With just 16 days to go until Brexit, is there any point to the Spring Statement?
Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG, says YES.
While Brexit is likely to dominate minds again this week, and continue to bring a fog of uncertainty over the outlook for the UK economy, the Spring Statement is still important.
We have seen a significant deterioration in the global economic environment, and in the performance of the UK economy, so it would be good to see the chancellor addressing any revisions to the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast. Guidance on the direction of the forthcoming Spending Review will also be greatly welcomed by businesses and households.
The UK faces important domestic challenges beyond Brexit, including failing productivity and rising inequality, that are still waiting to be solved. Addressing them cannot wait until we have full clarity on our future relationship with the EU – we need more focus on these key issues now.
The Spring Statement gives the chancellor a platform – unencumbered by headline-grabbing Budget giveaways – to present his vision for dealing with the country’s thorny issues and to help lift the UK’s economy.
Matt Kilcoyne, head of communications at the Adam Smith Institute, says NO.
I’d love to have a tax-cutting, red-tape-busting, investment-incentivising Budget every month of the year. But the Spring Statement today is a total waste of time.
Downgraded from a full fiscal event, it was already verging on pointless when Philip Hammond used it last year to just read out a dull set of forecasts.
With just 16 days to Brexit (unless Article 50 is extended, causing further uncertainty), there is nothing that the chancellor can say that won’t need to be revisited. The government needs to set out a raft of bills on finance, services, immigration and many more, and finish laying over 500 statutory instruments before the end of the month.
Parliament spending half a day staring at stats, while paralysed over leaving the EU, is a dereliction of duty to businesses that have to plan around the government. The best we can hope for today is a promise to return in April with a new set of ideas that will help Britain steer its way through – whatever Brexit becomes.