Rishi Sunak: A year in review

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Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

Exactly one year on from Rishi Sunak’s appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer, amidst rumours of tax increases which have left businesses concerned and confused, the Chancellor needs to show his hand and publish the plan for economic recovery, say tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.

Nimesh Shah CEO of the firm, shared his views with Business Leader about how well Sunak has done in the role over the last year.

Rishi Sunak has shown his stubborn side on more than one occasion in his first 12 months in the job. He needs to act quickly and forcefully, and he should confirm an extension to the furlough scheme and other business support measures to the end of 2021, with an overlapping package of new measures to aid the economic recovery.”

The Chancellor can’t afford to be stubborn and needs a clear plan to lead the economy to recovery, ‘whatever it takes’.

Sunak looked like he had run out of ideas towards the end of 2020.  The Chancellor’s star has faded considerably since the early weeks of his appointment last Spring.

Sunak started-off strongly, reacting quickly to the major economic shock of the March lockdown and the introduction of his flagship support package – the furlough scheme.

However, what followed was a piecemeal set of measures intended to wean the country away from Government support as soon as possible.  The Chancellor struggled with keeping the country on economic life support against his own desire of fiscal responsibility.  In hindsight, the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme and SDLT cut were positive failures, when in reality, a clearer line of sight was required around long-term business support.

Sunak’s lack foresight is concerning, with some now starting to question whether he is up to leading the country through the economic recovery, citing his inexperience as a weakness. The Chancellor did a fantastic job to introduce the furlough scheme and the immediate package of support, but what followed has been underwhelming.

The UK’s businesses are desperate for certainty and the Chancellor needs to announce his plan now, and before the Budget.  Businesses and workers need a forward line of sight, who have been hit hard by the pandemic and more recently Brexit.

Without question, the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury has faced the most gruelling 12 months and there are not many in the current Government that would have been up to the challenge.

When he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer last February, he could not have imagined the 12 months ahead of him. As Britain’s second youngest Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has faced economic challenges in a year that most of his predecessors would not have faced during their entire term.

Sunak is now facing his greatest challenge. He needs to get the country back on its feet, and provide businesses with a clear package of support through to the end of year; he must not rush into short-term tax increases before businesses have re-established themselves and there is a real risk that the country will fall further behind and the recession prolonged.

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