A leading business figure in Cumbria is predicting a summer post-Brexit budget will follow a “all talk, no action” Spring Statement tomorrow.

While Graham Lamont, chief executive of Lamont Pridmore, expects Chancellor Philip Hammond to make announcements around the IR35 tax avoidance legislation, Making Tax Digital, and funding for mental health, he is not anticipating much “action” as MPs continue to grapple with Britain’s deal to leave the EU.

“There will be a lot of talking, without much doing,” he said on a Spring Statement, which will come a day after MPs vote for a second time on Theresa May’s controversial Brexit deal just two-and-a-half weeks before the deadline for the UK to leave the European Union on March 29.

“He will talk about the good news around the tax take and surplus announced in January, and how that demonstrates the UK is doing really well and is open for business.

“But I suspect the statement will be more about setting out a direction of travel. It will be a fudge. He can’t really say what he is going to spend money on until after Brexit, because there will be industries, such as agriculture and fisheries to name just two, that will need a soft landing when funding sources from the EU disappear.

“There will need to be another budget in the summer because of Brexit.”

Mr Lamont said he was expecting progress on the IR35 legislation – which is designed to combat tax avoidance when workers, who should be employed directly by an organisation or business, provide services via a limited company, typically their own.

“It is not just about the tax avoidance side of things, it is about needing to fill what could be a £20 billion gap in National Insurance by 2020,” he said.

“The legislation is being carried out in publicly-funded bodies such as the BBC, but we expect it to be extended to larger companies.”

A mention for Making Tax Digital, which comes into place in April; environmental taxes; funding for mental health, currently a hot topic for debate; and a potential tax giveaway may also be on the cards, added Mr Lamont.

Jim Meakin, partner and head of tax at accountancy firm Armstrong Watson, admitted to being less optimistic of any tax announcements, which he believes have been “confined” to the Autumn budget.

He echoed the sentiment that Mr Hammond will focus on the positives, despite the strong flow of capital out of the UK economy to other EU countries by financial institutions.

“The real test will be of Mr Hammond’s ability to strike a confident and credible tone about the benefits of at last ending the present uncertainty and even, if we leave on the March 29 without a deal, (which he strongly opposes but which seems a strong possibility), how we will strike out to grasp the opportunities and deal with the challenges that will bring,” added Mr Meakin.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said he did not expect any major tax-and-spend initiatives from a Government “preoccupied” by Brexit.

In addition to the second vote on Theresa May’s deal, a further vote on ruling out a “no deal” Brexit could take place tomorrow and, the following day, a potential decision in Parliament to delay Brexit.

“He may well, however, dangle the carrot of a tax cuts and an increase in public spending should MPs back Theresa May’s deal,” he said.

Mr Johnston said the chancellor could do “one useful thing” by delaying the implementation of Making Tax Digital because businesses are “nowhere near ready”.

A survey of 1,000 businesses carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce found that 19 per cent of those affected still know little or nothing about it.

“Implementing this just days after the UK’s planned departure from the EU is crazy,” said Mr Johnston.

“Government is expecting firms to get to grips with these tax changes while simultaneously preparing for all possible Brexit scenarios.”

Michael Walby, corporate partner and business lawyer at Burnetts, said he was hopeful there would be announcements around boosting productivity, another major challenge facing the UK economy.

“The indications are that some measures will be introduced to improve productivity, and this may bring good news for manufacturing, agriculture and high-tech industries in the region,” he said.

 “I would like to see some form of positive announcement for the nuclear sector in the region, but I expect this will some way further down the line, and not for this Spring Statement.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Main, head of the specialist indirect tax team at Kendal-based MHA Moore and Smalley, said businesses should be prepared for surprises.

“I think it’s likely there will either be tax changes to headline rates or at the very least the announcement of further contingency measures in the event of a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU,” he added.