UK Spring Budget: 6 March 2024

This year's Spring Budget, quite possibly the last fiscal event before the general election, takes place on Wednesday 6 March (expected around 12.30).

If there are to be any (further) election “sweeteners”, this is the occasion when they are most likely to feature as the government will want the electorate to feel the benefit of any positive changes before going to the ballot box. Autumn Statement 2023 (22 November – see our analysis) already cut the standard employee National Insurance contribution rate by 2%, to 10%, from 6 January 2024.

The scope for which the Chancellor has opportunity for largesse will depend on the economic position. He is bound by a set of fiscal rules and the independent Office for Budget Responsibility issues an economic forecast alongside the Budget, which it uses to report on whether (in its opinion) the government's policies are likely to meet the fiscal targets.

In relation to pensions, last year's Spring budget announced that the lifetime allowance (LTA) would be abolished from 6 April 2024 (and as an interim step abolished the LTA charge from 6 April 2023). The Finance Bill is removing the LTA concept from the legislative framework, but new controls are being introduced and, with only a very short period until 6 April, there are plenty of areas where certainty is lacking. We suspect that the final pieces of the puzzle may not be available until Budget day.

The Autumn Statement also provided updates on a suite of consultations launched in July 2023, and we expect that the Spring Budget may include further detail/consultations on some of these, plus possibly in other areas, also.

WTW will be reporting here on announcements.

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