the commercial considerations of how they conduct their business.

The fiscal forecasts were positive, with growth expected to exceed targets and borrowing expected to be lower than previously predicted. In normal circumstances, the Chancellor would have looked to reduce taxation and increase spending. But Brexit has changed the rules of the game, so any windfalls are being kept in reserve to “Brexit-proof” the economy. The last Spring Budget has gone not with a bang but a whimper.

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