- Following the Budget last week, we can take it as confirmed (if it needed to be) that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not or cannot change the new rate.
- In such circumstances, he “has set aside £5.9 billion across the forecast period [to] protect the NHS from the effects of the changed personal injury discount rate”.
- The new rate of -0.75% will apply in England & Wales from 20 March unless there is a successful attempt to annul the relevant statutory instrument, SI 2017/206.
- A motion to annul this SI has been indeed been tabled, but as it has been signed by only six MPs – all Lib Dems – it looks to be going precisely nowhere*.
- This intervention by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg during the Budget debate last week – “I would encourage the Government not to proceed with the personal injury discount rate reduction to minus 0.75%.” – very probably adds no weight at all to that motion.
- However, the basis on which the new rate was derived looks set to change. A different approach could apply from some future date because the Lord Chancellor has unambiguously said she “will bring forward a consultation before Easter that will consider options for reform”.
- Our expectation is that this consultation will begin within days of the new rate taking effect, given that Parliament will rise for Easter on Thursday 30 March.
* It is virtually unknown for these to succeed. The last to do so was a generation and a half ago, according to this from the Commons Library: “The House of Commons last annulled a statutory instrument on 24 October 1979 (the Paraffin (Maximum Retail Prices) (Revocation) Order 1979 (S.I. 1979/797)).”
Written by Alistair Kinley, director of policy and government affairs