According to Philip Hammond, yesterday’s Budget was one for “supporting families and business in the near term; setting a path to a prosperous, more open Britain; and building an economy that is fit for the future.”
Perhaps the biggest news from the Budget is that the Chancellor didn’t make too many changes to the tax system. After the Spring Budget earlier this year I suspected that more widespread tax changes would be announced in the Autumn Budget, but this hasn’t really happened. This is welcome relief as lots of tax changes generally make it harder for clients to plan for their business activity. As usual, the key tax measures were hidden in the supporting documents, with little reference made to them in the Chancellor’s speech. It is a shame that nothing was said regarding simplifying our increasingly complicated tax system.
The main headline grabber was the change to Stamp Duty for first time buyers. It is debatable as to how effective this will be; the main problem for first time buyers is not the Stamp Duty but rather finding the money for a deposit, particularly given the average deposit is around £37,000 according to the Halifax.
Mr Hammond took the opportunity to remind us of the economic challenges we still face. Growth and productivity forecasts have now been revised downwards which will likely lead to more borrowing. This is before factoring in any additional cost related to Brexit. It is a sensible plan to put some money aside to fund the changes required to deal with Brexit but I do wonder whether the proposed £3 billion will be enough.
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