Minister hints at budget delay

Next month’s budget could be delayed in the wake of Sajid Javid’s resignation, a minister has hinted.

The chancellor quit after being ordered by Boris Johnson to fire his closest aides and replace them with advisers chosen by Number 10 – something “any self-respecting minister” would reject.

Many commentators saw his departure, following reported tensions between him and the PM’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings, as putting the date of the March 11 budget into doubt.

Downing Street has already refused to guarantee that it will go ahead and, when Sophy Ridge put the question to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Sky News yesterday, he said: “I know that the budget plans are well advanced but I also know that Rishi Sunak, the new chancellor, may want time.

“I haven’t heard whether the date of March is confirmed as yet. He is probably looking at it, I should think this week.”
More than fifty of the UK’s leading retailers last week wrote to the former Chancellor calling for reforms to business rates in next month’s budget.

The letter, sent under the umbrella of the British Retail Consortium, focused on fixing transitional relief, which limits the speed at which a firm’s business rates liability changes in response to changes in its rateable value.

They are calling on the government to “address many of the challenges posed by business rates” and also urges the Chancellor to effect a freeze in the business rates multiplier, introduce an “Improvement Relief” for ratepayers, and ensure the Valuation Office Agency is “fully resourced” to do its job.

It came only days after the Institute of Directors urged the Government to “unleash entrepreneurialism” across the UK in its Budget submission.

During the Sky interview, Mr Shapps also denied suggestions that Mr Cummings was “all powerful” in Whitehall. He cited the decision to proceed with the HS2 high speed rail link – a project Mr Cummings is known to be against.