Phillip Hammond, the former Chancellor, transferred the budget from March to November to allow businesses and Government to plan and enact budget legislation in a timely manner before the start of the financial year.
On Wednesday, we have a spending review, but no budget. While it is understandable that matters are in flux, the lack of certainty on key budgetary announcements is of acute concern and undermines the original reason for changing the budget date.
Businesses in the hospitality sector want assurance that valuable business rates exemptions will continue as long as their businesses are affected by the pandemic. On current occupancy and customer levels, particularly in large city centres, they are simply unable to afford full-scale rates. With cash reserves dwindling, many are having to decide whether they can afford to continue in business.
The absence of any clarification on business rates relief is therefore highly concerning.
The response to the pandemic has indicated the need to encourage significant investment in research and development. The UK Government must be seen to encourage such activity, and the delay in announcing more detail on research and development reliefs is clearly prejudicial.
Many good businesses are highly illiquid due to sustained periods of lockdown and reduced economic activity. A renewed focus on business investment reliefs is required to put more cash into the business economy. The delay in announcing any such measures prevents businesses from developing plans to access such funding.
Businesses need time to plan, and the continued delay in implementing required legislation will affect the impact of such measures.