Closed Budget day 2016 – as it happened

George Osborne’s eighth Budget comes at a time of slowing growth and with the government split over Europe. The chancellor needs to show he still has a grip on the public finances, while keeping Conservative backbenchers happy.

Key developments:

  • Economic outlook – growth forecast cut this year from 2.4 per cent to 2 per cent.

  • Public finances – debt to GDP forecast revised up from 81.7 per cent to 82.3 per cent for 2016-17.

  • Government spending – new annual cuts of £3.5bn by 2020.

  • Corporation tax – to fall from 20 per cent at the start of this parliament to 17 per cent by 2020.

  • Sugar tax – new levy on sugary drinks to tackle childhood obesity.

  • Capital gains tax – cut from 28 per cent to 20 per cent.

  • ISAs – limit to rise from £15,000 to £20,000.

  • Tax-free persons tax allowance – raised to £11,500, effecting 31m people

  • Higher rate tax threshold – raised to £45,000


Economists, politicos and personal finance wonks rejoice – it’s Budget day!


The main topic of the morning ahead of the Budget is education, education, education – many of the UK papers have been looking at expected changes to schools policy.

Both The Times and The Daily Telegraph lead with plans to extend school days, at a cost of £1.5bn. The move is designed to improve standards so that British children are better equipped to compete in a globalised workplace.

The Guardian focuses on proposals to turn all schools into academies, effectively splitting schools from council control. The paper calls it the “most radical shake-up of the schools system in decades”.


We’ve been making some predictions of our own. Here’s the FT’s economics editor Chris Giles on the 10 things he’ll be looking out for today – from the economy, to public finances, to tax.


Claer Barrett, editor of FT Money, has her own list of questions ahead of the Budget. This from her column last week:

So…
– Will this be a Budget that favours millennials?
– Could there be more bad news for buy-to-let landlords?
– What should higher-rate taxpayers prepare for?

Read more here.


Although much of the Budget has been trailed in the days leading up to it, Chancellor George Osborne has gone quiet in the last 24 hours. This was his last tweet:

https://twitter.com/George_Osborne/status/709674928589676544


If you are looking for a beginner’s guide to today’s big event, you might enjoy this from BuzzFeed: What Even Is The Budget?

It seeks to answer a slightly different set of questions, including:

- What happens on the day of the Budget, and is it boring?
- What is George Osborne doing with our money?
- Why does everybody keep talking about rabbits?


We’ve got a ripple of breaking news, as the latest ONS figures on employment and wages hit the tape. FastFT has the full take, but the main points are:

- Unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 per cent in January.
- 116,000 more people were in work in the three months to January (less than expected) than the previous three months.
- Average weekly earnings grew by 2.1 per cent between November and January (in line with expectations).
- In February, there were 716,700 people claiming out-of-work benefits, 18,000 fewer than in January.


Wage growth – or rather the lack of it – has been a problem for the UK economy.


Even if wage growth remains tepid, the UK employment rate is at a record high.

https://twitter.com/ONS/status/710035963490263040


The tension builds as Osborne returns to the Twittersphere…

https://twitter.com/George_Osborne/status/710040810335694848


For those wondering what this year’s rabbit-out-the-hat might be…

… the FT’s Jim Pickard nudges you towards a story in The Times this morning on capital gains tax.

https://twitter.com/PickardJE/status/710036556329979904


The markets are in rather limp mood ahead of the Budget. The FTSE 100 is up 0.1 per cent at 6,143.72, with resource stocks in demand, propping the index up against selling across the rest of its sectors.

The FTSE 250, seen as more representative of the domestic UK economy,
is also up 0.1 per cent at 16,648.30, led by financial and consumer stocks.

This from Rabobank’s Bas van Geffen:

George Osborne intends to balance the books by 2020. However, economic setbacks have thrown a spanner in the works. It is estimated that another £4bn in austerity would be needed to achieve this balanced budget. However, as UK politics are currently being overshadowed by the Brexit-referendum, Osborne may shy away from controversial policies today.


While we wait to see the colour of Mr Osborne’s tie (bookies say it’ll be blue), we’re happy to end any speculation about Jeremy Corbyn’s choice of hat. Here’s the Labour leader leaving home this morning:


The pound is under a little more pressure than its peers, trading 0.4 per cent lower on the day at $1.4091 as currencies traders wait for fresh and detailed insight into the state of the UK’s public finances and its outlook for economic growth.

Kit Juckes at Societe Generale has this:

Mr Osborne’s hands are tied by the need to be low-key ahead of the EU referendum so that while the UK sees far too much fiscal micro-management, the FX market will probably only react modestly to a slower growth path.


Shadow chancellor John McDonnell sets out his stall today early, calling for a greater focus on fairness.

https://twitter.com/johnmcdonnellMP/status/710043054774681600


KPMG gives the chancellor’s education reform plans a thumbs up:

With productivity performance in the UK still faltering, investment in the education system is one of the most effective levers the chancellor can pull to boost the UK’s long-term prosperity.

Today’s announcement shows that Osborne has read his school report. The challenge now will be to ensure the UK has a long-term sustainable plan for education.


Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, responds to this morning’s labour market figures:

A better than expected drop in unemployment hands the chancellor some much needed good news on Budget day.

Despite global growth fears, the jobs market remains a standout success for the UK with record employment rates and more people in work than ever, even with a shrinking public sector.


As the clock ticks down to 12:30 when Osborne is due to deliver his 8th Budget, which he is boldly claiming is one “for the next generation”, here’s a reminder of the dilemma facing him by the FT’s Chris Giles and George Parker.

In short, he’s caught between a rock and a hard place: the economic forecasts have turned against him in the space of a few months and as the main cheerleader in the Conservative party of the UK “Remain” campaign ahead of the EU referendum, he has plenty of Tory Eurosceptic MPs sharpening their knives waiting to pounce on anything in the Budget they don’t like.

So in true ministerial style, the chancellor reached for his hard hat and hi-vis jacket yesterday and found a big infrastructure project to inspect. In this case the perennial favourite – London’s Crossrail – Europe’s largest civil engineering scheme at present:


What does business want from the Budget? We’ve been talking to the UK’s various trade and industry bodies. Here’s a taste:


And one thing we can be sure Osborne will talk up today is infrastructure and the government’s supposed plans to invest billions and billions. He has been talking up the plans to rebuild the country since becoming chancellor in 2010, the problem is that much of it has just been talk so far. Today, he will once again talk up investment in rail, with a £80m fund to develop plans for Crossrail 2 – the proposed north-east to south-west cross-London rail link.

To balance things out he will also dust off his notes on what the Treasury likes to call HS3, which is a long-standing plan to improve rail links across the north of England. It has nothing to do with high speed rail but some spin doctor in the Treasury back in 2011 decided to rebrand it HS3, in an apparent attempt to deflect criticism that the much-maligned £50bn HS2 was effectively another London-centric project. HS3 is in fact more of a northern Crossrail so perhaps it might get rebranded accordingly in time . . . . but perhaps not under this chancellor


Here’s how the government will pitch today’s Budget, according to the FT’s Henry Mance:

The Prime Minister David Cameron told a cabinet meeting today that it was “a pro-enterprise, pro-infrastructure, pro-devolution budget that fully lives up to what this government is all about: transformation”.


It seems hi-vis jackets were very much in vogue yesterday, here’s the PM sporting one at the port of Felixstowe (frankly we’ve had enough Osborne pics for the next few minutes):


We’re taken aback by the revelations from the FT’s Henry Mance (below) that the government is pitching the Budget as pro-infrastructure – hmmm, where have we heard that before


Fancy a flutter, but don’t like horse racing? Sporting Index has some nerdy Budget-related options just for you.


It’s the pre-Budget moment we’ve all been waiting for. Tie is a sombre grey/blue, fitting for a statement hemmed in by “fiscal claustrophobia”. Just an hour to go…


Here are a series of four charts on the economy that might explain why the PM is talking up “transformation” – ie Osborne’s rock to the hard place that is the looming EU referendum:

Firstly, the Office of Budget Responsibility’s downward revision of the nominal size of the UK economy in 2015


The government looks unlikely to hit its borrowing targets


Take home pay is not growing as fast as expected (as we mentioned earlier)


And then there’s that pesky issue of inflation


All in all those economic headwinds will push Osborne to admit its all gone a bit pear-shaped on the fiscal rule front as the FT’s Chris Giles and George Parker reported a bit earlier.


Reminder: George Osborne has promised a Budget that puts “the next generation first”. Now we wait to see if he can…


Prediction alert, from our economics editor:

https://twitter.com/ChrisGiles_/status/710072850330345472


PMQs is now in full swing ahead of the Budget statement at 12:30pm.


The Huffington Post has spotted a backlash against Osborne’s claim this Budget is one for the next generation

https://twitter.com/HPYoungVoices/status/710076947909386240


Straight after every Budget, everyone at the FT huddles around our economics editor Chris Giles, who tells us what it all means. This year, we’re filming it so you can watch it too! It’s probably the most useful 5 minutes you can spend…

https://twitter.com/ChrisGiles_/status/710062062689525760


So we are running a bit late but any minute now the chancellor should be getting up with the traditional glass of whisky at his side (unless of course he’s ripped up tradition)


And here we go . . . .


Some chatter about “action” on the level at which the 40p income tax rate kicks in (currently £42,385) being move upwards – the Conservatives want to take it to £50,000 by 2020.

But wage growth and inflation can more than undo the rising threshold, as this piece by Adam Palin explains.


Osborne confirms we’re still “on course” for a Budget surplus… Big question is “how?” and “by when?”


His first words are his promise to report on a “major economy that is growing faster than any other in the world.” We are being told the economy is stronger because we “have held to the course we set out” and then warns of headwinds that are posing new challenges.


Osborne says this is a “long term” Budget that puts the “next generation first”. His teasers include lower business tax, infrastructure, and helping working people to “save and keep more of what they earn”.


Little dig at the eurozone there – sound public finances over funny money stimulus. Don’t expect too much euro-bashing though, given the looming EU referendum and George Osborne’s position on it


He is now going through the OBR forecast, we’ll have them for you shortly


Onto the economic forecasts: Osborne softens the ground first by saying the global outlook is “materially weaker”… Sounds like gloomy downgrades are coming…


The most “significant change” the OBR has made since the November forecast is to revise down the UK’s productivity forecasts, he says, and Osborne says he backs those “100%”


Ouch – OBR has revised down its estimate of potential productivity growth. That’s serious – implies more of the damage done by the crisis was permanent, less was temporary. It also implies the fiscal figures will be weaker.


“We don’t fix the figures to fit the plans,” he says as he goes back over his record as chancellor


OBR growth forecasts: 2 % for this year (down from 2.4%), 2.2 % for next year, then 2.1% for the next three years. Those are fairly steep downgrades – OBR clearly doesn’t see much catch-up growth in the longer term


Here comes the first EU referendum reference. OBR says forecasts are predicated on UK remaining in. “A vote to leave…could usher in an extended period of uncertainty.”

Message clear: this is not the time to be leaving


Here’s Rupert Harrison, George Osborne’s former SpAd, on the significance of that OBR decision to revise down potential productivity growth. In sum: it’s bad news for the public finances.

https://twitter.com/rbrharrison/status/710083087133188096


Comments on EU membership prompt first intervention from the Deputy Speaker


Just going back to those GDP figures from the OBR forecast – the revision down for 2017/18 is from 2.5% in November to 2.1%, for 2018/19 it is 2.4% to 2.1% and for 2019/20 it’s down from 2.3% to 2.1%


Some of Osborne’s opening lines:

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/710083004111020032


Some boosterism from Osborne on the jobs market – the brightest spot in the UK economy. OBR forecasting another 1m jobs created in this parliament. He says the forecast shows real wages will continue to grow (we’ll have to wait for the document to see how fast)


“In this Budget we act now so we don’t pay later” – that’s a repeat of one of his favourite mantras


Osborne defends austerity, saying that without savings and cuts the UK’s debt burden would be £930bn more by this stage


Here’s a view from the Telegraph’s politics editor on Osborne citing the OBR on the EU referendum:

https://twitter.com/jameskirkup/status/710084944903741441


“We will not burden our children and grandchildren,” says Osborne as he rolls out his, “This is a Budget for the next generation” for a second time (who’s counting?)


Labour’s David Lammy on the GDP downgrade:

https://twitter.com/DavidLammy/status/710085902366871552


He really is teasing out these borrowing figures . . . they are going to be bad . . . .


. . . . or are they. There seems to be some sort clever maths going on. Figures are on their way . . . .


There we go again: “Putting the next generation first”


The pound is drifting lower as the OBR forecasts are announced. Sterling is now down 0.6 per cent at $1.4064, having been at $1.4080 at the start of the Budget.


As Jonathan Eley just flagged, that’s the third time he has chosen to remind us that this is a Budget for sometime in the future when we’re older


Redundancy payments will from 2018 attract national insurance – they currently attract income tax, and only then when they exceed £30,000


“All in it together” – richest 1% pay 28% of all income tax receipts, the highest proportion ever


Some of our readers are getting slightly impatient with the chancellor:


The fiscal downgrades are steep in the later years of the forecasts, but Osborne is predicting a slightly bigger surplus in 19/20 – which implies this Budget will have some really big spending cuts or tax rises

Deficit forecasts: 2015/16 £72bn (previous: £73.5bn) 16/17 £55.5bn (previous 49.9bn) 17/18 £38bn (previous £24.8bn) 18/19 £21.4bn (previous £4.6bn) 19/20 £10.4bn (previous £10.1bn) 2020/21 £11bn (previous £14.7bn)


. . . and he is “putting the next generation first” for the fourth time already


Osborne’s debt forecasts show he’ll miss his target to have debt falling as a share of GDP – it will be 82.6% next year, up from 82.5% this year. By 2020/21, it will be 74.7%, up from previous forecast of 71.3%.


Osborne promises road map to make “business tax fit for the future”

From April 2017, interest deductibility for largest companies limited to 30% of UK profits. Special rules for debt-dependent industries such as property, utilities


Corporation tax changes will raise extra £9bn in aggregate – though commitment to lower taxes overall remains. Idea is that large companies who try to avoid tax will help ease burden on small companies


“Taking action” to stop eBay, Amazon et al selling from UK without paying VAT


Osborne says he’ll cut corporation tax even further – it was 20% at the start of the parliament – now by 2020 it will fall to 17%. “Britain is blazing a trail, let the rest of the world catch up.” That’s probably an attempt to cheer up the business community, which is extremely annoyed by the extra costs of the National Living Wage and the apprentice levy.


Osborne was of course caught up in the so-called “Google tax” storm – here’s a reminder of that story


He has just announced that 630,000 small business will pay no business rates at all from next year


That includes a “typical hairdresser in Leeds” – he’s dubbed it a £7bn tax cut for businesses, while reminding MPs how he’s planning to raise more tax from multinationals – as always the devil will be in the detail


Commercial property taxes to be reformed along the lines of residential SDLT.
From midnight tonight, stamp duty on commercial property will be:

0 up to £150,000
2% on next £100,000
5% above £250,000

Changes will raise £500m a year but most small businesses will pay less


Apparently under these commercial stamp duty changes you can now buy a typical pub in the Midlands and pay £5,000 less in tax . . . so down from £8,000 to £3,000


Supplementary charge on oil and gas cut from 20% to 10% and effectively ending petroleum revenue tax


Ben Wright of the Telegraph is suspicious of Osborne’s motives in his tax giveaway to small businesses…

https://twitter.com/_BenWright_/status/710090306256048128


The change to oil and gas taxes is to support a “key Scottish industry”, he says and the only reason “we” can do this is on the “broad shoulders of the United Kingdom” reminding everyone that in 8 days time Scotland would have broken away from the UK if the SNP had won the independence vote


Bit of pork-barrel there: cutting tolls on Severn crossing to Wales


From 2018 Osborne is halving the tolls on the Severn Crossing to help Wales


We still haven’t heard any of the bad news. But there must be big cuts or tax rises to come, it’s the only way Osborne can possibly be able to promise a £10.4bn budget surplus in 19/20…


He is talking devolution at the moment but not really announcing any new, lots of talk about new mayors for the various regions – we have new one called “Greater Lincolnshire” apparently


Handy chart from the Resolution Foundation – Osborne is “fixing the roof” rather more slowly than forecast in November.

https://twitter.com/resfoundation/status/710090775871275008


“North, south, east and west, the devolution revolution is taking hold,” he adds


Here’s the budget deficit projections – you can see that very sudden drop between 18/19 and 19/20… Listen out to find who will pay for it!

https://twitter.com/resfoundation/status/710090634565128192


Receipts from additional stamp duty diverted into community housing in South West (plenty of 2nd homes there…)


Dig at the LibDems with a £20m fund to help young families in the south west of England – “When the South West votes blue we listen”


Looking at business tax package: if it will raise £9bn overall but small businesses will get a £7bn tax cut – that suggests someone else is paying £16bn!


Here we go on the rail stuff – he’s given a “green light” to the upgrading of northern rail lines, which he likes to call HS3 (but isn’t – see our earlier post) along with a few trunk road upgrades – this is making the Northern Hub “a reality”, he says. He has also confirmed the funding of development work for Crossrail 2, the south-west to north-east cross-London line


Lots of mentions of infrastructure, so many I’ve lost count, but he also announced a £700m boost to spending on flood defences – which are desperately needed . . .


Insurance premium tax to rise by a paltry 0.5% to 10% with proceeds diverted to flood relief. IPT already lifted last year, from 6% to 9.5% – but premiums have been falling recently after curbs on “ambulance chasers” and personal injury claims


He’s also mentioned the North loads of times, interwoven with “Northern Powerhouse” . . . .


Infrastructure done with, we’re on to education. First, Osborne repeats the policy trailed overnight that every school will become an academy. Second, the government will focus on schools in the north – Sir Nick Weller will come up with a plan. He’ll “look at” teaching maths to everyone up to age 18. Finally – there will be a new funding formula. White paper to be published tomorrow on that.


Osborne is now officially the champion for “The Next Generation” because he has mentioned that phrase 6 times at least . . .


In the context of diabetes, heart disease and child obesity, Osborne is acknowledging the response by the industry to the health impact of sugary drinks as he announces a “sugar levy” that will come into effect in 2 years time


The sugary drinks levy will be based on volume and sugar content below and above 5g, and will be paid by producers and importers


The sugar tax will raise about half a billion pounds…

https://twitter.com/katieuevans/status/710094293793443841


OBR estimates that sugar tax will raise around £520m a year – much of it going into schools sports. Big on hypothecated taxes, this Budget….


Great minds are thinking alike on Twitter…

https://twitter.com/rosschawkins/status/710094281365692416


The money raised will be used to double the amount of money that goes to primary school sport activities and yes that is a measure he is taking for “The Next Generation” . . . . that’s the 7th mention


We’re on to the “tampon tax” – Osborne is allocating money from the tax to various charities. Women will be disappointed he hasn’t found a way to eliminate it.


Fuel duty: “We had pencilled in an inflation rise, but fuel duty will be frozen for the sixth year in a row.”


Freezing beer and cider duty. CHEERS!

Whisky and spirits frozen too.


The government has been quietly denying it was planning a sugar tax…

https://twitter.com/ITVAllegra/status/710095323864158209


Top rate of capital gains tax coming down from 28% to 20%, basic rate 18% to 10%, effective new tax year.

That is a tax cut for the better off, whichever way you spin it


In response to one of our readers, we believe the chancellor is well into double figures with his references to “The Next Generation” – frankly we have lost count, sorry!


“Clear there was no consensus” on changes to pension system. Joke at Steve Webb’s expense, a bit harsh given the LibDem was one of the better pensions ministers in recent years


From April 2017 Isa limit will rise to £20,000 a year for everyone.

For those under 40, there will be a lifetime Isa – can be used to save for retirement or buy own home


Lifetime Isa: government will give you £1 for every £4 you save up to £4,000 a year, until age 50.

Access any time subject to some penalties, and consulting on ability to withdraw and recontribute


The Lifetime ISA sounds generous…and expensive. Presumably the government is hoping most under 40s can’t afford to max it out by saving £4k a year


Average contributions to existing Isas are well short of those limits, of course…


Drinks makers are lower on the sugar tax news. Britvic shares are down 3.3 per cent, Coca-Cola HBC’s stock is down 1.5 per cent, while AG Barr, Scotland’s maker of Irn Bru, is down 4.9 per cent.


Personal allowance rises to £11,500 from next year


That represents a cut for 31m people, he adds


Higher rate tax threshold £45,000, “lifting half a million people out of higher rate tax”


This is now a Budget for “working people” which we assume includes “The Next Generation” but there are “storm clouds gathering again” and yes there were three more “Next Generations mentioned in his upsum right at the end . . . . . . oh and a final “Next Generation” from the the chancellor, we are now at 15, 16, 17


Osborne has wrapped up but the big question remains: where will the money come from? His fiscal forecasts imply a HUGE improvement in the finances between 18/19 and 19/20. We’ll have to pore through the Treasury documents to find out how that works.


Personal finance summary:

Personal allowance and higher rate threshold rise, to £11,500 and £45,000 respectively

Capital gains tax rates cut, to 10% for basic rate payers and 20% for higher-rate

New “lifetime Isa” – seems modelled on the “Help to Buy” Isa introduced last year, but more flexible. The ability to withdraw and then pay in again with the government bonus is a notable improvement on the current Isa regime

Small rise in insurance premium tax
No new changes to stamp duty rules on residential property
No increase in fuel, beer, cider or spirits duty

Looks a good Budget for savers and investors generally. It seems that businesses, especially large ones, will be plugging the holes in the nation’s finances – it will be interesting to see exactly how.


The downgrades to the economic forecasts were “very gloomy” indeed, says the FT’s economics editor, Chris Giles. In summary, this is a budget that is bad for the UK (in terms of economic outlook), bad for big business (in terms of the corporate tax avoidance clampdown and sugar levy) and good for small businesses (cut in business rates for instance) and for savers as per Jonathan’s post below


Budget “red book” is here

Big revenue raisers include:
- interest relief raises around £1bn/yr
- defer bringing forward payment for large groups for two years raises big sums in future years: almost £6bn in 2019/20
- Fiddling about with the discount rate applied to public sector pensions magics up £2bn by 2020/21


Bad day for soft drinks groups and Tate&Lyle…

https://twitter.com/FT/status/710099682991730690


Just a reminder that the rabbit out of the hat was a negative one this time round, at least from the producers point of view, in the form of the sugar tax on fizzy drinks. This lucky Easter bunny, although half of it is made of sugar (25g per 50g), escapes:


The “lifetime Isa” sounds a great deal for the under-40s, but with some catches.

Contribute £4 and the government will add £1. The individual can save up to £4,000 a year. The document suggests that the saver only keeps the government bonus (and the interest upon it) if the money is used for “certain specific life events” which are undefined.

Savers cannot contribute to a Lifetime Isa and a Help to Buy one at the same time, though they can transfer from the latter to the former.

There is also a limit on the value of the house that can be purchased using LifetimeIsa savings: £450,000

The government can afford to do this because:
a) subscriptions are made out of income that has already been taxed
b) subscriptions to existing Isas are relatively modest; even though the limit on both cash and stocks/shares Isas is over £15,000, the average subscription in the 2014/15 tax year was £6,064


The FT’s John Murray Brown has just been informed by the historians at the York Castle Museum that Osborne has taken a step back in history with the “sugar tax” and effectively reintroduced the Sugar Act of 1764 . . . which was reversed 110 years later by then prime minister William Gladstone.

This is what the museum had to say on the subject:

“Until the early 19th century, sugar cane was the only source of sugar, and as this could not be grown in our country’s cold climate, it was an expensive luxury item for centuries – trading records show sugar being sold in London for two shillings for a pound in 1319 – around £75 in today’s money,” comments Ali Bodley, the museum’s senior curator of history. “Indeed, following the introduction of the Sugar Act in 1764, the government collected nearly £1 million each year in sugar tax, levied at 34% – the equivalent of around £106 million today.”

Tax on sugar was only removed in 1874 by then Prime Minister, William Gladstone. There were a number of reasons for this, including the growth of the sugar beet industry in the UK – it was not until the mid-18thcentury that sugar was first extracted from beet crops grown in Europe – and the effects on the abolition of slavery on the colonial sugar cane industry, which effectively increased production costs.


Some more snippets from the FT’s John Murray Brown who has been going back over the speech and looking at the various Treasury documents, which reveal a radical shake-up in local government funding. Here’s what Osborne said (I have added the bold to highlight the key phrases):

When I became Chancellor, 80% of local government funding came in largely ring-fenced grants from central government. It was the illusion of local democracy.

By the end of this Parliament, 100% of local government resources will come from local government – raised locally, spent locally, invested locally.



There appear to be a few sugar puns floating around. The AA has responded to the freeze on fuel duty and the decision not to increase insurance premium tax as much as feared, thus:

Edmund King OBE, AA president, said: “ The chancellor has listened to our campaign against a 3% hike in Insurance Premium Tax and 0.5% increase is better than expected. Using it for flood defences is helpful but it simply replaces past spending cuts and, in effect, targeting motorists to pay for flood alleviation is robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

“A continued freeze on fuel duty sugar-coats an increase in Insurance Premium Tax of 4% since 1 November (3.5% then and a further 0.5% announced today).

And again the motoring organisation has seen positives and negatives in the other measures announced:

“We are delighted that the chancellor has resisted the temptation to increase fuel duty which will bring relief at the pumps for millions of motorists. So the chancellor has introduced a sweetener for drivers on the fuel duty freeze but a 4% increase in insurance tax since November 2015 still leaves a sour taste.

“Halving the tax on Wales in the form of the reduced Severn Crossing toll in 2018 is welcome but we should follow the Scottish example and remove all bridge tolls. More money on roads in the North will help and upgrades to the A66 and A69 are long overdue.


Keeping with the culinary theme, EY has this – rather tortured – description of Mr Osborne’s statement:

This is a sweet and sour Budget with big businesses paying for the cuts for small ones.

There is the sweet taste of stimulus for small businesses, whether positively through business rates or neutrally in exceptions to tax relief restriction.

The taste for big businesses is less easily determined. The cut in corporation tax will help, as will deferral of the announced advance in payment dates, but the seven other changes to corporation tax will raise over £9bn over the budget period.

Whether you like the dish the chancellor has served depends very much on which menu you are ordering from.


Here’s part of the response of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, to the Budget:

https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/710107730355224577


Here’s a quick take from the FT’s Money team on how the Budget will affect you


The Institute of Directors has not surprisingly welcomed the measures that will help SMEs but it has also questioned how the chancellor aims to achieve the Budget surplus he has promised by 2019/20 given the downgrade in the economic forecast. This is what Simon Walker, the director general, had to say:

The UK faces risks on many fronts, and much heavy lifting will still be required to get rid of the deficit by the end of the parliament. For a chancellor who correctly prizes maths education, although he’s come up with a good answer, he hasn’t yet shown us enough of his working on how he plans to get there.


Some instant analysis from the FT’s Sebastian Payne: “Osborne targets the next generation in his 2016 Budget.” We actually lost count of how many times Mr Osborne referred to the “next generation” in his statement.


Gavin Partington, of the British Soft Drinks Association, says the new sugar tax on fizzy drinks is “simply absurd”.

We are extremely disappointed by the government’s decision to hit the only category in the food and drink sector which has consistently reduced sugar intake in recent years.


Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef and probably the UK’s most influential campaigner for improving childhood nutrition, is on the BBC celebrating the introduction of the sugar levy. He tells the BBC: “I never thought we would get it.”

Adding: “It’s about saving the NHS frankly” as he does a little jig on camera.


Want to relive the excitement of the chancellor’s statement all over again? We’ve got the transcript right here. Read the small print at your leisure.


The FT’s economics editor, Chris Giles, has been doing the sums on the chancellor’s sums. He describes the underlying economic news as “unremittingly bad.”

Read his full piece here.


Please withhold the groans. This from KPMG’s UK chairman (our emphasis).

Set against the backdrop of lower than expected UK growth forecasts, the chancellor set out his stall with small businesses to encourage them to drive the country’s future growth.

With a variety of measures aimed at the more traditional butcher, baker and candlestick-maker across the country but also the digital age ‘kitchen table’ entrepreneurs.


It looks like private equity firms are another loser in this Budget. According to EY’s David Kilshaw the chancellor has excluded them from the cut in capital gains tax:

Once again, the chancellor has chosen to make private equity fund managers the bogeyman of his Budget by excluding them from the cut in CGT rates which will apply to all other disposals of stocks and shares. “Carried interest” (the Private Equity manager’s share in the growth of his/her PE fund) will continue to be taxed at 28%, while investors in the fund will now pay only 20%.

With successive budgets in recent years restricting the amount of a fund managers receipts that can benefit from capital gains tax at all, and increasing the complexity of private equity tax, the UK is looking like a less and less favourable place for these firms to do business.


We are going to wrap up our live coverage. If you want a quick reminder, you can peruse Josh Noble’s summary and highlights piece.

The FT’s comprehensive coverage can be found on our special Budget 2016 page

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