Jane Parry – tax partner at PM+M, the Blackburn, Burnley and Bury based chartered accountancy, business advisory and wealth management group.
As expected, the Spring Statement was a bit of a non event which was refreshing as I know many businesses didn’t want another ‘mini budget’. They’re tired of hearing new policy announcements along with additional tax and spending measures; they simply want to focus their time and effort on growing despite the ever present uncertainty of Brexit and things like the Making Tax Digital regime and the looming shadow of GDPR.
The news around consultations on tackling the issue of single-use plastics and the taxation of the profits of digital giants like Facebook and Google is all well and good, but action is what’s needed not more consultations.
On a positive note, it was good to learn that tax receipts are covering day-to-day government spending for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, that borrowing is £4.7bn lower than expected and that growth is slightly higher than forecast last year. However, we’ve still got one of the slowest growth rates in the G7 and public debt as a percentage of national income remains well above 80%.
The consultations on productivity improvement and tackling late payment are both good news for local businesses, as is the additional funding to help smaller businesses take on apprentices.
What I want to see from the Government over the next few months is simple: more clarity around Brexit and how it plans to help businesses grow by closing the skills gap and helping them to improve productivity. These are the real issues that need to be addressed, everything else comes second.