Broadcast earlier today, this year’s annual budget announcement brings about as many concerns as it does reasons to be cheerful. One of the most frightening facts revealed concerned unemployment; the one place the word growth isn’t welcome around. Expected to continue to increasing throughout the year, it was very disappointing to hear, especially since January alone, unemployment has risen by 28,000, taking the national total to 2.67 million. The chancellor tried to mask the facts impact by announcing his own silver lining (”It will peak at [a mere] 8.7%”), but this will do little to reassure those out of work. A huge shame, I’m sure you’ll all agree.
All doom and gloom I thought. Until I heard about the tax credits for video game, animation and TV production companies that is. Personally, seeing so many creative tech companies based overseas drives me mad. I’ve long said that if we want to keep up and compete on a truly global level, then the UK has to incentivise businesses such as these to stay in the UK. These industries make up a large percentage of GDP and I honestly believe they will continue to make up more and more in the future.
Addressing his audience, Chancellor George Osborne said that the impact of the sovereign debt crisis has been “significant”, but unusually the economy has “carried a little more momentum into the new year than previously anticipated”. Going on further, he announced two other interesting facts: Borrowing this year is to come in at £126bn, down from November forecast of £127bn. And also, “In total, borrowing is £11bn less than I forecast in the autumn and this will be used to pay down debt”. Two ticks in the positives box there.
But then it got even better. “Funding for faster broadband in UK’s 10 largest cities”, I heard. This sounded good to me, especially on hearing that London in particular will receive up to £25M to install faster internet connections for 750,000 Londoners and more than 120,000 businesses. This, alongside the £15M boost for cycling safety in the Capital made me think things were looking up.
And I was right. The next thing to be said was that the government is investigating the idea of enterprise loans for young people to start their own businesses, along the lines of university loans. Something that I have longed championed. Finally!
….But then came the rather unnecessary; a declaration that everyone in the country will receive a personal tax statement which will explain exactly how your taxation is spent. Conservative MP Ben Gummer, who has championed the idea of personal statements, said: “Few of us would part with more than a few pence without a record of how it was spent. From supermarket receipts to electricity bills, we expect an itemised breakdown of where our money goes. Just as we are under an obligation to pay tax, the Government should be obliged to tell us how it spends our money. It is a simple idea that could change the way we do politics. For the first time people will get a real feel for the relative distribution of their taxes?” ….Only, once it’s gone it’s gone, isn’t it?
I for one wouldn’t be prepared to pay more tax under the provision I knew it was going to help build a new lamp post or signs on a particular road. The idea to me just seems like a further waste of time and money. However, that said, I’d be very interested to know what you all think – not just of personal statements – but of the budget in general.
Businessmen/women, entrepreneurs, casual readers, please leave your thoughts below about how the budget will affect you.