Budget 2018 hailed as Hammond’s 'make or break'

Philip Hammond’s Budget 2018 is being hailed as a “make or break moment” for the chancellor, despite some seeing its timing as less significant than an IR35 expert has suggested.

Addressing Mr Hammond ahead of the Budget on Monday, the FSB urged his Red Book to be “unequivocally pro-business,” if he wants small firms to keep driving economic growth.

His “warm words” about enterprise -- the Tories “always will be the party of business” he pledged this month, for example, must now translate into action, says the FSB’s Mike Cherry.

“This is the chancellor’s opportunity to show he really does back business,” said the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

“[It is his] make or break moment…[especially for his relations with] the self-employed community [whom he] left demoralised by the failure to end Class II NICs”.

But many who work for themselves via limited companies already expect further swingeing tax moves, notably on IR35, where reform rumours took on creditability due to the announcement of the Budget’s early delivery.

Writing in the Financial Times Weekend however, one commentator said the earlier-than-usual delivery date was simply down to a combination of Brexit and Halloween.

While Mr Hammond might be a bit frustrated at the former -- a Brexit summit he did not want to clash with is now apparently not going ahead, the latter reason is still in play.

In fact, the Budget has moved from a Wednesday to a Monday because this coming Wednesday is Halloween, “perhaps too much potential for tabloid headlines”, wrote the FT’s Clare Barrett.  

Also reflecting to a national newspaper, Nicky Morgan, new chair of the Treasury Select Committee, has suggested that some firms might feel like ‘trick or treat’ had been played on them already.

“As a party of business we have created uncertainty for people who would have traditionally regarded us as being on their side,” the Tory MP admitted to the Mail on Sunday.

Then asked about Boris Johnson MP reportedly saying, during his time as foreign secretary, “F*ck Business” in relation to firms’ Brexit concerns, Morgan added:

“I was pretty angry about that. I think it’s wholly unforgivable for a party that should be celebrating entrepreneurs and wealth creators”.

Now, with the Budget looming, the chancellor is the next political big beast who could one day be punished by voters if mistakes too grave to be forgiven get made by his hand.  

“If he decides the government needs our money more than we do,” wrote the Sunday Times’ personal finance commentator Ian Howie, arguing against tax rises on October 29th, “Hammond had better practice his dance moves and prepare to tango alongside the former shadow chancellor Ed Balls.”

 

24th October 2018

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