18 March 2015

CapX UK Budget Liveblog


14.40 Thank you for joining us. We’ll be publishing some post-budget analysis elsewhere on CapX later today.

14.36 Key Points

* Personal allowance raise to £10,800 next  year and £11,000 in 2017-8

* Annual tax returns to be abolished and replaced with a digital online tax account

* Savings tax abolished for 95% of taxpayers

* Duties on beer, cider, spirits cut, duties on wine and fuel frozen

* Manchester and Cambridge to keep 100% any growth in business rates in their regions

* No mention of the NHS, defence or security

* Pensioners to be allowed to access their annuities, with 55% tax charge abolished and tax applied at the marginal rate

* Charge on North Sea oil producers to be cut from 30% to 20%, while petroleum revenue tax to be cut from 50% to 30%.

14.28 Iain Martin, CapX Editor:

“Opinion is divided on Miliband’s response to the Budget. In my view it was a pretty good performance with some decent jokes. What will have cheered Labour is that he looked confident and he delivered lines that distilled the party’s attack lines for the election. You can say that it is ludicrous that people who helped Gordon Brown ‘end boom and bust’ are back for another go. You can say that they will whack up taxes and punish enterprise. But the Labour brand in parts of the country (not Scotland) remains relatively strong. Labour will say on the doorstep from now until polling day that the economic recovery is not making people feel better off. It is a powerful attack line that could cause the Tories difficulties.”

13.51 The 2015 Budget, in full, from Politics Home.

13.47 Ed Miliband: “Our economy is too unproductive, too unbalanced, too insecure.”

13.42 Iain Martin, CapX Editor:

“Miliband up to respond to the Budget. Always most difficult job ever. Apart from being deployed to Afghanistan, or cleaning a hospital or being a surgeon, and so on. But still, big test for the leader of the Opposition. He opts for some class warfare to begin, calling Osborne ‘the trust fund Chancellor’ and Cameron a ‘Bullingdon boy’. And then onto the main Labour line of attack, which the party is using on the doorstep. In essence, the government says the economy is improving but do you personally feel better off? To which many voters answer: no.”

13.39 Zac Tate, CapX Deputy Editor:

“Osborne wants to ‘build the economy on savings and not debt’. His new Personal Savings Tax allowance will lift 95% of savers out of tax, and a ‘radically more flexible ISA’ promotes individual responsibility. Apart from confirming a pledge to raise the personal allowance, there weren’t really any great surprises in this budget.”

13.37 Tim Knox, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies:

“1p off beer duty. Off to the pub to drink 400 pints so I can get one free!”

13.35 Ed Miliband’s response to Osborne: “a Budget people won’t believe, from a government they don’t trust”.

13.32 George Osborne ends his budget with six verbless sentences!

13.31 Tim Knox, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies:

“Osborne justifying ISA and pension reforms on grounds of… freedom! See his speech at CPS Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty.

13.25 Beer duty cut again – 1p off a pint. Cider cut by 2%, scotch whisky and other spirits cut by 2%, wine frozen. A nice perk, and not just for those who drink beer!

13.22  Chris Johnston, Victoria King, Alex Stevenson, Kerry Alexandra and Ben Morris, BBC:

“The chancellor rattles through some local announcements, including:
Cambridge is to get a similar deal to Manchester on business rates
The West Midlands’ Energy Research Accelerator gets £60m
A new rail franchise for the south-west
Negotiations on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon are to begin
The Severn Crossing’s toll rates are to be cut from 2018 -‘a boost for the drivers of white vans'”

13.19 “In the unlikely event that someone owns two kitchens, they’ll be able to control both fridges from one mobile device.” Brilliant.

13.18 Rachel Cunliffe, CapX Deputy Editor:

“Listening to all this talk about technology, the Internet of Things, and the sharing economy. Waiting for anything on cryptocurrency and bitcoin.”

13.17 Iain Martin, CapX Editor:

“Could the Tories make up their minds whether they want successful banks and a successful City or not? Classic Osborne rabble-rousing a few minutes ago. The Chancellor said that bankers used to boast they paid less tax than their cleaners. As Ben Wright at the Telegraph points out, they didn’t. One person did, from private equity. And he was condemning it. Now there is to be an increase in the bank levy to go along with the torrent of fiddly regulation engulfing the industry. That’s fine if you like that sort of thing (I don’t, I think regulation should be simple and focussed on big questions of systemic stability). But the Tory leadership says one thing to the City in private and another at Budgets when the country is watching.”

13.15 Rachel Cunliffe, CapX Deputy Editor:

“For those worried that all the attention would focus on the North and Scotland, some nice recognition of Wales. Welsh secretary Stephen Crabb seems happy.”

13.12 Long-term economic plan and Northern powerhouse, in one paragraph! Nice hit for Budget Bingo.

13.05 Tim Knox, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies:

“If income from the top 1% has risen while the rate of tax has fallen, surely we should all want further cuts in tax rates.”

13.02 CapX contributor and Europe Economics Chairmen Andrew Lilico:

“Spending actually rising in 2019/20, even as the deficit and government debt as a share of GDP falls towards the end of the next parliament. Strong, robust economic growth can lead to growing revenues even as the size of the state decreases. The Chancellor has just said, ‘if you back enterprise you raise more revenue.’

12.59 Iain Martin, CapX Editor:

“This forecasting years ahead stuff is such rubbish. About as much use as the projections announced in 2010 for now. Or Brown’s rosy picture in his last Budget as Chancellor in 2007. But politicians are now addicted to these forecasts because they sound official and reassuring.”


12.53 Iain Martin, CapX Editor:

“Good line from Osborne there. Government will pay off debt stemming from South Sea Bubble. ‘The debt issued by Gordon Brown will take a little longer to pay off.’ Much Tory laughter. Labour silence. But that’s a questionable figure, surely. Says Labour government added £192bn added to national debt by bailing out the banks. But the financial rescues sit off the balance sheet? Not included in national debt?”

12.49 Rachel Cunliffe, CapX Deputy Editor:

“Farmers, Yorkshire, the Northern powerhouse and now Scotland, all ticked off.

12.48 Iain Martin, CapX Editor:

“Long-Term Economic Plan update. We make it three and a half mentions so far for the Chancellor’s favourite phrase. He slipped in one cheeky Long-Term Plan, which only counts for a half if you are playing Budget Bingo and won’t count if you have put money on how many times he will say it.”

12.46 Tim Knox, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies:

Are you better off than you were 4 years ago? Reagan’s killer question in the 1980 Presidential debates now being recycled by Osborne.”

12.45 Zac Tate, CapX Deputy Editor:

“Leaving aside that fact that the Chancellor says that he ‘chooses the future’, as if this is something novel, his aim to ‘choose the nation’ reaffirms his self-image as of a man as ‘glass and concrete’ wanting to build a Northern Powerhouse. Meanwhile, GDP forecasts above 2.3% for the next four years should give the Chancellor considerable fiscal space.”

12.43 The country of Yorkshire has created more jobs than the whole of France.

12.41 Tim Knox, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies:

“Osborne talks of ‘a truly national recovery’. But no mention of Scotland….”

12.39 Iain Martin, CapX Editor:

“That opening section by the Chancellor was very retro, very 1980s. George says… Choose the future, choose families, choose the whole country, choose life.”

12.37 We choose economic security. We choose jobs. We choose hard-working families.

12.36 Iain Martin, CapX Editor: 

“And here we go. Final Budget of the Parliament. Osborne opens: ‘Britain is walking tall again.’ Says UK grew faster last year than any other country. Living standards higher than when he came to office, he says. You would hope so. That was five years ago.”

12.35 The critical choice for the British people: Do we return to the chaos of the past, or continue with the plan which is working for you?

12.31 It’s about to begin…

12.28 ASI’s Budget 2015 wishlist: A tax code that actually makes sense. Broadening VAT , abolishing Capitals Gains Tax, and reforming business rates and council tax.

12.26 Iain Martin, CapX Editor: 

“Budget bingo! Tory MP asks soft question citing government’s Long-Term economic Plan. Cameron responds that he does, indeed, have a Long-Term Economic Plan. It is a very good Long-Term Economic Plan, he says, and he ‘can’t calm down about it.’ ”

12.24 How to liven up the budget:



12.08 Iain Martin, CapX Editor

“Here we go, one of the worst but most high-spirited PMQs of the year (and that’s saying something). The pre-budget session is a warm-up for the Budget, where MPs ask the Prime Minister questions which are either toadying enquiries on the alleged brilliance of the government’s economic policy, or a statement of how corrupt, venal and disgraceful the government’s economic policy is. Good gag from Cameron though about “kitchen cabinets” and the Shadow Chancellor not knowing which of Ed Miliband’s two kitchens to go to. Miliband responds that at least he paid for his kitchen, unlike the government chief whip (who was accused of putting it all on expenses).”

12.07 Tim Montgomerie wrote for CapX on Monday on how George Osborne, 43¾, has finally found his mission. He told the Financial Times recently that he sees himself as a mix of Lawson and Heseltine but, in reality, he’s increasingly all Heseltine. He’s comfortable with a government of grand projects. Crossrail, HS2, HS3, “Devo Manc”.

12.05 Five charts you need to see before the Budget, including growth figures, projections for the size of government and the income tax threshold over the next parliament, and why you shouldn’t be fooled by any tax giveaways today. Mehreen Khan, the Telegraph

12.00 Personal income tax threshold expected to rise to £11,000. The policy for raising the poorest earners out of income taxation was first devised by the Centre for Policy Studies in 2001. Andrew Lilico writes for CapX “expect to hear analysis of how much after-tax pay for those in employment towards the bottom of the income distribution has risen this Parliament, defusing Labour’s contention that the poor have not benefitted from the recovery.”

11.55 CapX contributor and Europe Economics Chairmen Andrew Lilico has written for CapX on what he expects from the Budget, including “bake it in the cake” legislation that binds any future administration to the Chancellor’s spending: “It’ll probably be 2018 and there is a good chance Osborne will legislate to force a surplus that year. That would mean an incoming minority Lab-Lib-Green administration could only deviate from Osborne’s plan today if they can get a majority to vote to reverse it – which they won’t have.”

11.45 Welcome to the live blog for the 2015 UK Budget. The CapX team will be analysing Chancellor George Osborne’s final Budget of this Parliament. Join us for news, analysis and comment – you can tweet us at @CapX or email us at [email protected]

What have people been saying so far?

“It’s the tax bracket that keeps on rising. The personal allowance stood at just £6,475 when the Coalition came into office, and could now be hiked to £11,000 before the election. Taking people out of their first £11,000 of income tax equates to a £200 boon for 27 million British workers and has been a key Liberal Democrat election promise.” Mehreen Khan, and Matthew Holehouse, the Telegraph

“Tax on income from savings will be abolished for millions of people in the Budget today as George Osborne woos pensioners and ‘hard-working taxpayers’ ahead of the May general election.” Andrew Grice, the Independent

“UK Chancellor George Osborne is set to make an announcement in the Budget 2015 speech (taking place on 18 March) outlining Treasury’s consultation on bitcoin and digital currency technology, according to people familiar with the matter.” Anthony Cuthbertson, the International Business Times

“It’s a sweet opportunity for the chancellor. Expect a Budget devoted exclusively to boosting his party’s electoral chances. That means, of course, some surprise giveaways to the choicest voter groups… But, much more importantly, Osborne will use the Budget to frame the election debate.” Martin Sandbu, the Financial Times