Will there be a Budget this year? When will it be? What will be in it? We wish we knew.
At the time of writing (11:45am on Wednesday 23 October 2019) a Budget is scheduled for 6 November 2019 and the PracticeWeb editorial team is planning on that basis.
Having spent months monitoring rumours, calling in favours to get nuggets of gossip, and endless conversations about what might be on the Chancellor’s mind, we do have some guesses about what might be in Sajid Javid’s first Budget speech, but they are just guesses.
For now, let’s just say that we wouldn’t be surprised to see a show-stopping announcement around inheritance tax and some tinkering with the tapered annual allowance.
With rumours and guesses in mind, we’re doing as much preparatory work as possible to ensure we can deliver a polished Budget 2019 report to our clients before they take the first sip of their morning coffee on 7 November.
Our expert freelancers, including three senior accountants who will write the bulk of the report, have the date in their diaries.
We’ve invoked our right to commandeer precious meeting rooms and equipment for the biggest day in the PracticeWeb calendar.
But who knows – we might be stood down by tomorrow afternoon, with those plans put on ice, depending on the mysterious motions of the political machine.
That’s already happened twice. First, there was talk of an early emergency budget to take place without the usual notice period. After a few days of frantic activity here in the office, that came to nothing.
Then we heard from a source that the Budget might take place in mid-October. Spoiler: it didn’t.
What is going on?
It feels odd to be writing about politics on the PracticeWeb blog but it’s impossible to avoid in a conversation about Brexit and the Budget.
I used to work in central government and am a keen amateur watcher of British politics and what follows in the spirit of objective observation of the process.
I understand it, here’s where we’re at in the wake of last night’s voting in the House of Commons:
1. The broad terms of the Government’s proposed Brexit deal have been (just about) approved by MPs, but a plan to fast-track its implementation through Parliament to meet a 31 October deadline has not.
2. The letter to the EU requesting a further extension that the Prime Minister was obliged to send last week under the terms of the Benn Act was received and recognised, even though Boris Johnson refused to sign it. Donald Tusk, President of the EU Council, has now said he will be recommending to other EU leaders that an extension is granted, potentially by three months, taking us up to 31 January 2020.
3. Having staked his political reputation on a departure by 31 October at all costs, Johnson has said that if a delay is granted by the EU, he will again ask Parliament’s permission to call a general election ahead of the 5 May 2022 date set under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act.
4. The last time he tried this, he lost the vote because the opposition Labour Party didn’t want to go into an election with the 31 October deadline looming and little room for manoeuvre. With an extension, though, and no-deal off the table, they might be willing to risk it.
5. Parliament is suspended for 25 days before an election. If an election is declared in the next week with a date of, say, Thursday 21 November, the planned 6 November Budget won’t go ahead.
What does this mean for us? We’ll keep working on the assumption that 6 November is the date until we know for sure it isn’t. Then we’ll start planning for a new date, when one has been set.
My gut feeling is that, one way or another, there will be a budget before Christmas.
Whether it will be delivered by Sajid Javid, John McDonnell or even Ed Davey, before or after an election, full of meaty tax announcements or political fluff, I just can’t say at this stage, not least because the circumstances have probably changed since I started writing this post.
The potential impact the next week has on our own planning is considerable. The Year-End Tax Guide will go out as planned towards the end of January 2020, but the Budget report and subsequent Tax Card may be on put on ice indefinitely. And that’s before taking into account the Welsh and Scottish fiscal announcements.
Get in touch with Yvette Culbert on 0117 915 0420 to sign up to receive PracticeWeb’s 2019 Budget report.