What are we likely to expect from Tax Day following the Budget announcements?

What are we likely to expect from Tax Day following the Budget announcements?

Falling on the 15th March, the ‘Ides of March’ was traditionally a date in the Roman Calendar for the ‘settling of debts’ and of course the fateful assassination of Julius Caesar!

Not quite as eventful as the assassination of Caesar, but nevertheless a date worth watching this month is the 23rd March. This is because behind all the Chancellor’s political chutzpah of his Spring Budget which aimed to keep the economy on life support and plan some ways of clawing it back; the 23rd March is the day when we will get a real sense of what the Treasury is planning to hit us with next!

So what do we know already? Well the Chancellor’s plan to increase corporation tax from its current rate of 19% to 25% from 2023 onwards is well documented, as is the Chancellor’s plan to freeze tax thresholds and inheritance tax, in order to push more people into those higher tax brackets. This is remarkable in itself, making it the largest tax-raising budget since 1993 under Norman Lamont, involving £12bn increase in corporation tax and £9bn of personal tax rises.

What we don’t know yet however, is the full extent of the documents and consultations that would have been traditionally published on Budget day, but this year will be published on 23rd March dubbed as UK “tax day”.

This day long awaited by financial experts three weeks after the Budget will be a real indicator for the long-term changes in Government tax policy, including for example future changes to capital gains tax. Tax professionals say this break from tradition could also give the Chancellor an opportunity to signal his intent on further big tax changes to come – including potential tax rises in the future – outside the crowded time of Budget day.

The Chancellor will in effect on 23rd March set the agenda for the autumn; signalling what is going to come.

A lot of criticism was levelled at the Budget for not doing enough around green growth and taxation. The 23rd March could be the perfect time to announce consultations on how to tax carbon while creating incentives for green energy innovation. The UK will be hosting the UN Cop26 international climate talks in November, perfect for around the time of the Autumn Statement.

It’s worth noting that publishing tax consultations after the Budget would also buy the Government time to assess the public’s appetite for possible changes. The three-week window may allow the Government to gauge the public’s reaction to the high-level measures and potentially change the amount of those consultations. Experts predict that as many as 30 new revenue raising measures could be published by the Treasury.

Pending what is published, the general reaction to the Budget has been positive to the Government. Business has reacted pretty favourably so far and a You Gov poll published after the Budget gave the Conservatives a 13-point lead over Labour. The combination of the continued success of the vaccine programme; the well-received spending plans and the easing of lockdown restrictions is likely to lead to a ‘strong’ Conservative showing in the May local elections according to pollsters. This is not such good news for Labour leader Keir Starmer; with one senior policy member describing the outlook as “grim” and warning that matters are likely to worsen for the labour leadership over the summer. We will see.

What we do know is that the Chancellor is politically playing a game of two halves. Despite the early warnings to “level with the people” and embark on a programme of tax rises to repair the public finances. This was expectation management. The Budget on the 3rd March was laced with sugar. The nastier stuff has been pushed back by at least two years.

However, we won’t know until 23rd March how much nastier it will be, so “Beware the Ides of March”.

Further political analysis post-Budget will be provided by Alex Challoner, Managing Director, on 18th March with CBI panel as Cavendish Advocacy becomes a sponsor, along with YouGov, of the Government Affairs Network of the CBI. Find out more here.

Note to Prime Minister: from his “virtual” Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS)

Note to Prime Minister: from his “virtual” Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS)

Indulge me for a few moments but let us imagine that I am the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS). What would my candid advice be to Boris Johnson as Parliament return? Here is what I would say:

Dear Prime Minister,

You appointed me to be your eyes and ears in Parliament to help keep you abreast of developments before they engulf us.  So, here are my top 5 observations as we enter the autumn session:

1. Colleagues – and by that, I mean old and new intake – have come back in the foulest of moods from their summer holidays. In fact, I have never known a time quite like it.  In the space of a few days I have been told everything from the “party is in a bad way and new MPs are very depressed” to “there is a lot of unhappiness amongst colleagues about the current situation”. These are some of the milder comments. Amongst old and new MPs there is a general sense the Government is drifting off course and if nothing is done about it then it could cause longer term damage. The chorus of MPs expressing disapproval about the Government’s general handling is growing louder by the day and it is imperative that the Government is seen to get back on the front foot after the summer debacle. I know that is not easy in the middle of a pandemic and a severe economic downturn, but colleagues are sick and tired of being caught off guard by Government announcements which can change by the minute. There is a lot of grumbling about the whipping situation and it might be a good idea to put a member of the new intake into the Whip’s office as a morale booster for the new intake?

2. Members are getting a very rough ride when they return to their constituencies and are faced by disgruntled councillors, many of whom could be out of a job soon. Our local government base is up in arms about our proposed changes for reorganisation and many feel they will be side-lined when the Government publishes its plans for more Metro Mayors and Unitary Authorities. This is on top of planning reform White Paper which, depending which area of the country you live in, could see a significant rise in housing numbers. A combination of these two so quickly could inflame already hot tempers. Could there be a way of delaying the plans for further devolution until the New Year at least?

3. Some colleagues are getting jumpy by the prospect of a collapse in trade talks with the EU, and I am not talking about the usual suspects! The proposal to rewrite parts of the Withdrawal Agreement as part of the Internal Market Bill; some believe this leaves us exposed to running roughshod over international treaty obligations. If we can suddenly re-write clauses of an agreed treaty, how we can be judged seriously if say we are telling China to respect its international treaty obligations to Hong Kong? For some colleagues this does not bode well. On top of this, an imminent collapse of talks would be a gift for the SNP ahead of Holyrood Elections next year. How can we dial down the rhetoric between ourselves and the EU on this matter?

4. Several colleagues have questioned the need for a No10 press conference from October onwards to take the place of lobby briefings. Aside from finding the right person to head up these daily briefings, some MPs are concerned we are spending too much time focusing on the delivery of our message at the expense of the substance of our message. Would it not be a better use of time and resources to find someone within No10 to help shape the over-arching message for the Government as it begins to articulate a vision for the UK as we emerge out of the pandemic?

5. Back again on the trade deal, between ourselves and the EU are we creating a rod for our own backs with any new occupant of the White House? Colleagues have been struck by the willingness of senior Congressmen to come forward to denounce any proposals which might lead to a harder border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This would pose a real obstacle to any future trade deal between the UK and the US – we cannot risk that, surely?

I appreciate all above points are part of a bigger, fast-moving picture and chain of events within the Government but thought as your “Virtual PPS” that I should bring to this your attention.

Yours sincerely,

While the observations are mine the quotes are real and if left ignored could pose real problems for the Government longer-term. Between now & Christmas, Covid aside, the Government needs a stronger centre to deliver a narrative that instils confidence in MPs across its backbenches & to demonstrate that it has a plan and a vision for the country.

BECG acquires and re-launches Cavendish as Cavendish Advocacy

BECG acquires and re-launches Cavendish as Cavendish Advocacy

BECG has acquired public affairs consultancy, Cavendish, and re-launched the business as Cavendish Advocacy.

Cavendish Advocacy brings together in-depth national and international public affairs expertise with innovative digital communications, creating a leading political advocacy business advising clients how to succeed in our fast-moving and interconnected world.

Cavendish Advocacy will continue to trade as a separate company under the refreshed cavendishadvocacy.com brand. With a 17-year track record in government relations advocacy across the UK and internationally, Cavendish’s clients include Google, Starbucks, Infosys, Aster Group, Keolis and Canal & River Trust.

With a world more digitally connected than ever before, Cavendish clients will be able to benefit from integration with BECG’s digital and social media expertise. Cavendish will also benefit from BECG’s UK office network with its expertise, networks and understanding of devolved and regional government.

BECG’s existing government relations clients will have access to Cavendish’s established national and international network, expertise, and experience in political advocacy and government relations. This will strengthen both companies’ ‘levelling up’ service support for clients as the understanding of the interaction between Westminster, regional and local government grows in importance

The founder of Cavendish, Alex Challoner, who has a 25-year track record in political advocacy, will continue as the Managing Director of Cavendish Advocacy and join the Main Board of BECG reporting to BECG CEO Stephen Pomeroy.

CEO of BECG Stephen Pomeroy, said:

“Continuous change is the new-normal across the globe and this acquisition and re-launch of Cavendish Advocacy, which we initiated at the beginning of 2020, provides clients with the digital advocacy services they need to secure commercial success. Covid-19 is posing a huge challenge to the UK but in many respects, it will result in an intensification of the Government’s pre-Covid agenda. 

 

This will manifest itself as a combination of regional, national, and international policy initiatives and we have positioned Cavendish Advocacy to offer thinking, insights, and strategy to help clients navigate this landscape and succeed. This is also an important step to deliver more rapid growth for BECG by offering these sector leading government relations advocacy services to existing clients in the built environment and with Cavendish on board we see fresh development opportunities as the government announces the infrastructure, energy, housing and green agenda for growth.”

Alex Challoner, Cavendish founder said:

“Cavendish and BECG are looking to the future. The onset of Covid-19 will mean the delivery of the government’s agenda in terms of growth, levelling the UK regions and as the UK resets its relationship with the rest of the world outside the EU over the next few years. Cavendish Advocacy and BECG are uniquely placed to take advantage of this agenda and provide services and advice to our clients that meet the challenges of the coming years.

With BECG’s resources behind us we look forward to scaling up our political advocacy work in the UK and globally, and to offering clients innovative communications solutions that help them achieve commercial success in this new world post Covid-19.”

Find out more about our expertise.

New political winds blowing through Whitehall……

New political winds blowing through Whitehall……

Every now and then you get a day when several Government announcements herald a change in direction for the country – Monday 29th June was one of those. Keen to move the UK on from Coronavirus introspection a series of connected speeches & events came together to offer a new focus for the Government & country.

The first of these was the much trailed “Project Speed” or “Build Britain Back” story portrayed in the Mail-on-Sunday coverage of the Prime Ministers & his plans for Britain as we emerge out of the lockdown. A series of measures to pump prime Britain over the next 10 years will be announced by the Prime Minister tomorrow in Dudley. School building is set to be turbo-boosted particularly in key depressed areas of the north & midlands which gave the Prime Minister his 80 strong majority. Further measures are set to be announced by the Chancellor next week as part of a summer stimulus.

The second announcement was the resignation of Sir Mark Sedwill who as National Security Adviser & Head of the UK civil service has played a pivotal role at the side of the current Prime Minister and his predecessor Theresa May. Despite rumours to the contrary, Sir Mark’s departure is a victory for No10 who cast him unfairly as a block to the PM’s plans to emerge faster and quicker from the pandemic. His replacement by David Frost as National Security Adviser & a possible outside appointment to the Head of the UK civil service is a wake up call to Whitehall for further reforms to come.

And if any one didnt clock that; then Michel Gove’s speech on Saturday night which criticised “group think” at the heart of Government was a clear giveaway. In his own Department, the Cabinet Office, this was widely interpreted as a loud klaxon call to shifting fortunes for the Whitehall political class.

Change is coming at unprecedented pace for the UK as we enter the post-Coronavirus recovery phase politically, economically and in the way the UK is governed. Monday 29th June was the day that it really started to come more clearly together.

General Election 2019: Candidates to Watch

General Election 2019: Candidates to Watch

A General Election has always represented an opportunity for change and for political parties it provides a chance to not only strengthen their position in the House of Commons, but also to renew themselves, bring in new talent and assemble a team capable of winning power and holding it in the years to come. Turnover in parliamentarians is an inevitable part of the democratic process and the 2019 General Election is no different, having seen over 70 MPs stand down from Parliament, equating to over a millennium of collective parliamentary experience.

This means not only a fresh intake of candidates to replace departing incumbents, but the unpredictable nature of this election has the potential to see numerous first time MPs elected in constituencies that have changed hands between parties. To anticipate how the House of Commons will change following the election requires an understanding of the background and policy interests of those candidates who may soon sit on the green benches.

Such an understanding enables an organisation to identify those MPs that have the potential to be useful to your organisation, or to climb to the top of the greasy pole where they can then play a meaningful role influencing and developing policy. As a leading public affairs firm, Cavendish Communications works intimately with Westminster and has developed a strong understanding of what is required for an MP to make a success of their Parliamentary career and how best to engage with them on behalf of another organisation.

To help showcase our thinking around this, Cavendish has produced this General Election Candidates Briefing which we hope can shed light on which of the UK’s potential MPs stand out as ones to watch, should they successfully win their constituencies on 12 December.

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