I confess: the Budget is fractionally more than I expected; but less than I hoped.
It was also so skilfully doused in attempts to show Osborne and the success of his policies in a favourable light, that made it more than a little hard to follow. Never again will I hear the phrase Aspiring nation” without cringing.
He attempted to heap oily praise on our business successes, heralding the great achievements of the private sector to have replaced six-fold any single job lost in the public sector. When this government came to power, Cameron was quick to announce that it was over to business to do our bit. Damn right, when you look at our achievements in this light, we most certainly have.
The budget was presented in terms of a thank you to all us wonderful people.
I had been desperately keen to see something done about the proposed fuel duty increase in September. This affects every household and therefore potential customer spend, and every business in any way reliant on transportation. Almost more importantly, it is actually a promise of some security on future planning which is what we so badly need to restore confidence in running an everyday business in Britain. On this point, I do applaud him.
I was all for something being done about Employers National Insurance tax. I agree that it will help encourage employment, and getting the country back to growth. The reality for most businesses is that it will help but a fraction. At £2,000, it will only make a significant difference to the smallest businesses. While I was glad to see something, in real terms it falls woefully short of really delivering much.
Then there is the reduction in corporation tax. Again, it sounds great. Reality is that for many, many businesses in the UK who have fought their way through these austere years, what profit they will make – if any – is often more uppermost in their minds than what tax they will pay on it in 2015. And it isn’t exactly an immediate help, given the start date of the scheme.
There is some help for high-growth business, with more talk on single local growth funds, extensions to Funding for Lending, increase in R&D credits, and more plans for the Business Bank, all of which I am sure will be welcome news to businesses.
For the average survivor business, who doesn’t have the scope for huge growth, it all means very little. Few even care if we actually do achieve his so heralded fastest broadband in Europe. It isn’t the thing that will stop those of us who have re-mortgaged our houses, or staked everything on dedicating ourselves to keep our livelihoods afloat from sleepless nights.
I am all for us continuing to encourage start ups in the UK. I am all for encouraging high growth companies. There are, however, thousands of SMEs across Britain who are neither of these things. They are still part of the people who have kept Britain going, who have continued to provide employment and kept the wheels of the country oiled.
For them, Mr Osborne’s message appears to be a simple, “My dear, I don’t give a damn. Mr. Osborne I have long since got to that state with you and your glib phrases. Forgive me if I don’t get too excited. Instead, I will just go on quietly with running my ordinary business, with as little help from you as normal.
Jan Cavelle is founder of the Jan Cavelle Furniture Company.