By the time the Chancellor makes his final Budget speech of this Parliament in 2015, the General Election will be only weeks away.
It will be a wish list based on manifesto commitments for a future Conservative Government: “this is what you can expect from us.”
This means that 2014 is not only a big year for the future of the United Kingdom – the Scottish referendum is only 182 days’ away – but the last chance saloon for the Coalition.
#Budget2014 promises much, but can the Chancellor deliver?
This is your 413 day countdown until we go to the polls.
This Budget means business?
The Chancellor wanted to present “a Budget for the makers, the doers and the savers” and to reassure business. He wanted it to provide stimulus for long-term recovery. And with UK growth now faster than Germany, United States and Japan, it’s the facts that will reassure, not the rhetoric.
John Cridland, CBI Director General has recently warned, “We are at the early stages of a vital, but not inevitable, rebalancing of the economy.” He goes on to say, “Whether we do this actually depends on whether we choose to do it. There’s nothing inevitable about it.”
So with the economy recovering, property values rising and wage growth likely to be outstripping inflation by the end of the year, the Chancellor’s job is to keep our feet on the ground.
As if by magic…
By 2018-19, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts a surplus of almost £5bn. As if by magic – or significant austerity measures – the deficit will disappear and we will return to surplus.
And with GDP forecast to grow by between 2.3 and 2.7 per cent each year for the next four years, George took his time twisting the knife into Ed Miliband and Ed Balls today. We can only imagine how political #budget2015 might be. A suite of headline-grabbing measures including a £7bn package to cut energy bills for manufacturers and other steps to encourage saving.
The development industry will be interested to see the Chancellor pulling various rabbits out of the hat with Help to Buy extended to 2020, support for building more than 200,000 new homes and, for anyone who fancies a move to north Kent, a new “garden city” in Ebbsfleet where only 300 homes have ever come to market as part of that decade-old regeneration project.
Stick to the plan
In early April, the new Planning Court will come into being. It is aimed at fast-tracking disputes, not least major construction projects. A welcome boost for communities for whom legal stalemate can go on for years.
The Government will also review the General Permitted Development Order, creating a much wider ‘retail’ use class. They are also refreshing the ‘something-to-resi’ angle to help plug the housing gap. This time it’s warehouses and light industry in the spotlight. There must be more demand than we realise to live on an industrial estate…
Business rates reform: nearly, but not yet
Not everyone is happy at the pace of change on business rates.
Today’s Budget simply re-announced the business rates discounts to come into force in two weeks. The only fresh item was the enhanced capital allowances in enterprise zones extended for a further three years.
Over and above today’s Westminster circus, the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) continues to push Government hard on this critical area, which affects businesses both big small.
Certainly, the Government was never going to backtrack on postponing the revaluation, even though the evidence was crystal clear.
Pub quiz question: what region was the biggest winner because of the postponement?
Pub quiz answer: London. This is simply not fair: #beyondretail
Absolutely everyone is now calling time on this outmoded system of taxation with RICS making a clear case ‘when judged against the criteria of effectiveness, efficiency, fairness and transparency, it is clear that the business rates system is failing and stifling growth.’
Another day, another dollar
Or, to be precise, a 12 sided £1 coin to be introduced in 2017.
“The most secure coin in the world” is designed to prevent forgeries and is made in this shape in honour of one of the first coins The Queen appeared on – the threepenny bit.
However, in case you don’t remember that particular coin, imagine a rather funny shaped one euro and you won’t go far wrong.
To download the Budget and associated documents, please click here.