Budget 2014 19 March 2014
This is an edited version of the speech, to see the full speech go to https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chancellor-george-osbornes-budget-2014-speech
So in this Budget we make sure hardworking people keep more of what they earn – and more of what they save. Yesterday we set out our support for parents with tax free childcare. Today support for savers is at the centre of this Budget, as we take another step towards our central mission: economic security for the people of Britain.
OBR and economic forecasts
A year ago at the Budget the OBR forecast the economy to grow by just 0.6% in 2013. They now confirm that it grew by three times as much. At the Autumn Statement, they significantly revised up their expectations for future growth.
Today I can tell the House they are revising up their forecast again. A year ago, they predicted growth in 2014 would be 1.8%. At the Autumn Statement, 2.4%. Today the OBR forecast growth in 2014 of 2.7%. That’s the biggest upward revision to growth between Budgets for at least 30 years. Growth next year is also revised up to 2.3%. Then it’s 2.6% in 2016 and 2017. And with the output gap closed around a year earlier than previously predicted, growth returns to around its long term trend, at 2.5% in 2018. Taken together, these growth figures mean our economy will be £16 billion larger than was forecast just four months ago. Employment forecasts At home the biggest risk is clear: abandoning the economic plan that is working. And nowhere is the success of that plan more evident than in job creation. 1.3 million more people in work. The latest figures today show a staggering 24% fall in the claimant count in just one year, and the fastest fall in the youth claimant count since 1997. The OBR today forecast one and a half million more jobs over the next five years. Unemployment down from the 8% we inherited to just over 5%.
Of course, the prerequisite of sound money is a sound currency. And, Mr Deputy Speaker, the £1 coin has become increasingly vulnerable to forgery. Now among the oldest of coins in circulation; one in thirty pound coins are counterfeit – and that costs businesses and the taxpayer millions each year. So I can announce that we will move to a new, highly secure, £1 coin. It will take three years. We will consult with industry. Our new pound coin will blend the security features of the future with inspiration from our past. In honour of our Queen, the coin will take the shape of one of the first coins she appeared on – the threepenny bit. A more resilient pound for a more resilient economy.
We are taking further difficult decisions now so we can reduce the deficit and protect our NHS and schools and meet our obligations to the world’s poorest by contributing 0.7% of our national income to help them. On public service pensions, we implement the reforms proposed by John Hutton. We will ensure schemes are properly valued, saving the taxpayer over £1 billion a year. We are continuing with pay restraint in the public sector – an essential part of maintaining sound finances and economic stability. We will also insist on the prudent management of departmental finances. Thanks to the efforts of my colleagues in Cabinet, these now regularly come in under budget. In order to lock-in these underspends, I said in December that we would reduce spending by £1 billion in 2015-16. Today, I am making that overall billion pound reduction permanent. And I look forward to the work my excellent colleague the Chief Secretary is now doing, with the Cabinet Office, to find further efficiencies. Difficult decisions on public service pay and pensions. Further savings in departments. A cap on welfare bills. None of these decisions are easy, but they are the right thing to ensure Britain lives within her means.
We set out today the details of that welfare cap – and we will seek the support of Parliament for it next week. From housing benefit to tax credits, the full list of benefits included in the cap is published in the Budget document today. Only the State Pension and the cyclical unemployment benefits are excluded. I am setting it at £119 billion in 2015-16. It will rise, but only in line with forecast inflation, to £127 billion in 2018-19. Britain should always be proud of having a welfare system that helps those most in need. But never again should we allow its costs to spiral out of control and its incentives to become so distorted that it pays not to work. In future, any government that wants to spend more on benefits will: have to be honest with the public about the costs, need the approval of Parliament, and will be held to account by this permanent cap on welfare.
Thanks to my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister’s leadership we have driven the international efforts to develop tough, new global tax rules that stop rich individuals hiding their tax and companies shifting their profits offshore. And the number of registered tax avoidance schemes has fallen by half. And while the vast majority of wealthy people pay their taxes, there is still a small minority who do not. We will now require those who have signed up to disclosed tax avoidance schemes to pay their taxes, like everyone else, up front. I am increasing HMRC’s budget to tackle non-compliance. We will block transfers of profits between companies within groups to avoid tax. We will increase tax credit debt recovery rates for those with sufficient earnings. We will give HMRC modern powers to collect debts from bank accounts of people who can afford to pay but have repeatedly refused to, like most other Western countries. We will increase compliance checks to catch migrants who claim benefits they aren’t entitled to, saving the taxpayer almost £100 million. We will take action to curb potential misuse of the EIS and VCT schemes. And we are expanding the new tax we introduced to stop people avoiding stamp duty by owning homes through a company. We will expand the tax on residential properties worth over £2 million to those worth more than £500,000. And from midnight tonight anyone purchasing residential property worth over half a million pounds through a corporate envelope will be required to pay 15% stamp duty. None of this applies to homes that are rented out. Many of these are empty properties held in corporate envelopes to avoid stamp duty.
So I will continue to direct the use of the LIBOR fines to our military charities and our emergency service charities too. Because the sums continue to grow, I can today extend that support to our search and rescue and lifeboat services – and provide £10 million of support to our scouts, guides, cadets and St John’s Ambulance. I am also today waiving inheritance tax for those in our emergency services who give their lives protecting us. I will also relieve the VAT on fuel for our Air Ambulances and Inshore Rescue boat services across Britain, and provide a new air ambulance for London – all in response to huge and heartfelt public demand and the campaigning of my Hon. Friends for Hexham, Brentford & Isleworth, and Argyll & Bute. Further, this summer, many services of remembrance will be held in our cathedrals to mark the Great War, so we are providing £20 million to support the repairs needed to these historic buildings.
Mr Deputy Speaker, We’re not going to have a secure economic future if Britain doesn’t earn its way in the world. We need our businesses to export more, build more, invest more and manufacture more. First, exports. Our exports have grown each year and the OBR today forecast rising export growth in the future. Our combined goods exports to Brazil, India and China have risen faster than those of our competitors. With Stephen Green, and now Ian Livingston, we’re expanding the reach and support UKTI offers British businesses. But for many firms the truth is you can only win the contract if you are backed by competitive export finance. Today we fundamentally change that. And we’re going to start with the finance we provide our exporters. We will double the amount of lending available to £3 billion. And I can announce that from today the interest rates we charge on that lending will be cut by a third. We will also reform Air Passenger Duty to end the crazy system where you pay less tax travelling to Hawaii than you do travelling to China or India. It hits exports, puts off tourists and creates a great sense of injustice among our Caribbean and South Asian communities here in Britain. From next year, all long haul flights will carry the same, lower, band B tax rate that you now pay to fly to the United States. Private jets were not taxed at all under the previous government. Today they are, and I’m increasing the charge so they pay more.
One key British export is the North Sea’s oil and gas. We will take forward all recommendations of the Wood report. And we will review the whole tax regime to make sure it is fit for the purpose of extracting every drop of oil we can. We will introduce now a new allowance for ultra high pressure, high temperature fields to support billions of pounds of investment, thousands of jobs and a significant proportion of our energy needs. Even with these measures, the North Sea is a mature basin – and the OBR have today revised down the forecast tax receipts by a further £3 billion over the period. Britain is better together.
Mr Deputy Speaker, our country needs to export more – and it also needs to build more. House building is up 23%. But that’s not enough. That’s why we’re making further reforms to our planning system and offering half a billion pounds of finance to small house building firms. And it’s why we’re giving people a new Right to Build their own homes and providing £150 million of finance today to support that. It’s why we’re funding regeneration of some of the urban housing estates that are in the worst condition, and we’re extending the current Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme to 2016. And it’s why we’ve got Help to Buy. We’re extending the Help to Buy equity loan scheme for the rest of the decade, so we get 120,000 new homes built. In the South East where the pressure is greatest we’re going to build new homes in Barking Riverside, regenerate Brent Cross, and build the first new Garden City in almost a hundred years at Ebbsfleet. We’re going to build 15,000 homes there, put in the infrastructure, set up the development corporation and make it happen. Taken all together, the housing policies I announce today will support over 200,000 new homes for families.
Today I have approved a £270 million guarantee for the Mersey Gateway Bridge thanks to the hard work of my Honourable Friend for Weaver Vale.
Tomorrow we introduce legislation to give new tax and borrowing powers to the Welsh Government to fund their infrastructure needs, and they can start now on work to improve the M4 in South Wales. Because of the exceptionally poor weather this winter, I am making an additional £140 million available, on top of that already provided, for immediate repairs and maintenance to damaged flood defences across Britain. Our roads too have taken a battering.
My Honourable Friend for Northampton North has been a persistent campaigner for resources to repair the pot-holes in his constituency and across the country. His persistence has paid off and I’m making £200 million available which local authorities can bid for. I trust Northampton will be making an application. Modern infrastructure is part of a successful economy. So too is a modern industrial strategy.
If Britain isn’t leading the world in science and technology and engineering, then we are condemning our country to fall behind. So we will establish new centres for doctoral training, for Cell Therapy and for Graphene – a great British discovery that we should break the habit of a lifetime with and commercially develop in Britain. To make sure we give young people the skills they need to get good jobs in this modern world, we’ve doubled the number of apprenticeships and I will extend the grants for smaller businesses to support over 100,000 more. And we’ll now develop new degree level apprenticeships too.
Today we accept their recommendation to move the collection of Class 2 NICs into self-assessment, abolishing for 5 million people this wholly unnecessary bureaucracy. And we’ve cut business tax rates.
Corporation tax was 28% when we came to office. In just two weeks corporation tax will be down to 21%, high street stores will get £1,000 off their rates, and every business in the country will get the Employment Allowance – a £2,000 cash-back on jobs. Next year, corporation tax will reach 20% and we take under 21s out of the jobs tax altogether. Businesses keeping more of their money to create jobs and invest in the future. Today I want to go further. Many of the enterprise zones we created are now flourishing – so the business rates discounts and enhanced capital allowances will be extended for another three years.
And I can confirm that with the Northern Ireland Executive we’ll establish the first enterprise zone there near Coleraine. I’m raising the rate of the R&D tax credit for loss-making small businesses from 11% to 14.5%.
Two years ago, I launched the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme to help finance start-ups. It’s been a great success and I’m making it permanent. We’re backing investment into social enterprises with a Social Investment Tax Relief at a rate of 30%. And we’re supporting our creative industries too.
The European Commission has today approved the extension of our film tax credit – and I will apply the same successful approach to theatre, especially regional theatre. From this September there will be a 20% tax relief for qualifying productions, and 25% for regional touring.
And we’re expanding by a third the size of the cultural gift scheme. But I want to do something today that helps all businesses invest.
In 2012 I increased the Annual Investment Allowance ten-fold to £250,000. This generous allowance was due to expire at the end of this year – and all the business groups have urged me to extend it. So we will. But we’ll do more. We’re going to double the Investment Allowance to £500,000, extend it to the end of 2015, and start it next month. 99.8% of businesses will get a 100% investment allowance.
Manufacturing Today, by tilting the playing field – extending the 2% increase in company car tax in 2017-18 and 2018-19 while increasing the discount for ultra low emission vehicles – and reducing the rate of fuel duty on methanol. But above all we are going to have a £7 billion package to cut energy bills for British manufacturers – with benefits for families and other businesses too. First, I am capping the Carbon Price Support rate at £18 per ton of CO2 from 2016-17 for the rest of the decade. This will save a mid-sized manufacturer almost £50,000 on their annual energy bill. Duties So we’re backing exports, backing manufacturing, backing a Britain that builds. And
Mr Deputy Speaker, we also want to help hardworking people keep more of what they earn and of what they save. That’s what we’ve done by freezing council tax, freezing fuel duty and raising the personal allowance to £10,000. And from next year tax free childcare – 20% off, for up to £10,000 of childcare costs for parents.
I can confirm that the fuel duty rise planned for September will not take place. Petrol will be 20 pence lower per litre than it would have been.
Let me turn now to tobacco and alcohol duties. Tobacco duty has been rising by 2% above inflation and will do so again today. Today, I am scrapping that escalator for all alcohol duties. They will rise with inflation, with these exceptions:
Scottish Whisky is a huge British success story. To support that industry, instead of raising duties on whisky and other spirits, I am today going to freeze them. And with some cider makers in the West Country hit hard by the recent weather, I am going to help them by freezing the duty on ordinary cider too. And then there’s beer. I know the industry, led so ably by my Honourable Friend for Burton, have been campaigning for a freeze. But beer duty next week will not be frozen. It will be cut again by 1 pence. Pubs saved. Jobs created. A penny off a pint for the second year running.
Mr Deputy Speaker, it is a central part of our long term economic plan that people keep more of the money they have earned. When we came to office, the personal tax allowance was just £6,500. In less than three weeks time, it will reach £10,000. That’s an income tax cut for 25 million people. Today, because we are working through our plan, we can afford to go further. Next year there will be no income tax at all on the first £10,500 of your salary.
I can also confirm today that the higher rate threshold will rise for the first time this Parliament, from £41,450 to £41,865 next month, and then by a further 1% to £42,285 next year.
And because I am also passing the full benefit of today’s personal And I am linking the rate of the transferable tax allowance for married couples to the personal allowance, so it will also rise to £1,050.
Savings And we are going to make the New ISA more generous by increasing the annual limit to £15,000. £15,000 of savings a year tax free – available from the first of July. And I’m raising the limits for Junior ISAs to £4,000 a year too.
So we will launch the new Pensioner Bond paying market leading rates. It will be issued by National Savings and Investments, open to everyone aged 65 or over, and available from January next year. The exact rates will be set in the autumn, to ensure the best possible offer - but our assumption is 2.8% for a one year bond and 4% on a three year bond. That’s much better than anything equivalent in the market today. Up to £10 billion of these bonds will be issued. A maximum of £10,000 can be saved in each bond.
And because 21 million people also invest in Premium Bonds I am lifting the cap for the first time in a decade from £30,000 to £40,000 this June, and to £50,000 next year – and I will double the number of million pound winners.
The tax rules around these pensions are a manifestation of a patronising view that pensioners can’t be trusted with their own pension pots. I reject that. People who have worked hard and saved hard all their lives, and done the right thing, should be trusted with their own finances. And that’s precisely what we will now do. Trust the people. Some changes will take effect from next week. We will:
• cut the income requirement for flexible drawdown from £20,000 to £12,000
• raise the capped drawdown limit from 120% to 150%
• increase the size of the lump sum small pot five-fold to £10,000
• and almost double the total pension savings you can take as a lump sum to £30,000 All of these changes will come into effect on 27 March.
Pensioners will have complete freedom to draw down as much or as little of their pension pot as they want, anytime they want. No caps. No drawdown limits. Let me be clear. No one will have to buy an annuity. But instead of the punitive 55% tax that exists now if you try to take the rest, anything else you take out of your pension will simply be taxed at normal marginal tax rates – as with any other income. So not a 55% tax but a 20% tax for most pensioners. But there is one final reform to support savings I would like to make. Mr Deputy Speaker, There is a 10 pence starting rate for income from savings. It is complex to levy and it penalises low income savers.
Today I am abolishing the 10 pence rate for savers altogether. No tax on those savings whatsoever. And we will almost double this zero-pence band to cover £5,000 of saving income.
This blog is intended for information purposes only and is only advice from past experience, you may have other suggestions of your own. It is not intended to be used to make all of your business decisions but as a guide only.