This Budget felt very different.
Usually we spend the speech neither listening to what the government is saying
nor to the doom laden responses of the loyal opposition, but next day we rush to the
papers to look at the tables of comparison that tell us how much
better or worse off we might be if we are pensioners, borrowers, savers, parents,
smoke, drink or drive a car. All the technical stuff about government borrowing and national indebtedness, pass
us by, as most of us live in the present rather than the longer term .
I asked a friend how he felt after Wednesday's Budget. His answer: ' Oh a bit
better off, because I can save more in ISAs' . He also liked the extension
of the stamp duty exemption on properties at the lower end of the market as youngsters
in his family are trying to get on the housing ladder. So he was
responding as you would expect, but then he said 'But I'm really concerned
about all this government borrowing because the payback, when it comes,
will affect everyone in my family, and their friends, as well as me, for
years and years to come.'
I wonder how many of us feel the same. This Budget is like an iceberg
with a red flag on top. The red flag, taxing the rich at 50%, was a
distraction; the immediate changes to savings and house purchase and the
like, are the 10% of the iceberg above the water clear for all to see. But when you look at
the great mass, the 90% that's below the water line things really do
look very worrying and the water looks very murky.
Buried deep, down there in all the detail, along with the
devil, comes something I spotted which will affect a lot of people in my part of the
country in East Anglia: the decision to scrap tax breaks and
concessions, that were introduced to encourage investment in self catering
holiday cottages and boost the tourism industry, after April 2011. Many
people will sell up and tourism, a cornerstone of many local economies and the UK economy,
will suffer at a time when it was thought that the the home grown holiday
trade would benefit as people stayed in the UK. Just one tiny detail from the depts.
So what else is lurking there as yet unnoticed by the majority of people, I wonder.
My friend's last comment was also pointed : ' Who on earth would be mad
enough to get themselves elected, when they have to sort all this lot out?