The Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first Spring Statement on Tuesday 13 March 2018.
The Chancellor promised a Spring Statement devoid of mini-Budget trappings, and that is precisely what he delivered. He announced no new spending or tax measures, despite the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) providing a marginally more upbeat forecast. Instead Mr Hammond used his despatch box time to review the economy and launch no fewer than 13 consultations.
The highlights of the Spring Statement were:
- No new tax or spending initiatives were announced.
- Borrowing numbers turned out to be better than expected – which allowed the Chancellor to see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Public sector net debt (projected to be £1,783 billion at the end of 2017/18) is now predicted to fall as a percentage of the economy, although in absolute terms it will continue the march towards debt of £2 trillion.
- The next revaluation of business property in England will be brought forward one year to 2021; but ‘at this stage’ the government will not introduce self-assessment. A summary of responses to an earlier consultation document on three-yearly revaluations was published alongside the Spring Statement.
- A ‘position paper’ on corporate tax and the digital economy represented the latest government thinking on how to address the taxation of the internet economy’s elusive profits.
- A consultation paper was issued on allowing entrepreneurs’ relief in circumstances where it would otherwise be lost because of a new share issue.
- There was a call for evidence on the design of the VAT registration threshold and whether a revised structure could offer more incentives for small businesses to grow.
- There was a consultation on the extension of tax relief for self-funded work-related training by employees and the self-employed.
- There was a consultation on the extension from April 2019 of the existing security deposit regime to include Corporation Tax and Construction Industry Scheme deductions.
The raft of consultations will potentially mean that, after the content-light Spring Statement, the Autumn Budget will be a full-fat fiscal event.