Bishop Fleming has accused the Chancellor of missing an opportunity to be “bold, imaginative and transformative” in his Spring Statement, which was announced today.

The firm, which delivers accounting, tax, corporate restructuring and advisory, says the Statement lacked the “vibrancy of the season”, preferring instead to retain the “cold blast of winter”, with any good news left until the autumn Budget and the 2019 Spending Review.

Bishop Fleming’s head of tax, Andrew Browne, commented: “The Chancellor’s statement didn’t spring any major surprises, but instead was a masterpiece of understatement, lacking the vision needed for a country just 12 months from Brexit.”

The Chancellor’s measures were all “jam tomorrow,” said Browne, adding that it was needed now whilst there was still something to spread it on.

There was a call for evidence on the impact of the VAT threshold on small businesses, following on from the Chancellor’s suggestion last year that it be substantially reduced from its current figure of £85k.

Andrew Browne

Browne commented: “We need to fundamentally look at how VAT works for businesses of all sizes after we leave the EU, so that it works for the UK’s benefit and does not discourage businesses from scaling up. There are already problems for small firms after last year’s freezing of the VAT threshold, with businesses trying to keep their turnover below £85k whilst at the same time battling rising business rates, the National Living Wage and pension auto-enrolment.”

The Chancellor did announce that the next revaluation of properties for business rates would be brought forward by one year, but there was no hint of the fundamental root-and-branch reform needed to stop the high street crumbling under the weight of this iniquitous tax, said Browne.

The Bishop Fleming partner added: “The Chancellor’s statement lacked the vison needed to bring our system up to speed and ready to do business with the rest of the world.”

He slammed the statement for failing to tackle the real issues facing businesses, such as rates reform, tax complexity and red tape, and at the same time ignoring the looming cash crisis in our schools and healthcare sectors.