Scarily, George Osbourne’s budget tally is now up to a whopping eight with the announcement yesterday (16/03/16) of his 2016 budget. It’s easy to get caught up in the detail of the annual announcement, and in all fairness you can get that elsewhere, so to cut out all of that we’ve put together our no holds barred ten point summary of the shower of golden jets that have been cascading out of George Osborne today.
- A new fatty tax arrives – if you’re sub eighteen and carrying a bit too much in the way of Michelin tyres around the mid section then you’re down as enemy number one for Judd. While the rest of the media is referring to this as the sugar tax, the reality is that it’s more a tax on the tubs who can’t say no to the amber nectar of fizzy pop. If this is you, expect the average can of glug to cost you a good whack more going forward and for the additional revenue raised from this (estimated at £520m per year) to go into primary school tykes to play more sports.
- A school by any other name – essentially, this is a plan for schools to become academies by 2022, which sounds a bit like a load of old wrinkly nut sacks to us. All we can think about when we hear the term is that scene in Police Academy 5 when Tackleberry threatens a shark in the shallow waters of Maimi, “move it, move it, move it!” There’s bound to be a fair few teachers and parents that will want to do the same to the pinched peepers of the chancellor. A school is a normal kid’s childhood and an Academy sounds more like the place the Hitler youth went to get their elocution lessons, so hopefully this is one that goes away before it becomes a reality.
- Screw the targets anyway – targets shmargets seems to be Osborne’s standpoint on any specific economic milestones he’s meant to have hit by now. Economic growth forecasts have been massaged down like Jamie Theakston’s money clip after a heady night out on the town, and the same could be said about GDP and debt. Look on the bright side, though, at least Fanta is getting shafted too.
- Cut this shizzle – Osborne has also set out that he’ll need to make another huge £3.5bn cut to public spending by 2020, so if you thought the days of austerity measures were behind us, you’ll need to redress your expectations slightly for a little more gruel in terms of government spending.
- A little sugar for the tax paying community (as long as you don’t use it to buy Tizer or the sexy Scottish cheek tickler that is Barr’s Irn Bru) – continuing his bid to give a little to help people get a little (Orangina!), he’s increasing the threshold for the lower rate (the point at which you start paying taxingtons) from £11,000 in April 2016 to £11,500 in April 2017. If that isn’t enough, you can also add a dash of Mary Poppins’ bag juice to the 40% tax threshold, which will go from £42,385 to £45,000 by April 2017. Although, if we’re being honest, we’d have to say that adding more than £2,500 to the upper rate and just a monkey to the lower rate is equivalent to robbing peter to pay Tarquin.
- Everybody freeze… the duties – there are no big changes to the duties, other than the sugar fat challenge we mentioned above. Fuel duty remains the same along with alcohol tithes, and tobacco is only going up by a wisp of just 2%.
- Save the ISA, save the world – take money, put it in the bank and leave it there for a while to slowly accumulate. Saving! ISAs! Limits! £15,240 to £20,000! Boom! Georgie Porgie seems to want you to stack as many pies as you can in your little dark larder. This includes an increase in the annual ISA limit from £15,240 to £20,000, a £1,000 per year top-up on savings to buy a house, and a further top-up of £1 for every £4 saved in the new lifetime ISA for the under 40s.
- SMEzing – small to medium enterprise might be getting a boost too with the annual threshold for not paying tax rising from £6,000 to £12,000, and the higher rate is getting an even bigger shift upwards from £18,000 to £51,000, so if you’ve been mulling over opening a chippy called Batter Be Good then there’s never been a better time to do it.
- Got to keep on moving – there are some positives and some negatives to the plans for transport and infrastructure in the 2016 budget. The most exciting is that the cost to enter Wales is being halved by 2018 with the reduction to the Severn Bridge tolls – oggies, faggots and daffodils for everyone! However, the Crossrail 2 project, designed to improve travel in London, has been given the green light, adding more worry to the Curzon Soho, which has been earmarked as potential collateral damage.
- Take shelter – Finally, for anyone out in the back garden building their own storm shelter, Michael Shannon-style, you might want to hold your horses a little as the government are planning on throwing £700m of budget at ramping up its flood defenses after a few years of very bad conditions for people in flood zones. However, if a monster tidal wave does start ploughing in the direction of the Scarborough fair then the only people not in deep water will be the paranoid and delusional bunker bunnies, so think on if you’re counting on the government to save you.
That’s it for another year, and if you’d like a less happy go lucky summary of the 2016 budget you can kiss kiss bang bang off to the likes of the BBC for a more straight laced and in depth view.