Budgets are not something that anyone looks forward to. Well, perhaps industry commentators – but that’s about it.
You spend an hour listening to the chancellor promote the government, verbally tossing about eye-popping sums of money and incessant braying from the backbenchers.
The important stuff – the documents – are not released until after he sits down.
Not much to write home about
HM Treasury had the structural integrity of a sieve ahead of Rishi Sunak’s speech – arguably intentionally.
If we learned one thing from George Osborne and the pension freedoms, it’s that surprises are not always welcome.
Once the documents are released, it’s an exercise in ‘Ctrl F’ and skim reading to try and tease out relevant changes that were often not announced, or underplayed, in the budget speech.
From an International Adviser perspective, Sunak’s third outing this year was pretty dull.
Ahead of the speech, IA reached out to industry to find out what people hoped or expected to see. We got the usual suspects – IHT, CGT, pensions and tax reliefs.
Raise your glasses
The older people become, the more conservative they tend to get – which could go some way to explaining why the chancellor has again failed to evenly distribute the burden of paying down the national debt.
As John Bunker, tax, trust and estate consultant at Irwin Mitchell, succinctly put it: “The big winners are the baby boomers who have gold-plated pensions and rental incomes, plus anyone who feared any capital gains tax reliefs would be restricted or see some rates increased.
“It was thought the government would at least do something to share the tax burden out amongst the different generations after the health and social care levy fell mainly on the working population, and to not see this happen is somewhat surprising.”
The chancellor has instead opted to freeze alcohol duties across the board for the third year, saving consumer £3bn ($4.1bn, €3.6bn).
The system will also be overhauled to make it fairer and more straightforward, with drinks taxed in proportion with their alcoholic content.
So, there’s always that as a consolation prize for the non-baby boomers among us.