9 July 2015

What did you make of yesterday’s Budget? It seems to have really divided people and I have to admit, I was left with some conflicting feelings myself.

budget_caseTo start on a positive, I do have a lot of confidence in the government’s ability to eliminate the deficit and get Britain, as George Osborne put it, out of the red and back in black. If we’re on track to achieve a surplus of £10bn by 2019/20 then they have clearly been doing something right.

Personally, I think one of the areas they’ve improved is targeting tax evasion and preventing large corporations from diverting their profits offshore. Osborne’s announcement about naming and shaming people for attempts to avoid paying their fair share is a good idea, as these companies put SMEs in particular under immense pressure by driving their prices down. When you’re not paying the same amount of tax, you can afford to do this and it damages smaller organisations that actually contribute.

In fact, I think Osborne should go one step further. Why not have a ‘contribution scale’ showing Britain’s top 1,000 contributors? So you could see their turnover, their profit and then how much they paid in tax. Imagine the clarity this would provide to consumers about the businesses they choose to support with their custom.

On the bright side, I was very happy to hear that corporation tax would go down to 18%. Out of the whole Budget, that’s the best thing that could have happened and I’m confident it will go some way to curbing tax avoidance.

One of the things I did take umbrage with, however, was the caveat that came with the living wage announcement. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm supporter of increasing the minimum wage, but why on earth does the new £7.20 minimum not apply to people under the age of 25? This is supposed to be a government supporting the young people coming through. Excluding younger workers from the living wage is morally wrong. The Conservatives have created a stick to beat the opposition with here, but personally I think it will come back and beat them.


Greater Manchester, leading the way for devolution

In terms of technology, it was probably one of the least techie Budgets I’ve ever heard, and when it comes to the Northern Powerhouse, I don’t think there was anything particularly revolutionary in there. In principle, I agree with devolution of powers. Manchester certainly knows how best to spend money locally. But would devolution work in other cities? I don’t know.

We’re lucky to have enterprising people like Sir Richard Leese and Sir Howard Bernstein running our city but I think they’re one in a million.

Will other cities get leaders who are ready for this level of independence? Politics doesn’t tend to attract commercially savvy people so when it comes to how effective devolution will be across the board, I think we’ll have to wait and see.

Ultimately, I think this was a Budget of ups and downs. As a technology entrepreneur I’m a little concerned about the absence of digital infrastructure commitments. The drop in corporation tax is welcome news, however, and if we can get the government to apply the new living wage to under 25s, I think it will be hugely beneficial for our productivity as a nation.

What did you make of the Budget? Which of Osborne’s announcements will affect you the most?

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