"Stability" has been the word of the week. Others might suggest "boring". Certainly, chancellor Alistair Darling did his best to stupefy the country into submission with his first Budget . His thinking seemed to run "if they do complain, I’ll just start talking again; that’ll show ’em."
In the circumstances, shadow chancellor George Osborne has done a pretty feisty job. It’s pretty tough to come up with alternatives when the world’s financial giants are in meltdown, so his strategy has been to ask where all the money’s gone over the past ten boom years. It’s a good question.
For entrepreneurs, the Budget announcements confirmed the worst and were well covered in our Budget review. The CGT changes will go ahead, with the hotchpotch "entrepreneurs’ relief"; non-doms will feel the lash; corporation taxes are on the way down; plus the usual fiddling with the Loan Guarantee scheme; and some headline-grabbers for women entrepreneurs.
With the end of taper relief in sight in April, the past month has seen the sales announced of some of the UK’s best-known entrepreneurial businesses. Pret a Manger, Dreams, Tyrrells, these are world-beating businesses whose handover has been precipitated by a tax hike.
If so much M&A can be provoked by one tax change, just imagine how much business-creation might happen if we introduced a tax change to stimulate entrepreneurial behaviour – such as bringing back the old taper relief system, for example; or a CGT regime or Enterprise Investment Scheme that benefited entrepreneurial teams and brought more people under the entrepreneurial umbrella.
But I suppose that’s not boring enough…