In what will surely come as a knock to British pride, the Treasury Committee has concluded that the economy just cannot deal with the fact the Autumn Statement is acting more and more like a ‘second Budget’.
Some MPs have noticed that the Autumn Statement, usually delivered in December (not, as you would expect, in the Autumn), is beginning to hold almost as much sway over the nation’s finances as the full Budget in March. What it should be doing is giving a general update on the economy, with a few nods to some wider issues. It seems since Gordon Brown, Chancellors have put more stock in the Autumn Statement and announced full-on changes to policies and tax issues.
According to the committee the Budget should be the top priority and set out the years policies and plans. They say this is because it gives more certainty to businesses to make proper plans. It would also increase general clarity. As it stands now, a Budget can be announced, then nine months later there is the Autumn Statement, and then three months later the Budget again. With the Chancellor dodging and weaving trying to get the UK economy back on track, legislative changes of this frequency are clearly troublesome.
By going back to how things should be, MPs believe it will bolster our uncertain economy. This is especially true when you consider the Office for Budget Responsibility, who don’t exactly have the greatest record when it comes to predictions (can we not grow our own Nate Silver?). Uncertainty is obviously never good for business, and so a return to the old ways will surely help things out a bit.
The Government has said they’ll consider the report. Hopefully they’ll announce an overhaul of announcements in Autumn Statements in the next Budget; although they may just end up overhauling that announcement come the next Autumn Statement.