This first appeared on Liberal Democrat Voice
So the Chancellor has just sat down. Here are my first thoughts on the Budget.
Nick gets his Workers’ Bonus
The personal tax threshold rises to £10,500. I doubt it was anything to do with the petition being pushed on social media in the last few days. This was down to the hard work of our ministers staying on message, in volume, over time, in budget negotiations. Nick Clegg has stuck with this through the entire Parliament and given us a very tangible promise kept – and more. “I am proud of what we have achieved”, said Osborne. Aye right.Everyone knows Nick Clegg had to drag them kicking and screaming to do it. Remember David Cameron saying it was unaffordable in the first leaders’ debate?
Vince gets his investment allowance rise
And it’s a big one, too. It was supposed to stop this year, but it’s been extended to the end of next year and doubled to £500,000 which will encourage companies to expand and create even more jobs.
Some more Lib Dem wins
- the new garden city at Ebbsfleet. Garden cities generally have been championed by one Nick Clegg.
- let’s not forget the £2000 per child tax feee childcare championed by Nick Clegg
- apprenticeships increased by 100,000
- Scotch Whisky duty frozen – as campaigned for by a number of Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs like Alan Reid and Malcolm Bruce.
I will admit to being a bit worried about what we’d traded for the childcare help (championed by Nick Clegg) announced yesterday. In the end it was a massive boost to savers which, to be fair, is long overdue. A rise in the ISA limit of almost £10,000 to £15,000. Giving pensioners the freedom to spend their pension pots as they like instead of being forced to buy an annuity. This is nectar for readers of the Times and Telegraph Money supplements who have been clamouring for this sort of thing for years. Osborne is clearly targeting this group’s votes. They’ve felt neglected since interest rates have been so poor. But this isn’t just a Tory thing. There are very strong Liberal Democrat elements in it too, especially letting people choose what they want to do with their money.
So if you are a whisky-drinking, bingo-playing, frequent-long-haul-flying pensioner or taxpayer, this budget is great for you. If you have nothing to save or earn less than the new tax threshold of £10,500 a year and occasionally get referred to your local food bank, there’s not a lot in there to help you. That worries me. Osborne clearly had money to spare, and none of it has been given to the absolute poorest. It should have done, because people are suffering out there. The Centre Forum people had been looking at the idea of raising the National Insurance threshold which would have helped those people. An opportunity missed.
Also on the downside, I think that benefits should be paid out to those who need them. The idea that you have an annual scapegoatathon in Parliament to debate a benefit cap is just ever so slightly distasteful.
I will always glare disapprovingly at the merest mention of the marriage tax break. It’s just been increased in line with tax threshold, but I don’t have to like it.
Osborne announced that any member of the emergency services who is killed protecting lives will not have their estates subject to Inheritance Tax. I don’t really like the principle here – valuing one life over another. What about the nurse who spends their retirement in agony with back pain after decades of lifting patients? He or she will have protected lives. All sorts of public servants make our lives better in all sorts of ways. I don’t like singling anyone out, especially in these circumstances.
That new £1 coin. Ugh.