The Autumn Statement is coming up in early December, and with little wriggle room in the UK economy still, commentators are wondering what George Osborne will actually be able to do.
Critics are already pointing to the number of tax increases that have taken place under the current coalition government, conflicting with David Cameron’s claims that he wants to cut taxes in general.
So in an economy that is likely to mean any Budget changes need to be fiscally neutral, the Chancellor may have to tread carefully if he is to achieve a headline-grabbing gesture as he has done in recent years.
For SMEs, it could be that we see some new measures to ease the burden of business rates which, although they represent a substantial source of income for the Exchequer, are likely to be a key bargaining chip in the run-up to the general election.
A gesture on this might help to stop the smallest of businesses from feeling neglected, following recent criticism that SMEs have been left out of previous budgetary changes.
However, it could be that the Chancellor takes steps to encourage growth even more directly, perhaps through tax incentives for innovative and high-growth firms.
R&D tax credits have become increasingly accessible in recent years, and some economists believe the Autumn Statement might be used to introduce tax relief as a general reward for innovation and growth.
Meanwhile, the UK’s corporation tax rate of 20% could be a target for further cuts, according to some commentators.
It’s been a long-term target, as part of the government’s attempts to make the UK more competitive on the international stage.
But with the 20% rate already competing well against many other economies in Europe and beyond, dropping the percentage any further would come as a generous gesture, rather than a necessity.
Perhaps this, or something similar, will be the headline-grabber this December; but with the measures made likely to be fairly fiscally neutral overall, the Chancellor might simply not have the money in the coffers to drop corporation tax any more than he has already done in previous years.