Chancellor’s Budget Summary – March 2024


Chancellor’s Budget Summary – March 2024

This page was last updated on March 7, 2024
With an eye on the forthcoming election, just how many sweet treats did Jeremy Hunt serve up in his Spring Budget for personal and business finances?

Sweetening a pre-election public

In this summary, we’ve explained the key developments and changes from the Chancellor’s Budget announcement on 6 March 2024. For a pdf version of our full March 2024 Budget Summary click the green download pdf button on the right.

Background To The Budget

Historically, pre-election Budgets prompt a degree of excitement as Chancellors endeavour to entice voters with a crowd-pleasing range of tax-cuts or threshold-expanding measures

Back in his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt alluded to the possibility that this March Budget would be no exception. However, data at the start of 2024 made him adopt a more cautious fiscal tone, despite the Conservatives significantly trailing Labour in the polls.

Sluggish growth

The UK economy has yet to make the hoped-for growth strides. At the end of January, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its forecasts for UK growth in 2025 from 2% to 1.5%.

At the start of February, the Bank of England held the base rate at 5.25%, acknowledging inflation is still some way off its 2% target. There were however suggestions that the base rate had peaked, but we’ll have to wait until the next Monetary Policy Committee gathering on 21 March for confirmation.

Many forecasters agree though that the inflation and base rate decline will not be smooth and steady across 2024.

A difficult balancing act

Financing tax cuts means something else in the Treasury coffers has to give. In late January, The Institute for Fiscal Studies indicated that the next government would need an extra £20 billion to maintain spending levels in public services. It echoed the IMF in advising that tax cuts will have to wait until the national debt is on a firmer downward track.

For individuals, the overall UK tax burden remains at a record high. Frozen tax thresholds have dragged many into higher tax rates. This, along with prolonged higher mortgage rates since 2022 and still challenging living costs, leaves a bitter taste with potential voters.

For businesses, it was concerning to learn recently that the UK had slipped into a recession at the end of 2023. Many sectors, including retail, hospitality and construction, are continuing to struggle.

How many ‘sweet treats’ could be spared?

So, the backdrop to this Budget was a challenging one for the Chancellor. Lightening the tax burden to woo voters while reducing the national debt and growing the economy are impossible to accomplish collectively in the short term.

With time running out ahead of the election, all eyes were on the Chancellor’s red dispatch box to see just how many ‘sweet treats’ it contained. In our Budget Summary, we have given both overviews and detailed information for personal, business and property-related taxes.

Key highlights from the March 2024 Budget

Final thoughts

As The Treasury releases more details from the Budget announcements, we will assess the implications for our clients. We will share our conclusions and advice on our website, in our Shipshape magazines, our Tax Facts card and in our conversations with clients.

In the meantime, if you wish to discuss how this Budget impacts you, please do talk with your usual Shipleys’ contact. Our key focus remains to help our clients navigate the changes smoothly and comfortably.

This Budget Summary is based on the Chancellor’s Budget Statement on 6 March 2024, supplemented by information from official publications.

It reflects our understanding of proposed changes to tax law and practice at the date of publication but is not a complete and definitive guide. The Budget proposals may be amended before the Finance Bill becomes law.

Specific advice should therefore be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, on the basis of this information.

© 2024 Shipleys LLP

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