|Scooped by Alessandro Cerboni|
There was an historic, and under-commented development in this week’s Autumn Statement. The Chancellor announced that he was going to abolish it. The announcement was delivered in the form of a rare gag from our new, and self-consciously dry Chancellor, which might explain why its deeper significance was easily lost. This is what he actually said – italics added: This is my first Autumn Statement as Chancellor. After careful consideration, and detailed discussion with the Prime Minister, I have decided that it will also be my last. Mr Speaker, I am abolishing the Autumn Statement. No other major economy makes hundreds of tax changes twice a year, and neither should we. So the spring Budget in a few months will be the final spring Budget. Starting in autumn 2017, Britain will have an autumn Budget, announcing tax changes well in advance of the start of the tax year. From 2018 there will be a Spring Statement, responding to the forecast from the OBR, but no major fiscal event. If unexpected changes in the economy require it, then I will, of course, announce actions at the Spring Statement, but I won’t make significant changes twice a year just for the sake of it. This change will also allow for greater Parliamentary scrutiny of Budget measures ahead of their implementation. Mr Speaker, this is a long-overdue reform to our tax-policy making process and brings the UK into line with best practice recommended by the IMF, IFS, Institute for Government and many others. Credit to the Chancellor. It may yet prove to be the most important announcement and change in policy he ever makes, not just for the timing, but the sentiment behind it. If it opens the door to better scrutiny, better evidence, better public and expert engagement in some of the most important decisions that governments have to take, it will in turn bring better policies and a stronger democracy. In sum, it will be an important step towards a more ‘listening architecture’, and more evidence-based world.