Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Give a little here, take a little there

Written by Kyle MacIntyre, senior client manager
Edited by Scott Reid, associate partner
24 March 2022

Good morning,

The Chancellor delivered a Spring Statement yesterday that he says puts billions of pounds back into the pockets of hard-working people, but many others argue does very little to help with the challenge of rising living costs today.   

What he’d previously hoped would be an update on the economic outlook, rather than a budget, was superseded by global events and rising living costs – not least Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – forcing the chancellor to respond in kind.

The backdrop to the statement was bleak. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said this year would see “the biggest fall in living standards in any single financial year since ONS records began in 1956-57.”

Announcements in the statement included a 5p reduction to fuel duty; giving local authorities another £500m for the Household Support Fund to help vulnerable households with rising living costs; and raising the National Insurance threshold to £12,570. The Institute for Fiscal Studies reckons the net outcome of the National Insurance increase vs the uplift in the threshold will mean those with an income of £35,000 or below should pay less.

And in what is an eye catching but arguably opportunistic move, he pre-announced a 1p reduction to income tax that will come before the end of this parliament in 2024 – potentially a useful indicator not to expect an early general election. While that change doesn’t come for another two years, the SNP are already under pressure to say what this will mean for taxpayers north of the border.

Reaction to the statement hasn’t been warm. As you would expect, virtually all opposition parties were quick to slam the measures for not going far enough, with the SNP saying Sunak has “completely abandoned” those on the lowest incomes.

Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation said “the Chancellor has prioritised burnishing his tax cutting credentials over support for the low-to-middle income households hardest hit by this cost-of-living storm.“ While personal finance mogul Martin Lewis – who has recently made waves in the debate – said “for many it is still peanuts compared to the cost of living crisis.”

In short, as we all see our bills rising, it’s likely many won’t see much change off the back of yesterday’s statement.

What we did see was a political shift change; from the big spending approach of the last couple of years, to what we have come to expect from Conservative chancellors, with much talk of balancing the books and cutting taxes.

News

US President Joe Biden joins fellow Western leaders in Brussels on Thursday for three summits on Russia’s war in Ukraine, a month after the invasion began. The BBC reports that Nato, the G7 and the EU will hold joint meetings in a display of unity rarely seen among the West.

Speaking ahead of a gathering of Nato leaders in Brussels, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is set to agree to reinforce its eastern flank with a major new deployment of combat ready troops to Central and Eastern Europe.

Madeleine Albright, who served as US secretary of state in the Clinton administration, has died at the age of 84. The first woman to hold the position, she rose to power and fame as an analyst of world affairs before serving as an aggressive advocate of Clinton’s policies. (£)

Business and economy

The BBC reports that doubts have been cast on a claim by Boris Johnson that the sudden sacking of 800 workers by P&O Ferries may have broken UK employment law.

Russia plans to demand payments for natural gas purchases from European nations in rubles, deepening its standoff with the West and potentially aggravating Europe’s worst energy crunch since the 1970s.

Blackrock chairman Larry Fink has warned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will reshape the world economy and further drive up inflation by prompting companies to pull back from their global supply chains. (£)

Columns of Note

Robert Shrimsley for the Financial Times suggests that while Sunak has long been a “lucky politician” – that luck may be running out. He has delivered a highly political mini-Budget which appeases his MPs and helps target voters, but the pressures are not going away. (£)

Max Hastings writes a very thoughtful piece in The Times about the war in Ukraine: “Only one consideration should dominate western actions. Not, what is in the best interests of our troubled consciences? Instead, what serves the least bad interests of the Ukrainian people?” (£)

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks turned negative to close below the waterline on Wednesday, after a much-anticipated Spring Statement from the Chancellor left many market watchers disappointed.

The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.22% at 7,460.63, and the FTSE 250 was off 0.52% at 21,001.62.

In company news:

Watches of Switzerland Group gained 1.92%.

TP ICAP was up 12.53%, rising strongly for the second consecutive day after an upgrade by Shore Capital on Tuesday to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’.

Reckitt slid 4.46% after a downgrade to ‘underperform’ at Jefferies, while Beazley was off 0.88% after a downgrade to ‘hold’ at HSBC.

Safety equipment company Halma reversed earlier gains to close down 0.52%, even after reporting “good progress” so far in the second half of its trading year.

Housebuilders were also under pressure, with Persimmon down 2.45%, Barratt Developments losing 4.11% and Taylor Wimpey 3.95% weaker.

What’s happening today?

AGMThrogmorton TrustLpaInd.inv.tstRights &Iss.N4 Pharma PlcGunsyndReact GroupLg Elec Gds SHyundai Mtr.gdrCaledonia MinFinal ResultsSecure TrustRobinsonEve Sleep

Bonhill GroupBridgepointSopheonVenture LifeArbuthnotWag PaymentAtalaya MiningStarwood EurPlaytechInternational Economic Announcements(13:30) Durable Goods Orders (US)(13:30) Current Account (US)(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

National Insurance was first introduced in 1911, creating a national system of insurance to protect working people against loss of income relating to sickness or unemployment. (Source: The Health Foundation)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral QuestionsDigital, Culture, Media and Sport (including Topical Questions)Attorney GeneralBusiness StatementBusiness Questions to the Leader of the HouseBackbench BusinessDebate on a Motion on War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme PaymentsGeneral Debate on the impact of Long Covid on the UK WorkforceAdjournmentLower Thames CrossingWestminster HallWorld TB Day 2022

Scottish parliament 

Parliamentary Bureau MotionsGeneral QuestionsFirst Minister’s QuestionsMembers’ BusinessS6M-02874 Miles Briggs: World Tuberculosis Day 2022Parliamentary Bureau MotionsPortfolio QuestionsRural Affairs and IslandsMinisterial StatementA Retail Strategy for ScotlandTackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-26Scottish Government DebateTackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-26Legislation Consent MotionBuilding Safety Bill (UK Legislation)Business MotionsParliamentary Bureau MotionsDecision Time

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