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Profession unswayed by Sunak’s smoke and mirrors


This afternoon the Chancellor took to the stage to showcase the government’s autumn Budget and spending review, but the accounting community wasn't convinced.

27th Oct 2021
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In what was possibly the most leaked Budget yet, Rishi Sunak shared the remaining secrets of his red book in his autumn Budget statement to the House of Commons this afternoon.

However, the word on social media suggested that accounting profession remained unconvinced of the government’s economic intentions in the wake of a speech filled to the brim with pub talk and “meaningless waffle”. An AccountingWEB Twitter poll indicated that two-thirds of respondents were unhappy with the day’s outcomes.

Clouds and confetti

Countless AccountingWEB members dismissed this year’s announcement as a smoke and mirrors Budget, designed to distract the public from the real issues that will continue to affect the nation.

Amid the various changes to legislation was a promise to extend research and development tax reliefs to include cloud computing and data costs:

However, users of AccountingWEB warned the true nature of the Budget will only become clear once the smoke has settled. “We will only tell how good it is in six-plus months time,” commented one member.

“There are a number of areas that could have been looked at, but political dogma decided that was not going to happen. I suspect this was more a Johnson Budget than a Sunak Budget.”

“Announcing millions/billions is to be spent on something or other leaves me cold until I’ve read a few analysts reports later, when I discover what they’ve promised is equivalent to confetti only,” agreed Moonbeam.

Flying high

Alongside the R&D expansion came a reform that will halve air passenger duty (APD) on domestic flights. Not quite the look you would expect from the Prime Minister’s insistence that the Budget was all about green thinking.

Announcing the APD reform at a time of environmental crisis did not go over well with the AccountingWEB community.

Could not understand logic re domestic flight duties, as most fuel used at take off and getting to cruising altitude surely short hauls are worse per mile for global warming and ought to be so taxed, longhauls, by mile travelled anyway, are greener,” said DJKL.

For all the green rhetoric, next week's COP26 climate summit was absent from the Chancellors speech, prompting an outbreak of yet more cynicism within the community. “I wonder if the domestic flight tax reform reflects the increasing trend for politicians to take planes or helicopters within the UK,” added AnnAccountant.

Pints and prosecco

A large majority of Sunak’s speech was dedicated to supporting the British pub sector, with a draught relief of a 5% cut that will lower each pub-poured pint by 3p.

“Great he has tackled the alcohol duties, I guess MPs are more into this aspect than business rates, more's the pity,” quipped AccountingWEB member David. 

“3p of a pint of beer from tonight. I wonder if I will pay £4.97 for my beer on Saturday night now?” added Adam12345.

A lot of booze talk from teetotaller Sunak prompted Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves to respond: “At least the bankers on short-haul flights, sipping Champagne will be cheering this Budget today.”

Rishi called to resign

With so much of the Budget already spilled onto the pages of the press prior to the Chancellor’s speech, Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing made some pointed comment before Sunak took the floor.

While members of parliament shouted for Rishi to “resign” in the background, Laing assured MPs and viewers that she shared their concerns about pre-briefing to the media. “For a number of years, elements of the Budget have been pre-briefed in embargo to aid media coverage,” she said.

“That is different to what we’ve experienced this year.”

While she admitted that all ministers know important policy announcements should first be made to parliament, she hoped that the MPs would not find themselves in this position again and looked forward to hearing the “remainder” of the speech the Chancellor was about to make.

Other members of parliament were not so forgiving:

The AccountingWEB community were in full agreement.

“The amount of pre-budget leaks, which presumably are deliberate, means the traditional Budget where the Chancellor would reveal their tax rates, cuts, increases is gone, no surprises, as already in the public domain… Now the Budget is a one hour speech saying how wonderful the Chancellor/Government are, more a party political broadcast than setting a vision of what the future holds,” commented tax contributor Jason Croke.

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