19 March 2015

Whether you like the Conservatives or not, I’ve got to say; they did a pretty good job yesterday during the Budget.

Personally, I think it was tremendous. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Pre-election, it’s very easy to go for headline grabbing statements but I was pleasantly surprised. It was more about ‘let’s keep on doing what we’ve been doing in previous years’, which is clearly working. The deficit is going down and from a business perspective, the economy is getting stronger. People are spending more and there’s a good feeling in the boardroom and on the street.

budget_caseI thought the way it was all delivered was good too. Osborne spoke about the Inheritance Tax and how he’s going to retrospectively look at that, which is very topical because Ed Miliband has been a bit naughty, getting caught out for doing a bit of paperwork to avoid some of that tax, which isn’t illegal but is still a deliberate evasion. So it’s nice to see the government doing something about that for the future.

They also looked at some other tax evasion measures such as the diverted profits tax, dubbed the Google Tax. As I’ve said before, there are some big American corporates that are able to wash money abroad as management charges. It’s very difficult for the government to charge them any money so they’re not really contributing to the British economy. As you can imagine, this makes it hard for local independent retailers to compete when the big international corporates aren’t contributing at the same level that they would have to.

More locally speaking, I think there are some fantastic things going on for Manchester, such as the Mayor. It was originally voted against but I think people are warming to it now that it has become apparent that there’s a bigger plan here.

They’re talking about bringing the money back to Manchester, allowing Manchester to manage its own funds. And there’s also devolution for skills, health and transport, which means that Manchester will be able to be more in control of what it’s spending.  Over the years we’ve heard from Sir Howard Bernstein about how much money gets spent per head in London in relation to Manchester and it is totally disproportionate, so I think these changes are fantastic.

It’s also wonderful to hear that the North has been winning for highest job creation and lovely to see our neighbours, the folk of Yorkshire, having created the most jobs in the whole of the country.

As you’d imagine, I’m also pleased to hear that Osborne’s bringing in a £600m investment in digital infrastructure and superfast broadband. If that means that even the most remote and far flung places can communicate and enjoy the opportunities created by strong internet connectivity then it can only be a good thing.

One of my personal highlights, however, was hearing about the plans for reducing the deficit. It’s always been a concern that Britain borrows too much money. Can you imagine the state of a business that owed significantly more than it could actually produce? We should view running the country like running a business. It’s nice to see that the government is taking the same sort of initiative. Essentially, they’re looking at reducing the national debt which is now around £9bn, and actually having a £5m surplus by 2018/19. That’s a huge improvement.

There’s also been a very positive change to the tax threshold, which has been raised to £10,800. So 27 million people will be affected by that. Not paying tax on the first £10,800 of your income has got to be a good thing and it supports people on the lower income bracket.

The only real low point for me was the minimum wage announcement. It’s a bit sad that’s it’s only going to be £8 by the end of the decade. It’s got to be more than that. Personally, I think the minimum wage should be £10. That’s a nice round number and worth getting out of bed for.

However, when you put that aside, I think there are a lot of positive steps being made. I think the wheels are definitely in motion and the best plan now is to stay with what’s working and keep moving forward.

Did you watch the Budget yesterday? What did you make of it? I’d love to hear your opinions.

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