Government Chief Whips and Deputy Chief Whips in the Commons and Lords since 1945
In the Autumn Statement, the Government updates the Commons on the state of the economy, and at times, announces tax and spending decisions.
What happens during the Autumn Statement?
The Autumn Statement usually takes place in October or November, and is delivered by the Chancellor in the Commons chamber. Procedurally, the statement runs in the same way as any other ministerial statement.
After the statement, the Shadow Chancellor responds, and then other MPs ask questions about the statement. The Chancellor remains in their place and answers questions put by MPs in relation to the statement from across the Commons. The Speaker presides over the beginning of the proceeding.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the independent public finances forecaster, publishes its economic and fiscal outlook on the same day. The Chancellor responds to the OBR’s forecasts during the speech.
Does the Chancellor announce tax and spending changes during the Autumn Statement?
Sometimes. The Budget is the main fiscal event of the year, where the most significant tax and spending changes are usually included. However, the Chancellor can announce changes to taxes and spending during the Autumn Statement.
What happens after the Autumn Statement?
It depends. If the statement does not include changes that are to come into force before the next Budget, then the proceedings end as the statement ends (again, similarly to other ministerial statements).
If the Chancellor announces changes to taxes, then legislation may have to follow. An example of this was the 2022 Autumn Statement.
What happened at Autumn Statement 2022?
As the ‘minor’ statement on the economy, the Autumn Statement usually does not include major tax and spending decisions and would normally not be followed by a bill. However in 2022, the statement was followed by a Finance Bill (now the Finance Act 2023).
The procedure followed by the 2022 Autumn Statement was, in most respects, similar to a Budget, even though it was called something different.
The introduction of a Finance Bill after a non-Budget statement followed the Truss administration’s Growth Plan, a statement on the economy which included proposals for significant changes to the tax system, but was published without independent analysis by the OBR.
The Government introduced the Finance Bill following the Autumn Statement to stabilise the public finances and to provide certainty to the markets, as explained by then Exchequer Secretary James Cartlidge.
Should there be an ‘Autumn’ Statement?
Since 2018, Treasury standard practice involves the Chancellor delivering two fiscal statements a year, which are usually accompanied by the OBR’s economic and fiscal outlooks.
The Budget would be in the autumn, and a shorter, minor statement on the economy would take place in the spring – known as the Spring Statement. This system was devised to avoid having two major fiscal events in a single tax year, and to give Parliament and others more time to scrutinise draft legislation.
Has this happened in practice?
No. Because of several reasons (such as the timing of the 2019 General Election and the Covid-19 pandemic) successive fiscal statements between 2020 and 2022 have not matched standard practice.
Since 2019, there have been statements by chancellors which included major tax and spending announcement outside the scope of the Budget or the Autumn or Spring Statement, such as:
- The July 2020 ‘summer statement’, where Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out the Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’
- A statement by Rishi Sunak in September 2020 where he announced Government plans to support the UK during the winter months
- A statement in October 2020, also by Rishi Sunak, which extended the lifespan of the support schemes previously launched
- The September 2022 ‘Growth Plan’ statement by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.
The timetable of recent fiscal events has followed what traditionally was the fiscal calendar before changes implemented in 2018. This involves a Budget event held in the spring, and a statement on the economy in the Autumn.
Can the public suggest tax and spending changes for the Autumn statement?
Yes. As part of the policy-making process, the Government gives the public the opportunity to write a submission to the Treasury to suggest policy or to comment on existing policy, so that it can be considered for the statement. For instance, the Government accepted representations for the Autumn Statement 2023 until 13 October 2023.
A similar practice is also followed for Budget statements.
House of Commons Library, Autumn Statement 2023: Background briefing
About the Author: Francesco Masala is a researcher in the Business and Transport Section of the House of Commons Library. He specialises in taxation policy.
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