Houses of Parliament
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Chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver Spring Statement 2018 on Tuesday (March 13)
Richard Bell

Spring Statement 2018: What North West business leaders expect to see

When it lands next Tuesday (March 13), Spring Statement 2018 will be a much different event to the fiscal announcements we’re used to seeing this time of year.

The Government last year made the decision to reduce the event to a simple response to economic forecasts made by budget watchdog Office for Budget Responsibility.

While the speech in Parliament is only expected to last a quarter of an hour or so, new reports suggest Chancellor Philip Hammond might nevertheless make a few key announcements.

His speech could confirm, according to the Guardian, a potential £11bn improvement in the public finances. It could also cover the expected fiscal impact of Britain’s Brexit divorce bill, as reported by the Financial Times.

Here at Bdaily, we’ve collected views from a handful of key business people in the region to hear what they’re expecting from Spring Statement 2018.

Gareth Smyth, founder and managing director of business broker Hilton Smythe

“When the Chancellor makes his Spring Statement, I would welcome more support for entrepreneurs looking to buy or sell their business.

“Small and medium sized business owners are the heart of our high street, and our economy, and at present, there are a number of financial hoops they have to jump through, particularly with strict lending criteria.

“Making more finance options available through the likes of the Business Enterprise Fund to those looking to buy a business would ease both parties’ stress tremendously and make more deals possible.

“This would allow more people to sell businesses, rather than closing them down, and this would have huge benefits to the economy throughout the country.”

Steve Eccleston, managing partner at commercial law firm Kuits

“The UK is still dominated by the idea of the free market, but we need to support key industries – particularly in the regions – so that they are strong enough to take advantage of those markets and compete within them.

“As such, we need appropriate tax incentives to encourage the development of these sectors in the regions – for example, for head office functions moving northward.

“From a legal perspective, until there is greater clarity on the type of trading arrangements to be made following Brexit, the intellectual property arena will lack clarity. In particular, investment decisions will be deferred and adjustments to R&D relief will be of marginal significance.

“For residential development, the Government will need to put some more flesh on the bones of the National Planning Framework Consultation announced this month, particularly around its aims of protecting the greenbelt and forcing developers to follow through on planning permission more speedily – this has caused tension in the sector and, in practice, will have its challenges.”

Gary Hughes, tax manager at accountancy and advisory firm Hallidays

“The Spring Statement according to almost all sources isn’t going to talk about tax or even spending, all it is going to talk about is brief responses to fiscal forecasts produced by the Government’s public finance watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility.

“It is proposed to be no more than 20 minutes in length, and it isn’t being seen as a major fiscal event.

“However, the Autumn Budget last year announced a number of consultations, so some of these may be released at the Spring Statement to tie into the Government’s stated intention to give as much lead time as possible on new tax changes before being implemented at Budget day.

“We don’t believe there are going to be any major tax or even spending announcements. The only tax related content we believe will centre around releasing consultation documents as discussed at the 2017 Autumn Budget.”

Mike Parkes, technical director at GoSimple Software

“We understand the Chancellor’s first Spring Statement is likely to be a low-key event, with no major policy announcements for the self-employed.

“The decision to switch the Budget from spring to autumn means that there is certainly more time for consultation on issues related to tax changes ahead of the new tax year. However, as the Spring Statement has been pared back to the point of it not even being a mini-Budget (it’s expected to be a very short speech of around 20 minutes), any major policy announcements are unlikely.

“For contractors and freelancers, a dull event might be no bad thing. It could certainly be the case that in this instance ‘no news is good news’, with no announcements or policies that will severely impact the contractor sector.”

What are you expecting from the Spring Statement on Tuesday? Let us know in the comments.

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