AS Scotland’s business community awaits UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending plans in his 2021 Budget, The Herald has gathered a high-profile panel to analyse its contents and provide insight during an online post-Budget Briefing on Thursday, March 4.
Chaired by political commentator Iain Macwhirter, a columnist for The Herald, and sponsored by accounting and business services group Azets, investment management company Rathbones and legal firm Turcan Connell, the Budget Briefing will analyse the Chancellor’s key announcements and invite the expert panel to offer their slant on the Budget’s effect on businesses north of the Border.
Following on from Mr Sunak’s first Budget as Chancellor – dubbed the “coronavirus Budget” – his second one will also have a strong focus on the pandemic. Announcing the Budget date in December, a Government statement said: “The Budget will set out the next phase of the plan to tackle the virus and protect jobs and will be published alongside the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).”
In addition, it will set out the Government’s plans for taxation, benefits and spending, along with forecasts for the economy.
At The Herald’s Budget Briefing, the panel will comprise of Tracy Black, director of CBI Scotland, Dr Liz Cameron, director and chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, and Roz Foyer, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress. The sponsors will be represented by Fraser Campbell, partner and UK head of accounts and business advisory services at Azets, Edward Smith, head of asset allocation research at Rathbones and Turcan Connell’s Pete Murrin, tax and succession partner.
Looking ahead to the briefing, SCC’s Liz Cameron said: “Never in our lifetime has the challenge facing businesses and the economy been so great. Events such as The Herald’s Budget Briefing give us a chance to shine a light on what has been a dark and confusing time for all, not just businesses.
“The Chancellor has within his grasp the potential to deliver a Budget that ensures jobs and businesses can survive and grow until the vaccine allows us to trade in an open economy. We have been very clear that now is not the time to withdraw that support ahead of lifting of restrictions.”
She added: “There will be time to address the national finances. But in order to achieve this, the economy must be in the best position possible to spring back – the stronger the better for our jobs, our livelihoods and our future place in the world as a trading nation.
“Our expectation? A Budget and supportive policies for us to survive and give confidence and hope.”
CBI Scotland’s Tracy Black commented: “With so many companies across Scotland remaining in a precarious position, it’s only right that we start to give serious consideration to how we reopen the economy when it is safe to do so. The UK and Scottish Budgets are landmark events in that process and will be crucial to defining Scotland’s post-pandemic future, as well as its place outside the EU.
“The immediate priority is to protect jobs and livelihoods, ensuring that the companies we will rely on to drive economic recovery are able to withstand the difficult weeks and months ahead. That means continuing to support firms through tough restrictions, accelerating the speed at which support reaches those in need, and extending the successful Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to at least the end of June to avoid a cliff-edge.”
Fraser Campbell of Azets said: “We wait in anticipation for the 2021 Budget and the outcomes Chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver following a phenomenal year of borrowing to fund reliefs and measures brought in to help sustain the economy during a global pandemic.
“There is much the Chancellor can do to help SMEs, the worst-hit sectors including retail, hospitality and leisure, and boost the economy such as extend the reduced VAT rate, reduce Corporation Tax, reduce employer’s NIC and reinstate entrepreneurs’ lifetime relief to £10 million.”
Adding that “we may perhaps also accept this Budget will come with strategies to deal with the effects of Covid-19 and get the economy back on track, Mr Campbell said: “As we hope for a brighter 2021, there is still a huge amount of uncertainty for businesses and we ask that the Chancellor provides tangible support for SMEs as they rebuild their businesses while navigating the post-Brexit landscape too.”
At Rathbones, Angus Kerr, regional director, said: “As a previous attendee, I am delighted that Rathbones is sponsoring this year’s event. This will be one of the most anticipated Budgets for some time and we look forward to joining the debate and discussing what the changes will mean for businesses and consumers alike in Scotland.”
Peter Littlefield, partner in charge of Turcan Connell’s Glasgow office, commented: “Turcan Connell is delighted to once again be supporting The Herald. The Budget event will, I’m sure, be a very stimulating and thoughtful event and we look forward to providing a legal backdrop on personal taxation matters on a morning when some of the important issues facing the country in the coming months and years will be considered.”
The Herald’s post-Budget Briefing takes place on Thursday, March 4, from 9am-11.45am. To register visit https://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/budget-briefing-breakfast/ or contact 0141 302 6016.