Simon McVicker, Director of Policy and Public Affairs:
This Autumn Statement promises to be the defining moment for the new May Government. Chancellor Philip Hammond will have to outline his vision for the UK economy post Brexit. Intrinsically Philip Hammond is considered a more fiscal conservative than it seems Mrs May is after her interventionist Party Conference speech, but we also know that the Chancellor has already said that he was easing up on George Osborne’s ‘austerity’.
However, I do expect him to lay out his plans to bring borrowing down over this and the next Parliament. We will see some focused spending on things like infrastructure, and house building but I will be surprised if there is huge public spending like in Gordon Brown’s days.
Productivity is the new buzz word and I believe something will have to be spent on training to ease the skills gaps in areas such as construction. I think he will be aware that Brexit will bring uncertainty and some turbulence so he will want to be reassuring and not too radical. He will come over as more pro-business than Mrs May did in her Conference speech.
Jordan Marshall, Policy Development Manager:
It is unlikely we will see a repeat of last year’s Autumn Statement when Chairman Mao’s Red Book was being thrown across the Despatch Box. In truth, I think it will be a more understated occasion than was typical in the Osborne years. Philip Hammond will want to tell a positive story with Brexit looming – the rhetoric of austerity will be gone, instead the Chancellor will want to highlight investments in important infrastructure like housing, road and rail. This will be good news for independent professionals who need to travel frequently, but what would be less welcome is if Hammond decides to push ahead with damaging plans to reform IR35 in the public sector.
Andy Chamberlain, IPSE Deputy Director of Policy:
Autumn Statement is when we will hear what’s next for IR35 in the public sector. IPSE and the wider contracting community have been working hard to make the case that putting the responsibility of determining employment status on the client or agency just won’t work. Mr Hammond has the perfect opportunity to make a break from the policies announced under George Osborne.
We’d like to see some announcements that bring forward recommendations made in the Deane review on self-employment. This could mean action on maternity pay or pension provision for people working for themselves.
Adam Waters, Senior Policy Manager:
Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond’s first major fiscal announcement will be about two things – steadying the post-referendum ship, and signalling a departure from Osbornomics.
It will be interesting to see if he retains the previous Chancellor’s interest in the gig economy. Last time round, George Osborne announced two £1,000 tax breaks – one for renting property on the likes of AirBnb, and another for trading.
The Chancellor has previously indicated Government could borrow to invest in much needed infrastructure. This will be good news for freelancers that rely on transport and digital infrastructure, and whose flexibility and expertise are vital in delivering project based work.
Lorence Nye, Economic Affairs Adviser:
At the Conservative conference, Phillip Hammond warned of two years of instability and uncertainty as the British government withdraws from the EU. But I expect the tone from the Chancellor to be more upbeat, particularly if quarter three GDP growth figures outperform prior expectations.
The Bank of England’s recent decision to cut interest rates to a historic low of 0.25%, and £70bn to the quantitative easing programme, may also give Mr Hammond some wiggle room. Look out for additional spending allocated to housing – £1.15bn has recently been added to the £3bn that was previously pledged.
This article originally appeared in IPSE Magazine issue 58.
IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, is the UK’s largest representative body for the self-employed community, including freelancers, contractors, consultants and independent professionals. We exist to support and enable our members, and the wider population of self-employed, through a range of support services, as well as using our active voice in Government and industry to instil positive change for this sector. Cloud9 Umbrella is an IPSE Affiliate.