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Home > Blogs > Mindful Money > UK Budget 2013: still fiddling around the edges

UK Budget 2013: still fiddling around the edges

UK Budget: still fiddling around the edges Mindful Money

The Chancellor could have chosen to be bold in this Budget, despite the weak state of the public finances. He could, for example, have announced a major review of the tax system aimed at reducing reliefs and loopholes in order to lower and smooth marginal rates. On spending, he could have relaxed the ring-fencing of health, education and foreign aid to lessen damaging cuts in other departments and release funds for capital spending.

Instead, this is another Tinkerman’s Budget, containing a host of measures designed to capture headlines but amounting to little more than robbing Peter to pay Paul, and having little or no implication for medium-term economic prospects.

Peter and Paul, indeed, are often the same person. The higher personal allowance and lower fuel and beer duty, for example, are effectively paid for by the early introduction of the single state pension, which will result in a large increase in national insurance contributions of currently contracted-out employees from 2016-17. Similarly, the reduction in corporation tax to 20% from 2015-16 along with the £2,000 allowance aimed at micro-employers will be funded from increased employer NI contributions, along with changes to the tax treatment of partnerships and corporate losses, supposedly to tackle “avoidance”, and the usual hike in the bank levy.

The most significant announcement was an extension of support for the housing market via an expansion of equity loans and the introduction of a mortgage guarantee scheme of up to £12 billion, estimated to be sufficient to support lending of £130 billion. The latter scheme, however, will be self-financing – banks must purchase guarantees from the government and will pass the cost on to borrowers. Mortgage access, in other words, will improve but at the expense of affordability.

The tinkering approach was also in evidence in the revised MPC remit, which retains the primacy of the 2% inflation target but directs the Committee to explore “explicit forward guidance” and Fed-style “intermediate thresholds” for key indicators like the unemployment rate, in line with the thinking of incoming Bank of England Governor Mark Carney. The Chancellor eschewed the opportunity of opening up a wider debate on the monetary policy framework and the remit change seems mainly designed to pressure other MPC members to fall in behind Mr Carney should he choose to pursue such initiatives.

This article was originally published on Mindful Money under the title: UK Budget: still fiddling around the edges

Tags: Britain , budget , Budget2013 , Chancellor , Financial , Fiscal Year , George Osborne , House of Commons , London , Parliament , UK , UK economy
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