Snapped up or washed up – what’ll be left of the Finance bill?
Here’s some correspondence from one of my most reliable correspondents.
We’ve been told that the current finance bill (longest in history) will now be rushed through in three days not three months.
This either means no scrutiny or debate on stuff that’s currently wrong as drafted like the ‘off payroll’ new rules or that big chunks will be dropped and they’ll just do the bare minimum to allow tax and Ni to be collected legally rather than rely on the deadline embedded in the PCTA (provisional collection of taxes act 1968) of six months and five days.
So for example the increased tax exemption on pensions advice could fall by the wayside to be regurgitated in a second finance bill later this year (assuming a Tory re-election so policies remain as now). This is a bit tricky if you’ve already relied on it as an employer as no one in government is likely to make you aware you’ve now provided a taxable benefit!
Purdah also just means yet another month (we’ve just had one month from 22nd Feb to 20th march) when we are cut off from any stakeholder engagement and given business as usual is falling apart that’s not a good place to be
(Perhaps coincidentally), a commons briefing paper was published on the scrutiny process used on the pension bill on April 13th (less than a week before the Snap Election announcement).
It is designed for MPs and has strong words for the (lack of) parliamentary scrutiny given the budget at the best of times. It quotes the Tax Law Review Committee’s 2003 conclusion.
More than a decade later, we are seeing the most brutal termination of political debate in living memory.
Over the next couple of weeks we will see social media keeping us informed of the reversal of policies on which we have been advising clients in good faith.
This brutal demolition of process demands public protest.
We are living in brutal times. The normal rules of parliamentary democracy are being thrown out to clear the decks for our BREXIT negotiating position.
Attempts to provide useful information to clients about the policy agenda will have to be caveated by “subject to the Brexit negotiations”.
This was never in the “remain” or “leave” script. This is something new and this brutality towards the normal processes of Government is leaving a lot of us cold.
Frankly, politicians are paid to Govern, to manage the political process according to rules established over centuries. The consultations which we “the people” respond to supplement that process. Ordinary people can influence bills through amendments and (as this blog shows) , if you are prepared to state your position effectively, you can have an influence on the rules that govern us.
The defenders of these processes are the people – as well as the politicians – I am deeply concerned – as my correspondent is – that policy is being managed in this way.
This is no way to govern.
You can read Antony Seely’s research paper “the budget and the finance bill” here.