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Reaction to the budget

Updated: Apr 4

This month's Budget has been highly anticipated and was widely expected to indicate whether the government would call a May election or wait until later in the year.

Many of the announcements in the Budget were trailed in advance and there were few surprises. It was less a groundbreaking budget designed to address the significant economic challenges we face and more a Budget for biding one's time.

This Budget comes in the context of some shocking economic realities around growth, living standards and levels of national debt.

Here are my key takeaways:

  • No plan to address stark economic realities - This budget does little to address major economic and cost of living challenges we face as a nation.  Just before the Budget we learned that the UK had slipped into technical recession and that GDP per capita is less than it was when Sunak became PM. We now also know that growth in GDP per capita has been downgraded over the four-year forecast and borrowing has been revised up over the next 5 years. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has confirmed that this will be the only Parliament on record where living standards have fallen. The PM does not appear to have a plan for the economy, and the announcements made were simply more tinkering around the edges.

  • More unfunded taxes - Jeremy Hunt promised £46 billion of unfunded tax cuts that will leave a gaping black hole in the public finances. Liz Truss's disastrous experiment with the economy in her 44 day premiership should have been warning enough to the PM and Chancellor that gambling with the public finances in this way leaves working people to pick up the pieces.

  • It takes more than it gives - Households will be £870 worse off under Sunak’s tax plan on average. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) figures shows that for every 10p extra people are paying in tax under the government's plans, they will only be getting 5p back from combined National Insurance cuts. While the cut to NI is a positive thing for working people, this budget confirms the UK has the highest tax burden in 70 years, rising every year of the forecast period.

  • Non-dom tax status u-turn - After years of resistance the Conservatives have introduced Labour's plan to abolish the non-dom tax status in order to raise £2.7bn for the public purse.

  • Business is unimpressed - Business has been roundly unimpressed with the Chancellors Budget. The British Retail Consortium says it does nothing to turbo charge growth and investment. UK Hospitality says it does very little for hospitality businesses. And the Institute for Directors says it was unremarkable.

It's clear the country needs a serious plan to get our economy growing again.

Labour has been clear that is will offer stability with tough fiscal rules and a long-term plan for the economy. We will invest in British businesses to unlock tens of millions of pounds of investment for our towns and cities. And we will reform the planning system, to boost growth and get Britain building again.

The Conservatives have failed to deliver the economic stability we all need and deserve. It's time for a change. And while this Budget may indicate an election later in the year, the drum beat for changes grows ever louder.

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