The Budget 2016 - Introduction from Robin
This was a Budget full of political posturing and points scoring – no real surprise there! There were also moments of great humour: "The former pension minister, the Liberal Democrat Steve Webb said I was trying to abolish the (pension) lump sum," Osborne recalled. "Instead we are going to keep the lump sum and abolish the Liberal Democrats." Over laughter in the Commons, Osborne added: "I'm tempted to abolish them by midnight tonight". The response from the Lib Dem Press office was swift. They tweeted: “Osborne abolishing the Liberal Democrats? Given he's missing all his other targets we are not that worried.”
It is often said the “science” of predicting the economy is there to make weather forecasting look good. Osborne dubbed his speech “A Budget for the next generation”. Well that’s all well and good George but before we worry too much about our kids and grandkids, how about we get our own house in order? I’m not an economist but please tell me how, exactly, this government intends to achieve a Budget surplus in 2019/20 when the borrowing forecast for 2018/19 is already nearly £20 billion higher than originally predicted?
So, when the Jackanory introduction was over we started to get to the heart of the matter. I quickly found myself wondering what George was drinking - presumably not a fizzy drink as he announced a “sugar levy” on large drink manufacturers. There were some predictable (already “leaked”) announcements – Corporation Tax to reduce to 17% by 2020 (nice one!), Insurance Premium Tax up by 0.5% to 10% (an easy target), further clampdowns on tax evasion. And then there were a few surprises – CGT rates reduced to 10% and 20% (previously 18% and 28%), but not for property gains. Thanks George, now there are four different rates of CGT to work with …. ISA allowances up to £20k from 2017 – very welcome news.
And then we entered the twilight zone with the announcement of the Lifetime ISA. George, George, George – what on earth are you doing? Why do you have to make everyone’s life so difficult? ISAs, Help To Buy ISAs, Lifetime ISAs, Help To Save, Auto-Enrolment. Did you not have enough toys when you were a child?
Oh well, at least it will only cost half as much to cross the Severn Bridge from 2018. Perhaps we could have a Help To Cross scheme ….
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