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What do accountants want from the Spring Budget?

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With the Spring Budget just days away, accountants are starting to get their hopes up about what Jeremy Hunt might announce. Wishlists have been written, rumours are circulating and the anticipation increases. 

4th Mar 2024
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There’s a sense of anticipation among accountants as they await news from Jeremy Hunt in the Spring Budget on 6 March. Some are sceptical about potential announcements and whether any changes will materialise.

AccountingWEB caught up with three speakers from the upcoming Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping (FAB) – Arden Bookkeeping’s Claire Bartlett, BW Business Accountants & Advisers’ Natalie Binstead-Wey and ACCA’s Glenn Collins. 

They share what they are hoping to see from this year’s Spring Budget. Some popular demands include changing child benefits and the VAT threshold. 

Claire Bartlett, director of Arden Bookkeeping 

Claire BartlettA few things are on my wishlist this year and one of these is definitely financial support for HMRC. HMRC is in desperate need of investment to help with the ever-increasing backlog, which is negatively impacting UK businesses in a catastrophic way. 

A bigger budget could help increase staff members even as short-term support to help them recover from the backlog, which would make a huge difference to small businesses.

An increase in child benefits is really needed too. This would make a big difference to many families across the country and will certainly help alleviate some of the pressure of the current cost-of-living crisis.

I would like Jeremy Hunt to increase the current VAT threshold as it has been frozen since 2017. With the rising economy, people are charging more for their services pushing them over the threshold for the same amount of work. 

Clients are trying to cap their turnovers to remain under the threshold and it is becoming a real issue. I think this should be raised to more accurately reflect businesses of today.

And lastly, a rise in the personal allowance is needed to reflect the increase in salaries. It would be a more accurate reflection of the workplace and make a big difference to many UK taxpayers.

I am a bit sceptical about whether we will see any of these but the government does need to realign the taxes with the cost of living and inflation rates we have been seeing in recent years.

Natalie Binstead-Wey, managing director at BW Business Accountants & Advisers

natalie_binstead-weyAt the top of my wishlist is the abolishment of the high-income child benefit charge (HICBC). I think it’s the biggest waste of time. People are having to file tax returns and pay it back when they really shouldn’t be and it doesn’t even make them any money. 

There have been some mumblings in the press about potential changes to the HICBC, so I am a bit hopeful. It would be an easy win for the government because I don’t think it would lose them any money when you compare that to the amount of people that it would affect. 

What’s strange is that the income thresholds for the HIBC haven’t been changed for such a long time so it’s time for a reassessment. 

I also would like the VAT registration threshold to go up. At the moment it is a burden on small businesses who are already struggling. By raising it, businesses can finally focus on growth. 

Glenn Collins, head of policy, technical and strategic engagement at ACCA

glenn_collinsI would like to see movement on tax thresholds or at least an indication of when thresholds will rise once again with inflation. Frozen tax thresholds such as on personal allowances and VAT are dragging more and more people into navigating complexities in the tax system. 

This is causing stress, cost and inefficiency in the system. VAT registration being frozen at £85k is an example. It’s really hurting smaller businesses that may be likely to have issues with cashflow, especially within the wider context of a cost-of-living crisis.

An increase to the personal allowance threshold would be incredibly welcome, although I know it’s highly unlikely we will see a change in this budget.

Secondly as mentioned in ACCA’s budget letter, I want to see HMRC services improved. HMRC is a long way off being a digital-first service, and it will take a while for that to be realised. 

HMRC cannot leave the consequences, including increased cost and stress, of its shortcomings on taxpayers and agents. The feedback we have shows extremely low service satisfaction levels. If such low service levels were obtained by a business within a competitive market, that business wouldn’t last very long.

Finally, the Chancellor shouldn’t be afraid to trial certain policies to see whether they really do make a difference to our economy. Accept the fact some will fail, but some will succeed in generating income. For example, it would be wonderful to see the impact of a VAT reduction in an area like the hospitality sector and if this resulted in increased employment.

If you want to hear more, Collins will be joined by Paul Aplin and Emma Rawson at FAB’s Any Answers Live on 13 and 14 March to review the Spring Budget. Get your free ticket here

What is your wishlist for the Spring Budget? Let us know in the comments below.

Replies (19)

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By Craigy1874
04th Mar 2024 13:46

"There’s a sense of anticipation among accountants as they await news from Jeremy Hunt in the Spring Budget on 6 March"

Not really :)

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Replying to Craigy1874:
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By FactChecker
04th Mar 2024 15:24

Article has nothing to do with "What do accountants want" (and of course even less to do with what will be unveiled on Wednesday) ...but I guess it was felt the original title wasn't sufficiently enticing:
"3 speakers from upcoming Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping want to see names in print"?

Thanks (7)
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By JustAnotherUser
04th Mar 2024 14:00

"financial support for HMRC. HMRC is in desperate need of investment to help with the ever-increasing backlog,"

Immediate removal of MTD for Income tax will shrink the backlog and save them £1.3 billion?

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By Crouchy
04th Mar 2024 15:39

simple wishlist

removal of higher CT rate and associated company rules, return to a flat rate for all

increase in the dividend allowance so small business owners are not hit with a double tax charge

scrap MTD for income tax, wanted by no one but HMRC and will have no benefit

Increase tax personal tax allowances for all

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Replying to Crouchy:
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By Craigy1874
04th Mar 2024 16:26

None of these are happening Peter!

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Replying to Crouchy:
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By johnjenkins
05th Mar 2024 10:12

You forget to scrap IR35.

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Should Be Working ... not playing with the car
By should_be_working
05th Mar 2024 10:34

"accountants are starting to get their hopes up "

I've been in this game long enough that 'up' is not where my hopes go in the run up to any budget. It avoids the disappointment.

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Replying to should_be_working:
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By johnjenkins
05th Mar 2024 11:38

Yer Bob Hope and No hope.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
05th Mar 2024 12:58

Reduce duty and tax on fine malt whisky to 0% would make me happy, or at least drown my sorrows.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
05th Mar 2024 13:48

Budgets are always like New Year parties - over hyped and under delivered.

What do I want- a Chancellor who gets on his/her hind legs and says,

"Dear Voters, you do appreciate that my ability to redirect spending is in reality restricted to little more than 5-7% of government total spending (if that), so in reality I, and the Shadow Chancellor, if in my role, can likely make little or no difference to the Economy and your lives. In fact if one considers the narrow fiscal limits within which I ply my trade you will discover that there is in reality little real difference between my policies and those of His Majesty's opposition"

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
05th Mar 2024 15:17

No measures put in to either solely attract votes for the next election, or as deliberate poison chalices to pass to the likely opposition government.

Too many Budget measures have been put in place for party political purposes rather than the benefit of the country.

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Replying to stepurhan:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
05th Mar 2024 15:57

Nice to think they would but then one faces reality that they are greasy pole climbers, they only got to their positions by stepping on the shoulders and fingers of others, so why would they ever abandon what got them to their current exalted positions. (An MP is effectively doing an apprenticeship to land a well paid job post their stint in politics)

"I always voted at my party's call,
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all."

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Replying to DJKL:
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By FactChecker
05th Mar 2024 16:06

Out of (totally unrelated) curiosity, what did your Dad make of the arrival in the Pop Charts - as they were then called - of a strangely attired Mr. Gilbert O'Sullivan?

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Replying to FactChecker:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
05th Mar 2024 17:11

Given his hair likely something about long haired********** but doubt he ever saw him, if he was home by the time it was on (7.30?) it would then not be on, we instead would get thrown out of the sitting room whilst my parents talked/had a pre meal drink. (We ate at 6.00, they ate at 8.00 during the week)

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Replying to DJKL:
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By FactChecker
05th Mar 2024 18:22

I'm guessing you're not acquainted with Gilbert and his 'look' as he bounced onto Top of the Pops (with everyone else displaying the hairiness that offended your Dad) ... if you haven't seen him try a brief bit of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyeUSBKeOHg

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Replying to FactChecker:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
06th Mar 2024 11:17

I have just realised watching your linked video that I mixed him up in my head with Leo Sayer- retirement certainly ought to be looming. (My other half packed up in November and she is already mixing up names)

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Replying to DJKL:
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By johnjenkins
06th Mar 2024 12:02

Glad you got it sorted Sue.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By FactChecker
06th Mar 2024 21:44

That was Johnny Cash ...

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By johnjenkins
07th Mar 2024 09:43

The man in black who walked the line.

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