March 15, 2023
Taken from an article published in FN London here: Spring Budget 2023: City reacts to Jeremy Hunt’s plans for growth (fnlondon.com)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered some welcome news in his 15 March Budget that the UK will not enter recession. Hunt focused on growth in the first full Budget since his October appointment. But will his promises deliver for the City? Financial News turned to some of the Square Mile's leaders to find out.
UK Finance CEO David Postings
“This is a Budget that supports growth up and down the country through its focus on levelling up, getting more people into work and incentivising business investment. It delivers certainty and support to those struggling with their finances during this challenging time, a key focus for the banking and finance industry.”
Centre for London research director Claire Harding
“To see London being ignored in the government’s list of areas shortlisted for investment zones to boost innovation is concerning. They should be making best use of the capital’s expertise and resources to support growth in every region of the UK, rather than level London down.
The bigger challenge for many London businesses is to do with workforce shortages. We need to see a rigorous skills strategy that prepares Londoners for the challenges of the future, particularly in facilitating the capital’s low-carbon economy.”
Hargreaves Lansdown head of money and markets Susannah Streeter
"Given that the cost-of-living crisis is still proving painful, economic activity is still likely to be slow to power up and a period of stagflation, not super-charged growth, is still expected... It’s going to still be a hard slog ahead.”
Quilter Investors chief investment officer Marcus Brookes
“For investors, the UK remains somewhat of a difficult place to judge right now despite the improving picture. With financials dominating the UK market the macroeconomic backdrop will weigh on share prices and it seems conditions could deteriorate further. It is environments such as this that highlights the importance of investing in quality companies with resilient revenue streams and that will benefit from the Government’s policies.”
R3 chief economist Alisa DiCaprio
“The original Big Bang was about deregulation, but Big Bang 2.0 must set out smart regulation. The introduction of targeted regulatory measures around exciting tools like distributed ledger technology will help distinguish the UK as a leader in initiatives such as accelerated settlement and central bank digital currencies.
Doing so will ensure that the City remains at the forefront of financial services innovation — helping promote the Chancellor’s agenda to not only strengthen the economy, but also position the UK as the next ‘Silicon Valley’.”
CEO of real estate stock exchange IPSX Roger Clarke
“None of the measures put forward adequately address the evident issues in the market that have seen London lose ground to New York in attracting and retaining listed companies. If the government is serious about supporting London’s capital markets performance then we must move towards implementing the sound proposals outlined in the Edinburgh Reforms, including a reversal of the MIFID II policy which effectively decimated opportunities for small and mid-cap companies to access investors.”
Blick Rothenberg partner and head of corporate tax Genevieve Morris
"The Chancellor’s ‘tax cut’ for businesses represents a timing difference only: it’s a headline grabber but with no real cost to the Government. It will only benefit the biggest of companies as most companies would have been covered by the annual investment allowance anyway."
Silicon Valley Bank rescue
Blick Rothenberg director Simon Rothenberg
"Is now the moment that the high street banks are made to realise that it is vital that new start-ups and fast growth businesses are given the support they need from banks rather than the 'computer says no' approach which they have at the moment? This is why Silicon Valley Bank grew so fast: they understood the needs of such businesses like no one else does and now these companies need a ‘home’ to go to.
The high street bank approach is one reason there are so many alternative financing options out there and many of them are open to unknown risk for business."
GoCardless UK MD Pat Phelan
“We didn’t hear much about a huge lever for growth, one which, after his efforts this weekend, the Chancellor clearly believes in: our ‘world-beating’ tech sector. In order to maintain our lead, we must grasp every opportunity to create the right environment for UK tech to thrive.
There’s a lot to do but there are two opportunities to act on right now.”
R3 chief economist Alisa DiCaprio
“If London is to retain its status as a global hub for financial services, then technology must be at the heart of its strategy. Westminster has made welcome progress in creating the right environment for financial services to innovate with technology — such as its consultation on the digital pound and proposals to regulate crypto assets — but it is vital that the government maintains momentum and ensures good policy delivers world-leading market conditions.
We look forward to hearing more about the Treasury’s support for other fintech initiatives, like the FMI sandbox and accelerated settlement taskforce, to ensure the UK remains at the cutting edge of financial services innovation.”
BlackRock Investment Institute UK Chief Investment Strategist Vivek Paul
"The near-term outlook remains challenged for UK and global risk assets, but there will come a point to turn positive again. The Windsor Framework agreement should set the table for a better future UK-EU relationship. The government and opposition have both moved back towards centre ground in recent years. And the prospect of a break-up of the UK is diminished vs. the recent past.
But the UK’s standing in the eyes of international investors is not where it was a decade ago – and rebuilding a reputation can be slow. Risk premia can resurface; be wary of this as the election battlelines get drawn up in the 18 months ahead, and the market tests the UK’s willingness and ability to stimulate growth while balancing the books."
Annual and lifetime pensions allowances
Blick Rothenberg partner, Robert Pullen
"The yo-yo game on pensions is incredibly unhelpful for savers. Either the government do or do not want people to save for their retirement. Increasing the allowance, or abolishing it altogether, after recently restricting it so far, just confirms to younger individuals they can't plan with any certainty.
"This is very much ‘the tinker budget’. No real substance, all froth."
President of the Society of Pension Professionals Steve Hitchiner
"They affect relatively few people in practice. It remains to be seen whether this will achieve the Chancellor’s aim of encouraging older professionals to stay in work or those out of work, to return."
My Pension Expert director Lily Megson
"Abolishing the lifetime allowance is eye-catching – but it only affects the most affluent earners. Indeed, in the year leading up to April 2020, only 42,350 breached the allowance.
“The Chancellor missed an opportunity to help people of all wealth brackets. Looking beyond the figures, it’s disappointing not to see wider support – like improved access to pension information or affordable independent financial advice – being provided to those who need it. No one should feel the need to return to work because they feel pressure – from the government or otherwise – to do so.”
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