Most of the meaningful measures in this budget were announced in the autumn statement, although George Osborne did spring a surprise or two.
To start with the good news, the growth figures, unemployment figures and the record percentage of people in work cannot be anything other than positive, although it is right also to question what sort of jobs are being created and whether most people are actually feeling any benefit from the recovery.
It was certainly a highly political budget. However, George Osborne is merely following a tradition of pre election budgets going back centuries, so this should not be surprising.Perhaps the big difference this time was making political capital out of the absence rather than the presence of any big pre-election giveaways, thereby aiming for the impression of a steady hand on the tiller.
The overall effect on the economy will be hard to measure, but if the budget serves the political purpose of keeping Ed Balls’ hands off the economic levers come the general election it may well have averted a very negative outcome for the economy. You don’t give matches to proven pyromaniacs.
The announcement of the abolition of the personal tax return in favour of real time reporting of business profits or personal income to HMRC had us all shaking our heads in disbelief. HMRC are still having problems with RTI and how they could be ready for the much more complex reporting of accounts, only a year away from now, must involve parallel universe theory.
We will continue to keep you abreast of developments so that if this swivel-eyed measure is actually enacted, you will not be caught by surprise.
We are also concerned by some changes to entrepreneur’s relief which are intended to prevent abuse of the rules but which could have unintended consequences for genuine claimants – including a change not previously announced. We will keep an eye on the small print when this comes out and alert you to anything which adversely affects you.
As ever, we salute our clients, in particular business owners, whose creativity and persistence ensures that, despite the obstacles placed in their way by politicians, bureaucrats and bankers, that they are the true engine room of the economy.
Without you, George Osborne would have had no growth figures to crow about in the first place.