Anyone looking forward to the quiet budget for business that was trailed will not be disappointed. There were few surprises and little new detail. But some important themes remain. The Chancellor re-emphasised the desire to have the most competitive tax system of major economies. Interestingly he considered it enough to re-pledge previously announced reductions. Whether Trump reforms force a reassessment in the autumn remains to be seen.
A focus on a simpler R&D system will make this welcome relief more attractive but those expecting the Chancellor to have taken steps to attract the digital economy may be disappointed that there was no extension of the UK’s innovation regime to include software copyright in the way that key rival regimes do.
The expected focus on tax gap resulted in a few measures at the margin targeted at ‘avoidance’; perhaps the bigger headline was the way in which the difference in treatment between employed, self-employed and shareholders/directors was portrayed as a tax gap of £9.5bn. There is a careful balance to be struck between raising revenue and encouraging the wealth generation from entrepreneurship.
Overall, it was a measured and arguably confident budget that attempted to balance the needs of competitiveness and fairness.