Autumn Statement Comment: ‘Tis the season to be mildly content

Danny Clifford of Ensors Chartered Accountants

Danny Clifford of Ensors Chartered Accountants - Credit: Archant

“We are moving in the right direction but we still have a long way to go”. That would appear to summarise the Chancellor’s latest Autumn Statement. It would also accurately summarise last year’s Autumn Statement, the last Budget speech and – applying my Mystic Meg skills – next year’s Budget speech too.

In truth, what else can he say? At times the Chancellor must feel a bit like the dad driving the car – all he can hear is: “Are we nearly there yet?”

The economy that he inherited was, let’s be honest, a basket case. Britain desperately needed to borrow less and spend less. We needed austerity, and that is what we got. So he should be applauded for having done the right thing – but of course he won’t be.

Because austerity hurts and the opposition can spend five years saying: “We wouldn’t have been so mean.” And there can be no crowd pleasing big wins of the type that Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling used to trumpet – no “2p off Income Tax” style announcements.

Instead of a big present all he can afford to give us are stocking fillers. Exemptions from employer national insurance for most under 21s (from 2015); small business rates relief to continue; business rates “cash-back” for certain businesses.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but while these measures may not be the equivalent of a satsuma in your Christmas stocking, they are not exactly an X-Box under the tree either.

So no big presents, but again our attention is drawn away from that by the measures he will adopt to get more taxes from “other people”. It is a pretty safe bet that most voters agree “other people” should pay more tax.

Most Read

Such people include those who move into a new home but do not sell their previous home straight away. Currently there is a three- year period of grace to retain your old home and still pay no Capital Gains Tax on its disposal.

That period will be cut to 18 months from April 2014.

It also includes non-residents who, from April 2015, will find themselves taxed on future gains they make when they dispose of residential property that they own in the UK.

There is also an attack on those who use intermediaries to disguise employment as self-employment, thus reducing their overall tax liability.

Apparently the actions announced today to tackle tax avoidance, tax evasion, fraud and error will bring in a further £9billion over the next fiveyears but, if I can be Mystic Meg again for just one more moment, I suspect they won’t.

Still, it sounds good and it might make your satsuma taste better...

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter