Dos and don’ts for the chancellor at Spring Budget 2023 on March 15th

Busy contractors may have missed it, but the Spring Budget 2023 has been announced for March 15th 2023.

With everything that’s happened of late in the contractor space – the government cancelling the most damaging rules our sector has ever known only to change its mind a chancellor later – I genuinely haven’t a clue what could possibly be next. Or what could follow that total shambles.

But I do have a few ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ that I hope the Treasury’s boss (whoever it is on March 15th) actions, if not at least considers, writes contractor accountant Louise Rayner, founder of NumberMill Accounting.

First a ‘do’-- keep BADR

So first chancellor, don’t touch Business Asset Disposal Relief. The old Entrepreneurs’ Relief is something I’m praying stays. Limited company contractors are praying too. BADR is one of the few things that the government has left in place in support of owner-manager companies. 

Also at Budget 2023, please don’t put up Employer’s National Insurance. And similarly with tiny struggling employers in mind, don’t increase the National Minimum Wage -- again.

Good luck living in London on 145k

Do, chancellor, stop paying benefits to people who are capable of working. Do get rid of the crazy-making inefficiencies in the public sector. And do turn up the tax take on the super (super) rich -- not just people on £145,000. Because while that latter figure sounds a lot, amid a cost-of-living crisis, that threshold really isn’t high enough. Especially not if you live in London. 

Utilities, solar panels, and hopefully -- Kickstart 2.0

Similarly chancellor, do revisit the idea of taxing the uber wealthy utility companies.

Do re-introduce tax breaks or grants on domestic solar panels.

Do think of reintroducing the Kickstart scheme for both the young and over 55s. 

Please reintroduce this job scheme or give us a variation, particularly because the government has already announced the binning of investment zones -- which is a travesty. Those zones could have been great for employment and our independent work sector. 

Do take action on industrial action, chancellor

Outside of contracting per se, do chancellor look at pay rises for nurses and ambulance drivers. And teachers too please. But not pay rises on a blanket basis. Wage increases should be targeted and based on performance.

Do get tough on other public sector pay grumblers. Rail and council worker pay campaigns are damaging. These ought to be quashed. Legislation to disallow strikes by some workers warrants your consideration, chancellor.

Do ensure all public sector pay scales are in future presented to include the value of holiday pay and pensions. Do that, chancellor, and everyone can see just how well paid some in the public sector actually are. It would certainly make interesting reading for the millions of us in the private sector struggling without inflation-beating pay bumps!

Do consider helping the strained NHS outsource more to private hospitals, where it can be proven that such hospitals can do a quicker and cheaper job without compromising on care. 

Don’t do Rishi’s Maths plan, because it just doesn't add up

Do push back against your boss’s plan to extend maths. It’s a joke. The money should be invested in younger children in classrooms. If pupils cannot do the basics of mathematics, extending their struggle until they are 18-years-old just won’t work.

Do look at the potential for more Apprentice-creating schemes.

Do look at making it easier for employers to benefit from the current Apprenticeship Levy.

Do get the taxman to pay for the pain and suffering he causes, and on IR35…

Last but not least, rein in HMRC. The tax office needs a wrap on the knuckles every time it wastes taxpayers’ money. There are many HMRC investigations that aren’t properly targeted but disrupt our businesses no end and lead to untold stress.

Other than all that, chancellor, there’s really not much I’d like from you on March 15th!

Oh but on IR35, don’t play with us anymore. We all as good as know that there won’t be any row back on the off-payroll rules. A bit like HMRC’s aggressive pursuit of taxpayers, and scare stories about the MSC legislation, IR35 reform looks here to stay. Unfortunately.

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Written by Louise Rayner

Louise Rayner is an ACCA accountant who has held board level positions in a wide range of large contractor based organisations

These days she runs NumberMill, a firm of practising accountants who specialise in contractors and IR35.  Her umbrella business is also FCSA accredited.  The consultancy part of the business offers pragmatic operational advice to end hirers, agencies and contractors.

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