The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has announced he will deliver his Spring Statement on Wednesday 13th March 2019, just 16 days before the UK is set to leave the EU.
In recent years, the main Budget has moved from the spring to the autumn therefore Mr Hammond may not be planning to announce any major changes to taxation and spending. However, with Brexit looming, there may be some surprises from Mr Hammond.
The current Finance Bill, first published on 7th November 2018, is still making its way through Parliament and is expected to become law in February 2019.
Last year the Prime Minister famously declared that austerity was over, however we did not see much evidence of that in the Budget, apart from an extra £20bn promised for the NHS.
The Financial Times has reported the planned cut in corporation tax from 19% to 17% in April 2020 will cost the exchequer some £12bn by 2022, according to estimates from HM Revenue & Customs. The Chancellor may instead choose to keep this back for Brexit contingencies and departmental spending.
Starting in April 2019 there is an expected Spending Review for government departments and the Chancellor may have something to say about that.
It is by no means clear the current Brexit uncertainty will be resolved by the date of the Spring Statement, so Philip Hammond may wish to retain a very tight lid on public finances until there is a clearer vision on Brexit.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place, the Chancellor may need to hold an emergency Budget in April to boost spending and retain confidence in the economy.