13 March 2020: Forecast deficits increase with new spending announced in the Spring Budget, even before the impact of the coronavirus.
13 March 2020. Chart research by Martin Wheatcroft FCA, design by Sunday. ©ICAEW 2020
Source: HM Treasury, ‘Spring Budget 2020’. 2020-21 excludes £12bn additional funding in response to the coronavirus.
The sheer scale of the Spring Budget 2020 spending announcements are difficult to comprehend, but the #icaewchartoftheweek makes an attempt by illustrating their effect on the fiscal deficit compared with the previous forecast.
The budgeted deficit in the coming financial year is expected to increase by £15bn to £55bn, even before taking account of the emergency £12bn to respond to the coronavirus that was decided after the forecasts were finalised. The deficit is also expected to be much greater than the previous forecast in each of the subsequent years, albeit there was no previous official forecast for 2024-25.
The increase in the deficit in 2020-21 of £15bn reflects higher spending of £19bn less £1bn in higher taxes and £3bn in other forecast revisions. The spending increases in the subsequent four years are even greater, with an extra £46bn on average a year before taking account of £7bn a year in higher taxes, £8bn a year from the indirect boost to the economy that the incremental spending and investment should provide, as well as an average of £3bn a year in other forecast revisions.
The big uncertainty is how much the UK and global economies will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic in addition to the existing economic headwinds and changes in the trading relationships with other countries in the EU and elsewhere in 2021. These risks could potentially reduce tax revenues significantly, leading to even greater fiscal deficits than those presented by the Chancellor on Wednesday.