Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Budget Day Ain’t What It Used To Be

When I was starting out in my chosen profession, budget day was something special in the office. The one day that radios were allowed to be on, and a late afternoon of comradely toil in the basement with risograph and staple machine, putting together the special same-day budget briefings that the tax department had cobbled together during the speech.

Nowadays, half of it has been announced in advance either in previous budgets or the pre-budget speech (e.g. the tax-cut-that-isn’t-quite* as unveiled by Brown last March .. or the Inheritance Tax relief-that-isn’t-really** from Darling last November). Oh, and then there’s the sort-of-u-turns that happen in between.***

The other half – the nasty stuff – won’t come out for another couple of months when the Finance Bill wends its way through the committee stages, long after the financial hacks have moved on from making pretty “what it means for the average family with 2.4 smoking children and 4×4-driving dog” graphics.

So I’m not particularly bothered that this Wednesday I’ll be sitting on the panel interviewing the long list for a director position in my Council, rather than hanging on Darling’s every vacuous word. Nor that I’ll not be availing myself of the 7:30 am “Budget Breakfast” briefings the following morning.

Actually, the latter is nothing to do with the modern budget event, rather that breakfast meetings are, to me, just … wrong. Not unless they are being held in my front room and you don’t mind me attending, Arthur Dent style, in my dressing gown.

* He cut the basic rate to 20% … and doubled the (former) starting rate to 20%. Not much good if you’re on £18,000 or less.

** He allowed couples to share their IHT thresholds (which they could do already with the right paperwork), and still couldn’t match Osborne’s £1m proposal.

*** The “Entrepreneurs’ Relief” that is coming in alongside the 18% Capital Gains Tax rate, but which has the customary ball of strings attached.

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