What should business and the financial sector in particular make of today’s Budget?
3 March 2021
By Stephen Haddrill, Director General
The FLA has called for support for business to be maintained through the crisis and for the restoration of public finances to be phased in gradually.
The headlines will no doubt focus on the increase in Corporation Tax. However, overall there is much in the proposals for business to welcome. The Chancellor has respected the primary need to foster economic recovery. Much of the support provided to business is being maintained for the rest of this year.
At the same time business, again including the FLA, has called for support for investment to kick-start the economy. The introduction of the UK Infrastructure Bank, support for SMEs to help them take advantage of digital technology, and the super-deduction offset of investment in plant and machinery against tax should provide a significant boost to business investment, and encourage that investment to take place in the UK rather than overseas. With some limited exceptions, such as the fuel duty freeze and mortgage guarantee, it is a Budget for sustaining business and incentivising investment rather than a Budget which seeks growth through boosting consumption: a welcome shift from the UK’s traditional road map out of economic meltdown.
As usual, however, there are gaps in the plans that need to be plugged and key details that need to be filled in.
The CBILS loan guarantee scheme is being replaced by a Recovery Loan Scheme. But this is just an interim measure for this year. Business needs a permanent replacement. It should bring together the best of earlier British Business Bank schemes with some of the successful innovations in CBILS. We need a scheme that will bring forward investments in productivity improvements over the long term.
There is also more to be done to encourage investment in attaining net zero than the Government has so far done. Policy needs to be developed in more detail and then adhered to consistently to provide a more certain environment for investment.
Crucially the flagship super-deduction tax break needs to be available to businesses however they are funding their investments in plant and machinery, whether through cash, loans or asset finance. It is right that business will benefit from the tax incentive irrespective of the funding mechanism which best suits its circumstances.
Thanks to the vaccine, the economy should soon start to reopen. This Budget provides a number of stepping stones to assist recovery, to restore fiscal strength and to build our long term, sustainable economic capacity, but it still leaves plenty to be done.
24 Feb 2021
This is one of the hardest budgets to predict of recent times because the range of possible economic scenarios for the rest of the year is itself so wide. And, unlike some of his predecessors, the Chancellor has floated nothing of significance. But the ink must be nearly dry. Today, the OBR will start its work on assessing the soundness of the proposals. The rest of us have another week to wait.
05 Jan 2021
As we embark on a new year, much of the news about Covid 19 and the economy is bleak - infections are rising and economic growth has stalled. However, our situation could have been so much worse without two things: the gift of the vaccine; and the agreement of the trade deal. They give us all the chance for cautious optimism that the recovery will start properly in the year ahead. But whether that turns into real future prosperity depends on the decisions taken by Government and businesses in the next few months. So what should we now expect from the Government in 2021?
08 Oct 2020
Earlier this week the Treasury announced revisions to the legislation which prescribes how default notices issued by lenders should be written. This is a step forward. For too long, the law has required lenders to use language that is threatening in tone and does not reflect the mutually respectful relationship that lenders seek with borrowers.
It might seem churlish therefore to complain, but the truth is that the announcement has only scratched the surface of what needs to be done to reform consumer credit legislation.
17 Sep 2020
The Chancellor is working on the shape of his Comprehensive Spending Review and Budget to determine what the Government can afford to spend and how spending should be allocated at a time of the greatest uncertainty. The pandemic is placing huge pressures on him to keep the taps open to maintain economic recovery. At the same time, his ability to raise taxes to pay for this largesse is severely constrained for the same reasons. There will be a gap in the country’s finances, and it may have to be met by borrowing. Fortunately, interest rates are low, and the Government remains credit worthy. It can afford to ease the pain of business and individuals through the winter.
21 Aug 2020
Now more than ever Government needs to avoid becoming trapped in the here and now. It must show anticipation and vision. That is not at all easy given the need to tackle so many short term problems against a backdrop of uncertainty about what the next months will bring. So it’s good that major long term priorities such as net zero, raising productivity and levelling up across the country are still being addressed. These are goals that the FLA wholly supports and we look forward to the coming spending review showing vision in taking them forward...
20 Jul 2020
We stand at a fork in the Covid road. In one direction the virus fades away, business opens further and economic recovery gathers real momentum. In the other, we bounce from lockdown to lockdown, with millions losing their livelihoods and the economy remaining in the doldrums for years.
01 Jul 2020
Hardly a year goes by without the role of regulation in the economy being reconsidered.
04 Jun 2020
We are great spenders. Consumption is the lifeblood of the British economy.
20 May 2020
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27 Mar 2020
In numerous conversations with Government, we have been very clear that the tools used to support the banking sector in 2008 are too narrowly focused to support firms of all sizes, in every sector of business, across the whole of the UK economy in 2020.
11 Mar 2020
The Chancellor has delivered a budget for business, whilst extending a helping hand to people threatened by Coronavirus.
06 Mar 2020
International Women’s Day, which falls this weekend, is a great moment to stand back and reflect on whether we are doing enough on diversity and inclusion.
17 Feb 2020
The pace of technological innovation can at times seems daunting, but technology is simply a means to an end, not an end in itself.
06 Feb 2020
The Government’s decision to bring forward the ban on selling new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from 2040 to 2035 will require the concerted efforts of politicians, regulators, manufacturers, lenders, utilities and planners to make it achievable.
22 Jan 2020
Lending to small and medium businesses has been falling for some time, especially outside the South East. It has been suggested that this shows SMEs are cash rich but unwilling to invest. There is some truth in both statements. But there is also a ray of hope if we look beyond the use of conventional borrowing and overdraft facilities.
16 Jan 2020
During his time as Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney has been a leading voice in encouraging policymakers, business and investors to recognise the key role of markets, financial and otherwise, in tackling climate change.
13 Dec 2019
After the turbulence of recent months, we now have a Government with a mandate to govern for a full term – and the numbers to get business through the House of Commons.
That list of business is very long, and of course begins with negotiating a rather tricky post-Brexit trade deal, not to mention a brewing storm about the unity of the UK. As strong as the SNP are in Scotland, their influence in Westminster has been blown away by the size of the Conservative majority. And what about unity more generally? Some basis for co-existence between leavers and remainers needs to be found.
So, what are the implications of the General Election results for the financial services sector and FLA members in particular?