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Minister's decision awaited

Budget date may change, adding to Scots uncertainty

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak: possible new date

New Chancellor Rishi Sunak may delay the date of next month’s Budget in order to give himself more time to prepare, adding more uncertainty over Scotland’s financial settlement.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said there had been no confirmation from the Treasury that it would be held as planned on 11 March, the date set by Sajid Javid before his dramatic resignation last week.

Mr Shapps said in an interview: “I haven’t heard whether the date of March is confirmed as yet. He is probably looking at it, I should think this week.”

Setting the UK Budget for mid-March had already proved controversial as it forced the Scottish Government to announce its own Budget ahead of Westminster.

Scotland’s Budget, which was presented by Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes following the resignation of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, may have to be re-written if Mr Sunak shifts tax and spending commitments substantially away from those indicated by Mr Javid.

Mr Sunak, previously the Treasury chief secretary, is seen as a rising star and more in tune with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans.

Mr Javid clashed with Mr Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings, who was reportedly pressing for the Treasury to relax constraints on public spending.

Despite suggestions that Mr Cummings is the power behind the throne in Downing Street, he failed to persuade the Prime Minister to axe the HS2 project

Mr Shapps said: “It is not the case that things necessarily go Dominic Cummings’ way or anyone else’s.

“Take HS2, a big decision that Dominic had views about, I had views about.

“We discussed it, we discussed our various views, and we came to a conclusion. The idea that just because Dominic thinks something, that’s what happen is clearly not the case.”

UPDATE 17 FEB:

Mr Sunak has been urged to suspend a tax shake-up for self-employed workers after being warned it will cause “enormous damage” to contractors and the wider economy.

Businesses are planning to cut off contractors or delay work while a third of self-employed workers will stop freelancing amid widespread confusion over complying with the new IR35 rules, according to industry bodies.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) warned the contractor market has already been severely affected ahead of changes in April to laws clamping down on tax avoidance.



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