March Budget 2015
Under the proclamation that “Britain is walking tall again”, Chancellor George Osbourne delivered the 2015 Budget, announcing that the national debt target has been met and predicted the “end of austerity” a year early.
Economic growth has been revised upwards from 2.4% to 2.5% for 2015, while inflation is down to 0.2% and borrowing levels downwards from the previous Autumn Statement forecast, to £90.2bn for 2014/15.
Of particular interest to business owners is a series of measures outlined by Mr Osbourne to lower and simplify tax, which includes a headline corporation tax cut to 20% by early April 2015. Mr Osborne declared that Britain would now have “one of the lowest rates of any major economy in the world” following the cut.
The Chancellor also advised of measures for individuals and businesses, including plans to scrap end-of-year paper tax returns in favour of real-time digital tax accounts’, which should save time and money.
Welcome news for SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) came with the announcement of a review of business rates, which many view as long overdue. Many business owners perceive business rates as cumbersome, inflexible and failing to take into account the rise of online retailers. In a bid to redress the balance, the Chancellor presented the proposed review as the “biggest for a generation”.
The Chancellor also announced that the Annual Investment Allowance will not be cut to £25,000 in January 2016, and the limit will be reviewed in the 2015 Autumn Statement.
Also unveiled in the Budget were key reforms for savers, including confirmation that five million existing pensioners will have access to pensions from 2016.
With a Budget comprised of elements clearly designed as ‘vote-winners’, time will tell if the Chancellor’s efforts will pay off for the Conservatives and the wider UK economy.