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March 6th 2024

This afternoon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt detailed his Spring Budget - only three and a half months since his Autumn Statement - and the latest in a dwindling list of set-piece milestones for the Government to try and turn the dial on the direction of travel ahead of the local elections on 2nd May and the General Election, whenever that may be.

The context for this Budget is important. This was a speech from the same man who in only January, compared himself to Thatcher’s tax-cutting Chancellor, Nigel Lawson. The same Party who already this week have engaged in yet another, public spat over cuts to NI vs cuts to income tax. The same breed of government who have had nigh on 14 years to stamp their ambitions on our economy, and the same Party whose popularity currently sits at a 45-year low.


Addressing a fired-up House of Commons, Hunt used his statement to drive a wedge between the Conservatives and Labour’s fiscal plans. The Government have been building a “high skilled, high wage” economy, he proclaimed, as opposed to Labour’s plans for “high tax, high migration.” At the Dispatch Box, he adopted the expected tone and rhetoric, along with details on all the interventions trailed in the media for the last few weeks. ‘Fiscal responsibility’, the ‘Conservative approach to balancing the books’, and taking ‘difficult decisions’ to get the economy back on track, all played their expected roles in the Chancellor’s speech.

To this extent, he welcomed OBR statistics that show debt is no longer predicted to rise above 100% of GDP, and that public sector borrowing is due to fall to below 3% of GDP, while economic growth is 1.1% higher than had been predicted at the start of his tenure (due in part to the catastrophically low nature of these forecasts in the first place), and real household incomes have risen 0.8%.

As was expected in this context, Hunt focused on headline announcements of what he called ‘permanent tax cuts’ and support for the families who need it most. The headline policy announcement had been long-trailed as a 2p cut in the pound for National Insurance – a tax which Hunt referred to as “a penalty on work”. The cut is predicted to lead to average savings of £450 per year for someone on a full-time salary of £35,000. Other measures for households included increased debt support, an extension to the Household Support Fund, an extended freeze on alcohol and fuel duties, and making 170,000 more families eligible for child benefits.

Focus also fell on boosting investment, through extending measures on business expensing to include leased assets, increasing the VAT threshold for small businesses, and a smattering of new levelling up packages. Measures to stimulate investment were also high on the list of priorities, including new vehicles for UK pension funds and the introduction of a new ISA to invest in UK businesses. Also on investment, a specific nod to all of those that supported our pro-bono campaign investHER, successfully reversing the asset and income thresholds for angel investors within today’s Budget. In less than 6 week’s we secured a reversal – thank you.

Labour made a calculated decision not to offer the Shadow Chancellor to the broadcast media this weekend. A decision which allowed Labour to create distance between themselves and the Government on economic policy, but also to avoid being drawn into the longwinded and entirely pointless speculation about what the Chancellor may or may not have been planning to announce today.

In his response to the Chancellor, Sir Keir Starmer attacked the Government’s economic record. He said that over the past 14 years we had grown used to economic delusion from the Conservatives, adding that as desperation grows among the Conservative benches, the Government continues to put their Party before working people.

The Leader of the Opposition went on to point out that of the Chancellor’s headline announcements, many of the most notable were borrowed from Labour. Sir Keir labelled the Government as ‘out of ideas, out of touch, and running out of road.’ An energised Leader of the Opposition took delight in reminding the Chancellor of his record in government, listing some of his and the Treasury’s commitments from today – such as the commitment to make the NHS paperless - as re-hashed policies from as long as a decade ago.

Overall, Hunt’s statement was punctuated by the exact announcements we expected. Announcements designed to create headlines and good news stories aimed at the part of the electorate that the Conservatives are most scared of losing support from.

This Budget was one of contrasts. Contrasts between the buoyant mood of the Autumn Statement, and today’s less optimistic tone; contrasts between this Government’s commitment to ‘under-promise and over-deliver’, and the current stark reality; contrasts between the Prime Minister’s ambitions to halve inflation, grow the economy, and cut debt, and the context of a very real recession; and contrast too between a tired government limping toward the end of its tenure, and an emboldened opposition with, if not clear ideas, a welcome energy.

What this wasn’t, was a clearly signposted Election Budget.

As the day rumbles on, more questions will be asked about the rationale of some of the Chancellor’s announcements. More questions will be – rightly – asked about what Labour would actually do differently. But in reality, there is only one question which matters. A question that every voter in every constituency will be asking themselves between this Budget and polling day – ‘Am I better off now than I was 14 years ago’. The answer to that question, for most, is a resounding ‘no’, and in reality, nothing that the Chancellor could have announced today would be able to change that.

Please see a full round-up of the measures announced by the Chancellor below, and do let us know if you have any questions on what these developments might mean for you and your team.

  • Treasury
  • National Insurance contributions to employed workers cut from 10% to 8% a 2p cut.
  • National Insurance contributions from 8% to 6% for those who are self-employed.
  • Abolishing £90 charge for obtaining debt relief order, which effects 40,00 families a year.
  • Increase repayment period for new budgeting advances for low-income individuals from 12 to 24 months.
  • Extension of alcohol duty freeze until February 2025, benefitting 38,000 pubs across the UK.
  • £200m of funding to extend the Recovery Loan Scheme to transition the Growth Guarantee Scheme.
  • Increase VAT registration thresholds from £85000-£90,000 for businesses from April 2024.
  • The National Insurance Rate will be cut from 16 January, from 12% to 10%.
  • The new British ISA will allow an additional £5,000 investments in UK equity to be made each year, with the tax advantages of other ISAs remaining.
  • Reduce Higher Capital gains tax from 28% to 24%.
  • Abolish the non-Dom system and replace it with a modern residency-based system from April 2025, This will see foreign residents pay the same level of tax as UK citizens after four years, raising £2.7bn.

  • Department for Business and Trade
  • £200m to extend the recovery loan scheme as it transitions to the Growth Guarantee Scheme
  • Selling Government’s stake in NatWest bank this summer, subject to market conditions and achieving value for money
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • New requirements for pension funds to publish their level of investment in UK equities, giving new powers to The Pensions Regulator and Financial Conduct Authority.
  • The government will consider ways of making it easier for people to take their pension pots with them when they change jobs.
  • High Income Child Benefit Charge threshold to be raised from £50,000 to £60,000.
  • Child Benefit will no longer need to be repaid in full until earnings exceed £80,000.
  • High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) will be administered on a household rather than an individual basis by April 2026, with a consultation in due course.
  • The chancellor reiterated that those who can work should, saying that all his budgets have included plans to get more people into the workforce.
  • Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
  • The Chancellor announced how he wants nuclear energy to represent a quarter of our electricity by 2050 adding that he’d like the UK to lead the global race in developing cutting-edge nuclear technologies.
  • Great British Nuclear will begin the next phase of the Small Modular Reactor selection process, with companies now having until June to submit their initial tender response.
  • The Government has agreed a £160m deal with Hitachi to purchase the Wylfa site in Ynys Môn, which was formally a twin reactor decommissioning power station.
  • The Chancellor has agreed with The Secretary of State for energy security and net zero to allocate up to £120m to the Green Industries Growth Accelerator, this is to build supply chains for new technology such as offshore wind and carbon capture.
  • £270m to advanced manufacturing industries to fund car and space innovation, to grow zero emission vehicle and clean aviation technology.
  • The sunset clause in windfall tax has been extended until 2029 which affects oil and gas profits and is set to raise £1.5bn.
  • Department for Education
  • The government is announcing £105m as initial investment to fund an additional wave of 15 special free schools.
  • The government is confirming the location of 20 alternative provision free schools in England as part of the Spending Review 2021 commitment to invest £2.6bn capital in high needs provision.
  • The government is introducing two new data pilots to drive high quality AI in education and improve access to data in adult social care for a total of £3.5m.
  • Department for Health and Social Care
  • £3.4bn to modernise the NHS’s IT system, doubling the NHS investment in digital transformation.
  • The commitment of a further £2.5bn for the NHS to continue its focus on reducing waiting times.
  • Commitment to the expansion of the NHS Talking Therapies programme and Individual Placement and Support to help people with mental health conditions.
  • An additional £650m investment in the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and a new vaccine manufacturing hub in Liverpool
  • £5m seed funding to help launch the Fleming Centre, led by Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
  • The commitment of a further £2.5bn for the NHS to continue its focus on reducing waiting times.
  • Confirmation of a new tax on vapes, with a one-off increase in tobacco duties.
  • Department for Education
  • The government is announcing £105m as initial investment to fund an additional wave of 15 special free schools.
  • The government is confirming the location of 20 alternative provision free schools in England as part of the Spending Review 2021 commitment to invest £2.6bn capital in high needs provision.
  • The government is introducing two new data pilots to drive high quality AI in education and improve access to data in adult social care for a total of £3.5m.
  • Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • A new Agrifood launch pad for Wales.
  • Ministry of Justice
  • N/A.
  • Department for Transport
  • The main rates of fuel duty will be frozen again until March 2025 with the temporary 5p cut also extended, saving car drivers around £50 this year and £250 since the 5p cut was introduced – a £5bn tax cut.
  • Increase in the Air Passenger Duty (APD), a tax on non-economy flights.
  • Department for Science and Technology
  • Building on the Autumn Statement 2023 announcement of £520m new funding for Life Sciences manufacturing, the government is announcing that funding competitions for large-scale investments will open for expressions of interest this summer with a separate competition for medium and smaller-sized companies opening in the Autumn.
  • The government is announcing that it will invest up to £100m in the Turing Institute over the next five years.
  • The government is introducing two new data pilots to drive high-quality AI in education and improve access to data in adult social care for a total of £3.5m and confirming the design details of the data research cloud pilots announced last year.
  • The government is announcing a new £7.4m AI Upskilling Fund pilot that will help SMEs develop the AI skills of the future.
  • The £250m Faraday Discovery Fellowships and £150m Green Future Fellowships will be funded through the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering endowments.
  • The government is confirming up to £100m to launch the national component of the full £160m CLEO programme, which will enable UK researchers and businesses to perform the research and development needed for the next generation of satellite constellations.
  • The government is allocating £14m for infrastructure used by public sector research and innovation organisations.
  • The government is allocating £1.6m in 2024-25 to an error correction programme in quantum computing.
  • HMRC will establish an expert advisory panel to support the administration of the R&D tax reliefs. The panel will provide insights into the cutting-edge R&D occurring across key sectors such as tech and life sciences, and work with HMRC to review relevant guidance, ensuring it remains up to date and provides clarity to claimants.
  • The government has asked universities to report on their spin-out policies by the end of May 2024 and has also begun consulting on the design of the new £20m proof-of-concept fund and the pilot approach to supporting the establishment by universities of shared Technology Transfer Offices.
  • The government is working with Lendlease, the Euston Master Development Partner, and the London Borough of Camden to identify parts of the station site for early release and development in the coming months and progressing plans to realise the vision for an internationally-leading life sciences hub at the heart of the Euston Quarter.
  • Home Office
  • £230m will be spent on time and money-saving technology, allowing people to report crimes via video call and for drones to be used as first responders where appropriate.
  • £75m to rollout violence reduction units and "hotspot policing".
  • Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
  • The Housing Devolution of further power to local leaders, including the North East trailblazer devolution deal potentially worth £100 million; and powers extended in Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Surrey.
  • An additional £100m for High Peak, Dundee, Conwy and Redditch.
  • The announcement of hundreds of millions in funding to extend the long term plans for towns to 20 new places.
  • Allocation of £15m to West Midlands Combined Authority to support culture, heritage and investment projects.
  • An additional £5m for the refurbishment of village halls.
  • Barnet Formula consequentials will ensure the Scottish government receives a further £300m, the Welsh government nearly £170m and the Northern Ireland Executive a further £100m.
  • Allocation of £188m for projects in Sheffield, Blackpool and Liverpool and a further £242m in Barking Riverside and Canary Wharf, with the intention to see nearly 8,000 houses being built and the transformation of Canary Wharf into a hub for life science companies.
  • The establishment of a community-led housing scheme.
  • Funding settlement for Cambridge for a development corporation, with over £10m in the coming year.
  • Additional money for North Wales, including to fund the renovation of Theatre Clwyd.
  • Purchasing the Wylfa site on Anglesey, where there are plans to build a nuclear power station.
  • End of tax relief for holiday lettings.
  • Reduction of the higher rate of property capital gains tax from 28% to 24%.
  • Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
  • The Government reiterated their condemnation of Hamas’ attacks on 7th October and expressed sorrow at the loss of life on each side of the Israel-Gaza war since.
  • Department for Culture, Media & Sport
  • £1m pledged to go towards a memorial for Muslims who died in both world wars.
  • £26m funding to the National Theatre.
  • Increase the rate of tax credit available to the creative industries by 5%.
  • Removal of an 80% cap for visual effects costs in the Audio-Visual Expenditure Credit.
  • Tax reliefs for the creative industries will become permanent at 45% for touring and orchestral productions. For non-touring productions that relief will be one of 40%.
  • The Government will fund the renovation of Theatre Clywd in Mold, North Wales.
  • Eligible film studios in England will receive a 40% relief on their gross business rates until 2034.