Business & Internet Forums

Gordon Brown delivers…speech

March 22, 2006

Categories: Economy, Political

Gordon Brown today delivered his budget speech, which for all intents and purposes was more talk than action.

Having failed their own targets for reducing child poverty, Gordon Brown went into damage limitation by announcing a round of increased funding for schools - something that’s hard not to read as the creation of a new tier of management to bean-count the service.

It’s also worth pointing out that throwing money at the education system doesn’t make it inherently better - it’s a point of fact that exams at the 16 and 18 year levels (GCSE’s and A-Levels) have been getting easier and easier.

The overall problem is that there is no attempt to hold qualifications to meaningful standards of achievement. The UK exam boards instead obsess about creating easier exams so that more schools - who need higher pass rates for government bean-counting tables - will therefore invest their pupils with them.

Gordon Brown also tried to save face by claiming to have kept well within his “Golden Rule” of not spending more than revenues within an economic cycle, obviously omitting the fact that he’s twice had to twice reinvent the length of the current economic cycle in order to be seen to be doing the job right.

Which pretty much underlines the current government’s approach of trying to emphasise meaningless figures.

On the business front - well, not much change. As usual, a slight increase in Personal Tax Allowance. No change on other business taxes though.

A glimmer of hope is that he announced a review into “better alignment of the national insurance (NI) and income tax systems”. To some, this sounds like an opportunity to simplify National Insurance in future. However, he emphasised that this would be for “low-paid workers”, so such hopes may yet be dashed.

As for the long-standing struggle over Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) - the ability for private individuals to invest better in property (also known as FUDGE to stop the housing market bubble from bursting or deflating), the Chancellor stated that property firms will be charged 2% of the gross market value of their investment properties if they want to convert into a REIT, and should open up in January 2007.

Overall, we were never going to see any real surprises in this budget - and for once, Gordon Brown didn’t disappoint.

Choice Quotes:

UK firms have watched while other countries have reduced business taxes to help their companies compete in this era of globalisation. Yet the UK continues to do the opposite.

- CBI Director, Sir Digby Jones

The best thing about this Budget was that it did not add significantly to the already substantial business tax burden. However, this was very much a ‘pick and mix’ Budget, strong on rhetoric but light on detail with plenty of window dressing.

- Martin Temple, EFF

Billions raised, billions spent. No idea where the money has gone. With a record like that the chancellor should be running for treasurer of the Labour Party.

- David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative Party

He could have tackled the unfair tax system. He could have made the environment a priority. He could have faced up to the pensions crisis. He could have addressed the problem of personal debt. He’s declined to do any of these. This is a legacy from which it will be difficult for him to escape.

Sir Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats

>> Discuss this in the Platinax Business & Internet forums (free registration)

Link: Gordon Brown delivers…speech

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment