So How Was It For You?
Well it wasn't the sexiest Budget ever but it could well be laying the foundations for a period of growth over the next five years that will give us some breathing space when the next recession hits after Labour get back into power. Okay, only joking about the last bit.
There are some sexy graphs in the red report and loads of figures for the saddos among us to get all worked up about, and for journalists and opposition politicians to ignore. Actually the nature of the beast has changed over the years, gone are the long speeches, most years now the Chancellor clocks up around sixty to seventy minutes before taking his seat, there's a reason for this - the Autumn budget or spending review. Glance through this years report and you will see dozens, possibly tens of dozens, references to something that was announced last October or December, you will also see many references to 2013 and beyond. Governments know that the general public really don't have much interest in the minutiae of the budget, it's fags, booze and cars that grab the sexy headlines. That's why we know about the tax rates months in advance, the National Insurance rates and the pension figures - as George Osborne pointed out today Chancellors in the last few years have rushed through the speech hoping nobody would notice the bad news, well we had the bad news last year with VAT increases and National Insurance increases.
One small moment that made me laugh whilst watching the speech was the comment on the suggestion that a separate rate for VAT should be introduced for petrol, George explained that after much consultation it was reckoned it would take six years to make the change simply because it was illegal to do so.
Apprenticeships have always been more popular under Labour than Conservative, ironic really when you think about it as the blues like the idea of self betterment and self fulfilment. The promise of a creation of 40,000 new apprentices is a big carrot for British industry, of course it's barely three years since the Conservatives (then in opposition of course) promised to create 100,000 new apprentices. One thing Tony Cameron is learning fast, to borrow from Arsene Wenger, is that everybody has a prettier wife at home - it took Labour thirteen years to add 130,000 apprenticeships to the books, even 40,000 seems a big chunk of the cake to bite into at once. The funding of 80,000 work experience placements is a great idea, one thing that crops up time and again with clients is the willingness to take on work placement students but the lack of funding. This is one area very close to my own personal philosophy and is something I hope proves to be a success and doesn't just produce 80,000 who are capable of making cups of tea or coffee.
This years budget was mainly for the city and overseas markets, it was about restoring confidence and balancing the books whilst also reducing the national debt. The tables of figures look very optimistic and there is some carrot to go with the stick, there are a couple of areas that could save billions more for the country - and given the list of tax reliefs being abolished I think somebody in the OBR has their finger on the pulse.