Autumn Budget 2020 may be delayed until Spring 2021

The chancellor has raised the prospect of delaying Autumn Budget 2020 by leaving out details about its timing in a procedural statement asking the OBR to prepare its forecasts.

In fact, although Rishi Sunak said he wanted the forecasts ready for “mid to late November,” his statement breaks with convention by not going on to then name the Budget date.

The chancellor’s move to be vague, while also not committing to any tax or spending plans, appears to give minsters some wriggle room over when his fiscal package will be unveiled.   

'Chaotic from October onwards'

It also raises the distinct possibility that, exactly as it was at the end of 2019 due to the onset of coronavirus and Brexit, the autumn Budget might be moved to the spring instead.

An IR35 adviser says such a delay will help, as ongoing uncertainty from both predicaments combining with off-payroll reform prep means, “it will be chaotic from October onwards.”

But HM Treasury might have been aware of the possible delay to the Autumn Budget as far back as June, or a so an oral reply from its financial secretary appears to indicate.

'If there is an autumn Budget'

Responding at the time to a question from Allison Thewliss of the SNP, Jesse Norman said: “We are coming up to….the 2020 Budget, for the autumn Budget -- if there is one.”

The social and official webpages of HMT and the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) make no mention of the possible Budget delay, or the chancellor’s statement to the latter.

However ideas are being called for ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review -- the government's annual consideration of its priorities across all spending over multiple years.

“What policies and ideas do you think should be in the 2020 CSR?” HMT tweeted on Friday. “You can submit your suggestions until September 24. Have your say here.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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