Some fairly random thoughts on the budget.
* VAT up to 20%: excellent. Calculating 17.5% was always so tedious. Score: +1.
* Child benefit and public sector pay will be frozen – for no clear reason we (as in, our family) get child benefit, which seems silly. The Economist wanted to means test it, but that would be dull and employ yet more bean counters. Still, it might at least ensure that only those who need it bother to apply. Score: -1. Public sector pay: well, tough. I got no pay rise in 2008 and I didn’t see anyone sympathising. Score: +1.
* Personal income tax allowance: To be increased by Â£1,000 in April to Â£7,475 – don’t care. Score: 0.
* Capital Gains Tax: To rise from 18% to 28% from midnight for higher rate taxpayers – don’t care; not planning on selling anything in the near future.
* Fags, Beer and Fuel: no increases. Wimps. Score: -1.
* Buying off the boys in Green: bad. Failure to scrap Trident ditto. Score: -2.
* Pensions: some action, looks sensible: +1.
* Bank levy: looks like small beer, but presumably a sop to the “soak the bankers” lobby. Score: +1.
* Environment: The government will “explore changes to the aviation tax system” such as switching from a per-passenger to a per-plane levy. It will consult on major changes. – ha, rubbish. Score: -1. Failure to introduce carbon tax: -1.
I’m sure there will be loads of arguing about “hitting the poorest hardest” but there are enough sops in there that he can bat that away fairly easily.
We are told that Mr Osborne said the state now accounted for “almost half” of all national income which was “completely unsustainable”. and I find myself in agreement: the state is too large. This isn’t just because I now work for the private sector: it is because I get more reactionary as I grow older, like everyone else.
Average real terms budget cuts of 25% over four years – except for health and international aid. – sounds fairly serious. I wonder how they are going to manage that and what will come of it. Still, it made the markets happy and the chance of us going the way of Greece is reduced.
Overall score: -2. Good, I wouldn’t want to agree with a Tory budget, that would be a terrible thing.
Other stuff: football. Good to see the French being so stereotypically Gallic. Full marks. England seem to be on the way out, which will do no harm.
[Update: I forgot to mention my top tip for saving money: abolish Ofsted -W]