The Herald lines up major Budget Briefing in March

THE last UK Government Budget to be announced before the next general election will be in focus at a special event hosted by The Herald in March.

A range of experts will gather at The Herald’s office in Glasgow to analyse the key announcements the morning after Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt presents the Budget to the House of Commons on Wednesday March 6.

It will be the UK Government’s last Budget before the country goes to the polls in a general election for the first time since 2019, which will perhaps give the contents of Mr Hunt’s red box more political weight than usual.

The Herald has invited a host of influential experts to analyse and debate the big news at a Budget Briefing Breakfast, which will be held at its Bath Street office on Thursday March 7, from 9am to 11.30am.

Chaired by veteran political journalist, and Herald columnist Brian Taylor, the panel will include economist Emma Congreve, deputy director of the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute. Sponsors include accountancy firm Martin Aitken & Co and law firm Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie.

Ms Congreve said: “The Budget this spring will be hotly anticipated in this election year. Many will be looking out for further tax cuts, but with bodies such as the IMF sounding the warning bell over the fiscal sustainability of such changes, a more cautious approach may be on the cards.

“For businesses, with many still bearing heavy scars from the pandemic, most would prioritise certainty and stability over any giveaways to lure voters that may put any of this at risk. The memories of the September 2022 Truss/Kwarteng Mini Budget linger long.”

Derek Hanlan, associate tax director at Martin Aitken & Co, said: “Tax continues to be high on the agenda of clients, businesses and politicians alike. Following on from the 2023 Autumn Statement, businesses appear to have greater certainty with rates confirmed and full expensing now permanent, encouraging investment in infrastructure and technology. And, with the build-up to an impending general election, rumours are rife of potential cuts to inheritance tax, income tax and national insurance contributions.

“Whilst this will no doubt be the subject of much more debate in the coming months – and would be greatly appreciated – individuals should bear in mind that the complexities and implications arising from the introduction of an additional Scottish rate of income tax take effect in April 2024. Hopefully, the upcoming Budget provides clients with certainty and optimism for the future.”

Grant Johnston, partner and head of wealth planning at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie: “In November, I predicted there wouldn’t be much of a change in the wider economy. And that has rang true with interest rates remaining high but steady over winter.

“If the polls are to be believed, Jeremy Hunt may not last the year as chancellor, as Labour look set to take power. At WJM, we are preparing for a few potential surprises as the Conservative government readies themselves to take their final chance to appease a volatile voting base.

“Major tax cuts are, as ever, proving to be a popular cry within the Tory party, but there is also talk of reduced deposits on housing, and even rumours of a relaunch of the Help to Buy scheme.

“The political landscape today has made the Spring budget harder to predict than previous years. Scottish businesses should be wary and watch the upcoming budget with a keen eye.”

Mr Taylor said: “Are you anxious about economic growth? Are you concerned about your business? Do you fret about interest rates, inflation, tax and trade? At The Herald, we share your worries – but we try to offer answers. As a journalist, I’ve covered every UK Budget since Denis Healey was Chancellor. I’ll host a special Herald briefing after the next UK Budget – with the aim of explaining what it means for you.”

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