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Police threat for anyone leaking content of George Osborne's Budget 2015 address

4 min read

13 March 2015

Former editor

After previous Budget or Autumn Statement announcements had their thunder stolen by content details emerging in the days and weeks before, the Treasury has taken steps to prevent it happening again.

For what is chancellor George Osborne’s last Budget speech before the UK goes to the polls on 7 May to vote for its next government, the expectation of staff has been firmly laid out.

The BBC has reported that senior civil servant Nicholas Macpherson sent round an internal email outlining that he and the Treasury will not “hesitate to call the police” if it emerges that an internal source has leaked details.

It was back in 2013 when Osborne and his team saw much of the upcoming speech’s content revealed in pre-briefing sessions. The Evening Standard was forced to issue a hasty apology after it accidentally published details of a cancellation in planned fuel duty raise and increase in the personal allowance to £10,000.

BBC’s report goes on to reveal that Macpherson wrote: “I will take any breaking of the Budget pre-briefing rules very seriously: I will not hesitate to call in the police if that proves necessary.”

While the Treasury has not come out to confirm or deny the email, the government will want to ensure that it controls the flow of information in what will be a crucial day ahead of the general election.

Macpherson outlined that the “core” of the Budget he does not want to be the subject of pre-briefing includes economic and fiscal projections, the fiscal judgement and individual tax rates, reliefs and allowances.

Catch up on what the chancellor announced in his 2014 Autumn Statement:

In a piece written for Real Business on 8 March, Baker Tillly national chair George Bull detailed what would almost certainly not be in the Budget speech on 18 March. Bull believes that the chancellor will not make direct reference to one of the “big trends” in taxation, namely the move toward reducing company tax rates while shifting the burden of taxation towards individuals.

Real Business has also surveyed entrepreneurs and business leaders on what they would like Osborne to do to make their lives easier. In the feature, Robert Jakobi, MD at Metcalfe’s Food Company, said: “There are concerns that the next UK government will announce changes to entrepreneurs’ tax relief, something that would be an enormous blow to small businesses up and down the country.

“In his Budget statement I would like to see the chancellor make a commitment to continue this hugely beneficial tax break for small firms, rather than reducing the limit for qualifying gains that is currently set at £10m.

“Entrepreneurs’ tax relief provides a fantastic incentive for business owners to grow their companies, invest in innovation and to take on more staff – something that is vital to the future success of the UK economy.”

The chancellor is expected to use figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), set up in May 2010 after the last general election, to outline how the British economy has improved over the last five years.