On your marks – an early Spring Budget for 2024

The early Spring Budget on Wed 6th March is a date to note in your calendar.

The Treasury issued a press release in the time between Christmas and New Year revealing the Spring Budget date, a week earlier than in 2023. The unusual timing of the announcement may seem strange, but there were two inter-linked reasons which could explain it:

  • First, local and mayoral elections will be held in England on 2nd If – and it looks unlikely at present – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak decides to call a general election for the same day, then Parliament would have to be dissolved 25 working days earlier. That would mean the week beginning the 25th March, allowing for the Easter holiday which follows. Given all the work to be rushed through in the ‘wash up’ period before dissolution, a Budget on the first Wednesday in March is about as late as possible.
  • Second, the Chancellor is normally required to give the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) at least ten weeks’ notice to prepare its Economic and Fiscal Outlook, published alongside the Budget. Ten weeks backtracked from the 6th March 2024 would be the 27th December 2023.

If you feel like you’ve been here before, that is because the OBR issued its last Outlook on 22nd November – only fifteen weeks before the next one is due. It is doubtful that much will have changed in the interim to make much difference to the OBR’s five-year projections.

The Chancellor and Prime Minister will likely hope that the OBR will discover some extra money down the back of the sofa as they did in November, thanks to higher-than-expected, inflation-boosting tax revenues. However, as an OBR head once memorably remarked, “What the sofa gives, the sofa easily takes away.”

In most years, the date of the Budget is a factor to consider in your year-end tax planning. In 2024, with an election looming, it is probably less of an issue with the Chancellor aiming to please the electorate. However, the earlier you can plan, the better, as certain aspects may require information that can take a while to obtain.

On the ‘morning after the night before’ Martin Aitken & Co Ltd as well as noteworthy experts, will analyse and provide a summary of the key issues raised by the Chancellor’s latest plans for taxation, benefits and spending at the Herald Budget Briefing breakfast, held at its Bath Street office on Thursday 7th March, from 9am to 11.30am.

Our Associate Tax Director Derek Hanlan will take a seat on the panel, chaired by veteran political journalist, and Herald columnist Brian Taylor, as well as economist Emma Congreve, deputy director of the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute.

For more information on the event and to book your seat in the audience, click here.

About the author

Jim has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, where he has catered to the needs of individual and corporate clients alike. He holds a diploma level qualification (DipPFS) under the Personal Finance Society (PFS) regime.

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