The Chancellor announced that the Spring 2017 Budget will be followed by an Autumn Budget, marking a switch to a new annual Budget timetable.
The Chancellor has announced that this year’s Autumn Statement will be the last, and the next Budget will be the last Spring Budget. A second Budget will be held in Autumn 2017, which will announce the measures that are proposed to be implemented for the following fiscal year. A Finance Bill will follow with the aim of reaching Royal Assent in Spring 2018. Thereafter, Budgets will be held in the Autumn, preceded by the publication of tax policy consultation summaries and draft legislation in the summer.
There will still be a Spring Statement, beginning in 2018, to enable the Chancellor to respond to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) updated forecast for the economy and the public finances. This is necessary because the OBR is legally required to produce two forecasts each year. There was some laughter in the House of Commons when this was announced, but the Chancellor made clear that it is not intended to be a major fiscal event, although changes to fiscal policy may be announced if economic circumstances require it. The Spring Statement may also be used to launch consultations on how to address longer-term fiscal challenges.
The transition to the new timetable will mean that there is a shorter than normal interval between the next two Budgets. This will require adjustments to the normal tax policy making process, which will be decided individually for different policies and set out to stakeholders by HMRC.
The effect of these changes will be that the cycle of consultation and legislation should be completed before the start of each fiscal year. Overall this is good news for taxpayers as the Chancellor has listened to requests for greater stability and certainty.
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