The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, has announced that this year’s Budget will be held on Wednesday, 6th November – six days after the UK’s scheduled departure from the European Union.
This will be Javid’s first Budget since he became chancellor in July, and he said that he would use it to set out the Government’s domestic policy agenda.
The Treasury told the independent financial watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), to start preparing its economic outlook six weeks ago, which is the minimum notice period permitted but short of the usual 10 weeks.
The OBR said it was able to prepare some information in advance, but that its forecasts would be based on the UK securing a Brexit deal.
It said since the EU referendum, its forecasts had been based on “broad brush assumptions for a relatively smooth (Brexit) outcome”. The OBR said that approach would continue “in the absence of any specific information”.
Javid said: “This will be the first Budget after leaving the EU. I will be setting out our plan to shape the economy for the future and triggering the start of our infrastructure revolution.”
He has pledged to announce infrastructure spending on hospitals, roads, railways and broadband worth billions of pounds.
However, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the full Budget would be postponed and the 6th November announcement would be “a simple economic statement” as the OBR forecasts will be irrelevant.
Robert Chote, Chairman of the OBR, told the Treasury select committee last month: “Given the complexity of the forecast and policy scrutiny processes... we cannot produce parallel forecasts on both bases.”
The Budget is the Government's yearly announcement on its plans for tax and spending for the coming financial year, which starts in April 2020.
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