After presenting a Budget-in-all-but name with the Autumn Statement, the Spring Budget was delivered against the backdrop of a day of widespread industrial action. The run-up to the event appeared deliberately downplayed, save for a late flurry of leaks highlighting a focus on childcare at one end of the scale and pensions at the other. While acknowledging the Prime Minister’s two objectives of halving inflation and reducing debt, Mr Hunt focused his Spring Budget on the Prime Minister’s third objective – getting the economy going.
In a wide-ranging and longer than usual speech, there were some key headline items:
• The inflation rate is forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility to fall from 10.1% (January 2023) to just 2.9% by the end of 2023.
• The lifetime allowance for pensions will be abolished from April 2024, with the lifetime allowance charge withdrawn from April 2023.
• A new monetary limit for the tax-free pension commencement lump sum will be introduced for 2023/24 of £268,275 (equivalent to 25% of the current standard lifetime allowance).
• The annual allowance for pensions will increase by 50% to £60,000 from 2023/24 and the money purchase annual allowance will rise from £4,000 to £10,000 from 2023/24.
• Companies investing in new plant and machinery in the three years from 1 April 2023 can claim a first-year allowance of up to 100% of expenditure.
• Small and medium-sized enterprises that spend 40% or more of their total expenditure on research and development can claim a tax credit worth £27 for every £100 they spend from April 2023.
• The energy price guarantee is maintained at the current £2,500 level until the end of June 2023.
• Up to 30 hours of free childcare per week will be available to working parents of children from the age of nine months by September 2025. Initially, from April 2024, working parents of two-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of free childcare per week.
• The scheduled 11p a litre duty increases in petrol and diesel will not go ahead.

Our full budget briefing can be downloaded here

The Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, set out “four important factors” in arriving at the
measures announced in the 2023/24 Scottish Budget:
The pressures on the public finances mean that in some cases, the Scottish
Government’s plans will need to be delivered on a longer timescale than originally

The requirements for public sector reform, set out in the Medium Term Financial
Strategy and the Resource Spending Review, will become ever more necessary. The
Scottish Government will act in a way consistent with the principles of the Christie
Commission, placing “significant emphasis” on early intervention and prevention.

Significant increases in input prices and energy costs mean that the capital budget
will be unable to deliver as much as would have been considered possible only a few
months ago.

An uncertain inflation outlook, and the need to still conclude some current year pay
deals, mean that a public sector pay policy for 2023/24 will not be published until
the new year.

Full details of the budget can be downloaded here