Budget 2019 Announced

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has finally set a date for the Autumn Budget, which is to go ahead on 29 October 2018. This budget comes earlier than last year’s Autumn Statement which was held on 22nd November. Confirmation of the date had apparently been delayed due to ongoing discussions and uncertainty over Brexit. Typically, the Budget is not held on a Monday, however it is alleged that the Government were keen for the Budget not to take place on Halloween, for fear that press coverage would contain Halloween-related connotations…
This years’ Budget is one of the most anticipated, not least because of the continuing discussions over Brexit, but also because this is the first Autumn Budget since Philip Hammond announced that the Budget would now be held in Autumn, and the Statement would be held in Spring of each year moving forward.

With regard to Brexit, there may be little revealed by the Budget, as apparently there will be a further meeting in November. One wonders how far reaching this year’s Budget will actually be, given such uncertainty. For this reason alone, HMRC may decide to delay implementing further reform of the IR35 rules due to the effect this could have on the economy.

HMRC have yet to issue a ‘Summary of Responses’ document to the discussion document on reforming the IR35 rules within the private sector. However, it would not be unlike HMRC to issue the document close to the day of the Budget if they are intent on pushing through a change in the legislation.
Apparently, the Treasury has a little more money to play with in this year’s Budget, although whether we see any drastic changes is probably unlikely due to the state of the economy. The Treasury said of the Budget that;

“This will set out the government’s plan to build a stronger, more prosperous, economy, building on the recent spring statement and last year’s budget.”
As stated in Politic Mag;

“Mr Hammond is coming under pressure from within the Conservative Party to ease his grip on public spending to counter the frustration of many voters with nearly a decade of spending cuts to many areas of public services and Theresa May has already promised a big increase in the budget for the NHS.”

The NHS have been under significant pressure this year with many hospitals declaring a ‘black alert’ after becoming so overcrowded that patient safety could not be guaranteed. It was reported in the Guardian in January this year that;
“Official NHS figures show that record numbers of patients have been directly affected – by delays in their care, by being diverted to a different A&E than that originally planned, or having their operation cancelled…A letter to Theresa May signed by 68 A&E doctor’s complained that patients have died prematurely after prolonged spells spent in hospital corridors.”

Will the Government adopt a foolhardy approach, particularly with regard to introducing further IR35 reform, or will a more cautious and fool-proof approach be taken? One would be more inclined to think the latter, but with the UK’s debt apparently falling, and HMRC’s apparent short-sighted attitude towards the effects of IR35 reform in the public sector, the Government may see this as a sure-fire way of tipping more money into the pot.

Anyone who has dealt first hand with the real effects of reform in the public sector will know that, should reform be implemented, chaos is likely to ensue with severe consequences for the economy. The income apparently promised to the NHS in this year’s Budget is likely to be spent on mopping up the effects of further IR35 reform, rather than being spent on critical resources, the lack of which plunged the NHS into crisis earlier this year.

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