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Rolling blog of Budget Reaction

We have already listed the main announcements in today's Budget and the main arguments used by George Osborne.

Below are some of the reactions from bloggers, commentators and think tanks, which will be added to as they reach us.

DALEY JANEY BLOG Telegraph columnist Janet Daley liked what Osborne had to say about lower tax, but would like more action: "The increased personal tax allowance had already been trailed but its significance is considerable: by extending it to all taxpayers rather than just to those on the basic rate, the Chancellor seemed to signal that he understood the need for lower taxes for everyone – not just the poor and not just for business... What most households need if they are to  do their bit to stimulate the economy is the right to keep more of what they earn – sooner rather than later."

The BBC Business Editor, Robert Peston, concludes that George Osborne cannot be accused of having gone for "easy vote-winning options": "At a time when the residents of so-called middle Britain are feeling a sharp squeeze in disposable income, and when homeowners fear that screeching high speed trains will be zooming past their back gardens and ugly superstores will be built at the front, Mr Osborne's Budget choices may not win a vast number of votes. The chancellor will therefore perhaps be seen as having chosen - still years from a general election - a principled Budget rather than a crowd-pleasing one. That may well be the best he can hope for, in any case."

Adam Smith Institute ASI logo The Adam Smith Institute conclude that tax rates remain too high, with Executive Director, Tom Clougherty, highlighting one big disappointment: “The budget will do little to encourage job creation. Yes, the Chancellor announced a handful of welcome changes to employment rules, but these pale into insignificance when compared with the rise in employers’ national insurance contributions now coming into effect. Changes to thresholds do little to help the overall picture. Raising the cost of employment at a time like this is madness – the Chancellor should have cancelled the rise in employer contributions.”

David Hughes, the Telegraph's chief leader writer, congratulates the Chancellor on some "astute politics": "So the oil companies and the banks are stumping up the wherewithal to ease the tax burden on hard-pressed families and lay the foundations for a more competitive and diversified economy. That sounds like pretty astute politics to me."

CWF logo Way Forward Mark Allatt, on behalf of Conservative Way Forward, welcomed the consulation on merging the operation of income tax and National Insurance, but wanted more cuts in fuel duty: "The Chancellor has given motorists some welcome breathing space, but fuel duty must continue to fall further in future. Cars are quite literally the motor of the economy, and cutting fuel duty will help keep Britain moving."

Channel 4 news political editor, Gary Gibbon, reveals that the fuel stabiliser marks "a family triumph" for Osborne: "I’m told the originator of this policy wheeze was none other than his father-in-law, Lord (David) Howell, currently a Foreign Office minister, formerly an Energy Secretary under Margaret Thatcher."

Luke Bozier on LabourList gives a warm welcome to the cut in corporation tax: "Of course many in the Labour Party won't come anywhere near supporting such a 'Tory' policy. But then, many of the fine people who run our party have never been anywhere near running a business in the private sector."

The IEA's Richard Wellings laments that George Osborne is only chipping away at the top of an iceberg: "In this year’s Budget, George Osborne had the opportunity to bolster economic recovery by removing barriers to growth. Alongisde some welcome proposals, he unfortunately also introduced a series of gimmicks that do little to address the high levels of tax and regulation that severely hamper UK entrepreneurs."

Fraser Nelson Spectator editor, Fraser Nelson, writes that Osborne's skills as a politician were again demonstrated, but that it wasnlt a "big Budget": "George Osborne has today done some massive juggling. It wasn't a Budget for jobs after all, but a Budget to help people cope with the soaring cost of living. North Sea oil companies and banks were stung for various income, fuel and corporation tax cuts. The Chancellor spotted — immediately — that cost of living was the No.1 issue and turned on a sixpence."

The Telegraph's Jeremy Warner says that Osborne was "more Gordon Brown than Nigel Lawson": "The announced cut in corporation tax is very welcome, but it will be more than recouped by additional business taxation elsewhere – on banks, oil and energy companies. This was billed as a Budget for Growth, and a major tax reforming Budget out of the Nigel Lawson mould to boot. Instead it sounded much like one of Gordon Brown’s budgets – a little bit of give here, and a lot of takeaway somewhere else."

IoD Director-General, Miles Templeman, welcomed the raft of supply side measures in the Budget: "The combination of reduced Corporation Tax and planning liberalisation will help to lift business confidence at a difficult time. However, the scale of deregulation in areas that really matter to business in general, such as employment law, is still very limited. And while the 21 new enterprise zones have real potential, we question why the whole of the UK can’t be an enterprise zone."

James Forsyth of The Spectator reckons George Osborne has "pulled it off": "George Osborne beat the expectations game today. His abolition of the fuel duty escalator for this parliament should — Elizabeth Taylor and Libya permitting — get him the front pages he wants."

Big Brother Watch Big Brother Watch believe the Government are using smokers and drinkers as an easy target for unfair tax hikes: "According to Big Brother Watch's calculations, since 1999 tax on a pint of beer has increased 57%.  The levy imposed on a 20 pack of cigarettes has gone up 54%.  Someone drinking 7 pints of beer a week is paying around £58 a year more than they did in 1999, while the cost of smoking a packet of cigarettes has increased by around £327... People’s response to "sin taxes" is, generally, to sigh and pay them – the result isn't to drive down consumption, but to increase the government’s tax take."

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, gave a broad welcome to most measures in the Budget:  “This Budget will help businesses grow and create jobs. The Chancellor has made clear the UK is open for business. The extra 1p cut in corporation tax will help firms increase investment... Businesses and consumers will benefit from reduced fuel taxes, but the increased tax on North Sea oil and gas could be counterproductive, and will create uncertainty for future investment.” 

Caroline Crampton of Total Politics concludes that Osborne has done "an excellent job of catching headlines and neutering his political opponents": "Instead of implementing a planned rise in fuel duty, he cut it by 1p. This last move epitomises the cunning success of Osborne’s Budget. Through judicious leaks and confident delivery, he’s managed to make abolishing a price increase that hadn’t actually happened yet seem like a singularly generous and positive move while simultaneously removing some of the shadow treasury team’s best ammunition."

Lord Tebbit 2010 cheerful It was a good Budget from a Chancellor with little room for manoeuvre, blogs Lord Tebbit: "His measures to make our business taxes internationally competitive were well judged... The implementation of Lord Young’s report on health and safety regulations and the attacks on both avaricious lawyers and the Equality Act will help business create wealth and jobs. The Chancellor’s simplification of taxation is a brave ambition, but I fear there are too many new complications even in the welcome proposals for enterprise zones and support for hi-tech research and development. On the personal taxation front, Osborne’s changes look to be helpful, especially to low earners. All in all, a good Budget in the light of the Chancellor’s appalling inheritance from New Labour."

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has now given its verdict Paul Johnson, its Director, said: “Given these forecasts [for public borrowing] it is clear why a Chancellor, sticking to his plans, did not feel able to engage in a net giveaway. Going forward he is going to be uncomfortably dependent on the judgments that the (independent) OBR makes over the (unobservable) potential output of the economy.”


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