The 2011 Budget and Business

George Osborne’s 2011 Budget ended off with these stirring words:

“So this is our plan for growth. We want the words: ‘Made in Britain’, ‘Created in Britain’, ‘Designed in Britain’, ‘Invented in Britain’ to drive our nation forward. A Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers.”

Has he done enough? Could he have done better? Well, no and yes to those questions.

He is thinking in the right way and that is reflected in, say, his Corporation Tax reduction and by his indication that the 50% top tax rate is not to be seen as a permanent measure. So too, his plan to create more Enterprise Zones is the right move, but the package of incentives for them is not attractive enough. I score these measures a 6/10 – could do better! Why do I say that? – simply because companies that make things need a much bigger dose of incentives.

I was pleased with the noises he made about public sector pensions (which should really include the BBC and its debt-ridden, over-indulgent scheme). Changes in retirement ages and benefits are long overdue – after all, as Winston Churchill would now be saying if he were the Chancellor: “Never in the field of public finance has so much been owed to so many by so few” – the few being us poor taxpayers.

Will the Budget deliver growth? I am doubtful on this score largely because of the lack of boldness displayed and provided little psychological uplift to change the negative mind-set that is so prevalent in business and the economy at large.

There were many other measures, of course, relating to Bankers, Start-ups, Red Tape, and Non-Doms etc, but none very exciting.

Conclusion – despite his thinking being on the right lines, the Chancellor has missed the chance to be truly innovative, decisive and creative – it was more a Budget Slightly Bodged in Britain, so much so that he needs to be careful that his theme tune does not become (to paraphrase the old Show Business song): ‘There’s no business like No Business, There’s no business I know…..”

Published on Mar 31, 2011 by Neil Thomas