United Kingdom To Scrap Autumn Statement

By Global Tax Weekly

Judging by the United Kingdom Government’s Autumn Statement, which has come to serve as a secondary Budget, you would be forgiven for thinking that there must have been a general election at some point in the recent past that everyone missed. Had there been, I’m fairly sure we would have been looking at a very different Autumn Statement than the one just delivered by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, if it had it been announced by former Chancellor George Osborne.

The approach to fiscal policy under the Tory Government of Cameron and Osborne (who both ran the Tory-led coalition which preceded it) and the Tory Government of May and Hammond is quite stark. Almost like two different political parties, in fact. Osborne was all about righting Labour’s wrongs with his focus on deficit reduction, spending cuts, and showy corporate tax cuts – although he wasn’t shy about pinching a Labour policy or two to shore up the Government’s support! Hammond on the other hand has just abandoned deficit reduction and increased spending (and, crucially, borrowing), and is all about prudent tax policy – pretty much usurping the center ground once occupied by Labour in the process.

Hammond claimed that this was a (mini-)budget for the people. For the so-called “JAMs” – those “just about managing” to make ends meet. Unless I’m missing something, I fail to see a single new tax measure in there that would help anyone that much. Indeed, it’s amazing how many plaudits Hammond seems to have received for doing hardly anything of note. Osborne, a serial puller of rabbits from hats, must be perplexed, perhaps even envious of his Right Honourable Friend – he was never shown the love in quite the same way. But perhaps the Chancellor has given taxpayers what they want for once, which in this case is nothing. And the sigh of relief from business taxpayers in the UK is almost palpable. The post-budget response from business has been more a collective “phew” rather than the usual “oh no, what have they gone and done now…” This gives businesses more time to think about how they will cope with Brexit. And, best of all, Hammond has restrained himself and future Chancellors by scrapping the Autumn Statement altogether.

For more information on this, and other topical international tax matters, please visit: https://www.cchgroup.com/roles/corporations/international-solutions/research/global-tax-weekly-a-closer-look

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