Spring statement: the fintech industry reacts 

The Chancellor’s latest budget received a mixed response from the public and the fintech sector.

With limited room for fiscal movement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, delivered his Spring statement on 6 March 2024.

The Chancellor’s red briefcase contained measures which set out the government’s plans for tax and spending, from a 2p cut to employee national insurance contributions to a continuation of the fuel duty freeze. 

Whether these measures can influence the British public ahead of the next general election or not remains to be seen. But in the aftermath, the fintech sector had its say on what was or wasn’t in the statement. 

A mixed bag for SMEs and start-ups…

In the last budget, the Chancellor’s permanent introduction of full expensing and the merging of the two existing R&D schemes into one was welcomed universally by businesses. This helped SMEs and start-ups with their cash flow and fuelled investment. 

In this statement, the Chancellor announced that full expensing for businesses will now apply to leased assets “when affordable” in future. The Recovery Loan Scheme is also being extended and renamed as the Growth Guarantee Scheme. The Chancellor cited that the extra £200 million committed to the scheme would help 11,000 SMEs to access the funding they need. While the VAT registration threshold for businesses upped from £85,000 to £90,000. 

However, many believe the support for SMEs falls short. Laurent Descout, co-founder and CEO of Neo said: “It is disappointing the Chancellor has not listened to the calls of SMEs for further support by bringing capital expenditure within the scope of the R&D scheme, which is already taking place in France and Ireland.

“Businesses are struggling to deal with soaring interest rates, late payments and difficulties accessing necessary funding. This decision heightens the uncertainty for the growth of tech start-ups and the UK’s position as a leading fintech and innovation hub.”

ISAs, bonds and share sales

The Chancellor announced a new British ISA which will allow a £5,000 annual investment into UK businesses. It includes all the tax advantages of other ISAs and will be implemented on top of the existing allowances.

There was also a new British Savings Bond through National Savings and Investments, giving savers a guaranteed fixed rate of 3% for three years – on sale in early April 2024.

Jeremy Hunt also signalled that the government would proceed with the sale of NatWest shares, taking place this summer at the earliest, subject to market conditions and value for money.

The government intends to fully exit its shareholding in NatWest Group by 2025-26, subject to supportive market conditions and sales representing value for money.  As we previously explored, the government believe this new ‘Tell Sid’ campaign will help boost retail participation amongst the British public.


Alongside the Budget, the Treasury published a consultation on its proposals for a Private Intermittent Securities and Capital Exchange System (PISCES). This will allow unlisted companies to sell shares on an exchange, helping to diversify ownership by allowing venture capital to relinquish some of their stakes. 

Plans for an ‘intermittent trading venue’ were first proposed by Jeremy Hunt in the Edinburgh Reforms in December 2022 to bolster London’s competitiveness and appeal to investors and companies. 

Looking ahead…

In the Red Book, there was a reference to DLT with the Government committing to examine the possible applications and benefits of applying DLT to a sovereign debt instrument. Some believe there is still much more to do to ensure the UK retains its status as a global hub for financial innovation.

Jack Fletcher, Head of Policy & Government Relations (Digital Currencies) at R3 said, “I would have liked to hear more about plans to encourage innovation in the UK’s financial sector. The introduction of specific regulatory measures to guide the development of innovative tools, like distributed ledger technology, will help to distinguish the UK as a leader in initiatives such as accelerated settlement and central bank digital currencies.”

 “The UK has made good progress with its plans for a digital pound, but choosing the right technology will be the key to its success. The government must prioritise privacy and smart regulation to realise the potential of a digital pound.”

“It’s simple – for London to retain its status as a global hub for financial services and collaborate on building more connected global financial markets, technology must be at the heart of its strategy.”


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