The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, made his Autumn Statement today. When he gave his Emergency Budget Statement in June, he stated that he would not deliver future Pre Budget Reports, but just give a Budget every March. Unfortunately, statutorily, he had to deliver one, but it was pretty clear from the one he did deliver, that he didn’t really want to do it!
He was only on his feet for just over 15 minutes and, during that time, managed to summarise the Report issued by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) which was formed by the coalition Government in May to make an independent assessment of the public finances ahead of each Budget.
So, what did he say, other than very little?
He announced that he was going to publish consultation on what he described as “the biggest reform of corporation tax in years”.
These measures include rules relating to controlled foreign companies and the taxation of intellectual property. He announced that as a result of some of these measures GlaxoSmithKline had announced an investment in the UK of £500 million which would create 1,000 new jobs.
According to the OBR, we will not have a double dip recession, public sector job losses will be 330,000 rather than the 490,000 that was originally predicted. It is also forecast that the creation of private sector jobs will outstrip public sector job losses. There were further relatively positive predictions on jobs, with a forecast that, after a peak of just over 8% unemployment in 2011, the rate would fall steadily to just over 6% by 2015.
That was the positive news. The slightly more downbeat announcements included that our recovery will be “sluggish” and the growth predictions have been amended downwards as a result.
It is fair to say that the Autumn Statement was a non event. One can only hope that legislation is passed to remove the need for the Chancellor to make such a statement in the future!