Budget view (6/11/18 )
Last weeks budget can be summed up as safe, and we’re inclined to agree. The two shibboleths of inheritance tax and pensions were both avoided by the Chancellor – a review of the former by the Office of Tax Simplification is due to be published later this year, though we suspect that the Treasury already know what the report will say. And pensions didn’t merit any words, wise or otherwise. PFI was abandoned, leaving £200bn of liabilities on the governments balance sheet. Wine will be taxed a little more, but not beer, and the fuel duty escalator remains stationary. More money will go to the NHS, to schools and to defence, the self-employed are going to be stung for more tax, and universal credit will go up. The digital sales tax is the default outcome for the so-called FAANGs unless the OECD can get its act together – and it’s not a bad idea. And Chancellor Phil hammered a stake into the torso of austerity. In short, a fairly blatant grab for the middle ground, likely to be the fiercest battlefield in any future general election.