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Welcome ‘non-event’ Spring Statement
by Susie Hughes at 14:09 14/03/19 (Political News)
The annual Spring Statement came and went without notice this week, as Parliament, the Government and the country prioritised Brexit deals and no-deals.
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement celebrated the UK’s ‘thriving employment market’ amid a cloud of Brexit uncertainty,

Nevertheless, there was a low-key welcome for a non-event Spring Statement which was absent of new tax measures.

Qdos - IR35
Contractor tax specialists, Qdos, urged the Government to start nurturing independent workers, rather than press ahead with the forth-coming IR35 reforms.

Qdos CEO, Seb Maley, said: “After the arrival of the IR35 consultation last week and amid yet more Brexit uncertainty, it’s hardly surprising - albeit disappointing - that the Chancellor chose not to address the off-payroll working rules in his speech.

“Given the economic uncertainty resulting from Brexit chaos, you are left to wonder why the Government is set on introducing further unnecessary IR35 reform that has the potential to endanger one of the UK’s most valuable assets: the independent workforce.

“Freelancers and contractors are crucial to the economy, and it’s in the Government’s best interests to support and nurture these workers. The flexibility these individuals offer businesses helps the UK negotiate through stormy waters, which makes incoming IR35 reform seem even more short-sighted regardless of the fact it will not be introduced until next year.

“The Chancellor said the Conservatives will always be the party of small business, pledged to back UK entrepreneurs and end late payment issues. Now is the time to finally deliver on these promises.”

CIOT - 'Non-event'
John Cullinane from The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) said: Fiscally, the statement by the Chancellor was a non-event. And that’s just what we wanted to see.

“Change is one of the greatest causes of complexity in the tax system. Having two major fiscal events a year encouraged the Government to keep fiddling about with the system, while frequently not allowing enough time to consult on planned changes. This statement shows that the Chancellor is serious about limiting major new tax announcements to just one annual fiscal event – the autumn Budget.

“In due course this should enable officials at HMRC and the Treasury to get off the treadmill of constant change, reducing the strain on the government’s tax policy resources and freeing up time for better consultation and scrutiny of those proposals that are put forward.

“For the time being, however, I suspect that any HMRC bandwidth freed up by the move to a single fiscal event is being taken up by Brexit and planning for the various possible scenarios.”

CIOT also welcomed the confirmation of a number of broad ‘calls for evidence.

John Cullinane said: “More early stage consultation was – like a single fiscal event – a central recommendation of the Better Budgets report.¹ published in January 2017 by CIOT, the Institute for Government and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

“In the past too many consultations have begun when key decisions have already been made, shutting off potential better options to achieve the same goal. Calls for evidence, like those signalled today on VAT partial exemption and social investment tax relief, among others, show the government recognise this and see value in getting input from business, tax professionals and others to inform the policy process before a proposal has been drawn up.

“Nobody thinks the tax system is perfect, or that it doesn’t need reform. But we need change to be considered, carefully consulted on, and enacted with good warning in line with a coherent and widely understood ongoing strategy.

“With so much uncertainty being generated around Brexit the government at least seem to be doing what they can not to add to it in the tax area.”

APSCo - Immigration
Following Samantha Hurley, from agency group, APSCo, said: “While the statement offered no unexpected revelations, the Chancellor’s admission that ‘investment in people’ is central to boosting UK productivity is a sentiment that we at APSCo whole-heartedly support.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to build on the UK’s ‘fundamental strengths and competitive advantages’ through embracing the technologies of the future and, crucially, equipping British workers to use them.

“While our members will take heart in assurances that economy remains robust - with a further five years of growth predicted and 600,000 further jobs expected to be created by 2023 - there is no escaping the precarious position we find ourselves in as March the 29th nears ever closer.

“Hammond’s stark warning that a no deal Brexit is likely to result in higher unemployment and lower wages should not be taken lightly. However, the professional sectors that our members recruit into are unlikely to be impacted to the same extent as some others in this scenario. The Chancellor’s resolve that the Government remains focussed on attracting those with the skills we need in the UK economy after the UK leaves the EU – no matter where they come from – is promising.

"As is his commitment to consulting with business to ensure that any new immigration system is fit for purpose. APSCo is, of course, always keen to engage with government to ensure that the interests of our members are represented in parliament.”

FPB - Brexit
Small business group, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) issued a Brexit plea to the Chancellor following his 'dull' Spring Statement.

It called for the Government to recognise the role of business in the contribution it makes to the Chancellor’s growth projections.

The confusion around Brexit has not only meant that the Chancellor has found himself in a position where he has been unable to introduce material policies to help businesses, but also that businesses remain in a complete vacuum in being able to plan even for their immediate future

Chief Executive, Ian Cass, said: "The confusion around Brexit has not only meant that the Chancellor has found himself in a position where he has been unable to introduce material policies to help businesses, but also that businesses remain in a complete vacuum in being able to plan even for their immediate future.

"Even the ‘No Deal’ trade tariff proposals have been announced without the engagement of business.

"Waving the carrot of a Brexit Dividend is merely a political gesture, and it really is time that the parliamentarians who represent us, on whichever side of the House they sit, realised that the economic growth the country has enjoyed over the past nine years and is forecast to continue enjoying for the next five too, has been delivered by hard working businesses who have a right to know what rules and regulations they will be expected to work to from the beginning of next month.

"The pressure on large corporate late payment is welcome and consistent with our continued lobbying, but this is merely repeating what has been said in the past. We need actions, not just words.

"Simply put, it would have been a better use of the Chancellor’s time if he had spent it lobbying for a sensible Brexit resolution.”

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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2019

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