Comment: Less gloom, no boom

BUDGET 2012: One soundbite stood head and shoulders above all others. And it wasn’t the chancellor’s commitment to keeping Wallace and Gromit in the UK.

In fact, it didn’t come from George Osborne at all. Nor was it from Ed Miliband. Instead it came from KPMG’s chief economist Andrew Smith. His assessment of the Budget: “Reduced chance of doom, slightly less gloom, but certainly no boom.”

Today’s wasn’t the most leaked Budget in history – Budget nerds like myself will remember 1996’s when then Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan gave back the 36 Treasury press releases he had obtained rather than publish them – but it came close.

We knew about the top rate of tax coming down. We knew about stamp duty. And, by this morning, we knew for certain that the National Policy Planning Framework document this industry craves would not now appear until next week.

But in Smith’s assessment there was hope. Hope that the climate for UK plc was a little brighter this afternoon than it was this morning. Corporation tax is coming down, with further falls to come. And for certain sectors that are driving growth in London’s occupational market there was further encouragement: film industry-style tax concessions for the video game community are to be welcomed. And given the telecoms, media and technology sector’s importance in London’s occupational market, anything that helps those businesses should help the property industry.

Beyond that there was the National Loan Guarantee Scheme, further support for enterprise zones in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and more money for the Get Britain Building Fund. It was, perhaps, a Budget for business.

And if that doesn’t feel like enough, do think back to last autumn. Then we had chaos and fear, driven by uncertainty in the Eurozone. Today we have stability and maybe the beginnings of a plan for growth.

You may of course disagree. Have your say in our latest Big Question poll.


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