Seymour Taylor – Autumn Budget 2021

With the Speaker of the House of Commons by tradition not presiding over the Budget, the Chancellor might have hoped he would escape a rebuke over the number of important announcements disclosed to the media in advance.

That was not to be, with the Chancellor instead receiving a ticking-off from Dame Eleanor Laing, the Chairman of Ways and Means, who takes charge on Budget day.

Before Rishi Sunak rose to the despatch box, we already knew the public sector pay freeze would end. The Treasury had also confirmed there would be £5.7 billion for public transport in city regions, £5.9 billion to tackle waiting lists in the NHS, an increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour, £1.8 billion for housing on brownfield sites, as well as further cash for education.

The question, then, was what the Chancellor was saving for the Budget and whether this would include any significant tax changes.

The 2021 Spring Budget marked a post-pandemic turning point in the Government’s approach to tax and spending. Already this year, the Government has announced several significant tax rises. Corporation Tax is rising in 2023 and next year will see Dividend Tax and National Insurance Contributions rise by 1.25 percentage points.

Any taboo around tax rises had been blown apart. But, at the same time, the cost of living has risen rapidly, putting pressure on households and businesses.

The question, then, was how the Chancellor would balance the cost of the spending plans already set out and the need to recognise the pressure on households and businesses against his desire to repair the public finances following the pandemic.

Would taxes rise and, if so, who would be the winners and losers?

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