Fitch has cut the outlook on the UK’s AA- investment grade credit rating, to Negative from Stable, following a similar move from S&P.
Fitch warned that the “large and unfunded fiscal package” could lead to a significant increase in the government’s deficits over the medium term, and undermine the previous government’s fiscal consolidation strategy.
In a rather scathing verdict of Kwarteng and Liz Truss’s plans, Fitch says: “The large fiscal stimulus, announced without compensatory measures or an independent evaluation of the macroeconomic and public finances’ impact, and the inconsistency between fiscal and monetary policy stance given strong inflationary pressures, have in Fitch’s view, negatively impacted financial markets’ confidence and the credibility of the policy framework, a key long-standing rating strength.
Fitch also criticises Kwarteng for hinting that there could be more tax cuts, and fears the government’s political credibility, and the credibility of its fiscal policy, are both hurt.
Fitch’s wider assessment stated: “Although the government reversed the elimination of the 45p top rate tax (expected to cost £2bn in FY22-2023), the reportedly negative impact of the tax package, and related financial market volatility, on public opinion and the government’s weakened political capital could further undermine the credibility of and support for the government’s fiscal strategy.”
Fitch estimates that “without compensatory measures”, the general government deficit will remain elevated at 7.8% of GDP in 2022 and increase to 8.8% in 2023.