A personal view.
No-one in the UK expected Chancellor Osborne to please everyone with his 2012 Spring budget. Most of us had second guessed some of the changes. On the surface the budget may have sounded rather a non event. However as always the devil is in the detail.
Conservative Osborne's budget shows where his loyalties lie. That is with the rich and wealthy of the UK. Little wonder that Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable stood close to the door. At times the Coalition Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg looked decidedly uncomfortable. So he should.
Whilst today's budget may please traditional Tory voters it will do nothing for traditional Lib Dem voters or floating voters. It could be that the Lib Dems input has stayed the hand of the Tories but come election time that will mean naught. It will be a straightforward race between Labour and the Conservatives. We will be back to the two party system.
The Chancellor's Spring 2012 budget laid before Parliament many planned changes. It will however be remembered more for his budget gift to high earners in the UK and his attack on the pockets of pensioners.
The Coalition bowed to middle England's pressure regarding child benefit changes. The fairest way would have been to set a household income limit. Earlier proposals had outlined changes which would have set £40,000 as a cut of for receiving Child Benefit payments. Ill thought out this would have meant that a two parent family earning a total of £75,000 would have still received CB.
Personally this blogger still feels that a household income limit would have addressed this issue. Instead the government has reneaged on its CB changes. The limit has now been set at £60,000. An income of £40,000 and above will still enable a claim for CB. The benefit will reduce for each pound earned above £40,000 until the £60,000 limit is reached.
Currently child benefit in the UK is set at, "Two separate amounts, with a higher amount for your eldest (or only) child. You get £20.30 a week for your eldest child and £13.40 a week for each of your other children."
So do people earning £40,000 need to receive child benefit?
Next up, presumably at the expense of others too, the reduction in the 50p high earners tax. The Media has reported that today's budget will take £1billion from UK pensioners. So the government wants pensioners to fund high earners child benefit and 50p tax reductions?
Osborne may make many excuses and reason that the changes are sensible and fair but I think he forgets we not stupid. He may think that we are. He must do to propose such a budget as one that rewards work when in effect all it did was help Tory cronies and themselves.
When Ed Miliband challenged the front bench of the Coalition as to which of them would personally benefit form this budget red faces were the order of the day. Of course all of them, as millionaires in their own right, will gain quite nicely, thank you very much.
Many people who work will gain a little with the tax changes but they will lose out in other ways. Tax credits for working families are reducing which will wipe out any tax gains.
Perhaps the most galling cut though is to pensioners payments. Having worked all their lives they are no longer included presumably in a budget that is a reward for work. Pensioners stand to lose a great deal. Still at least when a UK pensioner struggles to pay her or his gas bill they will have the satisfaction of knowing they have helped increase David Cameron's and George Osborne's, et al, standard of living
Remember this come voting time. A couple of years down the road the government will be dangling a carrot in UK voters faces hoping to win them over. Make sure you have a long memory and vote accordingly.
In general the media have assessed this budget as a political one. With a more comfortable economic picture Osborne was able to cut what he chose. Looks like he decided UK pensioners are not worth a stuff!
12.30pm UK time March 21, 2012, Chancellor George Osborne's budget address.
The House of Commons listened to the third budget from George Osborne. Leaks had meant that some details were already known but there are always some surprises.
Of course the Budget included more privatisation details. This time it was with the smiling approval of Vince Cable the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary. Changes to planning laws were announced that will help cut red tape.
For the period of the UK Jubilee and the Olympics Sunday trading laws are to be relaxed. Osborne insisted that this will only be for the period of the Olympics but time will tell. Sunday trading may be good for business and shoppers but it is bad news for those who work in this area.
The military budget will be cut by £2.4bn less than announced previously to the withdrawal of UK troops from Afghanistan,
Investment in apprenticeships for young people is to increase. As it was the previous Tory government that scrapped UK apprenticeships this is rather ironic but still good news.
Reforms to the tax system were also announced. Simplification of tax systems for small businesses sounded good news. It will cut the time spent on tax returns and hopefully reduce penalties.
VAT, value added tax, is to be simplified which will prevent loopholes currently being abused.
Changes to age related tax allowances will be in place by 2013. For this blogger these will affect the household income come retirement in a few short years. Negatively or positively remains to be seen. However the age related allowance is in effect scrapped. That at least on the surface is bad news. Those already in receipt will be protected.
The age of retirement may be linked to current life expectancy in the future. This is something that will now be looked at.
The Tax annual statement reported yesterday by TEKJournalismUK was officially announced. What it will cost was of course not mentioned.
Tobacco products are to rise at 5% above inflation. Osborne was at pains to say that this was to reduce young smokers and the like. He however has chosen to leave the duty on alcohol unchanged. Presumably so that Parliament can continue to get drunk at taxpayers expense in the Parliament Bar.. After all that alcohol is subsidised by we the UK Tax payers.
Osborne went on to detail taxes related to vehicles.
Then it was crunch time. UK taxes. After spiel regarding the low paid he went on to closing tax loopholes for the rich. Stamp Duty avoidance by using companies for example to purchase property will be closed. It is to be done by setting a stamp duty of 15%. Capital gains tax which will be set against property owned abroad.
New land tax duty for properties worth more that £2ml to come into force tonight. In other words the expected Mansion Tax. Corporation tax will however reduce yet again.
A new cap on pension tax relief is to be capped. As Osborne said they have capped welfare so it is right to cap tax relief.
After speaking on how high UK taxes are Osborne announced his tax changes. Yes he scrapped the 50p tax rate after using the fact that it did not raise enough revenue to justify it. That is because most people in that bracket have found tax dodges. After much justifying he finally announced that it was to be scrapped. Well the front bench of the Coalition will be happy as they personally will now pay less tax. It was however not totally scrapped but simply reduced to 45p from next year and will reduce in the future.
The level for child benefit reduction has been increased from £40,000 to £50,000. Even then it will not be lost but simply reduced until an income of £60,000 is reached. Yes people on such incomes really need hand outs.
The largest ever increase in personal taxallowance was announced. An increase to £9,205 before tax is paid, but not until 2013. Not the £10,000 that Clegg wanted but a step in the right direction. The current increased cost of living in the UK though will swallow most of this up. Many workers have no cost of living wage increase to look forward to as that has been frozen by this government. Then again there are the millions now out of work.
Osborne insisted as he finished speaking that his budget was designed to reward work. Carefully worded it set a trap for Ed Miliband who was to get to his feet and respond. However people are not so blind that they cannot see beneath the frothy words. As Miliband reminded him last year Osborne insisted that it was not right to cut the 50p tax whilst others were being hit.
Mr Miliband said this budget was the end of the Coalition's "We are all in this together". For this blogger the in it together statement was always BS.
A budget to reward work? No. A budget to reward the rich. As Ed said, "the government's bankers bonus" When he challnged the front bench of the coalition as to which of them would personally gain greatly from the tax changes there were many red faces but no answers.
Full Budget details here
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog