UK: UK Budget - Immediate Reactions

Last Updated: 24 March 2010
Article by Deloitte Tax Group

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

Key measures of interest to everyone

  • Although widely billed to be a political knock-around, in truth the 2010 Budget was as much about delivering a message to the financial markets -that there's a steady hand on the tiller.
  • The forecast for public sector net borrowing for the current year has been reduced by £11bn (from £178bn at the PBR to £167bn). This brings the UK's net debt to 54% of GDP, which is actually better than France, Germany or the US.

The Chancellor also forecasts that the deficit will be more than halved over the coming 4 years, flowing from a combination of tax raises (predominantly from highly paid individuals) and efficiency savings.

  • In absolute terms, the Budget measures are dwarfed by those announced in the PBR (the PBR forecast to raise £8.5bn over 3 years, compared to the Budget's giveaway of £560m over the same period). Modest tax increases will fund equally modest giveaways.
  • The key announcement was a one-off £2.5bn package designed to promote small businesses, made up of a large number of measures which together amount to a welcome warming of the environment for entrepreneurs (unhelpfully it looks very much like each measure will have its own definition of "small"), including:
    • The "Time To Pay" scheme has been phenomenally successful as a recession-beating measure. £5bn of tax is currently being deferred by 160,000 businesses employing 1.4 million people. It will be extended for the whole of the next parliament.
    • Business rates are the 3rd biggest cost for small businesses (after salaries and rents, if you're interested); rates are being cut for 1 year from October 2010 and 345,000 businesses won't pay rates at all.
    • The 100% deduction for capital expenditure for SMEs is doubling to £100k.
    • Entrepreneurs selling their businesses will benefit from a doubling in the limit for the 10% capital gains tax rate (from £1m to £2m). There will also be no increase to main capital gains tax rate of 18%.

The key measures for corporates

  • Great news for computer gaming, a really important industry in which the UK leads the world. Canada introduced tax breaks for computer gaming in the hope of enticing activity, and it's great to see that the UK will be creating its own reliefs.
  • Still no substantive update on the patent box, despite wide speculation that a wider consultation would be forthcoming. However, it got a specific plug in the Chancellor's speech so is still clearly flavour of the month.
  • There don't seem to be new anti-avoidance measures for corporates over and above those previously announced.

The key measures for VAT and Indirect

  • There are a number of small measures, but nothing of any obvious wide consequence.

The key measures for individuals

  • The main disappointment for individuals is that all of the measures announced in the PBR continue to stand:
    • Income tax will increase to 50% for those earning more than £150k from April 2010;
    • 1p increase in NIC from April 2011;
    • Higher rate relief for pension contributions will kick in from April 2011 and the widely derided and incoherent (some would say bonkers) anti-forestalling legislation is, of course, already in place. Interestingly, the Impact Assessment states that 50% of people facing restrictions live in London and the South East, 55% work in financial services, and 90% are male.
  • Growth shares are an increasingly popular way of rewarding employees. They basically involve shares whose value are low at the outset and whose subsequent increase in value is subject to CGT at 18% rather than income tax. There will be consultation in Summer 2010 over their future.
  • However, first time buyers will be pleased that stamp duty has been abolished for one year for house purchases of up to £250k. This will be funded by a new 5% stamp duty rate for property purchases worth more than £1m.
  • New legislation is to be included in Finance Bill 2010 concerning transactions in securities for individuals, and will apply to tax 'advantages' arising on or after Budget Day. The new legislation will continue to counter the income tax advantage arising from certain transactions, but is to be limited to transactions involving close companies. All the same, it's surprising to see that the anti-avoidance will raise £170m in the current year, given the consultation on transactions in securities was badged as simplification.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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