Apologies if this post contains no information or analysis – after a break for Red Nose Day (which was AMAZING btw) I thought I should write something, anything, just to get back in the swing of things.
So – the budget. What a budget eh? After the dramatic and slashing emergency budget of last year, this one was billed as a ‘budget for growth’… it turned out to be somewhat less exciting and impressive than that. Here is a rundown of the key points
– Fuel Duty to be cut and the April increase to be deferred to 2012 (The Fuel escalator has been scrapped until 2015 as well). This will be paid for by £2bn of extra taxation on North Sea Oil companies.
– Alcohol duty remains static, tobacco up by 2% over and above inflation
– Personal Tax Allowance up by another £630 in April 2012
– 10% inheritance tax discount for those leaving 10% of estate to charity (plus some re-working of gift aid)
– Air passenger duty frozen for a year (was due to be increased)
– Non-Doms levy of up to £50,000
– Share equity scheme for first-time buyers (total of £250million)
– Cut in Corporation Tax
– 21 ‘enterprise’ zones to be set up across England, backed by tax incentives
– Extra 40,000 apprenticeships
– Acceptance of Hutton review on reform of Public Sector Pensions
– Long-term aim of flat-rate state pension of £140 pw (but not if you are already a pensioner).
And that’s about it really.. a few slight tweaks to the tax system, a tiny amount of support for first time buyers and a series of tactical announcements aimed at sweetening the business community. What it lacks is any genuine strategy for growth -the exact thing it was meant to deliver.
Apprenticeships are all well and good, but they will not replace the great work of the now scrapped Future Jobs Fund on their own. (Though, tragically, they may find a home for all those would-be students from poorer backgrounds who no longer receive the EMA). Youth Unemployment is already a major concern for the UK economy and without action we risk another lost generation, just like the one created by the last Tory administration.
Business too will surely be disheartened – where is the strategy to support start-ups? If the private sector has any chance of filling the employment gap of a rapidly shrinking public sector then entrepreneurs and small business need to be given genuine support – not a slight change in taxation and slightly more lenient planning regulation.
What the budget lacks most however is creativity – where are the ideas that prove this coalition are the ones best placed to lead a recovery? On this performance it feels like the coalition’s cupboard is already bare.