Telling the truth about SME life today

Live coverage of Osborne’s first Budget

Kate Pritchard is managing editor of Real Business

13.27: Osborne is summing up his Budget announcements now (blaming “past irresponsibility” again) and claims the “burden will be fairly shared”. Clegg nodds some more. Harriet Harman takes to the floor: “We’ve seen this all before!” she cries. “Yes, this is the same old Tory Budget, hitting those who can’t afford it the hardest. It includes things the Lib Dems have always fought against… Today’s Budget is bad for growth. It’s bad for business.”

13.20: The big one for entrepreneurs: capital gains tax. From midnight, higher-rate taxpayers will pay 28 per cent on their capital gains. The ten per cent rate for business owners will be extended to cover the first £5m of gains (rather than £2m). Osborne talks about “fairness” a lot.

13.19: Duty on alcohol and tobacco will not go up.

13.17: VAT will rise from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent from January 4 next year. The house explodes. Osborne, unsurprisingly, blames the Labour party. “The years of debt and spending make this unavoidable.”

13.14: Osborne announces new grants and tax cuts to help regional startups and companies that take on workers in regions outside southern England.

13.09: Onto the banking sector… The chancellor wants to introduce a bank balance sheet levy. He says this will generate more than £2bn. The Germans and the French have also agreed to bring in these levies.

13.04: Osborne moves on to employment. He says he wants to make it cheaper for companies to hire people. Employers’ National Insurance threshold will rise. Corporation tax (currently at 28 per cent) will be cut by one per cent each year for the next four years, bringing it down to 24 per cent, one of lowest rates in the G20. The small companies tax rate will also be cut to 20 per cent. “We want to encourage small businesses to grow,” he says. Some backdated business rate bills will be cancelled. The Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme will be extended.

13.02: Housing benefit is in “dire need of reform”. Caps will be introduced.

12.57: Two-year pay freeze for public sector workers. Welfare spending currently stands at £192bn. “This is one of the reasons why there is no money left,” says Osborne. He says he wants to increase incentives for people to stay in work. Maternity grants for first child only. Child benefit to be frozen for the next three years. Boos from the crowd.

12.55: The government will look to sell some assets, including the student loan book.

12.51: The Chancellor pays tribute to the Queen and her contribution to public life. He says civil list expenditure in the Royal household will be subject to scrutiny by the National Audit Office. Osborne says he will not be making steeper cuts in capital spending. Good news for business.

12.43: Osborne says the bulk of reduction will come from lower spending rather than higher taxes. Clegg (sporting a bright yellow tie) nodding furiously next to him. The Chancellor says borrowing will fall from £149bn this year to £116bn next year. Confirms the government will not be joining the euro in this parliament. “The euro preparations unit has been abolished!” he cries.

12.36: The Chancellor slams the former government, accusing it of having “no credible plan” to deal with the deficit. Osborne adopting a decisive tone.

12.31: George Osborne has entered the Commons chamber. The press are already calling it the Bloodbath Budget.

12.25: Five minutes to go. The Commons is jam packed. Standing room only.

12.05: Nick Robinson, BBC politics editor, warns that the Budget is going to be “eye-watering“.

11.51: George Osborne emerges from 11 Downing Street carrying the red briefcase. Everyone looking very solemn.


You can follow Kate Pritchard on Twitter @KateEPea


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