Anton Colella: Time to stop this Budget burnout

Icas chief Anton Colella says goverments should be restricted to just two Budget statements every five years. Picture: Contributed
Icas chief Anton Colella says goverments should be restricted to just two Budget statements every five years. Picture: Contributed
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Budget frenzy, once again, grips our nation’s boardrooms and finance teams.

While many of the headlines focus on the “sugar tax”, it’s the current approach to British Budgets that leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Icas chartered accountants and our colleagues will spend much of today trying to work out what this Budget means for our clients and for the companies we work for.

While some might find this good fun, is this really the best way to run corporate Britain?

We have now had four big fiscal moments in 12 months. First, we had the March 2015 Budget, when the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition (remember them?) set out their stall for the general election. Then the new Conservative government held a Budget in July and a Spending Review and Autumn Statement in November. And now the “sugar tax” budget.

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Each budget has been preceded with a dance of the seven veils as various policies are run up the flag pole and then run down again.

Each has then been followed by thousands of hours of business time analysing what it means and how we should respond. In between we have a lot of speculation.

For instance, the much-previewed new pension reforms which had that industry on frightened tenterhooks, until those plans disappeared into dust last weekend. As a previous Prime Minister once said, “This is no way to run a whelk stall.”

Today, I suggest a new approach. Restrict any government to two major Budget statements across a five-year term. This would reduce the uncertainty for British business.

• Anton Colella is chief executive of Icas, the global body for chartered accountants