Another year, another budget, although I seem to have missed all the news that was in this one. “Hold-on”, you say, “was there any?”. Possibly not really. Most things are frozen, personal allowances, inheritance tax thresholds, even fuel duty is lightly chilled, and will only be added in installments. Better than we could have expected then? Well, actually not. Now that inflation is back in positive territory, all the freezes in allowances work out as small tax cuts. And if you happen to live in the West country, then you’re being hit very hard – cider has been singled out for a large (10%) and immediate tax rise.
The fuel tax delay is welcome, although fuel prices are now back to the level they were at nearly two years ago when oil was $147 per barrel, compared with around $80 new. Even factoring in the steep depreciation of sterling, this equates to £75 then, versus approximately £55 now, so we’re still being hit hard. And it’s not just the private motorist, all goods and food need delivering somewhere, and all prices will begin to rise because of this tax.
The only good news (if it can be called that) was the drop in the deficit from that forecast, but it is still staggering, and a more concrete plan for its reduction is needed very soon. Hopefully the General election will not result in a hung parliament, and the new (probably) Conservative government can get a plan into action to restore faith in the markets and in sterling (preferably in time for my holiday!).