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Leaky Budget could leave fertile ground for families’ savings.

The 2015 Budget has sprung more leaks than London’s water mains – trouble is, who do you believe, asks Steve McDowell.

In 1947 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hugh Dalton, was sacked by Clement Attlee for making an off-the-cuff remark about tax changes as he made his way into the Commons to deliver his Budget Speech. The remark made it into the early editions of evening papers and even though the Stock Market was closed and Dalton had already sat down it was game over.


These days the poor fellow’s corpse would be doing more revs than Lewis Hamilton if he could see the machine which systematically leaks key Budget messages into the media. Now we even have counter-leaks which are issued to steal some political thunder or intended to grab some kudos.

Image of paper being ripped back to show writing stating 2015 budget

This practice was gradually introduced in the early days of the last Labour administration to maximize media coverage of New Labour thinking and control adverse Stock Market reactions from nasty surprises about taxation.

 

It’s common these days but with a tight election only weeks away Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s machine has been very careful not to upset any of the apples he has been gradually loading onto the  cart of incentives over the last 18 months or so.The problem with leaks though, is that you never quite know who is leaking what to whom and why, so it is never sacrosanct until the Chancellor speaks it on March 18.

However, we DO know that, as far as family finances are concerned, he has already helped out first time buyers by reconstructing the Stamp Duty regime to make it less onerous for lower value properties and that he has given huge freedoms to the over 55s who have saved for their pensions.

It is inconceivable to think he will do anything to compromise those. In fact it is probably the most widely-backed leak that he will widen the scope of these reforms to bring in another six million people who were previously excluded. He may well also make moves to further liberalise the market for annuities – shrinking these now more limited products even more. 

We DO know that the Budget will appeal to middle-class and older voters, since that is  the core Tories constituency, and so it is reasonable to infer from that there will be tweaks to those. It has been leaked – though which what kind of provenance no-one knows – that he could extend the Inheritance Tax Threshold to as much as £1m. But it’s only a rumour.
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