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Eloise Walker, Partner at Pinsent Masons and member of the LexisPSL Tax Consulting editorial board responds to Spring Budget 2021.
Few people were expecting much from this Budget beyond more COVID support measures, so it may be a pleasant surprise for some to see a bumper Budget packed with more jam than anticipated.
The property sector will be relieved to see the stamp duty land tax holiday extended, and the new Government mortgage guarantee (although that may be less welcome for parts of the sector, such as shared-ownership housing). Banks will be relieved to see the surcharge reviewed, and pension funds will also be looking with interest at a relaxation of their investment restrictions. The temporary 3 year loss carry back will come in handy across the board, as will the 130% super-deduction for the next couple of years which will be particularly welcomed by the infrastructure and bio-industry sectors. It was a politically savvy Budget as well, with the movement of government departments North (notably HM Treasury) and measures aimed against the further devolution of Scotland, Wales and NI. It will be fascinating to see how the freeports idea plays out, both economically and politically.
The crunchy unwelcome pips in the jam, however, come in the form of how all this is to be paid for. Gigantic borrowing cannot continue, and the Chancellor dare not raise income tax directly, so he has done it indirectly by freezing the thresholds and raising the corporation tax rate to 25% from April 2023. A smart move that will play well with the media, especially given the reintroduction of our old friend the small companies’ rate (albeit in a more restricted form) and a sliding scale for medium sized companies, so only the bigger players pay extra tax. But will it be enough? We will have to wait and see.
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