The clock ticks down to when George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer gets up in the House of Commons and delivers what could be his last Budget to the nation.
That might sound as if he’s about to take early retirement but should David Cameron come unstuck at the General Election, Osborne would be a firm favourite to take over. Although he apparently didn’t shine in maths at that underprivileged school called Eton, he could say that he has been the most successful Conservative Chancellor since, well, Kenneth Clarke….Historians among you will know Mr Hush Puppy Man was the last one anyway.
In the Comment before last, we dealt with the trade associations that come knocking at No 11 Downing Street prior to the Budget, only to send out disappointed press releases afterwards.
One can but feel that this will be the case this week, especially as Osborne would be foolish not to concentrate what spare cash he has going to enticing voters to his side. So, it is highly unlikely that he will do what Nigel Rees at the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has urged year after year and cut VAT on energy efficient windows to 5%.
In fact, in its submission to the Chancellor, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) probably hit the target when it stated after a relatively favourable FSB Index report: ‘To maintain this positive trend and support business confidence, the Chancellor should concentrate on building on existing initiatives rather than invent new ones, particularly through taking forward tax simplification measures and committing to fundamental reform of business rates.’ (See accompanying news item.)
As many of you would consider yourself in the small to medium enterprises (SMEs) bracket, a continuation of support would be welcome, especially around investment allowances and business rates.
Osborne would be applauded were he to prolong the £500,000 extension of the Annual Investment Allowance, and would receive a standing ovation if he increased it.
One school of thought has proposed the introduction of a capital allowance that would see a return to industrial buildings allowances (IBAs). Originally, set up after the Second World War to encourage manufacturing to recover from the decimation of the conflict, these allowed businesses to claim a tax deduction for a proportion of the cost of certain buildings. They were phased out by the Gordon Brown government when we heard the infamous Scottish bragging of: “No more boom and bust.”
Bringing back IBAs? It was Voltaire who said: “History never repeats itself. Man always does.” Could George, the flunk at maths, be the man to prove the French philosopher wrong?
Caption The great French philosopher, Voltaire, believed history didn’t repeat itself but either way, a return to something like industrial building allowances might be the tonic manufacturing needs.