Media and politics

The debates on the Budget this week were understandably held with the COVID-19 outbreak foremost in the minds of MPs. Conservatives generally praised the Budget and the goal of ‘levelling up’ the UK, while Labour said COVID-19 exposed the impact of the Conservatives’ 10 years of austerity. The Government announced a 12-month delay to the introduction of off-payroll working changes.

 

Following Wednesday’s statement by the Chancellor, MPs are holding four days of debate on the measures in the Budget. The first two of these were Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 March. (The latter two days – Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 March – will be the subject of a future report.)

Much has been written over the last few weeks about Entrepreneur’s Relief (“ER”), many of them bemoaning the amount that the relief is “costing” (£2.7 billion last year), that it does not encourage start-ups and the fact that is only claimed by the rich. Therefore, there is lots of speculation that Entrepreneur’s Relief will be scrapped in the Budget.

There was a debate on VAT on listed properties, in Westminster Hall, this week (4 March) led by the Conservative Craig Mackinlay, himself a Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA).

If the Welsh diverge upwards from English rates of income tax it might prompt some higher earners in Wales to relocate but the vast majority of people are unlikely to up sticks unless the income tax variations are very significant.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell opened this Opposition Day debate on tax avoidance and evasion, by saying Conservative governments have failed to address tax avoidance and evasion while making ‘savage’ cuts to public services and undermining the social security net.

The Budget will present new Chancellor Rishi Sunak with some tough choices. This week the IFS have pointed out that Sunak will have to raise taxes, break the Government’s fiscal rule or entrench austerity.

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, an independent body set up to advise government on how to promote and increase the use of high-quality design for new build homes and neighbourhoods, published its final report recently with 45 policy recommendations.

This page contains a liveblog written during the February 10th House of Lords Finance Bill Sub-Committee evidence session on Draft Finance Bill 2019, focusing on proposed reforms to the rules on off-payroll working.

Conservative MP Mike Wood secured a Westminster Hall debate on taxation on beer and pubs that was held this week (5), enabling MPs to raise concerns over levels of beer duty (too high), small brewers relief (review needed) and the impact of business rates (pub-specific relief welcomed).