So, it’s all done and dusted. And three things spring to mind having just finished reading the reports into the Budget:
1. I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised by some of the smaller details in there. £100 million for refurbishing properties used by the Forces and 100% council tax rebate for forces’ families. Investment in the aerospace sector (have we lost some plane sales recently BAE??). The Stamp Duty on properties over £2 million for individuals and companies was welcome. Plus the hidden increase tax on company cars is quite intriguing.
Saying that, there were several shuddering moments in there. Taxing small companies on cashflows instead of profits potentially means several expenses exempt from taxable profits may suddenly become taxable. Having to cut back an additional £10bn on welfare payments, on top of the current £18bn or so, is particularly frightening. And changes to the personal allowance for pensioners potentially means they’ll find a new tax bill landing on their metaphorical doormats.
What the chancellor giveth with one hand…
2. Many things were expected. Raising of the tax-free personal allowance to just over £9,000, something I’ve been campaigning for since 2005 or so, is welcome…if it were coming this April, not next April! No changes to alcohol duty is a definite sign the Chancellor is desperate to show he’s trying to be reasonable to the ordinary folk…or maybe he just needs a stiff drink while he waits to see if Ed Balls can capitalise on some of the more contentious issues in this Budget. Even the 50p tax rate drop next year was expected, and disappointing.
3. And that raises a third issue. So much of this Budget was leaked. Once upon a time I seem to remember Ministers being summoned to the House of Commons by the Speaker to be “told off” for announcing Government policy to the media before announcing it in the House. Surely someone should be due a ticking off for the amount of this Budget that was leaked by ‘senior advisors’ to Nick Robinson and the like…?
Overall – a Budget of not very much surprises. I think we could have been offered more – such as the Personal Allowance going up ahead of schedule – in exchange for a tax on private jets for example. However, the fall-out from some of this Budget, such as changes to PA on pensions and the extra savings in the Welfare budget, could mean this Budget leaves a very nasty sting in the tail, in exchange for not much medicine. Will the ratings agencies and, more importantly, the likes of you and me buy it? We’ll have to wait and see…