The chancellor hit it lucky, of course, that he had a spare £27bn to play with from better than expected results from the Office for Budget Responsibility’s figures, showing lower debt interest and higher revenues
But it was a pretty flawed excuse for a political u-turn which fooled no-one. Not that I would argue that he was wrong to do so – I was very much in the camp of too much austerity now. And who can argue, in this climate of terrorism we now live, in favour of police cuts? Our George is a savvy animal and knows better than to sign his own death warrant.
So while some of the country crow with the glory of overturning his plans, and the more cynical scrape below the surface as experts warn that for some the cuts are alive and well and will hit their pockets next year, what of us businesses? The businesses that have returned this Conservative government to power? The businesses that have been asked to deliver us through the recession?
Well the big news is of course the apprenticeship levy, the Robin Hood tax that takes from big business to give to the small. The chancellor is putting 0.5 per cent tax on the payroll of companies with payroll costs of over £3m, and lucky small businesses will be able to apply to the fund in 2020. It does in general sound to me a good idea, but forgive me if I don’t find this immediate comfort.
Read more from Jan Cavelle:
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What is slightly worse is the Institute of Directors’ report that the government is planning to spend one quarter of the money raised on a new IT system for the administration of the levy. That sounds an awful lot of benefit never reaching businesses.
We then had the extraordinary concept of raising funds with plans to make small businesses and the self-employed do their returns quarterly – and using digital from next April. That from the government that pledged to support SME’s, perceiving the space rightly as the spawning ground of business and revenue. That from the government which promised to cut red tape for business.
You have already made it well nigh-impossible for many business to survive, Osborne, with your plan of continual enforced minimum wage rises. The nod to small business rate relief but it doesn’t apply to most of us. Reindeer droppings to you too this Christmas Mr Osborne.
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