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Budget 2021 preview: What’s in store for fintech?

Some big announcements, but probably not for fintech.

a man in a suit and tie

Rishi Sunak/HM Treasury.

After the most unusual 12 months, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is back on Wednesday to announce his second budget.

Its policies arrive in a wholly different world than Sunak’s last budget and will be primarily aimed at dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and protecting people and businesses against the ongoing disruption.

The headlines are expected to include a £15bn extension to the furlough scheme until June, £22bn for a new national infrastructure bank, £5bn worth of grants for high street businesses and a ‘stealth’ increase in income tax by freezing the levels at which taxpayers contribute for three years.

Sadly, after all the Kalifa Fintech Review’s excitement last week, we’re not expecting to hear a massive amount for the industry, but there are one or two things to keep a lookout for.

Here’s our preview of what to expect:

“Fast track” fintech visas

Just a week after Ron Kalifa called for a new visa route to be introduced for fintechs to fast track international recruitment with automatic visa qualification under a ‘Fintech Scaleup Stream’, Sunak may be preparing to announce something very similar.

Indeed the Chancellor has already told reporters that a "fast track" visa is coming for highly-skilled migrants, with a job offer from a recognised UK 'scale up'.

“This new fast-track scale up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak has said.

While it’s excellent news for fintech, we’ll have to wait a little longer for these fast track visas to actually arrive.

The Government is planning on setting more details out in July, with the aim of launching the scheme in March 2022.

Despite the delay, this will likely be Sunak’s most high-profile ‘fintech’ policy announced in his Budget.

Spare a coin for Kalifa?

Looking back to Ron Kalifa’s Fintech Review, there are certainly a few recommendations that will need Government support.

Several new taskforces being established, the creation of a new Centre For Finance, Innovation And Technology, a £1bn Fintech Growth Fund, expanding R&D tax credits and the establishment of 10 fintech ‘clusters’. None of this comes cheap.

Most of these appear to be ‘Budget-ready’ suggestions, the question is whether Sunak and his team have managed to squeeze them into 2021’s critical Budget, or if we’ll have to wait until 2022 for some of these policies to arrive?

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Budget will be announced at 12:30 pm (GMT) on 3 March.

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