George Osborne will deliver his fiscal plans for the year ahead against stalling economic growth, which remains well below pre-2008 levels.
We take a look at what businesses and consumers want from the Chancellor’s fourth Budget announcement.
UK business groups are calling for more measures to reduce the cost of doing business and improve access to finance. Most groups made their submissions to the Chancellor earlier this month, in which the majority called for a business-friendly budget focusing on measures to boost confidence, support businesses and help grow the economy.
Common calls for action from business groups include:
scrapping the planned 2.6 per cent rise in April and a cap at two per cent
speeding up the practical implementation of a business-focused bank to start lending
allocate funds to build new housing stock and encourage buyers
more incentives and increased awareness of support schemes
increased investment in road and rail projects
The British Retail Consortium’s director general, Helen Dickinson, said: “Consumers need a Budget that leaves them with more money in their pockets and the confidence to spend it and retailers with the means to invest.”
The Forum of Private Business’s chief executive, Phil Orford, said: “Businesses are clearly unhappy about the spiralling costs of NDR [non-domestic rates], and we think the tipping point is about to arrive, if it hasn’t already.”
In terms of personal finance, several tax changes are already planned for 1 April, including a reduction of the top rate of tax to 45p, and an increase in the personal allowance from £8,105 to £9,400.
Talking to the BBC on Sunday, George Osborne said that the cap on social care costs and the introduction of the new single-tier state pension would be brought forward a year to 2016.
Ahead of the Annual Statement in December, the Chancellor said he would help ‘those who want to work hard and get on’. Figures from the Office for National Statistics this morning revealed that unemployment has increased for the first time in a year, rising by 7,000 to 2.25 million in the three months to January.
Many commentators are expecting the Chancellor to announce a further rise in the personal allowance as the Government looks to hit its £10,000 tax-free personal allowance target.