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Budget 2021: Accounting community unimpressed with Chancellor’s announcement

The AccountingWEB community was left feeling flat after the highly anticipated Budget announcement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak today.

3rd Mar 2021
Community Assistant AccountingWEB
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The Budget 2021 document
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Members of the AccountingWEB community had their suspicions about the influx of Budget leaks prior to the Chancellor’s announcement today.

AccountingWEB member stepurphan dubbed the leaks splashed across this morning’s news outlets as “blatant headline grabbing”.

“These leaks beforehand just really bug me,” they said. “Their sole purpose seems to be to trumpet some popular announcement that is going to be made to garner positive press. Those of us in the industry know that the devil is in the detail.”

“It seems to be the SOP of the current government - leak things to the press, gauge the reaction and pull anything that receives a negative response on the basis that it wasn't really policy in the first place,” added member johnt27.

Duggimon thought the leaks were a bid to highlight the “good” parts in order to make sure the measures made to pay for “said good stuff” have to be accepted.

Ireallyshouldknowthisbut pointed out the issue with the delayed release of the main Budget details: “It’s those documents which usually contain all the actual facts as opposed to the speech which is 95% spin and bobbins. Ministers clearly got fed up with all that detail being mined by the following day so have kicked it down the road for 3 weeks.”

“A complete zero”

When it did arrive, the Chancellor’s announcement appeared to fall flat on the ears of the profession.

Well, that didn’t amount to much,” commented member SteveHa of the tax freezes.

“Despite worries regarding immediate CT/CGT/IT changes, none have materialised, and the only one close is CT in another two years,” they added. “For us tax guys, seems like another very much non-budget.”

“A complete zero,” agreed member Paul Crowley.

“It has come to something when accountancy has driven accountants to holding a unified tax system as their dream,” quipped DJKL. “Aladdin would certainly have been a different cartoon had he been an accountant.”

Jason Croke couldn’t see how the billions of debt incurred throughout the pandemic are going to be recouped. He added that there could have been a greater focus on sustainability.

“As long as the government does not use smoke and mirrors to write off the debt they can get away with paying themselves the interest on it via the Bank of England,” commented member johnhemming.

However, some were sympathetic with the Chancellor’s compromised position: “Just to remind everyone that some of this needs paying for at some point, otherwise everyone will think there is a Magic Money Tree after all,” argued member Arthur Putey.

Furlough extension

The accounting community were also not overjoyed to learn of the furlough extensions.

There was some speculation that the extension means implications for lockdown; many were dubious about social distancing measures ending in June as promised.

Gutted by this news,” commented member Sparkly. “The Furlough scheme has always been extended past the current restrictions end date over the last year, so I agree it seems to be an indication that restrictions won't be ending in June at all.” Another member even suggested that the accounting profession deserved a grant of their own for putting in so much extra work over the course of the pandemic.

In contrast, member NH shed some positive light on the news: “I take the view that the furlough grants have allowed clients to stay in business and therefore means they keep paying us, that being the case I am more than happy to carry on supporting them for no extra charge. I know for sure that the fees we have not lost because of this amounts to more than we would have gained by charging.”

What’s your view of the 2021 Budget? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or in our Any Answers forum.

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